- I would like to break out of this "dark, brooding" image, cause I'm actually not like that at all. In Ireland, brooding is a term we use for hens. A brooding hen is supposed to lay eggs. Everytime somebody says "He's dark and brooding" I think: "He's about to lay an egg".
- The truth is that actors don't really have any control over the end product. To think that you have control is a delusion and it's also incredibly frustrating to be investing that much hope into something that essentially boils down to marketing. So you try to do movies that you feel connected with and you work with directors and actors you admire.
- I've always felt that acting is about exposure. You expose yourself in the choices you make. It's when you present yourself as truthfully as you can, in a given situation, that you are being that character. Even though you're being yourself.
- Sometimes, the vanity of actors is that we imagine we're so completely different on screen from who we are in real life. When really, all actors play themselves.
- American movies to me - and, I mean, I've said this before a million times - are becoming more and more homogeneous because the marketing objective - and marketing now plays such a major role in movies that it almost obliterates everything else - the marketing objective is the lowest common denominator. "You can't put that in; let's put the car chase, let's put the sex scene, let's put the fight in, let's get them back together, they end up happily, they walk off into the sun..." So that there's a formulaic predictability to American movies. That, allied with the cynicism of the way movies are put together - product placement and spin-offs and toys and all kinds of crap that, you know, have nothing to do with the telling of stories - they've turned American movies into McMovies. So that when the movie-goer gets his movie, it's like a hamburger: he doesn't want a piece of aubergine in there; he wants his onion, his tomato, his hamburger and his bun. And he doesn't want the bun hard, he wants it soft. And he wants it in two minutes.
- I think the reason certain societies thrive while others don't is the society that is open to new ideas is going to thrive, while the ones that don't, that oppose any outside or opposing cultural influences, those are in trouble, and I think America has done the latter over the past 20 or more years. The worse it is for America, the worse it is for the rest of us.
- [on working with Natasha Richardson on Gothic (1986)] It was a privilege for me to work with her in her first film. Her magnetism was incontestable, both as a person and as an actress. When you're working with somebody you see them in a very different light. I just knew she was special.
- I did a play by Eugene O'Neill called "A Touch of the Poet" on Broadway a few years ago. I remember looking out into the audience at one point, and the theater was packed with wealthy, white-haired people. After the curtain call I turned to one of the other actors and said 'Theater is dead.' He laughed and said "That's a good one." I said 'No, seriously, theater as we're doing it now is dead. There's no audience. There's no one under 60 out there. They're all white. And they can all afford $300 for a night.
- It's the job of the director to be like a great orchestra leader, and bring out the music that the writer wrote, through the instruments, which are the actors.
- A lot of people who live in America, and it's not their fault, have a stereotypical view of Ireland. You get a movie like The Quiet Man (1952) and people arrive at Shannon airport and expect to be met by Barry Fitzgerald.
- [on dealing with depression] - A single negative thought begins in your head. That single negative thought interacts with another negative thought and becomes a reality. And the world seems like the darkest, bleakest, blackest place that you can possibly be. And it has nothing to do with logic, it has nothing to do with reality.
It's a chemical, and I suppose ultimately becomes a spiritual, imbalance in the body and in the mind. But it feels like the truth. That's what's so insidious about it.
- [on being beaten in school, specifically in math class] - I feared being beaten, and I was beaten very regularly. It did affect my sense of myself.
... I didn't feel that I suffered at the time. I just felt it was the way of the world. It took many years to come to terms with and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me.
- Unfortunately, I experienced some sexual abuse. It was a known and admitted fact of life amongst us that there was this particular man, and you didn't want to be left in the dressing room with him. There were certain boundaries, sexual boundaries, that were crossed.
- I like the level of anonymity I have now. When I was doing In Treatment (2008), it became a nightmare - much more than it had been before that. You have to be very careful with television. I love working but I don't want that kind of attention again.