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Emmys 2017
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Article

Creative muses

Quotes from Melissa Etheridge, Mariah Carey, John Lithgow, and more on the people who inspire them

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”Walter Matthau. When Walter is having a supercharged creative moment, I liken it to a Mack truck going downhill with no brakes. You don’t stand in front of it. You just get out of the way.” — JACK LEMMON

”When I was 16, my parents took me to see Ian McKellen do his one-man show Acting Shakespeare. It made me want to study acting. It was his ability to transform himself so quickly and so smoothly that made me realize what an incredible amount of craft he’d developed.” — DAVID SCHWIMMER

”George Miller, who I did Twilight Zone — The Movie with. It was like his mind had settled on the exact way he wanted to tell a story and it was getting everyone else to act out that vision.” — JOHN LITHGOW

”Robert Redford. He is just incredible no matter who he’s playing. He makes everything look effortless.” — JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

”Composers. I can write a letter, I can draw something. Acting — we are all acting. But compose music! It’s totally beyond my imagination.” — MILOS FORMAN

”My late wife, Geraldine Page. I think she was the greatest actress we ever had in this country.” — RIP TORN

”I did a duet with Bruce Springsteen once, and his interpretations were incredible. He sang the song differently on every take.” — MELISSA ETHERIDGE

”I would have to say my father, Henry. He was a shy man. And for a shy person to put himself out there for the world to see is incredible. He would have been happy being a farmer, but this creativity just kept shining through.” — PETER FONDA

”I’m always impressed by filmmakers who can think on their feet. Adrian Lyne is like that. He likes the fear of having a blank board when he goes to work. He likes the angst and anxiety of coming up with things.” — MICHAEL DOUGLAS

”My mother, Vivian Ayers. I also was always inspired by Shirley Temple. She was a little girl, dancing and cute; I just thought I could do everything she did.” — DEBBIE ALLEN

”Stevie Wonder. He’s wonderful.” — MARIAH CAREY

”Bette Midler — a constant inspiration. Lily Tomlin — a mentor. Sandra Bernhard — who pushes me more toward my edge. Susan Sarandon — a goddess. Gloria Steinem — I always think, ‘What would Gloria do?’ Oprah Winfrey. Cyndi Lauper. And oh, yeah, Ellen.” — KATHY NAJIMY

”I’d seen Matthew McConaughey in this little movie Dazed and Confused, and I knew I wanted to work with him. I brought him in for a small role in A Time to Kill. He walked into my office, and I thought, ‘This guy should be the lead.”’ — Joel Schumacher