Sydney Pollack: “I like to do character-driven stories about people and relationships”

Film director Sydney Pollack was one of America’s most celebrated filmmakers of his generation. Multiple Academy Award winner for “Out of Africa” (1985), and director and producer of more than forty films, he also appeared as a character actor in several films, especially in the second half of his illustrious career. Well-spoken, very knowledgeable, and an icon filmmaker of numerous excellent films to his credit who initially started as an actor in TV series in the 1950s, I met Mr. Pollack in October 1997 at the Ghent Film Festival (Flanders, Belgium) for a short interview. Later on, he directed two more films, “Random Hearts” (1999) and “The Interpreter” (2005), and as producer, he was involved in several other projects.

Born Sydney Irwin Pollack in Lafayette, Indiana, in 1934, he passed away in May 2008 in Los Angeles at age 73 before some of his final projects as a producer, such as “The Reader” (2009) and “Margaret” (2011), were wrapped, edited and released.

Three screen classics directed by Mr. Pollack: “This Property Is Condemned” (1966), “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” (1969), and “The Way We Were” (1973)

Before visiting the Ghent Film Festival, Mr. Pollack was in London to appear in Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut,” playing the part of Vitor Ziegler, and then attended the Verona Film Festival. After leaving Ghent, he first went to Balboa, Spain, and finally returned to his home base, Los Angeles.

Mr. Pollack, do you get ‘carte blanche’ when you’re making a film?

Carte blanche may be an exaggeration—when you say carte blanche, you mean I can do whatever I want? Yes, pretty much. I think so.

Some directors of your generation, like John Schlesinger and Arthur Penn, are not on the map anymore as they used to be in 1960s and 1970s, which is a tremendous loss. How do you explain that?

It’s a very sad thing in American cinema; it also happens in Italian and French cinema. We never know why some people remain in the spotlight, and some people have a more difficult time. I have no explanation for it. It just happens that way. But you’re right; John Schlesinger is a marvelous director, he directed some great movies.

What do you consider the highlights of your career so far?

I really don’t think of it that way. I just make them one at a time, and it feels like suddenly I woke up one day, and I had made ten, or twelve, or thirteen films. But I never think of that while I’m doing them, so I don’t know how to think about highlights. I’ve made seventeen films as a director now, the most successful ones you know, the ones that have been the most famous I think are “They Shoot Horses Don’t They” [1969], “The Way We Were” [1973], “Three Days of the Condor” [1975], “Tootsie” [1982] and “Out of Africa” [1985]. The critics also know films as “The Yakuza” [1974] and “The Scalphunters” [1968]—so I don’t know which are the highlights most necessarily, but those are the most famous ones.

How do you look back to your debut feature, “The Slender Thread” [1965]?

Well, it was my first movie; I wasn’t working as well as I would have loved it. It’s not a movie I ever watch. It was my first movie; I was twenty-eight years old, coming out of television, and trying to learn. The performances by Sidney Poiter and Anne Bancroft are wonderful, but I was trying too hard to convince everyone that I was a movie director.

“The Slender Thread” (1965, trailer)

So I suppose that, as a director, you really got started with “This Property Is Condemned” [1966], and “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” [1969]?

I guess so. “This Property Is Condemned” created a certain style and mood that have stayed with me in several films that I’ve done since then. “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” was an enormously challenging picture; it all took place in one set, with the same activities over and over again, and it had to get slower because they got tired. I had three things that are a director’s nightmare; no visual relief from the set, no relief within the set in terms of the activity, and you couldn’t pick up the pace. It had to get slower, so I had to find other ways to pick up the pace. That was a challenge, and it was a great learning experience.

“The Way We Were” [1973] was a drama set against the background of political activism and blacklisting. Are you politically active?

I’ve never been a politician, but I have been very involved in politics as a supporter, as a fundraiser, sometimes working with candidates, their speeches, and presentations. It’s almost impossible not to be in today’s age. I don’t run for office, but I’m involved with politicians. You’d have to say I’m a liberal democrat.

