William Hurt Poster

Quotes (26)

  • I'm still not comfortable with all this. I'm not comfortable with walking the red carpet in a tuxedo and seeing all the women with their boobs pushed up and all the men dressed as penguins - particularly when the subject of your film is the nature of violence and humanity. But that's the nature of Cannes. That's the process that we are both dealing with today.
  • The simple fact of existence, of being aware that you are aware; this to me is the most astounding fact. And I think that it has something to do with dying. When you are a kid you are beset by fears and you think, 'I'll solve the fear by living for ever and becoming a movie star.' But I am not going to live for ever. And the more I know it, the more amazed I am by being here at all. I am so thrilled by the privilege of life, and yet at the same time I know that I have to let it go.
  • [on drinking] This is a big subject. And I don't want to use my troubles as an example of what to do and what not to do. But there's that old credo, in vino veritas. In wine lies truth. And a lot of people believe that. But one day you wake up and say, 'This is stupid and this is wrong.' And it was wrong, so I did something about it. It's a complete myth that living life on the edge is conducive to great acting. But it's also another myth to think that you should be as tight as a drum and not have any frailties or fragilities. So you have to find that balance. All I know is that my best work has come out of being committed and happy.
  • A lot of people are taking those risks on the basis of something so unconsidered that it's completely capricious. That's one of the reasons why actors are not respected anymore as actors.
  • I am not an actor. I'm just a man who likes acting. I am what I am. I am nobody. I don't exist. But the work exists. The work is more than the actor.
  • I am a character actor in a leading man's body.
  • I am not a star, I am an actor.
  • [on being taken hostage in Brazil while filming Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)] - We had 36 hours off from filming and me and my date at the time get into a car and we drove south to a village where her parents had a small villa in a very modest town with dirt streets. And as we drove into the driveway at midnight a car pulled up behind us and blocked our exit. The engine of that car was turned off. There were four people in it: two men and two women. One of the men had a ski mask on ... . The one man leaned out the window and he said to us in Portuguese and I asked my date what he said, and she turned white. She said "He wants directions. So she knew right away. And after that the doors of the car opened and they both got out with guns. [Hurt and his date were let go some hours later.]
  • [on playing a drag queen in Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)] - I didn't play him as gay. I played him as a woman ... the key for me as an artist, I was researching the character - I had a wonderful dance teacher who was helping me try to figure out how to move, because every character has different movement .... And I spent time ... in gay bars and trying to soak that up too - I'm not gay myself, but many of my friends are - and I wasn't getting it. There was something that wasn't working. And I was walking in the street one day and I was looking at a woman who was walking ahead of us, and I said "I don't think Molina's gay. I think he's a woman. I think he really is a woman, he's just caught in a man's body." Like sometimes I'm an actor caught in a movie star's body.
  • [on getting into his supporting role as the final-act villain in A History of Violence (2005)] - David [Cronenberg] was so kind with with me. I arrived 10 days early. I filmed only for a couple days. I'm of the belief 'There are no small roles. Only small actors.' ... The so-called main characters? What's that? We're all main characters. We're all main characters in our lives.
  • [accepting his Best Actor Oscar for Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)] I share this with Raul (Julia).
  • Film is not the innate art, theatre is. If all the film in the world burnt down today, you'd still have acting.
  • [2010] I am a repertory ensemble actor. I'm the luckiest person I know as far as my vocation is concerned; I can't imagine being happier or more fulfilled as an artist than I've been allowed to be. I have struggled - I struggle mightily. But I'm lucky enough to be allowed to struggle - that's something I appreciate. Especially as you get older and you know the days are dwindling.
  • Nothing came fast for me. I had done sixty plays before I did a movie. I took it slow - I wanted it to be deep, didn't want it to be superficial so I slowed down instead of speeding up.
  • You can go anywhere with someone who admits what they don't know, but if they don't have that basic courage to say, "Well, I don't know, I'm not sure, what do you think?" it doesn't mean you can't get it done, it doesn't mean you cry and go "boo hoo" and sit in a puddle on the ground. You still have to solve the problem and do the best you can. You got a time limit, you got a money limit. You don't have a love limit.
  • [on Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)] It was written by a saint. I met that guy. A living saint. He was dying of AIDS when I met him. An angel on this planet. I met a few. Manuel Puig, amazing man. How good a film is it? It's a little slow. It's a good film.
