In all fields of creativity you see the result of work that has become habit. Where the creative impulse has become flaccid or has died out altogether, and yet because it is our work and our life we continue to do it.
I suppose it's a very highly developed form of denial, but some part of me completely denies that I'm a performer.
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!
I was a savage for so many years of my life. There was some seed of determination in me that I was not conscious of. I was mostly consciously getting into trouble and drunk.
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.
I had a very vivid, almost hallucinatory moment in which I was engaged in a dialogue with my father.
Making a film, setting it up and getting it cast and getting it together, is not an easy thing.
You can never fully put your finger on the reason why you're suddenly, inexplicably compelled to explore one life as opposed to another.
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.
Very often there's this misapprehension about actors being people that need to display themselves, to reveal themselves in public.
I like things that make you grit your teeth. I like tucking my chin in and sort of leading into the storm. I like that feeling. I like it a lot.
I still relate to my father very much. I mean, I talk to him in a certain way, as we do talk to the dead.
When I was younger, I made some decisions that I shouldn't have. And, in hindsight, I've almost always been wrong when I haven't listened to myself.
How people are around a director, it really does affect everything, every detail of the life of the movie.
At some point in your life, if you're lucky, you get to design the way in which things evolve.
I'm very often still very much alive for that other being and that other world long after the film is finished.
Where I come from, it was a heresy to say you wanted to be in movies, leave alone American movies.
Periodically over the years I've always taken periods of time away from acting.
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.
The last time I was on a small set would've been probably My Left Foot.
As a member of the audience I don't like it that I can't see what's going on in the eyes and in the face and in the most subtle responses of a performer when I'm more than a few rows back. I find it very frustrating.
It didn't occur to me that it was possible to breathe life into Abraham Lincoln.
The one thing that I appear to have been given, bearing in mind that I am capable of being very, very scatty and extremely lazy, is the ability to concentrate on something I choose to give my time to.
I'm not really a storyteller myself – I tend to get all tangled up when I try and tell stories.
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.
I come from not just a household but a country where the finesse of language, well-balanced sentence, structure, syntax, these things are driven into us, and my parents, bless them, are great custodians of the English language.
When I've gone back to work, it's always with that sense of inevitability. That may be a complete delusion, but it's the one that I need to get out of bed and go about my business. That sense that I can't avoid this thing. I better just get on with it.
I think I have a strange relationship with time. I'm not really aware of that time passing. I don't feel that I'm wasteful with time. But I'm not aware of it passing.
I didn't like the idea of being foolish, but I learned pretty soon that it was essential to fail and be foolish.
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.
When I do work, I feel the same sort of urgency as I ever did. If I didn't feel that, I don't think I would wish to be doing it. I wouldn't really see the point.
For as long as I can remember, the thing that gave me a sense of wonderment and renewal… has always been the work of other actors.
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 suppose the place where I live is fairly remote, it would seem remote to some people.
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.
To people who don't know me I'm defined by a number of things that people know about me that are entirely untrue.
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 don't deal at all well with the relative amount of stuff I have to face already.
I see a lot of movies. I love films as a spectator, and that's never obscured by the part of me that does the work myself. I just love going to the movies.
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.
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.
Films exhaust me, they do, and I often want nothing more to do with them, but I'm continually surprised at the resurgence of the impulse to come back and do it all over again.
I don't know what impression you might have of the way I live. I live in a quiet place. I do not live as a hermit, though other people would prefer it if I did.
I would wish for any one of my colleagues to have the experience of working with Martin Scorsese once in their lifetime.
The whole thing of weight, I guess it's because there is a wider fascination we all have with weight.
At a certain age it just became apparent to me that this was probably the work that I would have to do.
There are always practical decisions to be made about any character you're playing.
One of the great privileges of having grown up in a middle-class literary English household, but having gone to school in the front lines in Southeast London, was that I became half-street-urchin and half-good-boy at home. I knew that dichotomy was possible.
I never retreat from films, as it were, I simply indulge in other interests, that's all.
It's a source of great sadness to me that my father died without having seen me do anything worthwhile. He was constantly having to make excuses for me.
If people take an interest in you and they think there's half a chance, they might hang on. It's dreadful.
I'm a little bit perverse, and I just hate doing the thing that's the most obvious.
Perhaps I'm particularly serious, because I'm not unaware of the potential absurdity of what I'm doing.
There must've been some part of me that wanted to make my mark. But there was never a defining moment.
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.
Many years ago, I really didn't know where the next work was coming from.
How can you be a recluse in a house full of children, even if you had the inclination to be, which I don't?
For about a year, I just didn't know what to do. I did laboring jobs, working in the docks, construction sites.
Being at the centre of a film is a burden one takes on with innocence the first time. Thereafter, you take it on with trepidation.
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.'
If you have a certain wildness of spirit, a cabinet maker's workshop is not the place to express it.