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Hollywood's Biggest Names On Their Favourite Films
Stars and directors like Nolan, Whedon, Wright, Carell and Ford on the movies that inspire them

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If you're wondering what to vote for in our 301 poll, take a little inspiration from some of Hollywood's biggest names. Back in 2006 Empire asked some of the best writers, directors and stars in the business about the films that they loved, and received answers that are eloquent, funny and thought-provoking. So step this way to learn about the films that motivate people like Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Joss Whedon, Harrison Ford, Will Smith and many more...

This feature first appeared in the March 2006 issue of Empire magazine.



WORDS VARIOUS

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Christopher Nolan
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN ON
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
"I saw 2001 when I was about seven years old. They re-released it after Star Wars so my dad took me and my brother to see it at the Odeon Leicester Square on the huge screen. It was just a mind-blowing experience and I've been a huge Kubrick fan ever since. All my friends at the time saw it and loved it; we didn't understand it, but we used to argue about what it meant. It just has that sensory stimulation of pure cinema that speaks to people of all ages. People forget kids like it too - because we were all into spaceships."

John Hurt JOHN HURT ON
ERASERHEAD
"If film is images on screen, I can remember at least 30 images that still have an impact on me from seeing that film for the first time. And that's incredible. That's talking about pure, unadulterated film. There are lots of other great films, but if you want to be a purist, you can't beat Eraserhead, The soundtrack as well - fantastic, extraordinary, and it revolutionised sound. I was shown it before committing to Elephant Man because nobody knew who David Lynch was. He set up a viewing of it and I saw it with (entertainment mogul) Edgar Bronfman Jr., who was a friend of mine. And at the end of it, he said, 'Well, John, you won't be doing Elephant Man, I should think, after seeing that!' I said, 'You've got to be kidding! It's genius! I'm definitely doing it!' So he became head of Universal and I'm still a struggling actor. The images, from the baby, to the radiators, to the image of the hair... it's the most brilliant, imaginative understanding of a nervous breakdown you could possibly imagine. And funny! The sperms raining down! What a student film!"


Eric Bana ERIC BANA ON
MAD MAX
"I love the combination of realism and surrealism; George Miller had an innate ability to create a world of believable drama interlaced with all things beautiful and mechanical. If you're a mad rev-head like myself, there's no film that comes anywhere near it other than Mad Max 2. I just think it's one of the classic films of all time."


Harrison Ford HARRISON FORD ON
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
"When I saw it I was moved and touched by it as a piece of theatre, moved and touched by it as a piece of social commentary, and recognised a great emotional power for good that can come from a film. And, of course, I loved the performance of Gregory Peck."


JUDE LAW ON
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
Jude Law
Jude Law "I saw this film when I was 12 years old, videoed it and, being the pretentious little sod I was, when I had a group of friends over next, I asked them if they wanted to see a black-and-white classic rather than an Eddie Murphy film or something. Robert Mitchum's at his best, playing the ultimate anti-hero. You don't know whether you love him or hate him, but you certainly can't take your eyes off him. Shelley Winters gives her best performance, in my opinion. I think one of the most important aspects of this is Stanley Cortez's cinematography. There's a shot towards the end of the film where the children journey towards their freedom, and it's the most extraordinary modern use of fairy-tale imaginative cinema I've ever seen; with just music, no dialogue."


Bryan Singer BRYAN SINGER ON
THE BIRDS
"It's unconventional, it's a strange romance that turns terribly wrong and becomes a monster movie about a monster without motive, or in this case, monsters. And it touches the primal fear of man versus nature, and lastly it has absolutely no musical score and yet it maintains terror simply through the device of sound. Very few movies have ever achieved that, especially at the mainstream level. What a last shot - that and the last shot of Planet Of The Apes are the two greatest last shots in movie history. If you can have one-hundredth of the career of a Hitchcock, you're doing pretty well."


Shane Black
SHANE BLACK ON
DIRTY HARRY
"Dirty Harry is my favourite. I can't really over-estimate the influence that that movie has had. It's a cop film, but it's also a detective film in a sense because he's such a loner. I've never heard those writers do anything else again, but there's something about that inauspicious little script that, at the time, probably didn't feel like that great a script. In retrospect, it represents, perfectly and elegantly, everything I love about '70s cop movies. It's about the garbage man, the trash-taker who has to do society's business so society can pretend it doesn't look and see. And that's literally the reason why it's called Dirty Harry."

Mel Brooks MEL BROOKS ON
THE LADYKILLERS
"The Ealing comedies were really the thing that started me on my way to film comedy. They formed me, even though it was unconscious at the time. They're larger-than-life comedies that never left the human equation. They were brilliant, all of them - Passport To Pimlico, The Man In The White Suit, Titfield Thunderbolt... The Ladykillers is a great, great film. Alec Guinness is wonderful, of course. I love that man. I loved him in Kind Hearts And Coronets - you believed he was all those marvellous characters. In this he's so creepy but you still love watching him. And that beautifully sweet, naive landlady who didn't know shit from shinola. Everything about it. It's terrific."


Steve Carell

Steve Carell
STEVE CARELL ON
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY
"This was the last comedy that really made me laugh. I can't pin down exactly what it is about it, but man, that movie made me laugh. I think it was a movie that defied my expectations. For example, when Ben Stiller zippers himself into his pants it was one of those scenes that was funny on its own. You knew the Farrellys wouldn't show him zippering himself in his pants, because how could they? There's no way! There's an old comedic premise that what you don't say is always funnier than what you do. But then they show it! Which just completely defied any of your expectations of what it would do and it was funny and it topped what had gone before. It was crass and vulgar and ridiculous, and yet the characters really had heart. It's a completely satisfying movie. I loved it."


Guy Pearce GUY PEARCE ON
THE ELEPHANT MAN
"I love the way in which David Lynch captured the story of this man so severe in his deformity and how he captured the period. It's not just that he shot it in black and white; it's the use of the industrial soundtrack that he had to really draw you into that period. It just feels incredibly real and very poignant. It's really about getting all the pieces right. I find it hard to overlook a movie getting elements like the soundtrack, cinematography or dialogue wrong. The Elephant Man gets it all right."


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