Born On This Day — November 6

Nichols With Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton Shooting "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966)
Mike Nichols with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton shooting Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

A movie is like a person. Either you trust it or you don’t.

Mike Nichols
Edward Yang

To me writing and directing go hand in hand. You can’t separate the two responsibilities. Writing, from the very beginning of the idea, is like the blinking of a light bulb in your head, and until completion the whole production process is writing, one way or the other. Shooting is writing, editing is writing, pre-production is writing, and auditioning for the cast is also writing. Improvisation is also part of writing. I think I’m fortunate that I started my career not in the tradition of the industry. We had to improvise a lot, to find alternative ways to accomplish something. It makes me feel lucky that I trained as an engineer. Engineering is a practical thing. I call it basically problem-solving, and nothing else. When I started directing, this training gave me psychological readiness. You had to make a thousand decisions a day. Especially in an industry in such poor condition, you had to improvise to make something work. Even to this day, that’s part of the process.

—Edward Yang