50 John C Reilly Quotes About Life, Acting & Hard Work

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Which are your favorite John C Reilly quotes?

John C Reilly is an American actor, voice actor, comedian, producer, musician, and screenwriter. At the beginning of his career, he got exposure from his supporting roles in Days of Thunder. He has received many awards and nominations.

Reilly starred in many films such as ‘Step Brothers’, ‘The Sisters Brothers’, ‘Holmes and Watson’, and ‘Cyrus’. Other than that, he voiced the character in the Disney animated film ‘Wreck-It Ralph’. He also has featured in several Broadway productions including Sam Shepard’s True West.

Here’s a collection of the most motivational John C Reilly quotes:


50 John C Reilly Quotes About Life, Acting & Hard Work

1. “The truth is that filmmaking is not really an actor’s medium; it’s really a director’s medium, so all I can really control is the character that I’m playing. So I try to look for characters that are interesting and engaging and different than what I’ve done before and hopefully it becomes a good movie.” – John C Reilly

2. “I went to an all-boys Catholic school, and not only were we not allowed to wear pajamas, we had to wear dress shirts, dress pants, a tie, dress shoes… they stopped making us wear blazers, like, two years before I started there, so pajamas… you wouldn’t even get in the front door wearing pajamas at my school.” – John C Reilly

3. “It’s true that the skills required to be a conman are the same as those required for being an actor. Though those skills are in the service of something a bit more noble with acting, I hope.” – John C Reilly

4. “I grew up listening to a lot of player-piano music in my house and a lot of old Tin Pan Alley songs and American standards. My dad listened to a lot of traditional Irish music and I grew up doing musical theater. So most of the music I was exposed to as a kid was pre-rock n’ roll.” – John C Reilly

5. “You know, the truth is that us actors would all like to believe we re-invent the wheel, every time we play a character. But, we’re human beings and our instruments are not violins, they are our bodies and our consciousness and our collective life experience.” – John C Reilly

6. “I don’t know how to be like a Bill Murray or a Will Ferrell, these guys who know how to make a line funny just by, I don’t know, some extra-sense perception. I only know character and emotion and real acting; that’s all I know how to do.” – John C Reilly

7. “I don’t mind doing scripted material. It’s actually kind of a relief, because improvising is a little bit like screenwriting on your feet.” – John C Reilly

8. “I don’t deliberately go into comedy or go into indies, but I do deliberately try to keep changing tact, because I think that is the key to longevity in a career.” – John C Reilly

9. “I try to take things that challenge me either physically or mentally, or I have to learn a new skill.” – John C Reilly


10th of 50 John C Reilly Quotes

10. “I like working. I wish I could say I made a deliberate choice to comedy, but it’s just what came my way. It’s what the studios wanted to make. Some of my friends were doing it, like Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, and they offered me ‘Talladega Nights.’ It’s just nice work if you can get it. It’s a joyful day at work, making your friends laugh.” – John C Reilly


11. “I just like surprising people. I never want to get to a place where people see that I am in a movie and they go see the movie and they expect a certain performance one way or the other. That is just inherently boring to me.” – John C Reilly

12. “I always say it takes as much preparation and thought to do a small part as a leading part. In some ways, leads are easier because you have the luxury of time to discover the character.” – John C Reilly

13. “If you’re really being honest with yourself when you’re acting, part of it is touching the real you. You can only separate yourself so much from the character. Those vulnerable moments do touch me.” – John C Reilly

14. “Despite not looking like a matinee idol, I feel like I have a lot to give. I’ve never had any trouble with women. People are always surprised with the romantic aspect of my movies.” – John C Reilly

15. “I kinda taught myself how to play guitar, and I still play to this day. It’s become a pretty big part of my life.” – John C Reilly

16. “I’m dating myself by saying this, but I was the test audience for ‘Space Invaders.’ I remember when that was the first game that wasn’t a pinball game. I spent a lot of money on ‘Space Invaders,’ in the form of quarters, of course.” – John C Reilly

17. “Acting’s all about the confidence you exude, especially on film. I mean, nervousness isn’t attractive in anyone, but a film camera will seek it out and punish you.” – John C Reilly

18. “I’m not a big fan of kids’ movies that have this knowing snarkiness to them or this post-modern take on storytelling. I think that sails right over the heads of most kids. There’s something to be said for a well-told fairy tale. There’s a reason that these mythic stories stay with us.” – John C Reilly

19. “I did a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, and his skill level was eons ahead of mine. It was really more like an abattoir – he just slaughtered my character over and over again.” – John C Reilly


20th of 50 John C Reilly Quotes

20. “A script is like a theory of a movie.” – John C Reilly


21. “It’s thought of as an eccentric thing for an actor to really try to maintain quality control through the whole career. Most people think, ‘You just work. You just keep working.’ And in some ways, I wish I could be a guy who’s just a workhorse.” – John C Reilly

22. “One of the unique things is that whether we were out at sea or in the middle of the water tank, a lot of times you just couldn’t leave. Especially when we were out at sea.” – John C Reilly

23. “An actor’s life is like a series of – it’s like the first day of school happening over and over again.” – John C Reilly

24. “Whenever I work on something, I try and throw everything I have at it. Then if the director finds it useful they use it, and if not, they ignore it!” – John C Reilly

25. “I’m not of the manor born; I’ve never felt entitled in that way. I just came to Hollywood to be an actor. All that lifestyle stuff is something to be managed.” – John C Reilly

