I start with actors that I know personally or I know their work, and there are things about their work or their presence or their own personality that make a character, that exaggerates some qualities and suppresses other qualities. It's always a real collaboration for me.
I have to tell everyone that when I finish a film and it goes out and is released, I never look at my films again. I don't like looking back. I don't even like talking about 'em! So I'm really digging back in my memory because I don't like to sit and look at my films again.
Consequently, I get inspiration from all over the place. But it's not like a calculated thing on my part, or a way that I see myself. I'm just interested in things that move me, and I don't care where they come from. In fact, I'm interested if they come from a place I wouldn't expect, or would seem foreign to me on some level.
Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.
I wanted to make an Indian character who wasn't either a) the savage that must be eliminated, the force of nature that's blocking the way for industrial progress, or b) the noble innocent that knows all and is another cliche. I wanted him to be a complicated human being.
Music, to me, is the most beautiful form, and I love film because film is very related to music. It moves by you in its own rhythm. It's not like reading a book or looking at a painting. It gives you its own time frame, like music, so they are very connected for me. But music to me is the biggest inspiration. When I get depressed, or anything, I go "think of all the music I haven't even heard yet!" So, it's the one thing. Imagine the world without music. Man, just hand me a gun, will you?
The beauty of ideas is that they are like waves in the ocean and they connect with things that came before them, and I think it is very important to embrace things that interest you and influence you, and incorporate them into what you do, as all artists have always done. The ones that say they don’t, are lying. Or are afraid that their work won’t be seen as being original, somehow.