Peter Ustinov Poster

Quotes (22)

  • A diplomat these days is nothing but a head waiter who's allowed to sit down occasionally
  • ...the great thing about history is that it is adaptable.
  • Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.
  • Two members of my profession who are not urgently needed by my profession, Mr. Ronald Reagan and Mr. George Murphy, entered politics, and they've done extremely well. Since there has been no reciprocal tendency in the other direction, it suggests to me that our job is still more difficult than their new one.
  • [on critics] They search for ages for the wrong word, which, to give them credit, they eventually find.
  • The habit of religion is oppressive, an easy way out of thought.
  • I believe that the Jews have made a contribution to the human condition out of all proportion to their numbers: I believe them to be an immense people. Not only have they supplied the world with two leaders of the stature of Jesus Christ and Karl Marx, but they have even indulged in the luxury of following neither one nor the other.
  • Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them.
  • Mervyn LeRoy, the director of Quo Vadis (1951), gave me this gem of advice on how to play the Emperor Nero: "The way I see Nero, this is the kinda guy who plays with himself nights".
  • I was irrevocably betrothed to laughter, the sound of which has always seemed to me to be the most civilized music in the world.
  • [regarding his portrayal of supersleuth Hercule Poirot] When Rosalind Hicks, Agatha Christie's daughter, first saw me, she said, "That's not Poirot". I said, "It is now, my dear".
  • People are annoyed with the Chinese for not respecting more human rights. But with a population that size it's very difficult to have the same attitude to human rights.
  • [about the collapse of the Soviet Union] I suppose you can't blame [Mikhail Gorbachev, but it is his fault for making America the only superpower.
  • [on the American and British invasion of Afghanistan in 2001] You can't fight terrorism without becoming a terrorist yourself.
  • [on Palestinian suicide bombers] They require the kind of courage that none of us would have. It's a kind of courage that's very hard to understand. And it's our duty to try to understand it because it is the courage of desperation. And what is the difference between somebody who goes into a coffee house with the intention of killing as many people as possible - and does so - and somebody who's in an aeroplane at the height of five miles, unobtainable by any anti-aircraft gun, and lets their bombs drop as scientifically as possible, in order to kill as few people as possible? I guarantee that the one who tries to kill as few people as possible will kill many more than the one who goes into a snack bar and blows himself or herself up. But in this campaign, I wonder how many of the people who have been killed were terrorists? I think very, very few. To my mind, it's a big lie.
  • [on Russian-American relations] There was a great campaign to make life difficult for Vladimir Putin when he came in. Nobody ever mentions that George Bush was head of the CIA. What's the difference between the CIA and the KGB? Except that probably the KGB are more thorough, intelligent and more respectful of foreign traditions.
  • [on the invasion of Iraq in 2003] Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.
  • World government is not only possible, it is inevitable; and when it comes, it will appeal to patriotism in its truest, in its only sense, the patriotism of men who love their national heritages so deeply that they wish to preserve them in safety for the common good.
  • Rita Hayworth wanted to be the next Mrs. David Niven. Rita was a great deal of fun and extremely beautiful - all that glorious red hair. David loved her, but not enough to want her for his wife. I don't know if he loved Hjördis [his wife Hjördis Genberg], but when she became Mrs. David Niven it made him safe from all the others who wanted to be his wife.
  • Life is unfair but remember it is unfair in your favor.
  • [Responding, when he was asked if he thought there was too much sex in movies and on television]: No. My feeling is that we're going to discover and exploit some entirely new and unsuspected erogenous zone. The one I'm thinking of is the ear. Think of it. It's ideal. It's circular, there's a cavity in it, and it's surrounded by hair. I can imagine them hiding ears in the movies and TV, and people saying, 'For a second there, you could get a flashing look at her left lobe.'
  • [on playing The Old Man in Logan's Run (1976)] Slightly depressing, because I turned up in Hollywood and I said to Mr Westmore, one of the famous family of make-up men, "It's terrible! I've got to play a man of a hundred years, it means I'll have to be at the studio 5 o'clock every morning to be made up!". He said, "No no, I think ten minutes will be enough."