Meeting some of our favorite actors and actresses in person is something most people won't do. Hearing about what they're like and how they interact with colleagues, however, is definitely an option - and a fun way to get to “know” those people we can only look at from afar.
Some of the listed celebrities have passed or retired, prompting comments and remarks of various kinds. Others are performers we just couldn't get enough of and went digging to find more. Regardless, these quotes about nostalgic stars caught our attention this year.
Take a look at what people had to say about these leading actors and actresses - and vote up the quotes that really leave an impression.
Individuals who've interacted with Betty White enjoyed the experience. Ryan Reynolds worked with her in The Proposal, but he'd been a fan for much longer. As he told People, he remembered watching The Golden Girls growing up, and the impressive comedic chops of White:
I heard that scripts for Golden Girls were only 35 pages, which makes sense because so many of the laughs come from Betty simply looking at her castmates.
Reynold also joked that White was "a typical Capricorn. Sleeps all day. Out all night boozing and snacking on men."
In the PBS documentary Betty White: First Lady of Television, Reynolds remembered what a positive experience filming with White was during The Proposal, for everyone involved:
She’s just this sweet... lovely, older woman who is just beloved by this whole crew and cast and everybody would just do anything for her... She gets up to leave and everyone’s sad cause it’s her last shot, and she’s just walking out the door to say goodbye, and she turns around right in the door jam and she says, "I just want everyone here to know, this is the most fun I’ve ever had." [...]
The woman just kills everyone. Everybody spends the rest of the day at a perfect 90-degree angle, laughing.
After White's passing on December 31, 2021, Reynolds tweeted:
The world looks different now. She was great at defying expectation. She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We’ll miss you, Betty. Now you know the secret.
Vicki Lawrence, another former co-star, met White on The Carol Burnett Show, and went on to work with her on numerous other occasions. The two also became lifelong friends. When asked by The Hollywood Reporter what it was like to work with White, Lawrence replied:
My recollections of Betty are nothing but sweet and happy and fun and raunchy and bawdy. But she was so professional in the middle of all that. I don’t remember Betty ever missing a line. It was so rare. She was so prepared. The only outtake I can remember ever was on Mama’s Family. [Her character] was having an affair with Mayor Tutweiler. We got to the taping and she said, “Mayor Tit-willow.” And it got stuck in her brain, and she couldn’t get it out, and it just digressed into a laughing mess.
She was the consummate professional - Carol used to call it “playing in the sandbox.” She never called it working. And Betty is the best playmate in the world. On game shows, and playing games with her, she was smart and clever… She was so good at that stuff. If you were playing against Betty, you better bring your A-game because she was there to beat your [butt].
In the interview, Lawrence also offered a glimpse into White's third marriage, to Allen Ludden, which Lawrence described as her "love story":
I remember a Christmas party of ours, shortly before Allen passed... It was the biggest Christmas party we’ve ever thrown - with the valet parking, bartenders, caterers - in our house in the Valley. [Betty and Allen] asked us, “Where can we sit that would be quiet?” I remember Allen taking her into our bedroom because we had a little table and two chairs right in a bay window that overlooked the whole city, and they sat there and had a quiet, lovely romantic dinner in the middle of this huge party.
They were a lovely couple, and they were adorable together. She drove the car he gave her for as long as I can remember. She wore the same ring he gave her as long as I’ve known her. That was her love story.
According to Lawrence, White's last word before her passing was "Allen."
- Photo: Addams Family Values / Paramount Pictures2188 VOTES
She was a natural fit for Wednesday; director Barry Sonnenfeld said she was so good that he knew Ricci "had it in the bag" at the audition for The Addams Family. Her effect on him and the first movie didn't stop there. According to Sonnenfeld, Ricci became a spokesperson of sorts, explaining to everyone how the plot needed to unfold:
She was such a brilliant spokesperson that we rewrote 20 pages of the script.
He also noted Ricci's talent while shooting the Addams Family movies:
Well, she was brilliant. Remember the scene where Fester puts Wednesday to bed, and she folds her arms and rests her hands on her shoulders like a dead person? That was totally Christina's idea. And she was what - 11? There were lots of things like that.
