Orphaned when the Gestapo seized his parents, director Miloš Forman (Hair, Amadeus) chased a dream to the top of his profession. Now, as he publishes his memoirs, called Turnaround, NELL SCOVELL gets him to reflect on V.F.'s Proust Questionnaire.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Childlike awe forever.
What is your greatest fear?
Loss of memory.
When and where were you happiest?
November 30, 1977, in New York City. [The day he received U.S. citizenship.]
Which living person do you most admire? Dr. Henry Kissinger. Mainly because he became the secretary of state in this country with an accent even thicker than mine. Also because his China policy performed the most important power‑balancing act in the second half of the century.
Which living person do you most despise? Keating, Milken, Boesky, and company because what they did is the most effective fertilizer for budding leftist fanatics all over the world.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Having my name in the New York Times crossword puzzle twice.
What is the quality you most like in a man? Wisdom.
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Youth.
On what occasion do you lie? Trying to tell the truth to my wife.
Where would you like to live? In the guest room of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Which words or phrases do you overuse? "You look great."
What is your favorite occupation? Dozing or gossiping.
What is your greatest extravagance? Nap after breakfast.
What is it that you most dislike? The sound of an alarm clock.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Selfishness and greed.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Selfishness and greed.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Chaplin's Little Tramp.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Cluster headaches.
Who are your favorite writers? Feuchtwanger, Faulkner, Flaubert (randomly choosing letter F).
Who are your heroes in real life? Václav Havel. I know what he was facing. I was there. I knew I would have to go to prison or collaborate with Communists, and I didn't have the guts or the courage for either, so I left. He stayed and went to prison. He is my hero.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? Excluding some great loves that faded, I guess I have to reluctantly admit that my only lasting one is myself.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My mortality.