M. Night Shyamalan admits the negative reviews for Glass made him cry. Shyamalan quickly rose to prominence with 1999's The Sixth Sense and was hailed as the next Steven Spielberg. However, things changed just as quickly with 2006's Lady in the Water, which was a disaster. Things started to pick up again for the director with the release of 2016's Split, which saw Shyamalan getting the best reviews since The Sixth Sense. Pressure was mounting for Glass and the director was sure he was continuing his good luck streak after a string of positive and enthusiastic screenings.
Glass was released earlier this year and instantly torn to shreds by critics. M. Night Shyamalan appeared at NYU's Stern School of Business at a Scholar-in-Residence lecture earlier this week and told the story of finding out his latest movie was getting torched. The movie was a box office success, but it was attached to some of the worst reviews in the director's long career. He had this to say.
"I was in London when I heard the U.S. reviews for Glass were poor. I was in a makeup chair for a TV show, and I cried."
M. Night Shyamalan was not prepared for the negativity surrounding Glass. He was coming off of Split, which was a secret sequel to his beloved 2000 movie Unbreakable. Glass brought back Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson and the hype was out of control. However, the movie was not able to live up to the hype, even though Shyamalan was confident with the movie he had made. He explains.
"We'd just come back from the London screenings, which were through the roof. We had only great screenings of the movie around the world. So essentially I wasn't prepared. I had this false sense of being a part of the group in a safe way. But boy, did I feel distraught that day."
2015's The Visit was also a commercial success for M. Night Shyamalan, which set up making Split the following year. The director started self-funding his projects and he has been seeing much larger profits and less pressure to deliver a hit due to his extra work. With two hits in a row and positive reviews, Shyamalan thinks he got too comfortable and was reminded of his outsider roots while watching Glass get ripped, which he spoke about at length during the lecture. You can read what Shyamalan had to say below.
"Honestly, I was feeling like, 'Will they never let me be different without throwing me on the garbage pile?' The feeling of worthlessness rushed me, and to be honest, it doesn't ever really leave. But anyway, the film went on, right? It became number one in every country in the world, and it represents my beliefs."
M. Night Shyamalan then took questions from the audience. A student who said he was from Mexico wanted to get some professional advice from the director. The student revealed he wanted to be a director and said, "But that's really hard to accomplish." Shyamalan cut him off right there and had this to say.
"Dude, I don't like the way you talk, bro. How can you tell me that it's going to be hard? Do you see a lot of people like you writing stories? Give me a break, bro. That's your strength, that you're not like us. Go out there and tell your stories. Don't go out there and try to be like Quentin or me or anybody else. We need you. Tell me what makes you angry, why you're arrogant, or fearful, whatever it is. Don't hide anything. Be honest. What is that thing that bothers you and makes you distinct? Everyone's looking for you. A Mexican point of view to tell a story right now? I'm telling you, everybody wants that right now. I desperately need you to tell your story in your way. You are essential."
Shyamalan's response received a wave of applause from the audience who weren't expecting the director to deliver such an impassioned answer. In the end, that's how Shyamalan keeps doing what he is doing: he's telling his own stories and not relying on anyone else to do the work for him. Indie Wire was the first to report the M. Night Shyamalan news.