After an inauspicious few years working at a detective agency, Christopher McQuarrie broke out as a screenwriter with two collaborations with director Bryan Singer. PUBLIC ACCESS won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, but it was soon eclipsed by THE USUAL SUSPECTS, for which McQuarrie won an Academy Award.
McQuarrie began his collaboration with star Tom Cruise by co-writing VALKYRIE in 2008. He went on to write and direct Tom Cruise in JACK REACHER and, in a first for the franchise, both MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT.
Here are 10 of the best Chris McQuarrie quotes for producers, writers and directors…
10 Chris McQuarrie Quotes for Producers, Writers and Directors
“As a writer, you tend to become very protective of the screenplay and the internal logic of the movie. My path as a director has to become more and more comfortable with, ‘I don’t need to know that. I don’t need to explain that. I don’t need to make that clear.’”
“The skill that separates the best directors from the merely competent directors is an understanding of story, how to tell a story and how to convey emotions. There are a great many directors, very successful directors, who really don’t know the first thing about connecting emotionally with an audience.”
[on the enduring appeal of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE] “I think what brings other people around to it again and again is the element of wish fulfilment in these movies – Ethan isn’t a superhero, but he’s imbued with superpower provided by technology. I know I can’t be Thor or Captain Marvel, but if you gave me the invisibility screen I could be Ethan Hunt.”
“People don’t care how long the movie is, just how long it feels… people get just as exhausted from concentrating on action as on drama.”
[on references and homages] “If you start to think too much about it, you wind up in one of two mindsets. Either you’re trying to top whatever it is you’re comparing yourself to, or you’re desperately trying to avoid whatever it is you’re comparing yourself to, and it just leads to a dead end either way.”
[on appealing to a mass audience] “You look at your film and say, ‘Well, is this a big commercial idea? If it’s not, how can I do it for less?’ And if I can’t do it for less, how do I do it so that those people come and those people leave satisfied without compromising my integrity? That’s the tug of war with every single film.”
- [on working with a big crew] “If you pick the right people, you’re not going to lose control of the movie. The only way you really lose control of the movie is if you can’t make a decision. If you can’t make a decision then the decision will be made for you, or the movie will simply break down.”
“I’m, first and foremost, a student of old-school filmmaking. I like practical action and I like clarity in geography and my action sequences. I feel a lot of action has lost that… Schedules are incredibly compressed and scripts are being made up as we go along and it’s very hard to plan things. But a lot of movies have directors put on that don’t really like action or are uncomfortable shooting it, and things are left to second unit or the schedule doesn’t allow that to happen.”
[on the success of THE USUAL SUSPECTS] “The success of that movie was something I felt I had to earn, after the fact. I’m very appreciative of the praise that script received, but when something like that happens so early in your career, you’re burdened by it, in everything I do. That’s a real challenge.”
“If I could boil it down to one thing… never ask permission to make movies. There’s no reason why you have to be asking permission to do your work.”