From The Talks:
Mr. Schnabel, when does a work of art become important in your opinion? Do you need external confirmation, or is it something explicitly personal?
I don’t think something is important just because an audience likes it. Most people make art and movies as a job and if a lot of people go to see it they make money and that is their sign of success. I am not making judgment here, but their goal is strictly business-oriented. I don’t do this as a business.
So commercial success doesn’t interest you?
Do I think it’s good if people like it? I have to like it. If I think that something is good, it is fine. I mean Gladiator came out when my movie Before Night Falls came out. Gladiator won the Acadamy Award, Russell Crowe won the Acadamy Award. Would I rather be Ridley Scott? No. Do I think Javier Bardem’s performance was better than Russell Crowe’s, although Russell is an excellent actor? Yes. Javier Bardem’s performance was better. Did we win the Oscar? No. Does it matter? No. I mean he was the first Spanish actor to ever be nominated for an Academy Award. What does that say about the Academy? There is a level of chauvinism over there; it’s a club.
Do you think your indifference to the system has actually made you more successful?
Well I can’t just say yes to that, because then I would sound like the guy everybody says I am supposed to be: the arrogant, self-satisfied Schnabel. (Laughs)