Stanley Kubrick — I started work on the screenplay with every intention of making the film a serious treatment of the problem of accidental nuclear war. As I kept trying to imagine the way in which things would really happen, ideas kept coming to me which I would discard because they were so ludicrous. I kept saying to myself: “I can’t do this. People will laugh.” But after a month or so I began to realize that all the things I was throwing out were the things which were most truthful. After all, what could be more absurd than the very idea of two mega-powers willing to wipe out all human life because of an accident, spiced up by political differences that will seem as meaningless to people a hundred years from now as the theological conflicts of the Middle Ages appear to us today? So it occurred to me that I was approaching the project in the wrong way. The only way to tell the story was as a black comedy or, better, a nightmare comedy, where the things you laugh at most are really the heart of the paradoxical postures that make a nuclear war possible.

Peter Sellers — One day Stanley suggested that I should wear a black glove, which would look rather sinister on a man in a wheelchair. “Maybe he had some injury in a nuclear experiment of some sort,” Kubrick said. So I put on the black glove and looked at the arm and I suddenly thought, “Hey, that’s a storm-tropper’s arm.” So instead of leaving it there looking malignant I gave the arm a life of its own. That arm hated the rest of the body for having made a compromise. That arm was a Nazi.

George C. Scott — Kubrick has a brilliant eye; he sees more than the camera does. He walks in in the morning and says, “This is awful!” and you get used to kicking things around. I used to kid him by saying, “I should’ve gotten the screen credit for Dr. Strangelove because I wrote half the goddam picture.” There’s no B.S. with him, no pomposity, no vanity. The refreshing thing is he hates everything… He is certainly in command, and he’s so self-effacing and apologetic it’s impossible to be offended by him.

Sterling Hayden — I had a terrible time the first day in front of the camera. I lost control and went 48 takes working with a cigar, chewing on a cigar, blowing my lines, and sweating. Finally, I couldn’t take it and went up to Stanley and apologized. I said, “I’m sorry.” He said the most beautiful thing: “Don’t be sorry. The terror on your face might just give us the quality we need. (He said, “Us.”) If it doesn’t work out, come back in six or eight weeks, and we’ll do the scenes then. Don’t worry about it.” I went back to my room with my wife, Kitty, got a little drunk that night, and had no more problem.

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      Stanley Kubrick — I started work on the screenplay with every intention of making the film a serious treatment of the...