Ben Gazzara


Actor
Ben Gazzara

About

Also Known As
Biagio Anthony Gazzara
Birth Place
New York, New York, USA
Born
August 28, 1930
Died
February 03, 2012
Cause of Death
Pancreatic Cancer

Biography

Branded the toast of Broadway for his incendiary performances in such theatrical milestones of the 1950s as Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and Michael V. Gazzo's "A Hatful of Rain," Ben Gazzara came a long way from his upbringing in Manhattan's Gashouse District during the Great Depression, becoming in the course of only a few years of his burgeoning career, the nation's pre...

Family & Companions

Louise Erikson
Wife
Married in 1952; divorced in 1956.
Elaine Strich
Companion
Actor. Had relationship in the 1950s.
Janice Rule
Wife
Actor. Married on November 25, 1961; divorced in 1979; had daughter from first marriage.
Elke Krivat
Wife
Costume jewelry manufacturer. Company name Mythos by Elke Gazzara; met in Korea during the filming of "Inchon" (1981); married c. 1981.

Notes

"John [Cassavetes] and Benny had a great artistic understanding, and I think Benny was relieved to find someone like John, who took things as seriously as he did. We felt it was important, the acting and the words, and there was a complete giving over of yourself to the work. Nobody read trade papers on our sets." --Gena Rowlands to Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1998.

"Ben and John [Cassavetes] shared a celebratory spirit, a graciousness towards people and a kind of male warmth that's very inviting and doesn't exist much anymore. They were comfortable in their own skin--and that has probably something to do with the fact that Ben's been absent from American movies for a while. The characters we're following now aren't comfortable in their skin, and contemporary writing is about smaller characters than Ben is. There's something so energized and unapologetically male about Ben--he's a throwback to an American archetype associated with Hemingway." --Sean Penn to Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1998.

Biography

Branded the toast of Broadway for his incendiary performances in such theatrical milestones of the 1950s as Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and Michael V. Gazzo's "A Hatful of Rain," Ben Gazzara came a long way from his upbringing in Manhattan's Gashouse District during the Great Depression, becoming in the course of only a few years of his burgeoning career, the nation's preeminent Italian-American actor, 20 years ahead of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. After making an indelible impression in Otto Preminger's "Anatomy of a Murder" (1959), he was resigned to the middling career of a jobbing actor through the Sixties, until the following decade, when his craft was revived through a partnership with filmmaker John Cassavetes on the controversial films "Husbands" (1970) and "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" (1976). He would go on to impress audiences with his roles in "Capone" (1975), "They All Laughed" (1981), "Buffalo '66" (1998) and "Dogville" (2003). Rediscovered at the turn of the century by a new generation of indie filmmakers, Gazzara remained an in-demand character actor and a surviving link to both the Golden Age of Broadway and live television and the birth of the American independent film movement.

Ben Gazzara was born on Aug. 28, 1930, in the Italian Hospital on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The son of immigrant Sicilian bricklayer Antonio Gazzara and his wife, the former Angelina Cusumano, Biagio Anthony Gazzara grew up in a series of coldwater flats. Raised in a tight-knit Irish-Italian community that was home to over 200 of his relatives, Gazzara spoke Italian as a first language and lost his father when he was a teenager. While many of his childhood chums slipped by dint of poverty into a life of petty crime, Gazzara developed a taste for acting at the Madison Square Boys Club across the street from his tenement. The deep-voiced Gazzara was cast in his first play, as an elderly Arab in Lord Dunsany's "The Gods of the Mountain." The show's director, Howard Sinclair, became a mentor to Bennie Gazzara and was his direct inspiration for a future as an actor.

As a disinterested student at the elite math and science-focused Stuyvesant High School, Gazzara often cut class to go see movies starring his heroes, James Cagney, John Garfield and Edward G. Robinson. Redirected to the private St. Simon Stock in the Bronx, Gazzara's grades improved and he lost interest in acting with the departure of Howard Sinclair from the Madison Boys Club. Odd jobs during his teenage years included working the counter at Whelan's Drug Store near Grand Central Station and running the elevator at the Hotel Sheraton on 35th Street. After his high school graduation in 1947, the year his father passed away, Gazzara studied engineering in night classes at City College of New York while working a series of menial day jobs. Accompanying a buddy to a workshop production of Jean-Paul Sartre's "The Flies," he found his interest in acting renewed. Quitting night school, Gazzara applied for and was granted a scholarship to Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop at the New School for Social Research.