26. “Kind of the exhausting thing about doing pure comedy, or something that’s broader, is you’re kind of a slave to the laugh. If it’s not funny, then there’s not much point in doing it.” – John C Reilly

27. “I was a solid C student because I was doing so many plays. I was a drama nerd, but I was also kind of a Zelig-like character; I would shift between different groups of people. But the people I spent most of my time with were either chorus or swing choir or the drama nerds.” – John C Reilly

28. “Animation is a great way to work. No early morning call times, no make-up chair. In live-action, you’re always fighting the clock; the sun is always going down too soon.” – John C Reilly

29. “I really enjoy my time off. If I’m going to go to work, it has to be something I really believe in, or else it’s totally tedious.” – John C Reilly


30th of 50 John C Reilly Quotes

30. “The thing I tried to remember when I was younger was ‘Do something that’s at least as good, if not better, than the last thing you did.’ So I started with Brian De Palma and Sean Penn. I had a pretty high bar to start with.” – John C Reilly


31. “Oh, absolutely, it felt more serious than your typical job. One of the things that got us through how difficult the shooting actually was was that we are telling a real story.” – John C Reilly

32. “God forbid you got seasick because there was no option to go back. So that really did force us to be a group.” – John C Reilly

33. “I love card games, and I’ve always loved board games and stuff like that as a kid, and I think it’s that part of your brain that’s engaged in con movies. It’s like this ‘Who’s outsmarting whom?” – John C Reilly

34. “For a long time, it was like I was part of some special forces unit: I’d land, meet everyone, five minutes later I’d have to do some amazing work, then – boom! – I’m out again. You know, playing supporting parts takes courage.” – John C Reilly

35. “I am one of those people who is not very patient in the makeup chair. I have been offered movies like ‘Planet of the Apes’ and stuff like ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ and I turned them down.” – John C Reilly

36. “Actually, acting turned out to be the perfect job for me, because I had a lot of different interests. I thought about being a priest at one point. I thought about being a teacher. I thought about being a lawyer. But I think acting is probably the best job for me.” – John C Reilly

37. “This whole celebrity racket, it’s not really my bag. I don’t really do that stuff, and I am not looking to get famous myself. I would love it if my characters get famous, my work was well known and appreciated. But I’m an actor, not a spokesmodel or a celebrity or whatever that is. I don’t know how to be that.” – John C Reilly

38. “To me, it doesn’t make any sense to pick your work based on the size of the budget of the movie.” – John C Reilly

39. “I considered a lot of different jobs as a kid. I thought about becoming a priest or a lawyer. My father had a big linen-supply business and I considered working for him. What dawned on me was: ‘If I’m an actor, I get to do the fun parts of every job!’ Without having to go to four years of law school.” – John C Reilly


40th of 50 John C Reilly Quotes

40. “A lot of times, good improv is when both people or however many people are in the scene, really have no idea what the next thing you’re going to say is.” – John C Reilly


41. “Being a father has fulfilled me in parts of my life that sustain me. It gives me a comfort and patience. All actors have this hole inside that they’re trying to fill by performing. I’m anxious to keep creating, but I’m not so desperate any more because I have the love and support of my kids and wife.” – John C Reilly

42. “One of the reasons people find me a believable actor is that I don’t seem like one of the gods from Olympus. I seem like someone who was lucky enough to be let into Olympus.” – John C Reilly

43. “My family are all storytellers, and I think I inherited a lot more of that gene than other people in my family. I guess I was fun to have around.” – John C Reilly

44. “I always felt really guilty if I spent too much time playing video games. It’s a colossal waste of time. And I can’t say it’s a very satisfying feeling at the end of the day if you’ve spent eight hours playing a video game; you just end up feeling kind of spent, and used.” – John C Reilly

45. “Honestly, to tell you the truth, being trapped in any video game sounds like a living nightmare to me. In most video games, the point is it’s a fight for survival, so I think it would be a terrifying place to live.” – John C Reilly

46. “I was a founding member of the ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ club at my high school. I was in chorus, I was in swing choir. I was an outcast but I was an outcast among a group of outcasts.” – John C Reilly

47. “There’s so much joy in doing comedy work, and that’s one of the reasons I like to do it – because it’s just a hilarious day at work.” – John C Reilly

48. “I swear and it comes off a little angry, no matter how funny I’m trying to do it. If I use certain words with a certain intensity, it’s like ‘Whoa whoa whoa, buddy buddy!” – John C Reilly

49. “I listen to a lot of Chicago blues, I suppose. It reminds me of growing up, I guess. But I’m also obsessed by close-harmony groups. Actually, I’m fascinated particularly by brother duos, how they blend together. The Everly Brothers, the Stanley Brothers, The McQuarrys. There’s something inherently magical about harmony.” – John C Reilly

50. “I know I’m not some matinee idol, but I think we’re sold this bill of goods by the media, which says that only the most beautiful and dashing people can become movie stars. So when someone like me sneaks in, they have to redo the calculations.” – John C Reilly



Thanks for checking out this collection of quotes from John C Reilly! Don’t forget to share them on social media with your friends and family. 

Which are your favorite John C Reilly quotes? Leave a comment below.

Zisilia Alvsa
Zisilia Alvsa
Zisilia Alvsa is a writer for Wealthy Gorilla. Friends often call her Zii. She is a girl from Jakarta, Indonesia who currently lives in Bali. Zii loves photography and travelling.


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