Have you got the final cut, and will you ever rerelease a film of yours in a director’s cut version ?

I have the final cut. They’ve asked me over and over if I want to rerelease a film in a different cut. You were asking about “The Way We Were.” If I would rerelease it with a director’s cut, then I would say, “You saw it!” I have film that I took out, but I wouldn’t want to put it back in. The same is true for “Out of Africa.” I got a lot of things I took out, but I like the cut better without them.

“The Way We Were” and “Out of Africa” are two films with a very recognizable score and possibly your best scores. Would you agree with that?

They’re the most romantic and melodic from Marvin Hamlish on “The Way We Were,” and John Barry on “Out of Africa.” They’re both big romantic scores, so there’s a lushness to them. They’re kind a sweet. But I like other scores personally. “Havana” [1990] is the best score to me; it won an Academy Award nomination [score by Dave Grusin]. That’s a terrific score, very Latin sounding with romance and lushness, adding a Cuban sound to it. It was very good.

“Out of Africa” (1985, trailer)

Hasn’t “Havana” been underestimated, just like Richard Lester’s “Cuba” [1979]?

I don’t know. Nobody liked the film when it came out. It was a flop, but I personally like it a lot. I think it is a good film. But that doesn’t count [laughs]. My personal opinion about my movies is not what’s important. What is utterly important is what the world thinks of it. At the time when it came out, “Havana” was not a popular movie at all. It had a few critics that liked it, that felt it was underrated.

What’s your point of view towards the press?

Those are the rules. It’s very difficult sometimes when you work very hard on something; you think it’s good, and then it’s so easily dismissed. But I don’t have any right to complain. I can say to you it concerns me, but those are the rules. The press has often been very good to me and has also been very mean to me.

Have you ever considered directing yourself in a leading role?

No, I wouldn’t do that. I just finished “Eyes Wide Shut” with Stanley Kubrick. I don’t care much about acting, but it’s kind of interesting to work with directors like the ones I’ve worked with—Woody Allen and Stanley Kubrick. It gives me an opportunity as a director to see them at work. I like that. But it’s not something I would pursue. I’m going to play a part next month in the new film for John Travolta, being directed by Steven Zaillian, called “A Civil Action.” That’s fun. It’s a small part. But I’m not someone who pursues acting seriously.

Lately, you’ve been directing less than before. You’re more involved now as a producer. Is there an explanation for that?

Yes. It’s just that I’ve had a tough time finding something that I want to direct. It takes me longer, partially because I don’t want to keep repeating myself, so the choices get less, and also partially because it’s a more difficult time now to make films. I couldn’t make “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” today, or “Jeremiah Johnson,” or some of those movies. I would never be able to get a studio and make it. They’re looking for something different, and it’s harder today for the kind of movies that I’ve been making. They‘re a little more conventional. They’re a little more traditional movies. I have never learned very much about special effects and big action pictures, so I don’t do that. I usually do relationship stories, and those are a little harder to make.

Do you take a lot of time to direct a film, and do you need several takes?

No, I don’t do a lot of takes. But that may be just because I’m lazy. I don’t have any firm conviction about it. I do as many as it takes to get it right. Sometimes the actors get it right very quickly, and sometimes they don’t.

Sydney Pollack 2 Out of Africa
Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in Sydney Pollack’s “Out of Africa” (1985)

Do you prefer a film project with an actor in mind, or would you rather wait and see?

Well, it works both ways. Sometimes I choose it with an actor in mind, sometimes, like with “Out of Africa,” you have to search for a long time. I thought about a lot of different women: I thought about Judy Davis, I thought about Julie Christie, I thought about Sigourney Weaver, a lot of different people before I actually had a long meeting with Meryl Streep and as soon as I met with her, I knew she was the right person. Or I felt she was—I had never met her before, I had seen her work, but I didn’t know her.

What’s the chemistry between you and Robert Redford?