Sonnenfeld echoed these sentiments when discussing Ricci's influence on the second film in the series, Addams Family Values:
We knew that Christina had become gold, so of course, we used her a lot… We actually turned to her more than once, for her intelligence, her story sense, her acting. She's sort of scarily bright.
Producer Scott Rudin added, “She basically wrote the story for the second one.”
Ricci continued to take on unique roles that set her apart. On the set of 2006's Black Snake Moan, she spent a lot of time exposed - literally and figuratively. Her character Rae Doole was held captive by Samuel L. Jackson's character Lazarus, chained to a radiator in half a shirt and very little else.
According to Jackson, Ricci's half-naked appearance while making the movie didn't even faze him after a while:
Well, you know after about I guess an hour of looking at Christina in those little panties and that shirt, you kind of get over it. That's what she had on every day and she didn't put on a robe between shots and hide… She just kind of hung out, so you get over it pretty quickly.
The great thing was that during the rehearsal period, Christina and I developed this really interesting bond, and interesting trust, that kind of allowed her to kind of go anywhere she wanted to. I'd support her to the point where as an actor or as Samuel L Jackson I became another sort of Lazarus figure.
Jackson's reaction was exactly what Ricci wanted. She intentionally walked around wearing next to nothing:
It was really necessary for the crew to be used to it because I was playing someone who has no sense of her body and places no value on her body. Her body has never done anything but cause harm and she has no regard for herself so she wouldn’t care if she were clothed or not….
I stayed the way I would be for the scene all the time in order to get the crew really used to seeing me that way so that I was comfortable - not only was I comfortable but I would look at anybody’s face and not see them uncomfortable - because if someone else is uncomfortable, it makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong.
- Photo: The Green Mile / Warner Bros.
Michael Clarke Duncan became a star - and an Academy Award nominee - with his role in 1999's The Green Mile. Fans of action movies might more readily associate him with playing Bear in Armageddon, which came out one year before The Green Mile.
Directed by Michael Bay and starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and a host of others, Armageddon was a global success - but almost didn't include Duncan. Bay cast Duncan at the urging of his casting agent, Bonnie Timmerman. When he first met Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Duncan reportedly started crying and told them how proud his mother would be of him. He then gave a successful audition.
On the first day of shooting, however, Duncan's performance was not what Bay expected:
What I loved about Mike Clarke Duncan was the charm, and just being real and he was a lovable guy. I like working with real people and turning them into actors. And he had this voice, and was like a bad B or C actor. I'm like, dude. And Ben's like, "Uh oh, Mike, what are we doing?" It was first take, second take. I'm like, oh my God, we're in trouble. I'm like, "Mike, I want you to just be you. Pretend it's just you talking."
At that point, Duncan adjusted, watched his fellow actors, and "everyone sort of took him under his wing."
Bay took it upon himself to help Duncan grow as an actor, even encouraging him to cry during the psychological exam scene in Armageddon. Duncan insisted it wasn't possible, but he cried - perhaps training for the tears he shed on screen for The Green Mile.
It was through the connections he made on the set of Armageddon that Duncan was cast in The Green Mile. After he was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of John Coffey that movie, Duncan made it clear that if he won, he'd thank Bruce Willis in his acceptance speech.
As a fan of Stephen King and The Green Mile, Willis - who starred with Duncan in Armageddon - thought the actor was perfect to play Coffey. He told Duncan to buy the book, and when they got back to Los Angeles, he'd call the director Frank Darabont on Duncan's behalf.
Willis kept his word and contacted Darabont, but the director remained skeptical. Even after meeting Duncan, he "wasn't entirely sure… [but] there was something about his soul I couldn’t let go of, and I kept coming back to him even as we auditioned other actors."
After Duncan was cast and filming started, Darabont said, "he was transformed, and to this day I don’t know where it came from."
Duncan called Willis his "angel" for helping him get the part of Coffey. And Darabont called Willis "our yenta… our matchmaker - bless his heart."
- Photo: Backdraft / Universal Pictures
Although he has appeared in many genres, Kurt Russell is often associated with action films. This is due in no small part to his appearances in films such as Backdraft (1991), which focuses on firefighters who attempt to stop an arsonist. In the movie, Russell plays Lieutenant Stephen "Bull" McCaffrey, a man of unorthodox methods (much in keeping with Russell’s on-screen persona).
