- Do you know that moment when you paint a landscape as a child and, when you're maybe under seven or something, the sky is just a blue stripe across the top of the paper? And then there's that somewhat disappointing moment when the teacher tells you that the sky actually comes down in amongst all the branches. And it's like life changes at that moment and becomes much more complicated and a little bit more boring, as it's rather tedious to fill in the branches.
- Sitting around a table with good friends, some sympathy, nice wine, good talk, what could be better than that? Except sex. Or getting it right on stage.
- No, I have never been remotely sexually voracious, whatever that is ... But maybe I'll be sexually voracious next week!
- We are who we are. The sum of the lack we have.
- We're just as messy and complex as any other couple, and we go through just as many changes. But I really respect her. Rima and I can sit in a room just reading, and not saying anything to each other for an hour, then she'll read something to me and we'll both start giggling.
- No, it was not Love At First Sight. I'd hate for us to be presented as something extraordinary.
- On his relationship with Rima Horton
- The curse of our times is that you are supposed to decide your life at 16 and stick to that.
- I like to think that my philosophy of life is just do it, get on with it. But I don't. I'm a dreadful procrastinator. When I go to bed at night it's as if there's a bit of me that says, "Now go on, have a really good brood...", while there's this other bit of me saying, "Oh, go to sleep."
- We do all those daft things - movies, McDonald's, Hamleys. Last time, I told them we'd walk through Hamleys to choose one thing each. They marched straight to the Barbie counter - I couldn't believe it - hideous little dolls with pointed legs and breasts.
- On his nieces, Amy and Claire
- I've never been able to plan my life. I just lurch from indecision to indecision.
Alan on Bruce Willis: "He's just the best, he's very good at looking after the atmosphere on the set. He's very funny - kind of what you expect. But he's also very skilled in front of the cameras; he knows exactly what he's doing.”
“Hans, my Die Hard character, is a really good part; bad guys are fun to play, although I don't want to make a habit of it."
"It's fun being naughty."
“Vincent Price also did comedy tremendously well, and is a tremendously versatile actor. And we all know where his gift for villainy landed him: typed for life. But I do appreciate the likening to him.”
"I'm a lot less serious than people think, it's probably because the way my face is put together."
"Celebrity is a minefield, so much newsprint is devoted to the lives and opinions of actors. I'm still really unsure about how much of that is relevant."
"I love to travel and I don't have children, so there is a certain freedom."
"I love not knowing what I'm going to be doing. I just enjoy any kind of mad scheme that comes up. I'll happily spend a day going round and round on roller coaster rides, the more dangerous the better."
“A lot of the time I hate the theater. You think, I have to climb Mount Everest, again, tonight. Oh, the theater is a scary place to be."
“I don't eat the right food, I'm not a monk, and I'm very gregarious. But I'm not stupid."
"I do feel more myself in America. I can regress there, and they have roller-coaster parks. My idea of a real treat is Magic Mountain without standing in line.”
"The reason I don't like talking to most journalists is their desire to reduce everything to a one-page article and to make you compare things."
“It's a weird area. There you are, 15ft across the screen, and people can visit all sorts of fantasies on your face that have nothing to do with you. You just have to deal with it.”
“Not having had children has given me more space to work, I'm sure that's true, and when I work I'm very driven, but otherwise I don't sit around missing acting."
“I never talk about my home life. I think it's unfair on one's family to see themselves written about. They have their lives to live and why should they be dragged into this?”
Whatever I am as an actor is as a result of who I am as a person, what I think and do. My life changes every day, so hopefully my work does.
"You can act truthfully or you can lie. You can reveal things about yourself or you can hide. Therefore, the audience recognizes something about themselves or they don't -- You hope they don't leave the theatre thinking that was nice...now where's the cab?'"
"I have a love-hate relationship with white silk."
"I would agree that there is a darkness to explore, but it's something to do with the audience and me and shifting preconceptions. I like it when people come and say 'I wanted the Sheriff to get away with it.'"
