On the whole, I now see my work as being an expression of my spiritual life and, because I look at it that way, I have a different centre. I go through the stress and pressure, but I think I'm lucky because I come from a different source point.
I'd been reading Eastern philosophy since I was a kid. And I meditated. I did it on a daily basis. It's the one thing I do with any consistency. Meditation gives you a different kind of mindset. It's very powerful.
I put down the camera long ago, you know? I was here in London, aged 19, and I was obsessed with my camera, shooting everything I could. Then someone stole it. It helped me to see things for the first time.
Fame allows you a lot of opportunities to experience new things and connect with people. But on the other hand, people's perceptions of you can limit the scope of your relationships with them. You walk both lines.
I've been fortunate, I guess: I've gotten to play a lot of very diverse roles for quite a long time. But in the beginning, I was thinking, 'I'm not gonna do certain characters. I will be willing to say no and live on a couch.' And I was really happy.
Until film is just as easily accessible as a pen or pencil, then it's not completely an art form. In painting, you can just pick up a piece of chalk, a stick, or whatever. In sculpture, you can get a rock. Writing, you just need a pencil and paper. Film has been a very elitist medium. It costs so much money.
I was asked if I would play President Obama in 'My Name is Khan.' I didn't feel comfortable with doing it. Partly because he was still in office, but mainly because I felt that there were other people who were better suited to doing the role.
It's all about destiny. That's why people look at the zodiac or the I Ching - because there's a certain order to life, and that order has been lived since the beginning of time. No matter what you do, you're going to live inside of it.
As human beings, we all have reasons for our behavior. There may be people who have certain physiological issues that dictate why they make certain choices. On the whole, though, I think we're dictated by our structure, our past, our environment, our culture. So once you understand the patterns that shape a person, how can you not find sympathy?
I was in middle school right around the time the Bloods and the Crips started taking root in Compton and a lot of the other neighborhoods around me. I saw way too many of my peers - smart, kind, good kids - who got drawn into gangs and violence, and their futures were going to be forever scarred by that.
I've been trying to understand conflict and violence ever since I was a kid. You know. There were a few things that happened even on my block - the Black Panthers used to be right around the corner from where we were.
For many child soldiers, war and violence are all they have ever known. If we don't take it upon ourselves to show them an alternative, then they're going to be soldiers forever, and they'll continue to be recruited and to participate in violence if another conflict starts five or 10 years down the road.
Look - I'm an African-American. I'm black. But I'm just looking at the character and trying to find his soul, his energy. If you can wipe away the blanket of skin and flesh that people tend to see, and look inside for the essence of the soul, then that's the work I'm doing. That's the work I always do.
I think 'The Color of Money' was very instrumental in opening up other opportunities. People started to recognize me as an artist after that film. And then, after I did 'Bird,' it was more solidified.
I love to play chess. The last time I was playing, I started to really see the board. I don't mean just seeing a few moves ahead - something else. My game started getting better. It's the patterns. The patterns are universal.
I'd spend every summer in Longview on my grandfather's farm. It was a tiny little town divided by a river, which was the segregation line: that side white, this side black. And meanwhile, I lived in Compton - basically, another whole world sealed into 10 square blocks. It's interesting how insular an environment can be.
It's important for youth, black youths particularly, to be able to fill in the blanks of themselves so they can know completely who they are, but also all the country to understand what this means: what the civil rights movement does to us as people. It is part of the journey that we must be on in order to become fully evolved human beings.
I want a director who can let me feel that he's listening and watching and that he's got me covered. That security is really important for me because sometimes you go into a vulnerable space, and you want to be able to look to somebody because you get insecure: 'Did I do that right?'
You try to pull away the experiences until you get to the core of humanity, and you find that light that exists in everybody. It's that light that I'm searching for in all of my work - is that connective thing, that ether that enters all of us - you know what I mean? That's a part of God.
I think I've made some choices that maybe I wasn't so sure about for some reason or another. But I'm one of the lucky ones. Even when I was young, I played Bird, and that's a role people wait for their whole lifetime.
When we talk about the issue of child soldiers, it can be easy to focus just on ending recruitment and liberating those boys and girls who are currently being held in military camps. Obviously, both of these are incredibly important goals, but it's also essential that we not forget about former child soldiers once they are liberated.
I think that cinema and the arts are central in our lives because we grow up and learn about the world through our exposure to stories. Parents use them as a tool to teach their children fundamental truths and values, much as adults can view them to gain exposure to cultures and individuals that they'd never be able to view in their own lives.
Our leaders must hear us speaking on behalf of our brothers and sisters in South Sudan. If the moral duty to save lives and work toward peace is not compelling enough to drive decision-makers, we must remind them that we care and will hold them accountable.
I stay true because whatever the project is, I'm still looking for inside of that character. It's the thing that connects him to me and to everybody else. So, the search is the same. It's to unveil the truth, and that's how I stay true, because my purpose isn't altered.
I'm fascinated by the capacity to be able to do harm. I struggle every day with the ability of people to do evil. Not just the big things - the petty things that people do in order to make someone feel small, when it's so easy to do, and it hurts so much.