“I don’t do a lot of takes when it’s good”: Stanley Kubrick Blamed “Undisciplined” Actors For Fabricating Lies About His Extreme Work Process

Stanley Kubrick dismissed myths of excessive takes, valuing actor prep and emotional depth in crafting his film legacy.

stanley kubrick blamed “undisciplined” actors for fabricating lies about his extreme work process


  • Stanley Kubrick claimed that his reputation for demanding excessive takes was overblown and exaggerated.
  • Kubrick believed that an actor’s discipline was crucial for the filmmaking process.
  • Despite the rumors about his exacting methods, Kubrick's body of work speaks to the effectiveness of his approach.
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Stanley Kubrick is a highly renowned filmmaker often in the limelight for his distinctive working style. His methodical approach, coupled with his secretive nature, has led to the creation of several legends surrounding his work. One of the most prevalent myths is that he was an uncompromising perfectionist who insisted on multiple takes until satisfied with the scene.


Contrary to popular belief, Kubrick disagreed with portraying his method as tyrannical. In a rare interview, he explained that he expected discipline and preparation from his actors.

The Actor’s Discipline: A Stanley Kubrickian Pre-Requisite

Stanley Kubrickian on the set of The Shining
Stanley Kubrick on the set of The Shining

As shared by Outstanding Screenplays, Stanley Kubrick’s expectation for actors was not just about showing up on set; it was about arriving with lines down pat and characters fully internalized.


“Actors are sometimes undisciplined enough not to go home and go to sleep at night, and learn their lines.”

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Stanley Kubrick once pointed out, pinning the responsibility of a smooth take as much on the actor’s preparation as on his direction. In Kubrick’s eyes, the actor’s job was to make the dialogue an extension of themselves, allowing the emotion to flow freely without the encumbrance of recalling lines.

Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick

For him, the magical take was one where the actor could deliver with an emotional authenticity that only comes from thorough preparation. Stanley Kubrick was known to foster environments where actors could reach their fullest potential, but not without a firm foundation of discipline and hard work.


The narrative of Kubrick’s supposed insistence on countless takes has been blown out of proportion, according to the man himself. While Kubrick did not shy away from multiple takes when necessary, he refuted the claim that it was a habitual practice.

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Stanley Kubrick and Hollywood’s Echo Chamber

Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick

In the video shared by Outstanding Screenplays, the director argued that it was usually the performance that necessitated repetition, not some intractable desire for cinematic perfection through endless retries.


“And so, you wind up, say, with this particular actor, you know, maybe doing 30 takes of something. Then the guy gets back to America, and if he’s nice, he says, “Oh boy, it’s the only such a perfectionist, he does a hundred takes on every scene. I had to do this thing, you know, a hundred times.”

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In a recollection, Stanley Kubrick revealed that the stories of his demanding nature could be exaggerated. In the Outstanding Screenplays’ video, Kubrick was aware of how stories could take on a life of their own once they left the set.

“So the 30 becomes a hundred. And of course, they never say why you did so many takes. I don’t do a lot of takes when it’s good.”

From the haunting corridors of The Shining to the chilling odyssey of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick’s films are meticulously crafted experiences that have left an indelible mark on cinematic history. Kubrick’s pursuit of cinematic excellence was as much about creating an enduring legacy as it was about the immediate filmmaking process.


Mabel Andrady

Written by Mabel Andrady

Articles Published: 694

Mabel, aka MJ, is a FandomWire Sr. Writer, pop-culture fanatic, and an MA in Health Demography holder. When she's not indulging in her guilty pleasure of penning everything Hollywood, Marvel & DC, she writes academic essays on COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. With 2500+ articles published online, she brings a unique twist to entertainment writing. A jack-of-all-trades, MJ enjoys movies, writes/acts in plays, writes music, and dreams of being a successful actress. She offers a fresh perspective, making her writing a must-read for those seeking knowledge and entertainment.