John Hurt Poster

Quotes (44)

  • I've done some stinkers in the cinema. You can't regret it; there are always reasons for doing something, even if it's just the location.
  • We are all racing towards death. No matter how many great, intellectual conclusions we draw during our lives, we know they're all only man-made, like God. I begin to wonder where it all leads. What can you do, except do what you can do as best you know how.
  • People like us, who turn ourselves inside out for a living, we get into an emotional tussle rather than a marriage. It's fire I'm playing with and it isn't surprising I'm not the ideal companion on a daily basis. But it takes two. I mean, Christ, I haven't forced anybody.
  • St Michael's was one of those very rarefied, very Anglo-Catholic establishments where they rejoiced in more religious paraphernalia and theatricality than the entire Vatican. More incense-swinging, more crucifixes, more gold tassels, more rose petals, more holy mothers, more God knows what. Three times a day they played the Angelus. When you heard it, you had to stop whatever you were doing, do the Hail Marys in your head, and then return to what you were doing. Like it would come in the middle of a Latin class. I'm just conjugating the love verb, amo, amas, amat, and doingggg! you have to stand up, go through the whole Angelus, mother-of-God thing and then crack on with amamus, amatis, amant. Sir! Because, if you didn't, Whack! Cane. Belt. Education by fear. And the really funny thing was they wouldn't tolerate bullying between peers. Prefects could bash you with a slipper, but you weren't allowed to give each other a rough time. Like who do you think you are? You haven't yet earned the privilege of being violent.
  • My parents' lot had literally crawled away from the second world war, taking with them two vital commodities by way of a survival mechanism: respectability and security. It was odd, coming from a Christian household, but the big thing was about not being what they called "common". I got all that, "Don't play with him, he's common". I had a friend called Grenville Barker who'd come round sometimes and play football on the lawn, but not very often. And I wasn't allowed to go to his home very often because they were working class. He was what my mother called a bad influence. Everything had to do with influence. My mother was desperate I should be properly influenced, have a proper, received accent, be sent away to school at eight. So all you can do is go into yourself, immerse yourself in your own life.
  • I couldn't possibly do that. To be able to understand being five years old and write as if you were that age through the book till you get to that extraordinary flowery-pretentious age of the 18-/19-year-old. It's so complicated when you're dealing with memory because of the perspective and how it keeps changing. You have to learn how you see things. It's about... lordy-me, I've forgotten the word. This time in the morning. Never mind, come to me in a moment, let's have more coffee... conditioning.
  • There is no such thing as all good people and all bad people. We're all capable. It exists within us. In war-time, as we're finding out now, things that have been on camera, our wonderful troops, who we felt were absolutely impeccable, were as guilty as everybody else of. If you're given license to kill, it's going to release many an evil.
  • Someone once asked me, "Is there anything you regret?" and I said, "Everything!" Whatever you do, there was always a better choice.
  • I've always felt, and I think I'm qualified to say so because I've won a few awards, that it's a terrible shame to put something in competition with something else to be able to sell something. Confronted with films like Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Capote (2005) and the Johnny Cash movie (Walk the Line (2005)), you can't pit one against the other. Films are not made to be competitive in that sense.
  • "If" and "only" are the two words in the English language that should never be put together.
  • You know, I've never guided my life. I've just been whipped along by the waves I'm sitting in. I don't make plans at all. Plans are what make God laugh. You can make plans, you can make so many plans, but they never go right, do they?
  • Also, the wonderful thing about film, you can see light at the end of the tunnel. You did realize that it is going to come to an end at some stage.
  • I first decided that I wanted to act when I was 9. And I was at a very bizarre prep school at the time, to say high Anglo-Catholic would be a real English understatement.
  • I've spent a great deal of my life doing independent film, and that is partly because the subject matter interests me and partly because that is the basis of the film industry. That's where the filmmakers come from, it's where they start and sometimes its where they should have stayed.
