118+ Best Orson Welles Quotes: Exclusive Selection

George Orson Welles was an American actor, director, writer and producer who is remembered for his innovative work in radio, theatre and film. He is considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Profoundly inspirational Orson Welles quotes will challenge the way you think, and help guide you through any life experience.

If you’re searching for amazing quotes by famous actors that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of quotes from Liam Neeson, powerful Katharine Hepburn quotes and famous Robert John Downey Jr. quotes.

Famous Orson Welles Quotes

Living in the lap of luxury isn’t bad except that you never know when luxury is going to stand up. – Orson Welles

There are three intolerable things in life – cold coffee, lukewarm champagne, and overexcited women. – Orson Welles

The first thing one must remember about film is that it is a young medium. And it is essential for every responsible artist to cultivate the ground that has been left fallow. – Orson Welles

I would rather be on the set than doing anything. – Orson Welles

A man is not from where he is born, but where he chooses to die. – Orson Welles

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Orson Welles. I am an actor. I am a writer. I am a producer. I am a director. I am a magician. I appear onstage and on the radio. Why are there so many of me and so few of you? – Orson Welles

I know people who have a much better recollection of their childhood than I do. They remember very well when they were a year and a half and two years old. I’ve only one or two daguerreotypes that come to mind. – Orson Welles

The cinema has no boundary; it is a ribbon of dream. – Orson Welles

FDR used to say, ‘You and I are the two best actors in America’. – Orson Welles

I don’t want to forgive myself. That’s why I hate psychoanalysis I think if you’re guilty of something you should live with it. Get rid of it – how can you get rid of a real guilt? I think people should live with it, face up to it. – Orson Welles

The director is the most overrated artist in the world. He is the only artist who, with no talent whatsoever, can be a success for 50 years without his lack of talent ever being discovered. – Orson Welles

There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror. – Orson Welles

I don’t regard my career as something so precious that it comes before my convictions. – Orson Welles

The enemy of society is middle class and the enemy of life is middle age. – Orson Welles

A director is someone who presides over a series of accidents. – Orson Welles

I have always been more interested in experiment, than in accomplishment. – Orson Welles

I prefer people who rock the boat to people who jump out – Orson Welles

I’m not basically a happy person, but I have all kinds of joy. – Orson Welles

I love informality. I hate dressing up. I hate to be conventional – and I hate every kind of snob. – Orson Welles

Hollywood is Hollywood. There’s nothing you can say about it that isn’t true, good or bad. And if you get into it, you have no right to be bitter — you’re the one who sat down and joined the game. – Orson Welles

I’ve never understood the cult of Hitchcock. Particularly the late American movies… Egotism and laziness. And they’re all lit like television shows. – Orson Welles

Anybody who speaks quietly and shrivels up in company is unbelievably arrogant. – Orson Welles

Race hate isn’t human nature; race hate is the abandonment of human nature. – Orson Welles

When you are down and out something always turns up – and it is usually the noses of your friends. – Orson Welles

If I don’t like somebody’s looks, I don’t like them. – Orson Welles

Never expect justice in this world. That is not part of God’s plan. Everybody thinks that if they don’t get it, they’re some kind of odd man out. And it’s not true. Nobody gets justice – people just get good luck or bad luck. – Orson Welles

If I ever own a restaurant, I will never allow the waiters to ask if the diners like their dishes. Particularly when they’re talking. – Orson Welles

We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone. – Orson Welles

Film is like a colony and there are very few colonists. – Orson Welles

Paris is the playwright’s delight. New York is the home of directors. London, however, is the actor’s city, the only one in the world. In London, actors are given their head. – Orson Welles

Look at the real prodigies, and I look like nothing compared to them. – Orson Welles

In common with all Protestant or Jewish cultures, America was developed on the idea that your word is your bond. Otherwise, the frontier could never have been opened, ’cause it was lawless. A man’s word had to mean something. – Orson Welles

Nobody who takes on anything big and tough can afford to be modest. – Orson Welles

The most personal thing I’ve put in [Touch of Evil] is my hatred of the abuse of police power. It’s better to see a murderer go free than for a policeman to abuse his power. – Orson Welles

I don’t take art as seriously as politics. – Orson Welles

The director is simply the audience. So the terrible burden of the director is to take the place of that yawning vacuum, to be the audience and to select from what happens during the day which movement shall be a disaster and which a gala night. His job is to preside over accidents. – Orson Welles

As for my style, for my vision of the cinema, editing is not simply one aspect; it’s the aspect. – Orson Welles

When people accept breaking the law as normal, something happens to the whole society. – Orson Welles

I passionately hate the idea of being with it; I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time. – Orson Welles

I have all the equipment to be a politician. Total shamelessness. – Orson Welles

Did you ever stop to think why cops are always famous for being dumb? Simple. Because they don’t have to be anything else. – Orson Welles

