The 5-minute Interview: M Night Shyamalan, Writer and director

'I'm not cool. I'm the goofy guy jumping up and down'

The 37-year-old Indian-American writer and director's work includes 'Unbreakable', 'Signs' and 'The Sixth Sense'. His latest film, 'The Happening' is released on 13 June.

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be ...

Upstairs in my hotel room finishing my book.

The best age to be is ...

Ten. It's the age that my movies spin around a little bit – that moment when you're giving up believing in things, when you know enough about the world, but everything is still magic and possible.

A phrase I use far too often is...

"I'm worried about... " It's built into my genetics.

I wish people would take more notice of ...

The value of an original voice rather than always looking for patterns in people to be understood and organised.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was ...

Discovering that failure was the fastest way to success. The first two movies I directed failed, when I was 21 and 23, and that was the greatest thing that could have happened. I learned really quickly that something in my approach wasn't getting through and from that I created a doctrine on film-making.

A common misperception of me is ...

That all my movies have twist endings, or that they're all scary. All my movies are spiritual and all have an emotional perspective.

I am not a politician but...

It's time for a big change. Always in life bad times will lead to great times. In the United States we may have the most unpopular president in the history of presidents but that will lead to great change.

I'm good at ...

Being insecure – I'm a master, a virtuoso – they can be handing me the keys to the kingdom and all I can think is, I hope I don't drop the key.

I'm bad at ...

Being cool. I'm the goofy guy jumping up and down making goofy expressions.

In moments of weakness I...

Try to write my way out of it. If ever I was feeling down I would go and write something. It's a form of escape.

The ideal night out is...

Something and a movie. You can feel energy from strangers sitting in a movie theatre.

You know me as a director but in truer life I'd have been...

A professional basketball player. I've always been into basketball, since I was a kid.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this ...

Know yourself. Whether you're a housekeeper or a painter or a lawyer you will be doing a good thing for the world if you know yourself.

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You're not pretending and not hiding and can give off an energy in the things that you do that is infectious and positive. I think we all get into trouble when we try to pretend that we're not who we are.

Julia Phillips

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