As Gazzara matured in his craft, he was excited and inspired by "The Method," a bold new style of performing espoused by the founders of The Actor's Studio. Auditioning for Studio founders Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan and Cheryl Crawford, Gazzara was accepted into the pioneering theatrical program and stayed there for the next three years. Cast as rebellious military cadet Jocko de Paris in Calder Willingham's semibiographical "End as a Man" in 1953, Gazzara transferred with the production to Broadway, where it ran for four months. In 1955, Gazzara returned to the Great White Way as the tortured Brick in Elia Kazan's original Broadway staging of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." Co-starring Barbara Bel Geddes and Burl Ives, the production ran for 694 performances at New York's Morosco Theater. In 1956, Gazzara was nominated for a Best Actor Tony Award for playing charismatic heroin addict Johnny Pope in Frank Corsaro's production of Michael V. Gazzo's "A Hatful of Rain." During this time he also performed on live television in a handful of CBS anthologies, among them "Medallion Theatre" (1953-54), "Danger" (1950-55) and "Playhouse 90" (1956-1961).

In 1957, Gazzara traveled to Florida to make his feature film debut in "The Strange One" (1957), an independently-financed adaptation of "End as a Man." In 1959, he supported James Stewart, Lee Remick and George C. Scott in Otto Preminger's controversial courtroom drama "Anatomy of a Murder." Able by this point to choose his projects, Gazzara returned to his roots in the theatre, performing in summer stock in Florida and throughout New England. In 1958, he returned to Broadway for the short run of Gazzo's "The Night Circus," co-starring Janice Rule, who became his second wife. Gazzara's films through the Sixties were mostly unremarkable, although "The Passionate Thief" (1960) gave him an opportunity to travel to Rome to work with acclaimed actress Anna Magnani and veteran Italian comic, Toto. He enjoyed leading roles in "The Young Doctors" (1961) with Fredric March and "Convicts 4" (1962) opposite Rod Steiger and Vincent Price. On television, he appeared in 30 episodes of the groundbreaking "Arrest and Trial" (1963-64) and picked up an easy paycheck as the globetrotting star of "Run for Your Life" (1965-68).

It was Gazzara's association with independent filmmaker John Cassavetes that altered the course of his later career. Gazzara barely knew the mercurial Cassavetes, despite the fact that both had once acted together in a live TV production. For "Husbands" (1970), Cassavetes cast himself, Gazzara and Peter Falk as middle-aged men mourning the death of a mutual friend via a booze-fueled pilgrimage from New York to London. The project was providential for Gazzara, whose career had hit the doldrums of soulless for-hire work. With start-up money provided by a dodgy Italian count and the actors deferring their salaries until the film could be sold, the experience was an invigorating gamble that revitalized Gazzara. Despite nearly coming to blows over the film's protracted editing process, Gazzara and Cassavetes would enjoy a working friendship that endured through several feature films and ended only with Cassavetes' death in 1989.

Gazzara's résumé through the next two decades was not without its low points, but highlights included the lead in the mobster biopic "Capone" (1975), star turns in Cassavetes' "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" (1976) and "Opening Night" (1977), the title role in Peter Bogdanovich's "St. Jack" (1978, and as a dissolute poet in Marco Ferreri's "Tales of Ordinary Madness" (1978). The actor carried on a clandestine love affair with co-star Audrey Hepburn during the making of the trashy whodunit "Bloodline" (1980) in Europe and Bogdanovich's comedy "They All Laughed" (1981) in Manhattan, bringing an end to his marriage to Janice Rule. On the small screen, Gazzara excelled in the made-for-TV movies "QB VII" (1974), "The Death of Ritchie" (1977) and "An Early Frost" (1985), one of the first Hollywood films to deal openly with AIDS. Gazzara's paycheck from his villainous turn in "Road House" (1989) enabled him to make his directorial debut with "Beyond the Ocean" (1990), filmed entirely on location on the island of Bali.

