Sidney Lumet

“River doesn’t have a false bone in his body,” says the director Sidney Lumet of Phoenix’s performance in Running On Empty, soon to be released over here. “He can’t utter a false line. He stopped in the middle of one scene while we were shooting and said, ‘This feels fake to me.’ I listened again. He was right. I cut the scene. So long as River follows his instincts, takes stuff he believes in, there’ll be no stopping him. I first saw him in Stand By Me and there was such an extraordinary purity about him.’’ 

- Sidney Lumet about River for The Face, July 1989.


“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end”

Running On Empty, (1988) - Sidney Lumet


This is a quiet, frightened, insignificant old man who has been nothing all his life - who has never had recognition - or his name in the newspapers. Nobody knows him. Nobody quotes him. Nobody seeks his advice after seventy-five years. Gentlemen, that’s a very sad thing to be nothing. A man like this needs to be quoted, to be listened to, to be quoted just once - very important to him… He wouldn’t really lie, but perhaps he made himself believe that he heard those words and recognized the boy’s face.

12 Angry Men (1957) dir. Sidney Lumet