Don't forget there are two sides to performing. Finding the truth, but you also have to be transparent enough for the audience to see it. How many times have you seen a performance and thought: 'Well, it seems to be meaning a great deal to you but it ain't coming across to me?' It is to be shared.

There are situations where you are left robbed of all quality of life, and I believe it is entirely up to you how you want to deal with that. You can follow the dictates of religion if that is what you believe in, or you can take a personal decision.

We're all just passing time and occupy our chair very briefly.

I first decided that I wanted to act when I was 9. And I was at a very bizarre prep school at the time; to say 'high Anglo-Catholic' would be a real English understatement.

How my film career happened, I don't know. It was unplanned. I'd been in films and TV throughout the Sixties and early Seventies, but it was really 'The Naked Civil Servant' in 1975 that put me on the radar.

Essentially, I am an actor for hire. I am not a rarified creature. I do all these different things, and they all interest me.

I'm essentially the result of other people's imagination. And that's fine. Because of other people's imagination, I've played parts I would never have thought I could do. Still, I've never had a hankering or an ambition for any particular role.

I say you play a part, you don't work one.

Everybody, I think, that was in 'Harry Potter' was certainly introduced to an enormous lot of young people.

Where humanity is going to find itself in, say, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years would be very difficult to predict, I think. There are moments, of course, when you think that it's going from bad to worse, but there are other moments when you think that human efforts are really flowering into something really fantastic.

I never had any ambition to be a star, or whatever it is called, and I'm still embarrassed at the word.

Parents are the worst teachers, if they are good at it and you're not. My father thought I was the densest offspring he could have produced.

Early on, I didn't intend to have children. I thought it was too difficult a world for them. But then it happened, and I am thrilled to have them now.

I love the uilleann pipes and listen to Ronan Browne who's an uilleann piper.

It's quite a dangerous career move to go wilfully on making films that may not find a distributor.

Everyone I've ever played has been flawed.

Society is constantly recalibrating, redefining what it considers to be moral and immoral.

I remember once when I told Lindsay Anderson at a party that acting was just a sophisticated way of playing cowboys and Indians he almost had a fit.

One thing that is likely to make you lose touch is if you keep in touch with the past too much.

Nudes are the greatest to paint. Everything you can find in a landscape or a still life or anything else is there: darkness and light, character dimension, texture. I painted heads too, of course.

It would be difficult to have any unfulfilled ambitions because I don't have any ambitions. I've never been that kind of performer.

I'm not interested in awards. I never have been. I don't think they are important. Don't get me wrong, if somebody gives me a prize, I thank them as gratefully as I know how, because it's very nice to be given a prize. But I don't think that awards ought to be sought.

Not everyone wants to see children's films, comics, and supermen.

I seem to watch less and less television. The best thing in 'Downton Abbey' is Penelope Wilton. She is always worth the watch.

I'm somewhat old-fashioned, and I still talk about playing a part. I don't talk about my work - 'I've seen some of your work' - there's not much work in it, is there?

I've never guided my life. I've just been whipped along by the waves I'm sitting in. I don't make plans at all. Plans are what make God laugh. You can make plans, you can make so many plans, but they never go right, do they?

I'd love to claim that what I have done in my life is of my doing, but it's not of my doing at all. I've blown around in the wind like a mad thing, influenced by this and that - like a piece of paper: like the boy in that scene in 'American Beauty' watching a piece of paper blowing hither and thither.

My criteria when looking for a role is that I will do anything that stands the chance of succeeding on the level it is intended to. After that, if it's a part I can do something personal with.

I've worked with people from Fred Zinnemann, John Huston, through to Richard Fleischer, all of those boys from Hollywood and so on, and Sam Peckinpah and then the Mike Radfords.

I can't say that I wouldn't prefer to make small films, basically because I think they are probably more interesting in terms of the material. But every now and again, it's quite good to do a big one.

Each day, as you get older, there is a new perspective on life. It's a progression of some sort.

The first thing you have to get used to in any kind of acting is the ability to make a fool of yourself. If you haven't learnt how to make a fool of yourself, you shouldn't be on the boards. That's absolutely what it's all about.

I'd never done any Beckett before 'Krapp,' and I haven't done any of his other plays since. I've always felt that 'Krapp' is an autobiographical piece.

If I'm in theatre, cinema doesn't even cross my mind. Similarly when I'm making a film, theatre doesn't cross my mind.

I'm fascinated by the business of belief, obviously, because it's so ever present with humanity anyway. And, you know, when you have science, which constantly talks of proofs, you have religion, which constantly talks of beliefs and faith and so on.

I've never changed the way I live. I still walk the streets; I don't give a damn. And everyone's very nice to me. But this new idea of being famous for no reason at all? I can't actually get my head round it.

Film is not literature - the image on screen is the information you get.

The English National Opera does have some terrific productions, which are accessible, and they're not too ridiculously expensive.

Actors are not always the best judges. We have a peculiar idea of what we think we are, and sometimes it's best left to others to decide what we play.

I didn't want to teach. I wanted to act. It was quite a long and difficult road to get there but very thrilling when I did.

My father's a clergyman, and he was in the mission field for a certain amount of time in British Honduras, which is now Belize.

Pretending to be other people is my game and that to me is the essence of the whole business of acting.

We are all racing towards death. No matter how many great, intellectual conclusions we draw during our lives, we know they're all only man-made, like God. I begin to wonder where it all leads. What can you do, except do what you can do as best you know how.

Really, I'm only alive out of curiosity. I'm very curious about where we're all marching.

My mother's father drank and her mother was an unhappy, neurotic woman, and I think she has lived all her life afraid of anyone who drinks for fear something like that might happen to her.

Acting is an imaginative exercise. It would be odd if you didn't try to identify with the roles you play, but I think I can differentiate between where my imagination is leading me and where I actually am.

Ultimately, the film industry has always pushed out its biggies, and I don't have a problem with that. I just wish that we'd spend more time nurturing the smaller ones.

As Beckett said, it's not enough to die, one has to be forgotten as well.

For everything that you find dreadful, there's usually something that is rather marvelous as well.