Vincent Gallo's casting of Gazzara as his apoplectic father in "Buffalo 66" (1998) made the nearly 70-year-old actor a marketable name in the New York independent film scene. Gazzara contributed similarly high-octane supporting performances to Todd Solondz's "Happiness" (1998), John Turturro's "Illuminata" (1998) and Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam" (1999). Additionally, he added value to the ensembles of the Coen Brothers' "The Big Lebowski" (1998) and Lars von Trier's "Dogville" (2003) and acted with John Cassavetes' widow, Gena Rowlands, in the "Quartier Latin" segment of the French omnibus "Paris, je'taime" (2006), directed by Frédéric Auburtin. Despite radical surgery for throat cancer in 1999 and bouts with depression, Ben Gazzara continued to work steadily, while also publishing his memoirs, In the Moment: My Life as an Actor. The actor was eventually felled by his cancer, dying at age 81 on Feb. 3, 2012.

By Richard Harland Smith

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Beyond the Ocean (1990)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Gazzara (2012)
Looking for Palladin (2009)
Empire State Building Murders (2008)
...and Quiet Flows the Don (2006)
The Shore (2005)
Dogville (2003)
Jack Mckay
Hysterical Blindness (2002)
Brian's Song (2001)
Coach George Halas
A Constant Forge: The Life and Art of John Cassavetes (2001)
Himself
Very Mean Men (2000)
Gino Minetti
Blue Moon (2000)
THE LIST (2000)
Undertaker's Paradise (2000)
Jim
Believe (1999)
Elliott Winslowe
Summer of Sam (1999)
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
Illuminata (1999)
Old Flavio
Never Love a Thief (1998)
Raphael Depietro
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Valentine's Day (1998)
Joe Buddha
Too Tired to Die (1998)
Happiness (1998)
Buffalo 66 (1998)
The Spanish Prisoner (1998)
Shadow Conspiracy (1997)
Vicious Circles (1997)
Stag (1997)
Scene of the Crime (1996)
Lieutenant Jack Lasky
The Dogfighters (1996)
Lady Killer (1996)
Farmer and Chase (1995)
Banditi (1995)
Amos
Convict Cowboy (1995)
Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O'Hara Story (1994)
Papa
Parallel Lives (1994)
Swallows Never Die in Jerusalem (1994)
Blindsided (1993)
Els de Devant (1993)
Nefertiti: The Daughter of the Sun (1993)
Pharaoh Amenophis Iii
Lies Before Kisses (1991)
Forever (1991)
Marcelo Rondi
Beyond the Ocean (1990)
John
Quicker Than the Eye (1989)
Ben Norell
Road House (1989)
Secret Obsession (1988)
Downpayment on Murder (1987)
Control (1987)
Police Story: The Freeway Killings (1987)
Il Camorrista (1986)
The Professor
La Donna Delle Meraviglie (1985)
Alberto
An Early Frost (1985)
My Dearest Son (1985)
A Letter to Three Wives (1985)
Uno Scandalo Perbene (1984)
Amnesiac
La Ragazza di Trieste (1983)
Dino Romero
Tales of Ordinary Madness (1983)
Charles Serking
Inchon (1982)
Major Frank Hallsworth
A Question of Honor (1982)
They All Laughed (1981)
Saint Jack (1979)
Bloodline (1979)
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (Director's Cut) (1978)
Cosmo Vittelli
Opening Night (1977)
High Velocity (1977)
Clifford Baumgartner
The Death of Richie (1977)
George Werner
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)
Voyage Of The Damned (1976)
Capone (1975)
Maneater (1973)
Nick Baron
The Neptune Factor (1973)
Commander Blake
The Sicilian Connection (1972)
Family Rico (1972)
Eddie Rico
Pursuit (1972)
Fireball Forward (1972)
When Michael Calls (1972)
Doremus Connelly
King: A Filmed Record ... Montgomery to Memphis (1970)
Husbands (1970)
Harry
The Bridge at Remagen (1969)
Sergeant Angelo
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969)
The Big Mouth (1967)
A Rage To Live (1965)
Roger Bannon
Conquered City (1965)
Capt. George Stubbs
A Carol for Another Christmas (1964)
The Passionate Thief (1963)
Lello
Convicts 4 (1962)
John Resko
The Young Doctors (1961)
Dr. David Coleman
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Lt. Frederick Manion
The Strange One (1957)
Jocko de Paris

Writer (Feature Film)

Beyond the Ocean (1990)
Screenwriter
Beyond the Ocean (1990)
From Story

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

A Constant Forge: The Life and Art of John Cassavetes (2001)
Other

Cast (Special)

