Published in the January 2011 "Meaning of Life" issue, on sale now
Seeing your name on the list for KP or guard duty when you're in the Army is like reading a bad review.
When I knew nothing, I thought I could do anything.
A friend is someone who many years ago offered you his last $300 when you broke your pelvis. A friend is Gene Hackman.
If you don't have heroes in the beginning, you don't grow.
Making the first Godfather was more laughs than making Godfather II. That's because Jimmy Caan was in the first Godfather.
Sometimes I'll be flipping the channels and come across The Godfather or The Godfather II. I'll say to myself, Let me watch five minutes. Coppola made them so beautifully that I end up watching the whole thing.
Coppola always wanted my mother's crab-cake recipe. He came to my house to talk about doing Godfather III, and I wrote it down for him. But I decided not to do Godfather III. It boiled down to money. If you're gonna pay Pacino twice what you pay me, fine. But five times? Come on, guys. The thing is, when Coppola left my house, he forgot to take my mother's crab-cake recipe. He kept calling, but I think it was more for the recipe.
A young actor once asked me, What do you do between jobs? I said, Hobbies, hobbies, and more hobbies. It keeps you off dope.
Sometimes working fast is better than waiting, waiting, waiting to get it right.
"I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like victory." People come up to me and say it like we're the only two people in the world who know.
The attention I get on the street is enough to be flattering, but not so much to be a nuisance.
Art is competitive.
When you dance tango fast, you have to think slow.
I met my wife in Argentina. The flower shop was closed, so I went to the bakery. If the flower shop had been open, I never would've met her.
I was a little concerned about being with a much younger woman at first. So I asked Wilford Brimley about it. Wilford is a very sharp guy. He used to be a bodyguard for Howard Hughes. He said, "Let me tell you something, my friend, the worst thing in the world for an old man is an old woman!"
You never know how reality is going to coincide with your dreams. You're optimistic, and you go from there.
A horse is not like a dog. It don't love ya.
De Niro, how's he doing these days? He's got his own set of rules, that guy.
When I was four years old, I observed a sheepherder eating at my uncle's ranch in Idaho. I couldn't even speak well, but I said to my mother, "That man eats like this." And I started imitating him. All the cowboys and cowhands were laughing at my imitation. So I guess I've always enjoyed characters.
I feel like our country is just a big giant kid with tremendous talent like an athlete. A big giant kid that's made mistakes, but there's a lot of potential.
Maybe I'm wrong. But I think if the United States went down, it would be kind of a dark world.
Sometimes, when you look back on it, the $10-million-and-under movies are some of your favorites.
You get to a certain point where your career kind of works for itself although you can never take that for granted.
Getting together with friends and holding court over a meal is one of the great things in life.
Say hello to Brando and he'd know you wanted to say hello to him, so he'd ignore you. He had a way of playing a game with life. You never knew what to expect. Because other times, out of nowhere, he'd reach out to you in a way that was very special.
When I finished Lonesome Dove, I said to myself, Now I can retire. I've done something. Let the English play Hamlet. I'll play Augustus McCrae.
What is it that Michael Caine says? "You don't retire. The business retires you." So until they wipe the drool away...
Virginia's the last station before heaven.
I have this great horse named Don Manuel Manu, for short. When your photographer comes, Manu will probably try to get into the picture. He always does, that horse.
--- Esquire, January 2011