"All of Robert's films have been an inspiration to me," Anderson told reporters in New York, while promoting his movie "There Will Be Blood."
"We became pretty close in the last few years of his life. I got the job of sitting next to him on 'A Prairie Home Companion' for insurance reasons," Anderson said of Altman's last film. "I can't tell you what I took from it. Obviously, it was a privilege and an honor and all that, but just such an amazing good time for 30 days to sit next to him."
One thing Anderson said he learned from Altman was how to relax a bit on a film set.
"I would find myself getting uptight about things, and he just sort of looked at me like: 'What are you worried about? It's all going to be fine.'"
Anderson intended to show Altman "Blood," but the older filmmaker died while Anderson was finishing it.
"That's really a drag that he didn't get to see it, so we dedicated the film to him."