Quotes

“Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I am a very patriotic guy, in terms of my Scottishness and my roots.”

“I’d totally be attracted to a geek girl!”

“I feel like I’m the luckiest man on the planet.”

“Most of the time, you find that the smaller the budget, the more the project is about something substantive.”

“I rant and rave about noise pollution.”

“I hate that term, “Method”. It’s definitely been given to me over the years, but I don’t know if it’s true. My belief is that every actor’s got their own “method”, and as long as it works, that’s OK.”

“People like Jim Jarmusch or Spike Jonze make the kind of American cinema that really interests me. And working with them has, so far, been the only thing I haven’t been able to do. But other than that I’m perfectly happy with where I am.”

“I owe my father everything.”

“I want to keep audiences off balance, so they don’t know who I am or how to take me. If I duck and weave, as Frank Bruno might say, I’ll have a longer shelf life.”

“The thought of being in Harry Potter makes me physically ill. On the other hand, my kids might turn around in a few years and ask, ‘Why weren’t you in Harry Potter’?”

“We met in Cracker. I played a maniac fan who murders a policeman and she did my makeup. I thought anyone interested in me looking like that must have genuinely liked me.”

“The way a person moves tells you a lot about them. Look at the way I’m holding this coffee mug. If I were to thump it down on the table, I wouldn’t be respecting your tape recorder. If I move it gently, it means I am showing some respect. These are the things I bring to my performances.”

“To be honest I’ve worked with a few American actors now and I was looking forward to that you know, coming up in my career thinking “Yeah I’d like to work with some Americans because they seem to be very, very comfortable with improvisation. But that has not been my experience at all. They have to have things absolutely set.”

“I must have been dreaming about Albie. I spoke in a Liverpool accent all the time. It becomes second nature. It’s much easier like that. It seems to me common sense rather than extraordinary.”

“My first love is art, and I see a lot of things in an artistic way.”

“I feel with TV you’re allowed more freedom. With television there’s more time to create something through the episodes. The fact that you’re working harder on the surface seems more difficult, but you get into a way of working where if you’re not allowed to stop and breathe and think about it, you just go on instinctively, which is the way I prefer anyway. It becomes a more spontaneous thing.”

“Acting is probably the greatest therapy in the world. You can get a lot stuff out of you on the set so you don’t have to take it home with you at night. It’s the stuff between the lines, the empty space between those lines which is interesting.”

“I’ll spare you the actors’ pretentious rubbish, but a face reflects experience, so if you concentrate on a character something happens to you physically. Many actors look at the costume before the part, and that seems crazy to me. It’s much more fun to be ugly. Not that I think I’m ugly, but I’ve never considered myself good-looking.”

“A lot of the characters I play come from the working-class. It’s a background I’m familiar with. It’s not about being hard. It’s just knowing how that society works and what the rules are. I grew up in a working-class area of Glasgow and that experience has stood me in good stead.”

“I’m in four different films this year, and I have four different accents. I sound different in every film. You have to love a character to play it well, and change in my work is what I want.”

“I must have done something right because they gave me a grant to the Royal Scottish Academy Of Music And Drama in 1983. But I hated all that stuff they taught me while thumping out the rawness and energy I had. I went off and formed a small experimental, often political, theatre company called Rain Dog to unlearn it.”

“The script will point you in certain directions and I go the opposite if I can. I try do do one thing and tell a different story with my eyes. I believe what’s more interesting is always what’s not being said.”

“Every actor I think has got their own number of takes that they like, you know. Some actors like to go all day, you know on the one scene and some actors want to take two takes. I personally like four.”

“The darker the character, the more interesting.”

“It depends who the director is you know, I mean Ken Loach for instance. I’ve done up to 32 takes with him.”

“Many actors look at the costume before the part, and that seems crazy to me. It’s much more fun to be ugly. Not that I think I’m ugly, but I’ve never considered myself good-looking.”

“I don’t consider the consequences of what I do as far as my career is concerned. That’s not my job. Some actors do consider that. But I don’t want to build a whole career on how I think people will perceive my every move.”

“If you look at a painting and you get moved by that painting, then it’s an amazing thing the artist has done. And without surfing into the land of wank, if you can move people then it is an amazing gift – something to be held onto and treated seriously. If you recognize that , you get self- fulfillment in a different way from being a star. For me it’s been more of an exploration of myself.”