  • [on winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1986] There's always a part of you that wants to be, you know, the so-called best. But when you're a human being you know that doesn't exist any more. [...] And I went up onstage and Sally Field whom I knew very well, because we'd done a play together which was broadcast live, she brings it over, and I said to her, "Sally" - this is the words I said to her, onstage, she put it in my hand and I said, "Sally, what the hell do I do with this?" She looked at me hard because she knew me - she was a wonderful woman - and she looked back and she said, "You live with it," which was a wonderful response. So I held it, I walked over, and I started living with it.
  • Acting is building the tip of the iceberg, you have to build what isn't seen and then play the tip. Only a little bit of the iceberg is ever seen, but it is massive. That's sometimes hard to do in American movies, where the philosophy is to show the whole iceberg. We're not used to having passive heroes, we're used to the active, go get 'em guy. [...] I oppose this idea that we have to vicariously live in the images of movie heroes who always know what's going to happen next. That's just not how life is. What's wrong with heroism being a man who has traveled 2 inches? That 2 inches is very profound. The real heroes are people who walk and talk in streets and in homes and in the air. Why is it that in the movies we have to spend so much time escaping rather than being freed by accepting?
  • When they gave me the Academy Award that night I was tremendously conflicted. I thought I was going to get away with it, I thought I was going to put on my penguin suit and have a couple of drinks and go and look at the other salivating guys in the penguin suits and I was going to watch them like you study a character. When they called my name out I really thought, "Oh no no no no, don't put that target on my chest, don't do this."
  • [on roles] It's always different. It's like you're always wearing a mask. It's what mask you're wearing. Which one are you using? The more complete your mask is, whether it's in flagrante delicto or subtle, the more complete it is in its psychology, the more you see the soul of your own being. That's what masks are for. The key to the mask is that if the mask that you make proves your value, proves that you have been attentive to a human being, then through those dark holes you're in there. That's what you want. You want to share that. You want to be in there with others. And that's a feeling that I can't describe. I have to do it. I have been there. I have done it. I have participated in moments when that was reached and it is a prize without price. It cannot be quantified. It is a state which is so wonderful, so useful, that you cannot sell that, you cannot buy that cheap. It's there. It's among, not about. And that's why you do it. That's why I do it. There's all kind so accoutrements that people are going to judge things by, but that's really got nothing to do with it.
  • [on winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1986] Every award is a standard bearer. But the night that I got mine was also the night they gave one to the producer of 007 for selling more theatre tickets than anybody ever sold. So OK I'm going, "Is this the same statue, is this the same golden dildo they ram down your throat to make sure you never work unconditionally again?"
  • The enemies of acting are mood, and attitude, and other general homogenized disruptive entities. Whereas acting is about action -- doing -- and unless you can figure out a way to craft in an imaginative reality to which you don't submit, you're going to be out of control. You'll flip out. The job is to be surprised.
  • A lot of what we do as actors now, it simply isn't acting. Because you can't get a script at 11 o'clock at night and shoot at 9 o'clock the next morning and call that acting. You can call that being well-used by a director. You can call it being a wonderful reflection of what your teachers instilled in you over the years and years of hopeful study. But you can't call it personal participation in the work. You can call it showing up in terror.
  • [on Altered States (1980)] I was jumping out of my skin because Paddy Chayefsky was articulating ideas that were so far ahead of their time. Molecular biology and quantum physics, the sources of altruism, the notion of love over truth. I had been thinking about the beginnings of our current situation, intellectual property in bio-engineering, I had been thinking about computers and all that. And then I read this script and I was in a Cuban coffee shop up on 78th and Amsterdam and I couldn't stop reading it and I couldn't stop weeping for about half an hour and I couldn't stand up for 45 minutes because it was every idea that I had been thinking about. Everything was in this thing.
  • Body Heat (1981) was the best structured film I ever read. It was a better structure than Altered States (1980). But I spent the first six hours of my life with Larry Kasdan telling him why he couldn't direct it. He didn't know what he had. It was a gem, pure and simple. He listened. Because I was the only person that was honest with him. He had not directed before. I was simply saying that his odds of pulling off were remote. Which was true. It's much nicer to be treated with honesty than it is to be treated fatuously.
  • [2013 interview] Fame....it's been a challenge, let's put it that way. It's a privilege and a responsibility, and I'm not sure I carried the responsibility well at times, which is embarrassing. And I've had to look and be disappointed in myself occasionally for how I behaved in some circumstances.