According to director Ron Howard, Russell was “born to play this character.” He elaborated on the way Russell took to the role in an Entertainment Weekly interview:
What Kurt did during those fires scared the crap out of me. All the firefighters really admired Kurt. In the movie he epitomizes the most aggressive firefighter, and particularly in Chicago, where they pride themselves on an old-fashioned, physical, almost cowboy-like approach to the job. They were thrilled with the way Kurt took to it.
For much of the 1990s, Russell’s star continued to rise, and he appeared in an eclectic array of movie genres, including sci-fi/adventure flicks like 1994's Stargate, in which he played Colonel Jack O’Neill. As is often the case with Russell, he brought an “everyman” charm to the role, even as he also showcased the skills that made him a popular action star.
It was precisely his everyman appeal that earned him praise from those he worked with. Dean Devlin, who was both a writer and a producer for Stargate, had this to say in The New York Times:
Kurt Russell is the guy you know. He's not something out of a weight-lifting magazine or a cartoon character. The closest thing to him would have been Steve McQueen.
One of Russell's gifts as an actor is his ability to straddle the line between action heroism and nonthreatening masculinity.
- Photo: The Object Of My Affection / 20th Century Fox
In 2012, Jennifer Aniston said her friendship with Paul Rudd made it easy to work with him:
We must have been husband and wife in a past life. Brother and sister in a past life. Something… Or in this life….
She was talking about their work together in Wanderlust, something she and Rudd also spoke about in GQ. When asked about whether it was “weird to kiss on-screen,” this exchange followed:
Aniston: Nah. I’ve kissed him for years.
Rudd: We’ve made out for decades.
Aniston: It helps that it’s nice. What if you were like, "Well... it was really awkward for me, Jen..."
Rudd: "If we’re putting our cards on the table..."
Aniston: "...I asked for a body double."
The banter about kissing and the like may be in reference to their previous appearance together on the big screen, in 1998's Object of My Affection. It's also possible the co-stars were talking about their rumored romantic relationship at about the same time. Aniston reportedly once told a reporter that she and Rudd dated, joking they were “together when we were like 12.”
Dan Aykroyd had higher praise to heap upon Rudd. He, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson appeared in Ghostbusters: Afterlife with Rudd, resuming their roles from the original two movies. When the threesome talked about the movie with Jimmy Fallon, Aykroyd called Rudd a “master comedian.”
He said Rudd was on the cusp of becoming “the leading comic, you know, leading man of his generation…. Paul is gonna be taking that torch up, I think.”
That torch would, in Aykroyd's words, be passed by none other than Murray, whom Aykroyd called the leading man of his generation.
- Photo: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory / Paramount Pictures
When looking for an actor to play the title character in 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, director Mel Stuart was given pretty safe suggestions. Fred Astaire and Joel Grey were both recommended for the part. They seemed too obvious, though. Stuart wanted the character to have an edge of danger. Astaire didn't have that. Grey maybe did, but in a more predictable way.
Then Stuart met Gene Wilder and knew he'd found his man. The actor was able to convey something deeply off-balance, yet he appeared very congenial on the outside. It was a perfect mix to catch audiences off-guard and make them wonder if Wonka was a benevolent or secretly malevolent figure. Stuart recalled:
Gene walked in and I realized that his presence - his humor, the humor in his eyes… was Wonka... He had the sardonic, demonic edge that we were looking for.
After the 1991 release of Another You, Wilder stepped away from films, putting his focus on television instead. His final role was a two-episode arc on Will & Grace, for which he won an Emmy Award. He played Mr. Stein, Will's eccentric boss who starts a fling with Karen (Megan Mullaly). The character was an excellent fit for his comedic gifts.
To say Wilder made an impression on the cast would be an understatement. Upon his passing in 2016, Will & Grace star Debra Messing said of Wilder:
My memories of Gene are that of pure Light. He brought it with him wherever he went. His eyes - so childlike, joyous, warm, mischievous - were like no one’s I’ve ever encountered. I grew up with Willy Wonka, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles. He was my Happy Hero, and by some miracle he became a part of our family. There will never be anyone like him ever again.