"I don't suppose there is any actor who wouldn't want to be in the movies if they had the chance. It's partly a question of being in the right place at the right time: you either have certain looks that are right or it's just a matter of luck."
"You are given a microphone and it's up to you to say what you think. At a crucial time, like an election, you should do what you believe."
"I'll go where the scripts take me. Actors don't exert as much choice over their careers as you may think. Good scripts don't just waft their way towards you. I love going all over the globe and that is much of the charm of movies."
"I worry about a million things. I worry about why I'm worrying. One way to escape it is to feel the sensation of being onstage. I think life is built on sensations as much as anything else; acting is about trying to reproduce that sensation."
"I've often said that actors should have a T-shirt for when they go onstage saying, 'believe it or not, I'm doing my best.'"
"I am a worrier. My approach to work is rather like my approach to life. I'm a bit like a dog with an old slipper."
"I know a lot about myself. On the one hand I'm the person who's loading up the washing machine in the morning. But when crowds stare at you at the stage door, you're suddenly someone else."
“...But I enjoy being in LA. I drive a car there and don't at home. It's disgusting and wonderful, like going to Dunkin' Donuts every day.
“I've always existed on fairly thin ice. One gets used to living by the seat of one's pants. What I've got to do now is create space. In my head and in my living room. The kitchen and dining room are now my office. I have this feeling that if I could sort out what's on my dining room table, everything would fall into place."
“As an actor, I think that innocence is hugely important to hang on to. You have to hand yourself over to the director.... Directors are much less innocent."
"Filming was like a holiday after playing Valmont eight times a week, and the film was like the best ride at the best fun fair."
Alan on his role in Close My Eyes: "I've done a lot of hopping in and out of bed naked, but this was my first actual sex scene. She whispered to me, did I have any knickers on? I did. I mean, God forbid there should be any real contact."
"What is it about actors? God knows I get bored with actors talking about themselves. I don't think it's right that everybody knows everything about me."
Alan on success: "In LA it is measured by the height of the walls around your home and by the size of the home inside its high walls. That's a kind of living death to me."
"Actually, I've kissed some of the greatest actresses around-- Fiona Shaw, Harriet Walter, Juliet Stevenson..."
"Acting is about giving something away, handing yourself over to whatever role you are asked to play. I'm not hiding or escaping or seeking anonymity. I reserve the right not to have a rubber stamp on my forehead saying this is who I am. Because who I am gets in the way of people looking innocently at the parts I play."
"I cannot take responsibility for people's fantasy. I can't think about it, I can't live with it and I won't dwell on it. I want to be part of the storytelling chain.”
"If people want to know who I am, it is all in the work."
Alan on his vices: "A wounding tongue. I'm working on it. Perhaps its the Celt in me."
“I’ll still be out there as an actor doing something somewhere at 70."
Alan on why he doesn’t have children: "You should remember I am not the only one involved. There is another person here. I would have loved a family. Sometimes I think that in an ideal world, three children, aged 12, ten and eight, would be dropped on us and we would be great parents for that family."
"Die Hard was a classic of its kind, and I'm happy to have been in it, because I probably wouldn't be sitting here talking to you without it."
Alan on The Winter Guest: "It's a moment that comes to many of us, that point when the roles switch and the child must become the parent. You either accept the responsibility and look after your parents, or you don't. Like Emma's mother, my mother was widowed young-- I was the second of four children and she raised us on her own."
Alan on his role as P.L. O’Hara of An Awfully Big Adventure: "Well, I didn't know how the lines would come out, but I knew who he was - it's that romantic streak that maybe everybody's got in them where you wish that at some point in life you'd had the option to live off the back of a motorbike or something like that with just a small bag of belongings. It's the stick-with-the-spotted-handkerchief streak in everybody. I knew who he was because there's definitely that part of him in me."
“One thing I will say - my job gets harder and harder. The more you understand about what you are capable of, the less the instrument can do it physically. It's an inverse equation, if that's the right phrase. I just slammed those two words together. It sounded right.”
