Charles Durning Poster

Quotes (17)

  • Dancing came easy for me. Acting came hard.
  • I would rather do a play because it's instantaneous. You go on the stage, and you know whether it's happening or not. Somebody asked me "what is acting?" And I said, "acting is listening." And if you ain't listening, nobody's listening.
  • I can't count how many of my friends are in the cemetery at Normandy, the heroes are still there, the real heroes.
  • [about arriving at Omaha Beach on D-Day] It's hard to describe what we all went through that day, but those of us who were there will understand. We were frightened all the time. My sergeant said 'are you scared, son?' and I said 'yes, I am', and he said 'that's good, it's good to be scared', he said 'we all are'. This guy in the boat, he turned to me and he threw up all over me, and I got seasick. He was scared. You're not thinking about anything, you're just thinking about you hope that shell that just went off isn't going to hit this boat. Even the guys who had seen a lot of action before, and this was my first time, they were just as ashen as I was, and I was frightened to death. I was the second man off my barge and the first and third men got killed. First guy the ramp went down, the guy fell and I tried to leap over him and I stumbled and we both slipped into the water. We were supposed to be able to walk into shore but they didn't bring us far enough. And I was in 60 feet of water with a 60 pound pack on, so I let it all go.
  • [on reaching Omaha Beach after falling in the water] I came up and I didn't have a helmet, a rifle, nothing. I hit the beach, the guys pulled me in who were already there, I'd lost everything; but they said 'you'll find plenty of them on the beach, rifles, helmets, that belong to nobody'. Nobody knew where we were supposed to go, there was nobody in charge, you were on your own. All around me people were being shot at, I saw bodies all over the place; but you didn't know if they were alive or dead, they were just lying there.
  • [about D-Day] We got behind this tank to protect ourselves; we're holding our own when they called us over to them. I asked the sergeant 'you want me to go first or you go first?' He said 'you go first, I'll be right behind you'. I heard an explosion, and I turned around, and his torso was here, and his body was over there.
  • [on what he thought his image was] Image? Hell, I don't have an image.
  • There are many secrets in us, in the depths of our souls, that we don't want anyone to know about. There's terror and repulsion in us, the terrible spot that we don't talk about. That place no one knows about -- horrifying things we keep secret. A lot of that is released through acting.
  • Of course, I'm not often the top dog, but sometimes it's better not to be top dog, because you last longer. If a movie or play flops, you always blame the lead. They say: "He couldn't carry it." They always blame him. But they rarely blame the second or third banana.
  • [from an interview in 2008] They're going to carry me out, if I go.
  • I never turned down anything and never argued with any producer or director.
  • [from a 1997 interview] If I'm not in a part, I drive my wife crazy. I'll go downstairs to get the mail, and when I come back I'll say, "Any calls for me?".
  • 'A Chorus Line' is an actor's play about actors. When that girl starts singing 'What I Did for Love', it has nothing to do with sex. It's the love of the theatre - the horror, the heartbreak, the disappointments. We've all had our share.
  • [Advice on acting] The thing to do is to keep taking chances. If you're going to learn anything, you've got to learn from the masters. Plus you've got to work with the talented beginner too.
  • I was in the business ten years before the actors began to notice me. Then it took another five years before the agents and producers noticed me. Five years after that, the public found me. And five or six years later, the critics took note.
  • James Cagney is probably the reason I became an actor. I think I learned much of what I know about acting from watching James Cagney movies. When people ask me, I tell them I didn't go to school. I learned directly from Cagney.
  • Part of my life I tried to keep secret... and deliberately. When I first got into this business and told people that I was in burlesque, they immediately characterized me. Right away, when they say 'burlesque,' you think of Bert Lahr, Phil Silvers, Red Skelton... they're all comics, and they're all great. I had none of their ability.