We met each other when we were kids. We have certain things in common, certain points of view about Hollywood, about life and films, so we always got along pretty well. Then our respective wives met each other and got along; the kids met each other and got along. The families have been close over the years. We spent a lot of our holidays at Sundance, where we had a house for twenty-five years. It’s been good for me to work with somebody I know so well. I think it’s comfortable for him to work with someone he’s comfortable with. I think we do good work together and have done good work over the years. I guess it’s like Scorsese and De Niro.

A lot of people admire you and your work. Who are the directors that you’ve admired over the years, and looked up to when you started out?

When I was first beginning to direct, the directors that I most watched were the European directors, you know, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, those people, but also George Stevens, Elia Kazan, Fred Zinnemann, William Wyler, and Billy Wilder. They were still working in the early sixties. But by the end of the sixties, Kazan wasn’t doing much anymore; he did a film with Kirk Douglas [“The Arrangement”] based on his own book in 1969 when I was shooting “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” He was working on the next stage to me at Warner Brothers. By the seventies, they weren’t working very much, those guys.

Your generation had taken over?

That’s right, that’s what happened. By the middle of the seventies, the new directors were mostly my age, so there was a new generation, you’re right.

Are you nostalgic about the old Hollywood and its studio system, or do you think independence is the answer?

Sydney Pollack 7 The English Patient
Kristin Scott Thomas and Ralph Fiennes in “The English Patient” (1995), directed by Anthony Minghella (1954-2008) who frequently collaborated with Sydney Pollack

Well, I got there too late to be a part of the studio system. The studio system was nearly finished in the late 1960s when I started directing movies. But I am nostalgic for the kind of films that we used to make and that we don’t make much anymore. Those have all gone to television or to independence—the sort of standard B movie that Hollywood was famous for over the years. We’re trying so hard now to make some kind of sensationalism in movies to make bigger and bigger explosions, to make bigger and bigger productions and bigger and bigger special effects. I don’t think we’re as focused on classical stories as we were used to be and I miss that. But otherwise, you know, I think there’s still some very good movies made, some of them still very traditional, like “The English Patient” [1996], films like that. It’s a kind of a throwback.

Most of your films, like “Out of Africa,” belong in that same category, don’t they?

Yes, very much so.

Initially, it surprised me, but later on, I was delighted that you decided to do a remake of Billy Wilder’s “Sabrina” [1954].

Yeah, it surprised everybody. I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I did [laughs]. I liked the idea of trying to do that film and update it to the 1990s, but obviously I made a mistake.

You think so?

Well, I made a mistake in terms of the critics and the people because they were angry—they loved the original so much. I saw the old movie, and I liked it, but I wasn’t madly in love with it. I didn’t think it was Billy Wilder’s best movie by a long shot, and I thought in many ways it was silly. I wanted to try and make it like the nineties instead of the fifties, and I was also an enormous fan of Harrison Ford. I loved him in “Witness” [1985], and in movies like “The Mosquito Coast” [1986] where he doesn’t have to punch everybody. And I wanted to work with him that way, so I did.

Would it be correct to describe your films as enriching and high-quality entertainment with a personal interest in human relationships?

I wouldn’t say that, but I’m very happy that you do. I don’t know what to call them. I don’t know what the label is. I think I’ve mostly done traditional genre films.

“The Firm” (1993, trailer)

And several of the classics are traditional genre films.

Yes, yes, like you said, I like to do character-driven stories about people and relationships. That’s what I always try to do. Sometimes they’re in the form of thrillers, or Westerns or something else, but they’re usually very much about characters. With the exception of “Three Days of the Condor” [1975] and “The Firm” [1993], my films are not heavy plotted. “Out of Africa” [1985] has no story, “The Way We Were” [1973] has almost no story; they’re just about what happens to two people over a period of time. Every once in a while, I get a very strong plot, like “Three Days of the Condor,” or “The Firm.” But even then, what I try to do is work very hard to make them about the characters.

Ghent Film Festival, Ghent (Belgium)
October 11, 1997

+ Mr. Pollack passed away on May 26, 2008, at age 73, in Pacific Palisades, California, as a result of stomach cancer.


