"You’re tearing me apart!"
I woke up this morning, you know…and the sun was shining and it was nice, and all that type of stuff. And the first thing, I saw you, and I said, “Boy, this will be one terrific day, so you better live it up…because tomorrow you’ll be nothing.”
-Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
"Why the hell must I change? No bastard’s telling me what to do." -James Dean
James Dean and Dennis Hopper had first met during the making of Rebel Without a Cause. “What we had really was a student-teacher relationship, the only one he ever had, as far as I know. When we were making Rebel I just grabbed him one day and said, ‘Look man, I gotta know how you act, because you’re the greatest!’ “
- Dennis Hopper on James Dean
“From my rotting body,
flowers shall grow
and I am in them
and that is eternity.”
-Actors and actresses who passed away at a young age (45 and younger)
James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor photographed by Richard Miller, 1955.
People had told me he was moody and hard to get along with, that he clammed up and wouldn’t talk. That’s a lot of nonsense. He could talk your arm off. But Jimmy never chattered. He was a very entertaining fellow because he was so interested in everything. He could talk about cattle, horses and rodeoing, and about music, poetry and literature. He read everything from Pancho Villa to comic books. He liked all kinds of music, from classical pieces to sambas. He had a terrific hi-fi set and a huge collection of recordings of African music. His pet subject, though, was sports cars. - Bob Hinkle
When director Gary Legon found this screen test of James Dean and Joanne Woodward (for East of Eden), he knew he wanted to use it in his documentary, The Real James Dean. However he felt the need to ask Woodward’s permission first, since is was a rather “sexy scene” and she was, of course, married to Paul Newman, and they had children and such… Legon wasn’t sure if maybe this screen test would be embarrassing for her. So he wrote to Woodward about it, and she quickly wrote back, “Of course you can use this! This will be proof, finally, to my daughters, that I indeed had this incredible kiss with the late, great, James Dean!”
“Elizabeth went off mysteriously with Jimmy each evening, and none of us could figure out where they went. They would arrive for dinner together. She would sit in the balcony next to him during rushes and then they would slip away for what seemed like most of the night.”
For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by thick eyebrows. They add character and warmth to a face. To ever-so-slightly paraphrase Jack Black, “you must never underestimate the power of the eyebrows.”
Once I remarked to him, “You never talk about anyone.” His reply was startling: “The unspoken word we control. Once spoken, it controls us.” Such a profound statement impressed me. - Don Martin
Icons | Ian Berry.
Portraits Made of Used Blue Jeans.
James Dean in East of Eden,1955.
Marlon Brando on his experience with James Dean, from his autobiography “Songs My Mother Taught Me”:
After we met on the set of East of Eden, Jimmy began calling for advice or to suggest a night out. We talked on the phone and ran into each other at parties, but never became close. I think he regarded me as a kind of older brother or mentor, and I suppose responded to him as if I was. I felt a kinship for him and was sorry for him. He was hypersensitive, and I could see in his eyes and in the way he moved and spoke that he had suffered a lot. He was tortured by insecurities, the origin of which I never determined, though he said he’d had a difficult childhood and a lot of problems with his father. I urged him to seek assistance, perhaps go into therapy. I have no idea whether he ever did, but I did know it can be hard for a troubled kid like him to have to live up to sudden fame and the ballyhoo Hollywood created around him. I saw it happen to Marilyn, and I also knew it from my own experience. In trying to copy me, I think Jimmy was only attempting to deal with these insecurities, but I told him it was a mistake. Once he showed up at a party and I saw him take off his jacket, roll it into a ball and throw it onto the floor. It struck me that he was imitating something I had done and I took him aside and said, “Don’t do that, Jimmy. Just hang your coat up like everybody else. You don’t have to throw your coat in the corner. It’s much easier to hang it up than pick it up off the floor.”
Another time, I told him I thought he was foolish to try to copy me as an actor. “Jimmy, you have to be who you are, not who I am. You mustn’t try to copy me. Emulate the best aspects of yourself.” I said it was a dead-end street to try to be somebody else. In retrospect, I realize it’s not unusual for people to borrow some else’s form until they find their own, and in time Jimmy did. He was still developing when I first met him, but by the time he made Giant, he was no longer trying to imitate me. He still had his insecurities, but he had become his own man. He was awfully good in that last picture, and people identified with his pain and made him a cult hero. We can only guess what kind of actor he would have become in another twenty years. I think he could have become a great one. Instead he died and was forever entombed in his myth.