  • Now if I could be David Niven, I'd be content. He knows how to live life. He's charming, he's amusing, he's so up. An up man! I'm sure he's also complicated, but he never lays it on you.
  • I remember talking to Olivier when we were doing Lear. He said: "When it comes to your obituary, they will only mention two or three performances, and they will be the ones that defined you early on." I said: "What will they write about you?" "Richard III (1955) and Wuthering Heights (1939)", he replied. And he was right.
  • I have done all sorts of extraordinary things, I know. At the time, I didn't think anything of it. But when you look back you think, "Jesus Christ!" [Would I live it again?] No thank you. I'm with Beckett there. It's not good enough to die. One has to be forgotten.
  • [on his drinking] I wasn't like Oliver Reed. He was a competitive drinker. He would say, "I can drink you under the fucking table". And I'd say: "I'm sure you could, Oliver. But where's the fun in that?".
  • Oh God, yes, there are moments where you say, "Wouldn't it have been nice?". Look at Daniel Day-Lewis, he's handled himself very well. He keeps retiring. I wish I'd thought of that! No, I know Danny well, and he's very amusing. But he certainly has a very cute understanding of the game. And he's got them eating out of his hand.
  • [on playing gay characters] It's a big deal for some actors, and for some people. But I understand it. I was away at school, you know?
  • [on making Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)] I don't suppose we could talk about the lack of enjoyment in making it?
  • [on the themes of V for Vendetta (2005)] It's more like Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) meets Alien (1979), if you want to do one of those modern meetings, than it is Orwellian in that sense. It's borrowed a bit from Orwell.
  • Well, I would say that if you could manage to get to the end of The Elephant Man (1980) without being moved... I don't think you would be someone I'd want to know.
  • [2011, on The Osterman Weekend (1983)] The script was pretty difficult. So was Sam [Peckinpah]. It wasn't until I made him laugh that I thought, "Thank God". There's a scene in the film where I have to imitate a weatherman, and that had Sam rolling in the aisles. Before that, he would say things like "Why do you move so fast?" He wasn't exactly encouraging of confidence. But afterwards, I couldn't put a foot wrong. We were terrific, and I saw him until the day that he died.
  • [2011, on Spaceballs (1987)] Mel [Brooks] called and said, "Look, John, I'm doing this little movie and there's a bit in there that has to do with Alien (1979), so come on over." He made it sound like a bit of a picnic. He also did that to me on History of the World: Part I (1981). He always does that. "Come on, I'll give you a couple grand, we'll put you up in a nice hotel, you'll have a good time, and then you can go back again." And when you get there, you suddenly realize, it's a $3 million scene - God knows how much the animatronic singing and dancing alien cost - and they couldn't possibly have done it if it hadn't been for you. What I'm saying is, I think he got me rather cheap.
  • [2011] I'm not interested in awards. I never have been. I don't think they are important. Don't get me wrong, if somebody gives me a prize, I thank them as gratefully as I know how, because it's very nice to be given a prize. But I don't think that awards ought to be sought. It encourages our business to be competitive in absolutely the wrong way. We're not sportsmen; we're not trying to come in first.
  • [2011, on The Elephant Man (1980)] It took 12 hours to apply the original makeup. I thought to myself, "They have actually found a way of making me not enjoy a film." Christopher Tucker, who devised the makeup, applied it that first day and when he was done, I hobbled into the studio. I was in terror of anybody laughing, because if anybody had giggled or laughed at all, the whole house of cards would have collapsed. But there was an absolute hushed silence, which was only broken by Anthony Hopkins saying, "Let's do the test". So it started, and that spell lasted.
  • [2011, on why he did King Ralph (1991)] Well, the coffers run low every now and then. And my friend Peter O'Toole was doing it, the idea wasn't so bad, and I was a big admirer of John Goodman. But I have to say, the director [David S. Ward], who I believe is a good writer, is not a good director. He really did make the whole thing turgid and difficult. It looked like it would be a lot of fun, but it turned out to be not a lot of fun at all. It was take after take after take for no possible reason. You couldn't tell the difference between it and the dirt on the ground.