I don’t say we all ought to misbehave, but we ought to look as if we could. – Orson Welles

I do not suppose I shall be remembered for anything. But I don’t think about my work in those terms. It is just as vulgar to work for the sake of posterity as to work for the sake of money. – Orson Welles

Personally, I don’t like a girlfriend to have a husband. If she’ll fool her husband, I figure she’ll fool me. – Orson Welles

Friendship creates only the illusion of not being alone. – Orson Welles

A long-playing full shot is what always separates the men from the boys. Anybody can make movies with a pair of scissors and a two-inch lens. – Orson Welles

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story. – Orson Welles

I was spoiled in a very strange way as a child, because everybody told me, from the moment I was able to hear, that I was absolutely marvelous, and I never heard a discouraging word for years, you see. I didn’t know what was ahead of me. – Orson Welles

A movie studio is the best toy a boy ever had. – Orson Welles

What’s happening now is what happened before, and often what’s going to happen again sometime or other – Orson Welles

The word genius was whispered into my ear, the first thing I ever heard, while I was still mewling in my crib. So it never occurred to me that I wasn’t until middle age. – Orson Welles

Ignorance sheer ignorance. There is no confidence to equal it. It’s only when you know something about a profession that you are timid or careful. – Orson Welles

If you’ve noticed that I don’t use long takes, it’s not because I don’t like them, but because no one gives me the necessary means to treat myself to them. It’s more economical to make one image, then this image and then that image, and try to control them later, in the editing studio. – Orson Welles

A good artist should be isolated. If he isn’t isolated, something is wrong. – Orson Welles

Every actor in his heart believes everything bad that’s printed about him. – Orson Welles

Crooks aren’t the worst people, just the stupidest. The fleas of the world. – Orson Welles

Every true artist must, in his own way, be a magician, a charlatan. – Orson Welles

I’ve spent most of my mature life trying to prove that I’m not irresponsible. – Orson Welles

Create your own visual style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others. – Orson Welles

A poet needs a pen, a painter a brush, and a director an army. – Orson Welles

In attempting to explain F For Fake’s state-side failure, it has occurred to me that perhaps the subject matter was at least partially to blame, and that this country is so blissfully enslaved by the notion of the special sanctity of the expert that an overtly anti-expert film was bound to go too much against the national grain. – Orson Welles

I hate Woody Allen physically; I dislike that kind of man. – Orson Welles

Popularity should be no scale for the election of politicians. If it would depend on popularity, Donald Duck and The Muppets would take seats in senate. – Orson Welles

An artist is always out of step with the time. He has to be. – Orson Welles

Future shock is a sickness which comes from too much change in too short a time. It’s the feeling that nothing is permanent anymore. – Orson Welles

I have the terrible feeling that, because I am wearing a white beard and am sitting in the back of the theatre, you expect me to tell you the truth about something. These are the cheap seats, not Mount Sinai. – Orson Welles

I don’t want any description of me to be accurate; I want it to be flattering. I don’t think people who have to sing for their supper ever like to be described truthfully – not in print anyway. We need to sell tickets, so we need good reviews. – Orson Welles

A bad word from a colleague can darken a whole day. We need encouragement a lot more than we admit, even to ourselves. – Orson Welles

They teach anything in universities today. You can major in mud pies. – Orson Welles

Take myself as a good-will ambassador. I’m great – I’m taking myself as a character – for the intellectuals and the man on the street. I’m great where Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. leaves off. I’m not so good with high society, in either North or South America, because I’m highly unconventional. Perhaps I bewilder people by being at once the esthete, the intellectual and the vulgarian. – Orson Welles

Ecstasy is not really part of the scene we can do on celluloid. – Orson Welles

It isn’t worth it. No money is worth this… [walks out] – Orson Welles

Hollywood is a gold-plated suburb suitable for golfers, gardeners, assorted middlemen, and contented movies stars. I am none of these things. – Orson Welles

Six years ago, I looked at a picture of the world’s greatest newspaper men. I felt like a kid in front of a candy store. Well, tonight, six years later, I got my candy – all of it. Welcome, gentlemen, to the Inquirer! Make up an extra copy of that picture and send it to the Chronicle – Orson Welles

You know what I did this morning? I played the voice of a toy. Some terrible robot toys from Japan that changed from one thing to another. The Japanese have funded a full-length animated cartoon about the doings of these toys, which is all bad outer-space stuff. I play a planet. I menace somebody called Something-or-other. Then I’m destroyed. My plan to destroy Whoever-it-is is thwarted and I tear myself apart on the screen. – Orson Welles

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people. – Orson Welles

See, I believe that it is not true that different races and nations are alike. I’m profoundly convinced that that’s a total lie. I think people are different. Sardinians, for example, have stubby little fingers. Bosnians have short necks. – Orson Welles