Anything For John (1999)
Lee Strasberg: The Method Man (1998)
Strangers (1992)
John Cassavetes (1990)
Star Tour Australia (1986)
Hollywood's Most Sensational Mysteries (1984)
Host
The General (1974)
Narration

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Pope John Paul II (2005)
Love, Honor & Obey: The Last Mafia Marriage (1993)
People Like Us (1990)
The Trial Of Lee Harvey Oswald (1977)
Anson "Kip" Roberts
QB VII (1974)

Life Events

1952

Early TV appearances include episodes of "Danger" (CBS) and "Kraft Television Theatre" (NBC)

1952

First professional stage appearance in "Jezebel's Husband" at Pennsylvania's Pocono Playhouse

1953

Made Broadway debut with lead role as a psychopathic sadist in the play "End as a Man"

1955

Starred on Broadway in original production of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"; played the alcoholic son Brick to Burl Ives's Big Daddy and Barbara Bel Geddes as Maggie

1955

Film debut in bit role as a card player in "I'll Cry Tomorrow"

1955

Received a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Johnny Pope in "A Hatful of Rain" on Broadway

1957

First substantial film role, "The Strange One," an adaptation of "End as a Man"

1959

Gained wide acclaim for his role opposite Jimmy Stewart in Otto Preminger's "Anatomy of a Murder"

1963

Debut as TV series regular, "Arrest and Trial" (ABC)

1964

Portrayed Fred Grudge, the idealistic nephew of modern-day isolationist Daniel Grudge (Sterling Hayden) in the ABC special "Carol for Another Christmas," a contemporary version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

1965

Starred as the terminally ill Paul Bryan and directed episodes of "Run for Your Life" (NBC), earned two Emmy nominations as Lead Actor in a Drama Series

1969

Made cameo appearance with John Cassavetes as card players in "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium"

1970

First collaboration with Cassavetes as director, "Husbands"; co-starred with Peter Falk as unhappily married men out for a drunken night on the town

1972

TV-movie debut, "When Michael Calls" (ABC)

1972

Played crime syndicate chief Eddie Rico in CBS movie "The Family Rico," adapted from the novel <i>The Brothers Rico</i> by Georges Simenon

1974

Directed episodes of "Columbo" (NBC), starring Falk as the titular detective

1974

Received second Tony nomination for his work in "Hughie" and "Duet"

1974

Starred opposite Anthony Hopkins in the ABC miniseries "QB VII" (based on the Leon Uris novel) as a writer being sued for libel for what he wrote about a Polish doctor at Auschwitz

1975

Essayed the title role of "Capone," which featured Cassavetes as an actor

1976

Headed the Jewish agency trying to find sanctuary for the German Jews aboard the St. Louis in Stuart Rosenberg's "Voyage of the Damned"; Rosenberg previously directed episodes of "Run for Your Life"

1976

Reteamed with Cassavetes for "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie"; played a strip-club owner in debt to the mob

1976

Starred opposite Colleen Dewhurst in the Broadway revival of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"; received Tony nomination

1977

Tried to get a psychologically fraught Gena Rowlands back on stage in Cassavetes' "Opening Night"; Falk also in cast; film received a limited release in Los Angeles

1977

Portrayed the father of a drug-addicted teenager (Robby Benson) in NBC movie "The Death of Richie"

1979

Played title role of an American who operates a brothel in Singapore in Peter Bogdanovich's drama "Saint Jack"

1979

Starred opposite Audrey Hepburn in the disappointing "Bloodline"

1981

Acted in Italian movies ("Tales of Ordinary Madness," 1981; "The Girl from Trieste," 1982; "Uno Scandalo Perbene," 1984; "Il proessore, Il Camorrista," 1985)

1981

Reteamed with Hepburn in Bogdanovich's "They All Laughed"; film bombed at the box office

1985

Received an Emmy nomination as Rowlands' husband in the NBC TV-movie "An Early Frost"

1987

Played Captain Tom Wright in the NBC movie "Police Story: The Freeway Killings"

1989

Acted the part of the evil and eccentric town patriarch in "Road House"

1990

Feature directorial debut, "Beyond the Ocean"; also co-wrote screenplay

1992

Appeared in the short-lived Broadway play "Shimada"

1993

Portrayed Mafia boss Joseph Bonanno in TV-movie "Love, Honor and Obey: The Last Mafia Marriage" (NBC), based on the book by Rosalie Bonanno

1994

Returned to the NY stage in "Chinese Coffee"