WAR HUNT (1962) DIR Denis Sanders PROD Terry Sanders SCR Stanford Whitmore CAST John Saxon, Robert Redford, Charles Aidman, Sydney Pollack (Sergeant Owen Van Horn), Gavin MacLeod, Tom Skerritt, Francis Ford Coppola

THE SLENDER THREAD (1965) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Stephen Alexander SCR Stirling Silliphant (article ‘A Decision to Die’ by Shana Alexander) CAST Sidney Poitier, Anne Bancroft, Telly Savalas, Steven Hill, Edward Asner, Dabney Coleman

THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMNED (1966) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD John Houseman, Ray Stark SCR Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Coe, Edith Sommer CAST Natalie Wood, Robert Redford, Charles Bronson, Kate Reid, Mary Badham, Robert Blake, Dabney Coleman

THE SCALPHUNTERS (1968) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Arthur Gardner, Jules Levy, Arnold Laven SCR William Norton CAST Burt Lancaster, Shelley Winters, Telly Savalas, Ossie Davis, Dabney Coleman, Paul Picerni

CASTLE KEEP (1969) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Martin Ransohoff, John Calley SCR Daniel Taradesh, David Rayfiel (novel ‘Castle Keep’ [1965] by William Eastlake) CAST Burt Lancaster, Peter Falk, Patrick O’Neal, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Scott Wilson, Al Freeman, Jr., Bruce Dern

THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON’T THEY? (1969) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD SCR James Poe, Robert E. Thompson (novel ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ [1935] by Horace McCoy) CAST Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York, Gig Young, Red Buttons, Bonnie Bedelia, Bruce Dern

JEREMIAH JOHNSON (1972) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Joe Wizan SCR John Milius, Edward Anhalt (novel ‘Mountain Man’ [1965] by Vardis Fisher, story ‘Crow Killer’ by Raymond W. Thorp, Robert Bunker) CAST Robert Redford, Will Geer, Stefan Gierasch, Allyn Ann McLerie, Charles Tyner, Josh Albee

THE WAY WE WERE (1973) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Ray Stark SCR Arthur Laurents CAST Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Bradford Dillman, Lois Chiles, Patrick O’Neal, Viveca Lindfors, Murray Hamilton, James Woods, Susan Blakely, Marvin Hamlish, Cornelia Sharpe

THE YAKUZA (1974) DIR – PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Paul Schrader, Robert Towne (story by Leonard Schrader) CAST Robert Mitchum, Takakura Ken, Brian Keith, Herb Edelman, Richard Jordan, Kishi Keiko

THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1975) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Stanley Schneider SCR David Rayfiel, Lorenzo Semple, Jr. (novel ‘Six Days of the Condor’ [1974] by James Grady) CAST Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max Von Sydow, John Houseman, Carlin Glynn, Addison Powell

BOBBY DEERFIELD (1977) DIR – PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Alvin Sargent (novel ‘Der Himmel kennt keine Günstlinge’ [1961, a.k.a. ‘Heaven Has No Favorites’] by Erich Maria Remarque) CAST Al Pacino, Marthe Keller, Anny Duperey, Walter McGinn, Romolo Valli, Stephen Meldegg

THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN (1979) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Ray Stark SCR Robert Garland (screen story by Robert Garland, Paul Gaer, story by Shelley Burton) CAST Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Valerie Perrine, Willie Nelson, John Saxon, Nicolas Coster, Sydney Pollack (Man who makes a pass at Alice)

HONEYSUCKLE ROSE (1980) DIR Jerry Schatzberg PROD Gene Taft EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack SCR John Binder, Carol Sobieski, William D. Wittliff (story by Gösta Stevens, Gustaf Molander) CAST Willie Nelson, Dyan Cannon, Amy Irving, Slim Pickens, Joey Floyd, Charles Levin, Priscilla Pointer, Mickey Rooney, Jr., Diana Scarwid

ABSENCE OF MALICE (1981) DIR – PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Kurt Luedtke CAST Paul Newman, Sally Field, Bob Balaban, Melinda Dillon, Luther Adler, Barry Primus, Wilford Brimley, Josef Sommer