“You never stop learning in this business and when you do you should fucking chuck it in. You’ve just got to try and get better.”

“You make one movie that goes off the scale and there’s all this pressure to move on. You’re pushed and pulled in all conceivable directions, but at the end of the day the only thing that can happen is you split in two, which is precisely why I’m retaining control of all my own decisions. I keep my own counsel.”

“What I do is ridiculous. It’s fantasy land. It’s nonsense. If you realize that, then acting is much simpler than it’s made out. Success? Yeah, but not at any price – and certainly not at the cost of my own personal, private life. Fame just isn’t me. It’s not what I’m interested in. It’s not a priority.”

“I went to a film festival in Italy a couple of years ago and they called me “the reluctant actor”. There’s maybe an element of truth there.”

“It’s not that I rail against it, but I don’t feel entirely comfortable with it – fame, if that’s what it’s called.”

“For me, it’s a voyage of self-discovery. I’m able to go on a set and to explore situations, personalities, people and characters that are close to me, or maybe not. Through going there and experiencing these different people and their situations, it helps me to get oriented and develop as a human being. So, acting is fundamental to who I am.”

“It’s beneficial to me to find a piece that has social worth. At its most coarse level acting is a frivolous thing to do. It feeds my own head to do something that says something to someone.”

“I hate the word celebrity. I hate it if it’s attached to me in any way. I’m not a raconteur. I’m not an entertainer. If you put yourself in that position, it trivializes what you do. And if you don’t take yourself seriously, then nobody else is going to.”

“Family? That’s my stuff and no one else’s.”

“Family is the most important thing in my life. I enjoy my work but I need to be able to go home at night.”

“There’s this guy called Robert Carlyle and there’s guy called Bobby. Basically, the guy called Robert Carlyle works for me.”

“I’ve really enjoyed my work in television, but the problem for me is the turnover of directors every week.”

“I love sci-fi because it leads in the imagination, and I always say it has the most intelligent fans in the world.”

“Bullying is a terrible, terrible thing.”

“I’m not someone who believes in wasting my vote.”

“I do tend to divide my childhood into darkness and light, and the first seven years were certainly the darkness.”

vThe quality of TV drama nowadays is getting better and better. They’ve had to invent a new term for it: ‘high-end television.'”

“Acting, the arts in general, is a magnet for the wounded of society.”

“Of course, I love chats with various actors about the process and how they do it. To me, if it’s not on the camera, if it’s not there, it’s not worth it. It really just isn’t worth it.”

“The first thing you should know about me is when I was three years old my mother left me and my father. And that was traumatic obviously for my father – he suffered a nervous breakdown at that time in his life.”

“A lot of Scots have settled in Canada over the years and it’s a very easy place for Scots – they understand us, we understand them.”

“There are a lot of things that make up a performance, a lot of technical things. It isn’t always just about pulling it up from the darkest recesses of your mind or your heart. It’s your experience and your observation.”

“Each performance and each film is what it is. It’s right and belongs within that moment. You look at it and try to make it fit your particular part of your character and your particular film.”

“I loved cinema while growing up and, for the longest time, wanted to be a director.”

“Guys, particularly in the West, go to the gym and train for hours and hours to pick up something that is heavier than them. Why would you want to do that?”

“People in Scotland appreciate homegrown talent, but it’s getting harder and harder to get films made in Britain.”

“I’ve always taken my love of children from my father. He was a children magnet. Suddenly, having my first child hit home what my dad went through.”

“In troubled times the last thing you want to do is to stick your money into a film. It’s such a gamble.”

“I never rehearse. Never! I think it’s a waste of time.”

“I used to be a rabid reader, but now it’s scripts or nothing – network television is quite relentless, and you can’t drop the ball.”

“I never go anywhere without my iPod.”

“The more people know about an actor the less convincing they become. A bit of mystery’s a good thing.”

“It depends who the director is you know, I mean Ken Loach for instance. I’ve done up to 32 takes with him.”

“My wife was a make-up artist, and she’s a total product junkie. Our bathroom is packed full of lotions and potions so I end up trying them out.”

“Acting is a really insular thing.”

“I’d work with Danny Boyle every day of the week. No matter what he was doing I would do that.”

“I think you should only wear jewellery if it has a story behind it.”

