Bright Lights Film Journal

Antonioni and Actors


Alfred Hitchcock is famously reported to have said, “Actors are cattle.” He could have called them worse. Cattle, after all, are thinking, breathing, living beings. Some of them even have personalities.

Hitchcock looks positively generous when compared to Michelangelo Antonioni who, on the set of The Passenger (1975), told his leading player that he regarded actors as “volumes in space,” or something to that effect. Of course, Antonioni was talking to Jack Nicholson (above) at the time – one of the most talented and intelligent actors he ever worked with – so maybe he was just fucking with him.