TOOTSIE (1982) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Sydney Pollack, Dick Richards SCR Larry Gelbart, Murray Schisgal (story by Larry Gelbart, Don McGuire) CAST Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Bill Murray, Sydney Pollack (George Fields), Geena Davis, Ellen Foley

SONGWRITER (1984) DIR Alan Rudolph PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Bud Shrake CAST Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Melinda Dillon, Rip Torn, Lesley Ann Warren, Mickey Raphael, Rhonda Dotson, Richard C. Sarafian

OUT OF AFRICA (1985) DIR – PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Kurt Luedtke (writings by Karen Blixen, book ‘Silence Will Speak: A Study of Denys Finch Hatton and His Relationship With Karen Blixen’ [1977] by Errol Trzebinski, book ‘Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller’ [1982] by Judith Thurman) CAST Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Michael Kitchen, Malick Bowens

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY (1988) DIR James Bridges PROD Sydney Pollack, Mark Rosenberg SCR Jay McInerney (also novel ‘Bright Lights, Big City’ [1984]) CAST Michael J. Fox, Kiefer Sutherland, Phoebe Cates, Swoozie Kurtz, Frances Sternhagen, John Houseman, Dianne Wiest, William Hickey, Sam Robards, Jason Robards

THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS (1989) DIR – SCR Steve Kloves PROD Mark Rosenberg, Paula Weinstein EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack CAST Jeff Bridges, Michelle Pfeiffer, Beau Bridges, Ellie Raab, Jennifer Tilly

PRESUMED INNOCENT (1990) DIR Alan J. Pakula PROD Sydney Pollack, Mark Rosenberg SCR Alan J. Pakula, Frank Pierson (novel ‘Presumed Innocent’ [1987] by Scott Turow) CAST Harrison Ford, Brian Dennehy, Raul Julia, Bonnie Bedelia, Paul Winfield, Greta Scacchi

WHITE PALACE (1990) DIR Luis Mandoki PROD Griffin Dunne, Mark Rosenberg, Amy Robinson EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Alvin Sargent, Ted Tally (novel ‘White Palace’ [1988] by Glenn Savan) CAST Susan Sarandon, James Spader, Jason Alexander, Kathy Bates, Eileen Brennan, Spiros Focas, Gina Gershon

HAVANA (1990) DIR – PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Judith Rascoe, David Rayfiel (story by Judith Rascoe) CAST Robert Redford, Lena Olin, Alan Arkin, Tomas Milian, Richard Farnsworth, Mark Rydell, Raul Julia

KING RALPH (1991) DIR David S. Ward PROD Jack Brodsky EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Mark Rosenberg SCR David S. Ward (novel ‘Headlong’ [1980] by Emlyn Williams) CAST John Goodman, Peter O’Toole, John Hurt, Camille Coduri, Richard Griffiths, Leslie Phillips, Joely Richardson, Julian Glover

DEAD AGAIN (1991) DIR Kenneth Branagh PROD Charles H. Maguire, Lindsay Doran EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Scott Frank CAST Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Andy Garcia, Derek Jacobi, Hanna Schygulla, Campbell Scott, Robin Williams

THE PLAYER (1992) DIR Robert Altman PROD Michael Tolkin, David Brown, Nick Wechsler SCR Michael Tolkin (also novel ‘The Player’ [1988]) CAST Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi, Fred Ward, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Gallagher, Brion James, Cynthia Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Dean Stockwell, Richard E. Grant, Dina Merrill, Sydney Pollack (Dick Mellon), Lyle Lovett, Richard Anderson, Harry Belafonte, Shari Belafonte, Karen Black, Gary Busey, Cher, James Coburn, John Cusack, Brad Davis, Peter Falk, Felicia Farr, Louise Fletcher, Teri Garr, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, Elliott Gould, Joel Grey, Buck Henry, Anjelica Huston, Sally Kellerman, Sally Kirkland, Jack Lemmon, Marlee Matlin, Andie MacDowell, Malcolm McDowell, Jayne Meadows, Nick Nolte, Burt Reynolds, Julia Roberts, Jill St. John, Susan Sarandon, Rod Steiger, Lily Tomlin, Robert Wagner, Ray Walston, Bruce Willis, Patrick Swayze

