There's nothing worse than finding yourself in a situation, a very demanding piece of work, and knowing that you're not a true ally to the person who's in charge of all that.

My main memories of my father are of his illness.

My preference is that, that day when someone sticks a tripod in front of you with a camera on the top, it is not day one.

If people take an interest in you and they think there's half a chance, they might hang on. It's dreadful.

Ireland was a place for the renewal of hope and I still see it like that.

Quite honestly, if I were doing work related to a living being or historical being where there was visual or audio recordings available, I would find that extremely difficult because I don't know how you would avoid the process of mimicry. And mimicry, to me at any rate, is a very dull prospect.

Many years ago, I really didn't know where the next work was coming from.

I have always been intrigued by these lives I have never experienced.

We all live under some repression; we have to, it's part of the deal.

God knows, I haven't always been successful.

I'm not sure you learn anything on film sets.

I find it difficult to be in rooms now for long periods of time. I can usually take it for about an hour. Then I stride out.

I'm a warrior when it comes to pursuing roles.

I never retreat from films, as it were, I simply indulge in other interests, that's all.

If you remain unsettled by a piece of writing, it means you are not watching the story from the outside; you've already taken a step towards it.

I'd always felt very strongly in the power of vocation.

My curiosity sustains me for the period of the shoot.

I avoid talking about the way I work. But in avoiding it I seem only to have encouraged people to focus their fantasies about me in an ever more fantastical way.

I hate the domestic life.

I have a strange relationship with time. I'm not aware of it passing.

You can never fully put your finger on the reason why you're suddenly, inexplicably compelled to explore one life as opposed to another.

I like to learn about things.

I can't re-examine work I did in the past with pride.

I like to cook things very slowly.

England is obsessed with where you came from, and they are determined to keep you in that place, be it in a drawing room or in the gutter.

Shoes are strange things. If you take your shoes off in a situation in which you're vulnerable, you'll feel 10 times more vulnerable.

I'm not keen on history being tampered with... to any extent.

I can't honestly account for the very personal response that I have to one story and not another, a sense of an orbit, the orbit of a world that draws me as my own life recedes.

At some point in your life, if you're lucky, you get to design the way in which things evolve.

I'm not really a storyteller myself - I tend to get all tangled up when I try and tell stories.

Perhaps I'm particularly serious, because I'm not unaware of the potential absurdity of what I'm doing.

I'm woefully one-track-minded.

As actors, we're all encouraged to feel that each job is the last job. They plant some little electrode in your head at an early stage and you think, 'Be grateful, be grateful, be grateful.'

Very often there's this misapprehension about actors being people that need to display themselves, to reveal themselves in public.

At a certain age it just became apparent to me that this was probably the work that I would have to do.

For about a year, I just didn't know what to do. I did laboring jobs, working in the docks, construction sites.

I broke things to get attention.

The West has always been the epicentre of possibility. One of the ways we forge against mortality is to head west. It's to do with catching the sun before it slips behind the horizon.

I suppose I have a highly developed capacity for self-delusion, so it's no problem for me to believe that I'm somebody else.

There are always practical decisions to be made about any character you're playing.

It must be hard interviewing actors.

I've got a serious-looking head.

When I did make the decision to focus on acting, I think my mother was just relieved for me that I had finally started to focus.

Where I come from, it was a heresy to say you wanted to be in movies, leave alone American movies.

I love to sit and watch people. I love to sit and listen to people.

I'm not picky, quite honestly.

A lot of guys in jail tattoo their hands.

To people who don't know me I'm defined by a number of things that people know about me that are entirely untrue.

I had a very vivid, almost hallucinatory moment in which I was engaged in a dialogue with my father.