1995

Played the Warden in Western prison drama "Convict Cowboy" (Showtime), starring Jon Voight

1997

Landed featured role in David Mamet's "The Spanish Prisoner"

1997

Acted in straight-to-video release "Scene of the Crime" as police lieutenant Jack Lasky

1998

Played a famous artist squiring a much younger Korean girlfriend in Wonsuk Chin's "Too Tired to Die"

1998

Portrayed a pornographer in the Coen Brothers' cult film "The Big Lebowski"

1998

Acted the role of a disgruntled husband who decides to chuck 40 years of marriage in Todd Solondz's "Happiness"

1998

Played the father of Vincent Gallo's character in "Buffalo 66"; Gallo reportedly cast him based on his moving performance in the 1977 TV-movie "The Death of Richie"

1999

Appeared in Spike Lee's crime drama "Summer of Sam"

2001

Cast as Coach Halas in the ABC remake of "Brian's Song"

2003

Co-starred with Rowlands and Uma Thurman in Mira Nair directed "Hysterical Blindness" (HBO)

2003

Toured the country with one-man show about Yogi Berra titled "Nobody Don't Like Yogi"

2004

Cast in Lars von Trier's experimental drama "Dogville" alongside Nicole Kidman and Lauren Bacall

2005

Portrayed Italian priest turned Cardinal Secretary of State Agostino Casaroli in the CBS miniseries "Pope John Paul II"; Voight played the titular Pope

2006

Directed by Gérard Depardieu and acted with Rowlands in the "Quartier Latin" segment of the anthology film "Paris, je t'aime"

2008

Co-starred with David Moscow and Talia Shire in the comedy "Looking for Palladin"

2010

Joined an all star cast including Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, and Michael Shannon in drama thriller "13"

2011

Acted in the foreign-produced films "RIstabbanna" (Italy) and "Chez Gino" (France)

Videos

Movie Clip

Saint Jack (1979) - Open, Always A Good Investment Opening with a pan mighty close to 360 degrees, director Peter Bogdanovich, back in the orbit of old friend producer Roger Corman, buys himself a big slice of Singapore, and introduces Ben Gazzara as the title character and his relations with gofer Gopi (Joseph Noël), in Saint Jack, 1979, from Paul Theroux’s novel and screenplay with Bogdanovich and Howard Sackler.
Saint Jack (1979) - No No, Kong Hong! Ben Gazzara (title character who, we’re learning, is an honest pimp with a cleaner legit job) entertains Hong Kong businessman Leigh (Denholm Elliott) with a visit to his Singapore Brit barfly friends, Joss Ackland, James Villiers (as voluble Froggett), Rodney Bewes and Mark Kingston, in Peter Bogdanovich’s Saint Jack, 1979.
Saint Jack (1979) - Good Lover Bad Husband Ben Gazzara (the title character, a benevolent American ex-pat pimp in Singapore) takes care of an older friend helping him finance his own new brothel, then has an interview with a prospective professional (Monika Subramanian), in Peter Bogdanovich’s Saint Jack, 1979, with the popular Louis Armstrong recording of Oscar Peterson’s “Basin Street Blues.”
Saint Jack (1979) - Nothing To Do With The Animal At the Singapore airport Ben Gazzara (title character), executing an errand for his Chinese businessman boss, works his contacts and picks up English Leigh (Denholm Elliott), Andrew Chua driving the cab, Peter Bogdanovich directing from the script he co-wrote with novelist Paul Theroux and Howard Sackler, in Saint Jack, 1979.
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969) - Sayeth Solomon Opening with appearances by Sandy Baron, Norman Fell, Reva Rose, Marty Ingels (with cameos by Ben Gazzara and John Cassavetes), Michael Constantine, Peggy Cass, Suzanne Pleshette, Murray Hamilton and Hilarie Thompson, part of the tour group in If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, 1969.
Husbands (1970) - Walking No Running In Manhattan, the morning after the all-night bender following a friends' funeral, Archie (Peter Falk), Harry (Ben Gazzara) and Gus (writer and director John Cassavetes) find the place they wanted to get breakfast closed, and settle for basketball, early in Husbands, 1970.
Husbands (1970) - Lies And Tensions Director John Cassavetes uses photographs of himself with friends and co-stars Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk in his opening, including a fourth pal, played by David Rowlands, the brother of Cassavetes' wife Gena, whose funeral they attend in the first filmed scene, in Husbands, 1970.
Husbands (1970) - Mom, Get The Knife! True domestic violence as Harry (Ben Gazzara), philosophical about his marriage after an all-nighter with friends Archie and Gus (Peter Falk and writer-director John Cassavetes), tangles with his wife and mother-in-law (Meta Shaw, Lorraine McMartin), while picking up his passport, in Husbands, 1970.
Carol For Another Christmas, A (1964) - High Powered Ventriloquist The underlying Dickens tale not yet revealed, grouchy Dan Grudge (Sterling Hayden), the Scrooge figure, meets his do-gooder professor nephew, as in Dickens, called Fred (Ben Gazzara), early in the rarely seen Rod Serling/Joseph L. Mankiewicz TV movie, A Carol For Another Christmas, 1964.
Anatomy Of A Murder (1959) - Unwritten Law Famous scene, first meeting between former Michigan small-town prosecutor turned lackadaisical defense attorney Paul Biegler (James Stewart) and Lieutenant Manion (Ben Gazzara), jailed for killing his wife's assailant, early in Otto Preminger's Anatomy Of A Murder, 1959.
Anatomy Of A Murder (1959) - Not Once Not Ever Michigan attorney Biegler (James Stewart) has learned that saucy Laura (Lee Remick), a rape victim and the wife of his soldier client (Ben Gazzara), charged with killing her attacker, has passed a lie detector test, but he has further questions, in Otto Preminger's Anatomy Of A Murder, 1959.
Convicts 4 - I Am Not Friendly Resko (Ben Gazarra), reprieved from the death penalty, arrives at prison and meets the head screw known as "Tiptoes" (Rod Steiger), from a distance, in writer-director Millard Kaufman's Convicts 4, 1962.