LEAVING NORMAL (1992) DIR Edward Zwick PROD Lindsay Doran EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Edward Sollomon CAST Meg Tilly, Christine Lahti, Lenny Van Dohlen, Maury Chaykin, James Gammon, Rutanya Alda

DEATH BECOMES HER (1992) DIR Robert Zemeckis PROD Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey SCR David Koepp, Martin Donovan CAST Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn, Isabella Rossellini, Ian Ogilvy, Adam Storke, Nancy Fish, Sydney Pollack (E.R. Doctor)

HUSBANDS AND WIVES (1992) DIR – SCR Woody Allen PROD Robert Greenhut CAST Woody Allen, Blythe Danner, Judy Davis, Mia Farrow, Juliette Lewis, Liam Neeson, Sydney Pollack (Jack), Lysette Anthony, Nora Ephron

THE FIRM (1993) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Sydney Pollack, Scott Rudin, John Davis SCR Robert Towne, David Rayfiel, David Rabe (novel ‘The Firm’ [1991] by John Grisham) CAST Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Hal Holbrook, Holly Hunter, Wilford Brimley, David Strathairn, Gary Busey

SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISHER, UK title INNOCENT MOVES (1993) DIR Steven Zaillian PROD Scott Rudin, William Horberg EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Steven Zaillian (book ‘Searching for Bobby Fisher: The World of Chess, Observed by the Father of a Child Prodigy’ [1988] by Fred Waitzkin) CAST Joe Mantegna, Max Pomeranc, Joan Allen, Ben Kingsley, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Nirenberg, William H. Macey, Dan Hedaya, Josh Mostel

FLESH AND BONE (1993) DIR – SCR Steve Kloves PROD Mark Rosenberg, Paula Weinstein EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack,  CAST Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, James Caan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scott Wilson, Christopher Rydell, Betsy Brantley

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1993) DIR Ang Lee PROD Lindsay Doran EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Emma Thompson (novel ‘Sense and Sensibility’ [1811] by Jane Austen) CAST Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, James Fleet, Harriet Walter, Gemma Jones, Imelda Staunton, Tom Wilkinson

SABRINA (1995) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Sydney Pollack, Scott Rudin SCR Barbara Benedek, David Rayfiel (screenplay of SABRINA [1954] by Billy Wilder, Samuel A. Taylor, Ernest Lehman; play ‘Sabrina Fair’ [1953] by Samuel A. Taylor) CAST Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, Greg Kinnear, Nancy Marchand, John Wood, Richard Crenna, Angie Dickinson, Lauren Holly, Fanny Ardant

A CIVIL ACTION (1998) DIR Steven Zaillian PROD Robert Redford, Scott Rudin, Rachel Pfeffer SCR Steven Zaillian (book ‘A Civil Action” [1996] by Jonathan Harr) CAST John Travolta, Robert Duvall, Tony Shalhoub, William H. Macy, Zeljko Ivanek, Bruce Norris, John Lithgow, Kathleen Quinlan, Peter Jacobson, Sydney Pollack (Al Eustis), Dan Hedaya, James Gandolfini

SLIDING DOORS (1998) DIR – SCR Peter Howitt PROD Sydney Pollack, Philippa Braithwaite, William Horberg CAST Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah, John Lynch, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Zara Turner, Douglas McFerran, Virginia McKenna

RANDOM HEARTS (1999) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Sydney Pollack, Marykay Powell SCR Kurt Luedtke (novel ‘Random Hearts’ [1984] by Warren Alder, adaptation by Darryl Ponicsan) CAST Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas, Charles S. Dutton, Bonnie Hunt, Dennis Haysbert, Sydney Pollack (Carl Broman), Peter Coyote, Richard Jenkins

THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY (1999) DIR Anthony Minghella PROD William Horberg, Tom Sternberg EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack SCR Anthony Minghella (novel ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ [1955] by Patricia Highsmith) CAST Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jack Davenport, Lisa Eichhorn

