• [Referring to Hollywood] "Money is like heroin, and I grew up in a neighborhood that was destroyed by heroin. I've watched addiction all my life. Celebrity is like heroin. And constant praise is like heroin. And, you know, no one can resist constant praise. I had to get out."
  • [Part of 1988 Oscar acceptance speech] "I'd like to thank everybody who ever punched or kissed me in my life and everybody who I ever punched or kissed."
  • Part of his 2009 commencement speech at College of Mount Saint Vincent: Not to bring up something upsetting, but when you leave here today, you may go through a period of unemployment. My suggestion is this: Enjoy the unemployment. Have a second cup of coffee. Go to the park. Read Walt Whitman. Walt Whitman loved being unemployed. I don't believe he ever did a day's work in his life. As you may know, he was a poet, If a lot of time goes by and you continue to be unemployed, you may want to consider announcing to all appropriate parties that you have become a poet.
  • [re Doubt (2008) I did "Doubt" as a film, a play and an opera. We were there to use the new materials we'd been offered to express the story in the way it wants to be expressed. I realized that if the priest is giving a sermon, we're going to see the congregation. [The movie] came to life as a filmic idea rather than a theater idea. It's not an obvious thing to be able to get people to go to a movie where they buy popcorn to watch nuns and priests argue. I was scared.
  • I always knew I'd have to come home eventually. I'm Irish as hell: Kelly on one side, Shanley on the other. My father had been born on a farm in the Irish Midlands. He and his brothers had been shepherds there, cattle and sheep, back in the early 1920s. I grew up surrounded by brogues and Irish music, but stayed away from the old country till I was over 40. I just couldn't own being Irish.