Trailer

Family

Antonio Gazzara
Father
Laborer. Sicilian immigrant.
Angelina Gazzara
Mother
Sicilian immigrant; met husband in NYC.
Elizabeth Gazzara
Daughter
Editor. Mother, Janice Rule.

Companions

Louise Erikson
Wife
Married in 1952; divorced in 1956.
Elaine Strich
Companion
Actor. Had relationship in the 1950s.
Janice Rule
Wife
Actor. Married on November 25, 1961; divorced in 1979; had daughter from first marriage.
Elke Krivat
Wife
Costume jewelry manufacturer. Company name Mythos by Elke Gazzara; met in Korea during the filming of "Inchon" (1981); married c. 1981.

Bibliography

Notes

"John [Cassavetes] and Benny had a great artistic understanding, and I think Benny was relieved to find someone like John, who took things as seriously as he did. We felt it was important, the acting and the words, and there was a complete giving over of yourself to the work. Nobody read trade papers on our sets." --Gena Rowlands to Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1998.

"Ben and John [Cassavetes] shared a celebratory spirit, a graciousness towards people and a kind of male warmth that's very inviting and doesn't exist much anymore. They were comfortable in their own skin--and that has probably something to do with the fact that Ben's been absent from American movies for a while. The characters we're following now aren't comfortable in their skin, and contemporary writing is about smaller characters than Ben is. There's something so energized and unapologetically male about Ben--he's a throwback to an American archetype associated with Hemingway." --Sean Penn to Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1998.

"I've always been intrigued with personal films, to my own disadvantage. I've been a renegade sort of outside the system for a long time. But thank God, the young directors who are getting a shot to make films are seeking me out. Working with those kids who are so talented, I'm so flattered ... not only because of me, but because of my work with John [Cassavetes]. I'm sure that has a great influence on it. It's great that John is finally getting his heyday here in this country that didn't give him any breaks when he was alive."

"John hated structure. Predictable structure. He hated drawing conclusions about people. That's why he could even make insanity amusing. Why he could defend insanity as a human condition that should be respected. He was not interested in making plot points. He was more interested in finding the surprise within individuals. The opposite of what you'd expect."Of course, he was generous. He shot an awful lot of film. An awful lot. And it was his money. That's why it took him so long in the cutting room. He could have made three or four films out of the material he had. I saw him cutting "Husbands". He had a delivery date. He was working until the last moment. His eyeballs were bleeding in that cutting room." --Ben Gazzara quoted in Detour, June-July 1998.

Received a lifetime-career award at the Fort Lauderdale (Florida) Film Festival in 1998