EYES WIDE SHUT (1999) DIR – PROD Stanley Kubrick SCR Stanley Kubrick, Frederick Raphael (inspired by the novella ‘Dream Story’ [1926] by Arthur Schnitzler) CAST Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack (Victor Ziegler), Marie Richardson, Todd Field, Lisa Leone, Thomas Gibson, Vinessa Shaw, Stanley Kubrick, Christiane Kubrick

UP AT THE VILLA (2000) DIR Philip Haas PROD Geoff Stier EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Arnon Milchan, Stanley Buchthal SCR Belinda Haas (novel ‘Up at the Villa’  [1941] by William Somerset Maugham) CAST Kristin Scott Thomas, Sean Penn, Anne Bancroft, James Fox, Jeremy Davies, Derek Jacobi, Massimo Ghini

BLOW DRY (2001) DIR Paddy Breathnach PROD David Rubin, William Horberg, Ruth Jackson EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Meryl Foster, Nigel Sinclair, Chris Sievernich, Julie Goldstein, Guy East, Moritz Borman SCR Simon Beaufoy CAST Alan Rickman, Natasha Richardson, Rachel Griffiths, Josh Hartnett, Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosemary Harris, Bill Nighy, Heidi Klum

BIRTHDAY GIRL (2001) DIR Jez Butterworth PROD Steve Butterworth, Diana Phillips EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Julie Goldstein, Colin Leventhal, Paul Webster, Rick Schwartz SCR Jez Butterworth, Tom Butterworth CAST Nicole Kidman, Ben Chaplin, Vincent Cassel, Mathieu Kassowitz, Stephen Mangan

THE MAJESTIC (2001) DIR – PROD Frank Darabont SCR Michael Sloane CAST Jim Carrey, Martin Landau, Laurie Holden, David Ogden Stiers, James Whitmore, Jeffrey DeMunn, Ron Rifkin, Bob Balaban; Garry Marshall, Paul Mazursky, Sydney Pollack, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner (Studio Executives, voice)

IRIS (2001) DIR Richard Eyre PROD Scott Rudin, Robert Fox EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella, Guy East, Harvey Weinstein, David M. Thompson, Tom Hedley SCR Richard Eyre, Charles Wood (books ‘Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch’ [1998] and ‘Elegy for Iris: A Memoir’ [1999] by John Bayley) CAST Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent, Kate Winslet, Hugh Bonneville, Penelope Wilton, Juliet Aubrey, Samuel West, Timothy West, Eleanor Bron

HEAVEN (2002) DIR Tom Tykwer PROD Anthony Minghella, William Horberg, Maria Köpf, Stefan Arndt, Frédérique Dumas EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Harvey Weinstein, Agnès Mentré SCR Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz (trilogy ‘Heaven, Hell and Purgatory’ by Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz) CAST Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Mattia Sbragia, Alberto Di Stasio, Remo Girone, Alessandro Sperduti

THE QUIET AMERICAN (2002) DIR Philip Noyce PROD Staffan Ahrenberg, William Horberg. EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella, Nigel Sinclair, Chris Sievernich, Guy East, Moritz Borman SCR Christopher Hampton, Robert Schenkkan (novel ‘The Quiet American’ [1955] by Grahame Greene) CAST Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser, Do Thi Hai Yen, Rade Sherbedgia, Tzi Ma, Robert Stanton

CHANGING LANES (2002) DIR Roger Michell PROD Scott Rudin SCR Chap Taylor, Michael Tolkin (story by Chap Taylor) CAST Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Toni Collette, Sydney Pollack (Stephen Delano), William Hurt, Amanda Peet, Richard Jenkins, Kim Staunton

COLD MOUNTAIN (2003) DIR Anthony Minghella PROD Sydney Pollack, William Horberg, Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa SCR Anthony Minghella (novel ‘Cold Mountain’ [1997] by Charles Frazier) CAST Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Donald Sutherland, Ray Winstone

