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.
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 am an actor and I live in the world of pretend in my working capacity. I live in the world of my imagination.
I think my parents were happy that I'd gone to university and gotten a degree in history so they thought, 'Well if acting doesn't work for him, he can always become a history teacher or something.' Fortunately, the acting worked out.
I think that each character has fascinated and interested me enough to want to play him.
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.
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.
Every person who is offered a knighthood has the opportunity to say yes or no. You get a letter from the Prime Minister saying you've been recommended for a knighthood and there are two little boxes, one says yes, one says no.
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.
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.
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.
I think actors always retain one foot in the cradle. We're switched on to our youth, to our childhood. We have to be because we're in the business of transferring emotions to other people.
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.
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.
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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