To enter a theatre for a performance is to be inducted into a magical space, to be ushered into the sacred arena of the imagination.
When the BBC decided to bring Doctor Who back as a feature film a few years ago, one national newspaper ran a poll to ask its readers who should be the new Doctor, and I topped it.
I've come to this conclusion: What makes a great actor is great need. A huge need of acting.
Shakespeare speaks for the human heart but Dickens speaks for the social man and for injustices.
Childhood didn't have a big influence on me, really - in fact I spent most of it plotting how to escape.
Having caught a glimpse of what I might be able to do with my talent, I feel a tremendous obligation to try to fulfill it.
My mother wanted me to be a teacher. She had this vision of me walking across the quadrangle in an Oxford college wearing my academic gown.
Like many Catholics, I was very affected by the personality of Jesus and that impression, pious as it was, has stayed with me.
There is something essentially sanguine about me, which I am inclined to attribute to the fact that I was born by caesarean section. It must affect you.
Artists probably should have some impenetrable aspects of themselves.
I am never bored, never short of anything to do and I don't even ever feel lonely. I am quite gregarious and I get out and about a lot, but sometimes it is just wonderful to be on your own.
You could say Shakespeare is so extraordinary precisely because he was so ordinary. He had all the usual anxieties and understandings of what it is to have children, lose children, get married, struggle to make a living and so on.
I love storytelling and I love just relating directly to an audience. That's why we do theatre, it's because we love contact with the audience. We love the fact that the audience will change us. The way the audience responds makes us change our performance.
I would say critically of myself that I am somebody without secrets. Sometimes acting depends on you having a secret. I don't think I've ever had that.
Jesus is absolutely at the centre of Western civilisation and part of my fascination with him is, why? What is it about this particular man and his story?
Many actors have protested about mobile phones going off in theatres, but the real menace now is people texting during a show. It may only disturb a few people around them, but for me, as an actor, when I spot them answering their emails, I am outraged.
The elderly are all someone's flesh and blood and we cannot just shut them in a cupboard and hand over the responsibility for taking care of them to the state.
When children have grieving parents it's also common for them to feel an obligation to cheer them up and make them happy.
Very often my weekends are spent performing on Saturday, on stage in the afternoon and again in the evening.
To live another person's life is quite a weird thing.
Shakespeare wrote all there is that we need to know about dementia in 'King Lear.
Everything that we have gone through, are going through, and will go through is there in Shakespeare. It is all of human life.
I actually wanted to be a writer long before I wanted to be an actor.
Increasingly I've come to think that what's at the core of acting is thinking. Most people would say it's feeling.
I don't practise any religion but I am deeply interested in the answers that mankind has come up with to explain the human situation.
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