We all walk on bridges that have been built by the good wishes and good will of others. Parents, friends, teachers, lovers. The bridges are built of love and encouragement. I want to build bridges for others, and I’m never discouraged because I know that I have work to do. I know that someone needs me. I know that I have a bridge to build.
From a conversation in 2007
Marian with a student at Fordham.
I never say or think something of others that I wouldn’t want said or thought of me or of anyone I love. I try to love everyone as a family member when I come to know them or work with them. I absolutely believe that when people we love and admire succeed, we rise with them, and I am happy when they are happy. I’m now invested in a new group of people who are now in my family, or more firmly in my family. I’m going to be doing whatever I can to see that they succeed; that they are happy; that they have love of the theatre in their lives. If I have a creed or a motto it is this: Everything happens and grows from love.
From a conversation in 2002, during the time Marian was appearing in Ellen McLaughlin’s Helen at the Public Theater.
Marian Seldes with Charles Busch, with whom she shared a birthday.
If I ever did anything intelligent or bold, it was to go into the day, into the world, expecting people to surprise and change and delight me. And they always did. They always will. I cannot wait to get out into the world.
Marian Seldes in The Royal Family at the Ahmanson, in Los Angeles, 2004.
More than anything–anything at all–I wanted my students, my friends, to be full human beings. I wanted them to be curious and eager to fill the curiosity; I wanted them to read and watch and listen and share; I wanted them to seek and cultivate friendship; I wanted them to love the ground on which they and their friends and families walked; I wanted them to know, always, that they mattered. And from that, from that perspective, pursue their work, do their work, love their work. Nothing begins with work: Work is the reward and the fulfillment of all you’ve loved and thought and done. I wanted and I want magical lives for everyone, and I want everyone to know it is possible to have one.
From a conversation in 2006
Marian in Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, at Williamstown, and directed by Darko Tresnjak.
The goal is to love–to love the work and the people with whom you’re working. Love life–love every precious moment of it; be aware of it as you’re in it and as it is passing. Along the way to love, you will find friendship and work and, perhaps, some recognition, but all of that will pale in comparison to the love.
No one has ever disappointed me, because I will not allow that to happen. I know there is virtue in everyone, and I look for it, I dig for it, I find it. I cannot be disappointed in others.
From a conversation in 1986
Lily Rabe and Marian Seldes in 2010. Photo by Jake Chessum.
Our primary fear should be that there isn’t enough time to be kind to as many people as we should.
From a conversation in 2007
On the set of The Extra Man.
I feel that what most people call the ‘real’ world is what we’re left with when we give up; when we accept things too quickly; when we take the ‘natural order’ of things and accept the oldest facts. So many people are told to not trust people and things; so many people are told how difficult or worthless things are. You can’t fight City Hall–that sort of thinking.
I think we need to create the world we want for ourselves and others. My real world is full of caring, interesting, generous people. My world is full of experiences from which I can learn, and which I can’t wait to share with others. We should never let anyone decide our real world for us.
From a conversation in 2008
Don’t look at someone and think or say, Well, what they’re doing; how they’re living a life; performing a role; treating others is not how I would do it. Don’t then judge them and think or say, Well, they won’t be happy.
Instead, look at them and think, The way they’re living or behaving would not make me happy: It reminds me of how I should live my life. And then promise yourself that you’ll be there for this person if and when they realize that what they’re doing or how they’re behaving isn’t working for them.
We see things to learn what it is we should do.
From a conversation in 2001
Brian Murray and Marian Seldes in Edward Albee’s The Play About the Baby, 2001.
We are all employed all the time. Primarily, the world needs our kindness and our curiosity, both of which will lead us to care for the world and each other. This may be our greatest contribution to the world–far beyond the work we find so important.
I work at being kind. I work at listening to other people. I was taught this. I was told it was important, required, and it has saved me. If I didn’t try to care for others, I would be a mess–self-centered, whining, aware of lack. Instead, I’m always hurrying to fulfill all the needs that I can take care of. I can create a little path of kindness in the world. And others are doing this as well. We’re going to take care of things.
From a conversation in 1988.