The ideal American type is perfectly expressed by the Protestant, individualist, anti-conformist, and this is the type that is in the process of disappearing. In reality there are few left. – Orson Welles

The best thing commercially, which is the worst artistically, by and large, is the most successful. – Orson Welles

The enemy of art is the absence of limitations. – Orson Welles

I never make my mind up about anything at all, until it’s over and done with. – Orson Welles

I seem to have no dress sense at all. I’m always being listed in New York among one of the ten worst dressed men of the year. Someone once described me as looking like an unmade bed. He was right! – Orson Welles

Everything bad that has ever happened to me has been caused by agents or lawyers. – Orson Welles

Working is part of life, I don’t know how to distinguish between the two… Work is an expression of life. – Orson Welles

In my real movie-going days, which were the thirties, you didn’t stand in line. You strolled down the street and sallied into the theater at any hour of the day or night. – Orson Welles

I look back on my life and it’s 95% running around trying to raise money to make movies and 5% actually making them. It’s no way to live. – Orson Welles

‘The Godfather’ was the glorification of a bunch of bums who never existed. – Orson Welles

Now I’m an old Christmas tree, the roots of which have died. They just come along and while the little needles fall off me replace them with medallions. – Orson Welles

If I want to pursue the art of painting – or music or writing or sculpture – it requires only my time and a few dollars for materials. If, however, I want to produce a motion picture I have to go out and raise a million dollars! – Orson Welles

Why spend 18 hours watching someone else’s war, when you know how it comes out? We win, and then have to buy all their cars. – Orson Welles

If there hadn’t been women, we’d still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization in order to impress our girlfriends. – Orson Welles

I hate women, hate them generally, not in particular but in an abstract way. I hate them because one never really learns anything about them. They are inscrutable. – Orson Welles

People are losing the capacity to listen to words or follow ideas. – Orson Welles

Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. – Orson Welles

Everything about me is a contradiction, and so is everything about everybody else. We are made out of oppositions; we live between two poles. There’s a philistine and an aesthete in all of us, and a murderer and a saint. You don’t reconcile the poles. You just recognize them. – Orson Welles

Everybody denies I am a genius – but nobody ever called me one! – Orson Welles

I rather think the cinema will die. Look at the energy being exerted to revive it – yesterday it was color, today three dimensions. I don’t give it forty years more. Witness the decline of conversation. Only the Irish have remained incomparable conversationalists, maybe because technical progress has passed them by. – Orson Welles

Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch. – Orson Welles

I have wasted the greater part of my life looking for money and trying to get along, trying to make my work from this terribly expensive paintbox, which is a movie. And I’ve spent too much energy on things that have nothing to do with making a movie. It’s about two percent moviemaking and ninety-eight percent hustling. It’s no way to spend a life. – Orson Welles

I must be sincere towards what I am. … Experimenting is the only thing that fills me with enthusiasm. … It is the only sphere where I feel really honest and sincere. – Orson Welles

Nobody gets justice. People only get good luck or bad luck. – Orson Welles

A writer needs a pen, an artist needs a brush, but a filmmaker needs an army. – Orson Welles

Don’t give them what you think they want. Give them what they never thought was possible. – Orson Welles

I don’t pray really, because I don’t want to bore God. – Orson Welles

Husbands should revolt from time to time. Even the best circus-number becomes boring if the beast is too tame. – Orson Welles

I drag my myth around with me. – Orson Welles

I’m not a walking extra in a Chekhov play; I’m no Slavic gloom or Irish gloom. I mark only the happy hours, like the sundial, because otherwise I would have gone nuts. – Orson Welles

At twenty-one, so many things appear solid, permanent, untenable. – Orson Welles

A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet. – Orson Welles

It would be so much better if the critics would come, not on first nights, but on last nights, when they could exercise their undoubted flair for funeral orations. – Orson Welles

I started at the top and worked my way down. – Orson Welles

I’m extremely surprised to learn that a story, which has become familiar to children through the medium of comic strips and many succeeding novels and adventure stories, should have had such an immediate and profound effect upon radio listeners. – Orson Welles

The camera is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world. – Orson Welles

I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won’t contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. That’s what gives the theater meaning: when it becomes a social act. – Orson Welles

I never said I was a genius. – Orson Welles

Hollywood expects you to experiment but on a film that makes money and if you don’t make money, you’re to blame. Your job is to make money. – Orson Welles

I have made an art form of the interview. The French are the best interviewers, despite their addiction to the triad, like all Cartesians. – Orson Welles

My theory is that everything went to hell with Prohibition, because it was a law nobody could obey. So the whole concept of the rule of law was corrupted at that moment. Then came Vietnam, and marijuana, which clearly shouldn’t be illegal, but is. If you go to jail for ten years in Texas when you light up a joint, who are you? You’re a lawbreaker. It’s just like Prohibition was. When people accept breaking the law as normal, something happens to the whole society, you see? – Orson Welles