THE INTERPRETER (2005) DIR Sydney Pollack PROD Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Kevin Misher EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella, G. Mac Brown SCR Steven Zaillian, Scott Frank, Charles Randolph (story by Martin Stellman, Brian Ward) CAST Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Jesper Christensen, Yvan Attal, Earl Cameron, Sydney Pollack (Jay Pettigrew)

FORTY SHADES OF BLUE (2005) DIR Ira Sachs PROD Ira Sachs, Mary Bing, Donald Rosenfeld, Jawal Nga, Margot Bridger EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Diane von Fürstenberg, Geoff Stier SCR Ira Sachs, Michael Rohatyn CAST Rip Torn, Dina Korzun, Darren Burrows, Paprika Steen, Red West

CATCH A FIRE (2006). DIR Philip Noyce PROD Anthony Minghella, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Liza Chasin, Debra Hayward SCR Shawn Slovo CAST Tim Robbins, Derek Luke, Bonnie Henna, Mncedisi Shabangu, Tumisho K. Masha, Sithembiso Khumalo

FAUTEUILS D’ORCHESTRE (2006) DIR Danièle Thompson PROD Christine Gozlan SCR Danièle Thompson, Christopher Thompson CAST Cécile de France, Valérie Lemercier, Claude Brasseur, Albert Dupontel, Christopher Thomspon, Laura Morante, Sydney Pollack (Brian Sobinsky), Suzanne Flon

BREAKING AND ENTERING (2006) DIR – SCR Anthony Minghella PROD Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella CAST Jude Law, Juliette Binoche, Robin Wright Penn, Martin Freeman, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Rafi Gavron, Poppy Rogers

MICHAEL CLAYTON (2007). DIR – SCR Tony Gilroy PROD Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox, Kerry Orent CAST George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Sydney Pollack (Marty Bach), Michael O’Keefe, Ken Howard, David Lansbury

LEATHERHEADS (2008) DIR George Clooney PROD Grant Heslov, Casey Silver EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Jeffrey Silver, Bobby Newmyer SCR Rick Reilly, Duncan Brantley CAST George Clooney, Renéé Zellweger, John Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce, Peter Gerety, Jack Thompson

MADE OF HONOR (2008) DIR Paul Weiland PROD Neal H. Moritz SCR Adam Sztykiel, Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont (story by Adam Sztykiel) CAST Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin McKidd, Kathleen Quinlan, Sydney Pollack (Thomas Sr.), Kadeem Hardison, Chris Messina

THE READER (2008) DIR Stephen Daldry PROD Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella, Donna Gigliotti SCR David Hare (book ‘Der Vorleser’ [1995] by Bernhard Schlink) CAST Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, Lena Olin, Bruno Ganz, Matthias Habich, Susanne Lothar, Karoline Herfurth

MARGARET (2011) DIR – SCR Kenneth Lonergan PROD Sydney Pollack, Scott Rudin, Gary Gilbert EXEC PROD Anthony Minghella CAST Matt Damon, Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, Jean Reno, Matthew Broderick, Kenneth Lonergan, Sarah Steele


POODLE SPRINGS (1998) DIR Bob Rafelson PROD Tony Mark EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, William Horberg, Jon Avnet, Jordan Kerner TELEPLAY Tom Stoppard (novel ‘Poodle Springs’ started by Raymond Chandler in 1958, finished by Robert B. Barker after Chandler’s death in 1959) CAST James Caan, Dina Meyer, David Keith, Tom Bower, Julia Campbell, Brian Cox, Joe Don Baker

BRONX COUNTY (1998) DIR Thomas Carter PROD D. Scott Easton. EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, John Sacret Young CAST Victor Anthony, Sean Nelson, Justin Theroux, John C. McDonnell, Sandrine Holt, Christopher Wiehl

RECOUNT (2008) DIR Jay Roach PROD Michael Hausman EXEC PROD Sydney Pollack, Jay Roach, Len Amato, Paula Weinstein TELEPLAY Danny Strong CAST Kevin Spacey, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley, Jr., Laura Dern, John Hurt, Bruce McGill, Tom Wilkinson