“One thing an actor has to be is a fit instrument. The thing that wanders out of a tube station and onto the stage, I mean, it's not in a case like a violin. An actor has to protect himself a bit - and yet be very open. To be both fit and open is a hard balance to achieve - in fact it's impossible. I hate putting this into words because it sounds so...wanky.”
“My problem with Hamlet was how the hell do you do this thing physically, how do you breathe it? Not only is the play very long but you discover that this bastard Shakespeare has put three huge soliloquies one almost directly after another.”
“There's no master plan. It's not calculated, Every choice is taken on its own terms. For example I went on from filming Mesmer, which was difficult, to doing Mike Newell's An Awfully Big Adventure, which was a breeze. They were two very different experiences.”
"...if I had children, I'd like to think I'd let them wear whatever they wanted. None of my friends would believe me, but I'd let them walk down the road in pink Lurex and gold plastic."
“Apart from the film business being all about the size of people's willies, we also swim in bucketloads of bullshit. There's plenty of people more difficult that me. Juliet Stevenson, for example. I would say that "difficult" means a highly intelligent human being who asks pertinent questions and tries to use her or himself to the fullest extent. Who says I'm difficult? Since I know I don't shout and scream about the size of my...dressing room.”
Alan on his naked role in the "The Grass Widow": "A very strange thing to do. You have to pretend it's not happening to you."
“There can be a huge buzz in acting, but the thing is ... the moments of greatest buzz are frequently followed by a very swift kick in the guts or smack to the side of the head.”
Alan on Rima: "She is the ultimate leveler. When I whine about my work, she'll fire back at me some well-aimed sentence about the homeless."
Alan on Rima: “She has nothing to do with all this. And I really resent it when her name gets mentioned. It makes life hard for her.”
Alan on Rima: "I think every relationship should be allowed to have its own rules. She's tolerant. She's incredibly tolerant. Unbelievably tolerant. Possibly a candidate for sainthood."
Alan on Rima: "No, it was not love at first sight... I'd hate for us to be presented as something extraordinary. We're just as messy and complex as any other couple, and we go through just as many changes. But I really respect her. Rima and I can sit in a room just reading, and not saying anything to each other for an hour, then she'll read something to me and we'll both start giggling."
Alan on Rima: "I think it's difficult for two actors to live together because this business burns up any available space. Clearly Judi Dench and Michael Williams have made a success of it, but maybe they've learnt to leave business behind in the rehearsal room. I've never learnt that trick. I bring all problems home. I brood. But Rima just laughs and goes straight to the heart of the matter. No matter what problems she has she puts her head on the pillow and goes straight to sleep!"
“Nothing gives me as much pleasure as travelling. I love getting on trains and boats and planes.”
“When I am asked about influences, I always say I bow down to Fred Astaire, because when you look at him dancing you never look at his extremities, do you? You look at his centre. What you never see is the hours of work that went into the routines, you just see the breathtaking spirit and freedom.”
"Talent is an accident of genes -- and a responsibility. You are given this thing and everybody has talent... mine just happens to be for acting and that creates a situation like this. It is a strange and powerful responsibility.”
"I don’t mind seducing as long as at the end of the seduction there's an idea or a shock. You can lull the paying customers as long as they get slapped."
"I like getting ambiguous responses from people. I'm not up there in a glass cage to be admired and for people to be enchanted by me. I like to mix it up. Audiences shouldn't be passive creatures. They come to work."
"I'm a Piscean. In every area of my life complete opposites are at work all the time. I stagger myself sometimes. Who is this person? The 'you' who can't organize picking up the laundry - and you know that 'you' very well - watches the other one in a rehearsal situation and says, 'Who is this person who has all these ideas and all this invention?' There's a very, very instinctive person and a very, very practical person. It depends on what time of day it is, I think."
"Give me a window and I'll stare out it."
"Hollywood exists on a trinity of products - popcorn, coke and the movie. I'm not quite sure what means the most to them."