  • [2011, on Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound (1990)] Everybody's got to work with Roger Corman. You can't leave out that experience. I was amazed when I met him, because I was expecting to see this rather freaky character with hair all over the place - a complete crazy man. But he wasn't. He was dressed in a tie and a suit, with very neat hair. At first, I thought he was a solicitor.
  • [2011, on V for Vendetta (2005)] We shot it in Berlin, so it was strange behaving like Hitler in the middle of that city. Some of the locations were exactly where Hitler gave speeches.
  • [on Downton Abbey (2010)] I just think it is poxy! I mean, I'm sorry, but it is rotten writing and rotten acting. And he [Julian Fellowes] is on the board of the Smith committee!
  • I certainly wouldn't go as far as saying proud, but I'm absolutely amazed I've lasted that long [50 years]. I knew I wanted to act from a very young age - from about nine, really - but I didn't know how to go about it. I had no idea. The world was a much bigger place then. Also you didn't have the communications we have today: now we've all got the internet, we know what's going on everywhere. We didn't then. We would only just got used to the typewriter.
  • I had no idea that Doctor Who (2005) had got so huge; I just thought, "Brilliant, I'll be a Doctor!" I was suddenly - what do they call it? You start "trending". This is all new to me!
  • I'm very much of the opinion that to work is better than not to work. There are others who'd say, "No, wait around for the right thing" - and they will finish up a purer animal than me. For example, Daniel Day-Lewis will only do what he thinks is right. I couldn't wait that long between films. He's wonderful Danny, but our philosophy is different in that sense. Of course, I don't do everything by any means: I do turn lots of stuff down, because it's absolute crap. But I usually find something interesting enough to do.
  • Of course you have to remember that the Doctors are all one person, so I'm not outside of that. I can't talk about it, but I will say I was really impressed when I did it. Both the previous doctors - Matt Smith and David Tennant - boy, are they good at it. Whoa-wee! They are so quick, and there's a huge amount of learning and no time to learn it in. All that fake scientific nonsense. Terribly difficult to learn.
  • I've done a couple of conferences where you sit and sign autographs for people and then you have photographs taken with them and a lot of them all dressed up in alien suits or Doctor Who (2005) whatevers. I was terrified of doing it because I thought they would all be loonies, but they are absolutely, totally charming as anything. It's great fun. I'm not saying it's the healthiest thing - I don't know whether it is or isn't - but they are very charming.
  • [on the original series of Doctor Who (1963)] I don't think I saw the first episode and I think it escaped me for quite a long time. It was a kiddies' programme, or it was assumed to be. It was known basically for the fact that all the scenery used to fall over.
  • I'm horribly self critical. I destroyed all the early stuff, mistakenly probably.
  • I've stopped drinking... It wasn't serving me, and the climate has changed. People don't do it any more.
  • I can't say I worry about mortality, but it's impossible to get to my age and not have a little contemplation of it. We're all just passing time, and occupy our chair very briefly.
  • I've lived publicly and never hidden behind closed doors. Therefore, if I have gone over the top sometimes, it has been visible. But it was not a way of life. Otherwise, I wouldn't have the CV I've got, would I?
  • I miss the camaraderie, when it was fantastically creative. People love to talk about the drinking bit as though it were hellraising. Actually, O'Toole put it really well when he said the drinking was to feed something else. Even when you weren't working, everybody would meet somewhere. That's all gone, completely.
  • We were crawling away from the war and the two essentials were respectability and security. I didn't want to teach. I wanted to act. It was quite a long and difficult road to get there but very thrilling when I did.
  • [on acting] The only way I can describe it is that I put everything I can into the mulberry of my mind and hope that it is going to ferment and make a decent wine. How that process happens, I'm sorry to tell you I can't describe.