Real-life people are often the hardest to play, people that you recreate who have actually lived, because you have to live up to people's knowledge of those characters.
I never lose that terror of 'this is my last job, I'll never work again.' You can never relax and rely on whatever reputation you've built.
He was living in an age much more dangerous, more painful, much more on the edge than our own particular age.
There's never been any game plan or thread through my career. It's just happened that I've ricocheted from one interesting character to another.
Ultimately it's a leap of faith and a leap of imagination to put yourself back in time into those conditions and situations and see how you would react.
It's too hard a life for me. I could only do it - check out in that sense - if I checked out somewhere that was luxurious and within hailing distance of civilization.
Sir Larry could be very strict and a disciplinarian, too. He had many faces; he wore many hats. But, ultimately, he loved the theater and he loved actors.
I'm always conscious of the fact that I am part of a profession that is 80% permanently unemployed. So, to be working in any sense is to be privileged.
I've been a professional actor now for 38 years. A long time. And it's wonderful to earn your living doing something that you love. To think people actually give you money for it!
You have to get through the Hamlet hoop as a young actor. Your classical qualifications are based on the quality of your Hamlet. And then, as an older actor, you have to get through the Lear hoop. And I'm approaching the Lear hoop.
Reputation is fine but you have to keep justifying it. In a sense, it makes it harder because people's expectations of you are higher. So, you have to fulfill those expectations. Or, try to exceed those expectations. But, it becomes more difficult as time goes on.
We started filming in 1993 which was only four years after the fall of communism. The difference in Budapest over the last five years has been remarkable.
I would like to be as fit as I've always been. I've been blessed with good health, I've been blessed with stamina. Particularly for those great classical roles, you need an Olympian stamina. I, fortunately, have that.
What was so good about it was that the set that they originally built stayed there, and weathered over the five years. It got five summers and five winters of weather. It became more and more authentic as we worked in it, and they added bits to it.
I had to think long and hard about what it would imply, what it would mean. Would it mean any alterations of one's lifestyle? Or, more than that, the way that people regarded you? The way they reacted to you if you had a Sir in front of your name?
They were totally supportive, always saw everything I did. One of the thrills of my life was when they went to the theater to see something that I wasn't in. It opened doors for them that otherwise would have been totally closed.
My first course came and I put down my book, and I just happened to put up my hand to scratch my head and discovered that my toupee had been blown by the wind and was folded over backwards on the top of my head!
Knowing that we were doing good work and the stories were good. They were original and charming. They weren't particularly violent or sexy or any of that. They were just unique and that had a good feel to it.
It was never physically dangerous except when I nearly fell off a horse, but it was physically arduous - especially when you were working late at night.
It was doing very well; it was doing particularly well outside of England. It was a very big seller for Carlton Television. But it was getting more and more expensive to do.
I'd gone into that restaurant and sat down and the waitress had taken my order and everybody else had seen me with this what must have looked like this creature, this animal, sitting on the top of my head!
I thought it was getting better and better, because the production values were increasing each time we did it.
I shall miss all the people in it and the great fun we had doing it. I enjoyed playing the character very much. It was a very, very special character and a very special series. And the camaraderie of it all. I loved it.
Actors, I don't think, ever really grow up. I'm hoping that that rejuvenating process applies to me, too. It has so far. I've been very lucky.
It's often difficult to slough off all that we've acquired, all the comforts and safety nets modern life provides for us, and realize that in those days, people were living very much on the edge - life was incredibly hard!
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