His Leading Lady Could Read the Thoughts of the Famous Filmmaker
In a 1990 radio interview, Francois Truffaut, an icon of the French film industry, recalled this incident. “I was not getting a very sound night’s sleep because we were going to film a very complex scene in the morning. I knew my leading lady was fragile, and the actor opposite her was temperamental, to say the least.
“Although it is my responsibility as director to maintain total control of the set, it is always my intention to have happy actors. My failure to accomplish that will not optimize their talents, and the finished product will certainly suffer the consequences.
“Sure enough, when I walked on the set, I was alerted by my assistant that my feminine lead was in her trailer — in tears and not at all ready to participate in the demanding scene we were about to film.
“When I entered her trailer she explained that she ‘knew’ what I was thinking about her fragility and that I had spent a restless night worrying about it.
I nodded that she was correct and inquired how she could have possibly known that. She replied that from the first day of shooting she had been able to pick up on my thoughts. I’m sure she picked up on my horror at that notion because although she was very, very gifted, she was, indeed, a challenge to work with.
“Well, from that moment on until we wrapped the movie, I was careful not to think negative thoughts about her — or anyone else for that matter. She also made me promise I would never reveal our little secret to anyone because she didn’t want anyone else to know I thought she had a fragile personality.”