I didn’t realize it at the time, but this is what I had been training for.
— Mike Nichols in an excellent American Masters episode from PBS
‘At the time’ refers to his time as an actor, writer, and his work before becoming a director.
Most of what I learned about working with actors came from taking acting classes and watching how the great teachers work with actors.
I was talking to some other directors in Chicago last week and we were talking about how it’s a very generalist position. It’s like you figure out one piece and then another and then it comes together more or less.
Some people learn the pieces before directing, and some learn after they start directing. If you learn before, then it’s kind of a revelation when you realize that this is what you were training for (even though you thought you were just trying to be a better actor or coach a team or watching a lot of movies because you loved them).