What Movie Star Said I Want to Be Alone?

In the world of cinema, there are many iconic lines that have been etched into our memories. One such line that has stood the test of time is “I want to be alone.” This famous quote was uttered by the legendary actress Greta Garbo in the 1932 film Grand Hotel.

The Iconic Actress

Greta Garbo was a Swedish-born actress who became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars during the silent era. She was known for her beauty, talent, and enigmatic personality. Garbo’s career spanned from the 1920s to the 1940s, and she appeared in many classic films such as Anna Karenina, Mata Hari, and Ninotchka.

The Film – Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel was released in 1932 and starred Greta Garbo along with other big names such as John Barrymore and Joan Crawford. The film was based on a novel by Vicki Baum and revolves around the lives of various guests who stay at a luxury hotel in Berlin.

Garbo played the role of Grusinskaya, a famous ballerina who is staying at the hotel while she performs in Berlin. In one scene, Grusinskaya is sitting alone in her room when her lover enters. She tells him “I want to be alone,” which has since become one of cinema’s most memorable lines.

The Context

The line “I want to be alone” has been interpreted in different ways over time. Some see it as a sign of Garbo’s desire for privacy and seclusion from the public eye. Others see it as a reflection of her character’s loneliness and despair.

In reality, the line was not originally written in Vicki Baum’s novel but was added to the script by screenwriter Béla Balázs. According to reports, Garbo herself suggested adding the line to the script, and it became one of the film’s most iconic moments.

The Legacy

“I want to be alone” has become synonymous with Greta Garbo and her enigmatic persona. The line has been referenced in various forms of popular culture over the years, from songs to TV shows to films.

Garbo herself retired from acting in 1941 and lived a reclusive life until her death in 1990. However, her legacy as one of Hollywood’s greatest stars and an icon of the silver screen continues to live on.


“I want to be alone” is more than just a line from a movie; it is a cultural phenomenon that has stood the test of time. Greta Garbo’s performance in Grand Hotel, combined with Balázs’ memorable line, has cemented her place in cinema history. The next time you hear someone say “I want to be alone,” remember that it all started with the legendary Greta Garbo.