Steven Berkoff Quotes

  1. The mainstream is generally garbage. Look at the heavily subsidized theaters.
  2. I like evil people.
  3. I may be 80, but I intend to keep acting until the day I die. Instead of slowing down, I’ve discovered my second wind.
  4. I have a daughter from a relationship I had in my late teens or early 20s. Because I felt it wasn’t the kind of pukka behaviour my family or relatives would admit to, I denied it for many years.
  5. When I have criticism that I feel is unfair, the rejection does disturb me, but it also strengthens me. I used to get turned down for all sorts of jobs. I used to writhe in pain, but then I would say, ‘Good. Good. I will get stronger for this.’
  6. I find it very satisfying to write because you can purge many things and vent what you feel under the mask of fiction.
  7. My mother was almost entirely responsible for my cultural education. She took me to the library once a week, and by the age of seven, I was reading 100 books a year.
  8. I’d like to be remembered with affection, with regard, and with just a smallest amount of admiration – that here’s a man who walked against the tide.
  9. That is the nature of the British psyche. It’s very blunt, plain, very linear. It’s pragmatic: it records life as it is.
  10. Art is a way of penetrating and going deep into our unconscious and creating amazing worlds – as the Greeks did, if you like, as did Ovid with his stories and his fantasies.
  11. With the feminist movement – a good movement which I support – there’s been more overt criticism of the male, an attitude that men are failing to understand the finer nature of women, failing to appreciate their needs, failing to support them, failing to be compassionate.
  12. Everyone remembers the bad guy long after they’ve seen the movie.
  13. British culture loves the image of itself in the mirror; it doesn’t want to look deep inside, behind the eyes, inside the brain, inside where those shivers and nightmares lie.
  14. It’s impossible to have a favourite Shakespeare, since so many of the plays rouse and inspire completely different parts of your being.
  15. There’s a lot of talk about people being abused on Twitter, women being savagely insulted and degraded. I think, ‘Why get into that in the first place?’ If I jump into a garbage bin, I can’t complain that I’ve got rubbish all over me.
  16. The theatre is your pulpit – it is your church – and you want to be a priest in your church, and that’s what I believe in.
  17. Writing is an antidote for loneliness.
  18. When I wrote ‘East,’ I wanted a completely earthy, very sexy, very violent play, so I wrote in verse. I found it not only satisfying but releasing. It gave me an opportunity to play with language. We never played the characters like the yobs that they are, but rather in a slightly heightened way.
  19. Technology is the devil, and the more technology you have, the higher the price you pay.
  20. I’ve played a lot of bad guys in my time, especially in movies. It’s delightful playing the villain. It’s almost the most interesting and most complicated role in a film.
  21. I’m very resistant to most forms of theater.
  22. When I ascended from the depths of the working class to the middle class, the higher I got, the more dishonesty I found.
  23. Anti-Semitism has never gone away; it will always be there because it’s a very convenient prejudice. The gene of it, the original DNA, is buried deep within our history. And even within some Jews as well.
  24. During the Second World War, we lived in a flat on Whitechapel Road in the East End of London. At one point during the blitz, the air-raid sirens went off every night for 30 nights, and each time, my parents would grab my sister and me and take us to the shelter beneath Whitechapel underground station.
  25. Most American films have now become mindless. The human element has been removed, so you are just left with the surrogate human, which is the robot, so coincidentally or, rather, ironically, they are making films about robots, without realising they are talking about themselves.
  26. As a child, you only think of the now.
  27. Los Angeles is a weird mixture of every influence that Europe has dropped in its melting pot. It is hot, arid, picturesque, seething, banal, sometimes plain pleasant, and sometimes awesome.
  28. I like watching films that have very impelling content, great persuasive language.
  29. A knighthood would be a bit too much. An OBE or an MBE or whatever they are called, one of those would be more elegant.
  30. If you want to be an actor, you must have total, ruthless commitment to your art. Don’t be ambitious for fame or TV or movies. Art is a jealous mistress and will brook no competitors. Study all the time. Never stop reading. Never stop learning speeches. It will fill you up – define and refine you.
  31. If you put out garbage, you turn people into garbage.
  32. I hardly ever see new plays. They don’t have the audacity and daring that they used to.
  33. After watching my poor mother being sometimes neglected by my father, it was almost tattooed on my brain that I would never cause hardship or despair to a partner.
  34. The great actors we had came from the actor-manager theaters. Not only did they create a team, they were the generals working with the soldiers.
  35. When I was young, I was shy.
  36. Facebook and Twitter are like a horrible digital plague.
  37. A great opera house isn’t run by a director, but by a great administrator.
  38. You are treated like a cog in a machine. The director might be obsessing so much with the stunts that he doesn’t notice your performance, and the producer may just be an insane money man, but I have no snobbery about the movies.
  39. I do a devilish borscht, and I’m very good at pickles. I used to make jars and jars of sweet-and-sour pickled cucumbers.
  40. A lot of praise is given to very mediocre work. Critics have lost their taste, hearing, and eyesight.
  41. We often find far more power in a symbol than in something that is an an actuality.
  42. I liked Stanley Kubrick from the start. He had a warm, benign nature and offered himself to you as a friend and ally. He seemed to possess no airs or attitudes, neuroses, or predilection towards tantrums.
  43. Transgender casting is a kind of literalism. It is the same with racial casting. This means that you can now only play Othello if you are black. There is something quite tainted about it. It is a form of racism in itself.
  44. When I started studying acting, I was enamoured of actors who used movement to enhance the language.
  45. The most vital part of your humanity is the love you have for others. To deny it is to deny your life.
  46. My earliest memory is of my first day at primary school and the distress of seeing my mother part from me.And being in a room full of strangers – of aliens. I felt that I would never see her again.
  47. My first name used to be Leslie. I snipped that off and put my middle name, which was Steven, in the front.
  48. In London, nobody comments on what you wear – they think that’s not important to you or your state of well-being.
  49. I like a lot of international people. Julie Taymore, the American director – she’s one of the most exciting directors I’ve seen.
  50. I enjoy being in movies, but my heart will always lie with the theatre.
  51. When I write about working-class people, I do so in ways that reveal them at their absolute, magnificent worst.

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