“The thing I miss the most about Scotland is the football.”

“I often have scripts sent to me with allegedly Scottish characters where I end up telling them, ‘You’re going to have to rethink this whole thing!'”

“The U.K. and the U.S. are very different countries, and it really shows in the television.”

“A lot of my work is with children and there’s a reason for that, because they really level you.”

“If there’s anything you want to ask your parents, ask them before they go, because once they go, they’re gone.

“When I look back at it now, my past and the way I grew up, I grew up on communes.”

“Acting is probably the greatest therapy in the world. You can get a lot stuff out of you on the set so you don’t have to take it home with you at night. It’s the stuff between the lines, the empty space between those lines which is interesting.”

“I hate the word ‘hippy.'”

“Hunger’s a great spur.”

“I don’t take a great deal of interest in party politics. Social politics interests me a great deal more.”

“I just don’t like the whole Hollywood thing.”

“Biologically, I’m lucky – an angular face and dark coloring which shows up well on camera.”

“I’d love to do a Columbo-type detective character in a series.”

“It took a long time for me to accept I was an actor, a professional actor, and that, actually, I make a living out of this.”

“In the late ’70s, maybe just before I started, there was still an attitude that if you did film you didn’t do TV and vice versa, but that’s gone now.”

“I was 16 when I was in a band, for about 10 minutes. I went off and did acting after that. So it was a wee moment for me when I sang.”

I’d love to play some kind of fop.”

“My dad was rubbish at all other aspects of his financial life, but he’s pretty good at paying the rent.”

“Anyone that knows me knows what I’m about, and I’m very much a British actor, a European actor.”

“People go to the movies to watch a film and all they’re thinking about is the actress’s cellulite they saw in a magazine.”

“To be honest I don’t think I was any great shakes as a theatre actor because everything I was doing was really small in size – intimate.”

“I like to be working and moving – the worst thing you can do to me is stick me in a room all day while you’re lighting a shot. That just kills me.”

“The script will point you in certain directions and I go the opposite if I can. I try to do one thing and tell a different story with my eyes. I believe what’s more interesting is always what’s not being said.”

“I think I have a natural, if I can say that, got a kind of natural ability in comedy.”

“A lot of the characters I play have problems, they are marginalized, they have serious psychological problems, problems with relationships, with childhood. These are big subjects, big subjects. You can’t balk at work like that. As an actor, that’s as good as it gets.”

“I want to keep audiences off balance, so they don’t know who I am or how to take me. If I duck and weave, as Frank Bruno might say, I’ll have a longer shelf life.”

“To pursue a career in Hollywood you have to have a personality bypass. Look at the top 20 stars in the world – there’s probably only two actors among them. Hollywood’s not about you as an actor. It’s about your currency, what you ‘bring to the table’. And I’ve never been one to jump through hoops for anyone.”

“I’m in four different films this year, and I have four different accents. I sound different in every film. You have to love a character to play it well, and change in my work is what I want.”

“I have a reputation for being an improvisational actor, which is true, but I also know what I’m doing so that if the improvisational strand doesn’t work I can go back to what I know is already there.”

“Every actor I think has got their own number of takes that they like, you know. Some actors like to go all day, you know on the one scene and some actors want to take two takes. I personally like four.”

“Although people always cite that role as an example of my dark side, I’m not so sure. Really, Trainspotting is a black comedy and in many ways Begbie’s the funniest one in it.”

“On his father: Back in the Sixties, when I was growing up, the notion of a one-parent family – especially of a single father – didn’t really exist. And for him to have walked that road and lived that life and still managed to raise me and love me as he did, was just incredible.”

“On filming in his native Glasgow: At times it was incredibly emotional. Very close to the bone. It affected me in ways that I hadn’t bargained for when I agreed to do it.”

“The backdrop of my childhood seemed to be the back streets, the dark alleys and the rainy streets of those cities. I know every beat and rhythm of that life, which could be another reason for why I’m drawn often to dark gritty roles and why I wanted to show the gritty side of Glasgow in my movie. It’s a landscape I know.”

“One of the odd and the weird things about filming was the number of people who came up and said, ‘I knew your auntie’, or ‘I’m your cousin on your mother’s side’. And I didn’t know these people existed, because I only ever knew my father’s side of the family.”

“On making The Full Monty: I thought it was a load of fucking pish, to be honest.”