Brighton Rock star Lord Richard Attenborough's words of wisdom

Dickie Attenborough's words of wisdom

Dickie Attenborough's words of wisdom

First published in News by

Actor and director Lord Richard Attenborough was known for his anecdotes and words of wisdom. Here are some of his thoughts:

  •  On modern-day heroes: "I passionately believe in heroes, but I think the world has changed its criteria in determining who it describes as a hero...

"If someone does something in an entertainment/pop ambience, that person becomes someone who has an impact on the conduct and attitude of a huge number of people who peripherally come in contact with them.

"I'm simply saying that heroes are people whose activities, whose attitudes and whose judgment you just think, wow. That's good, that's right, that's real."

  •  Speaking to Sussex University's student magazine about modern society: "I think the world is a harder place now for young people... In the 40s and 50s, life seemed much simpler, especially in terms of what was acceptable and what was not acceptable. The world is also, I think, more corrupt."
  •  On the death of his daughter Jane - tragedy struck on Boxing Day 2004 when Lord Attenborough's elder daughter Jane Holland, her daughter, Lucy, and her mother-in-law, also named Jane, were killed in the south-Asian tsunami: "I can talk to people about Jane now, although sometimes I can't get the words out. I can also see her. I can feel her touch. I can hear her coming into a room.

"She comes in laughing or excited or determined, but always full of commitment. That was the very essence of Jane - commitment. And music."

  •  On his coping mechanism for dealing with the deaths - an actors' gift of compartmentalising: "If you are playing in Charley's Aunt and your favourite aunt died that lunchtime, you'll still have to go on the stage and play Charley's Aunt.

"You have to be able to separate things. I can't think of Ginny (a pet name for Jane) all the time. I think of Ginny when my mind allows me to."

  • On his regrets of putting work ahead of family on occasions: "I adore my family, they are my joy. However, I am committed to my work. If on a Saturday morning when I was ostensibly going to be with the children and something arose at Rada or at Unicef or at the orphanage or whatever, I would allow the other pressures to take precedent.

"Now I have a guilt..."

  •  Modestly explaining to the BBC why he thought ET was "an infinitely more creative and fundamental piece of cinema" than his multi-Oscar-winning Gandhi film: "(Business partner Diana Hawkins) and I went to see ET in Los Angeles shortly before all the awards and we used language when we came out, to the extent of saying: 'We have no chance - ET should and will walk away with it'...

"Without the initial premise of Mahatma Gandhi, the film would be nothing. Therefore it's a narrative film but it's a piece of narration rather than a piece of cinema, as such.

"ET depended absolutely on the concept of cinema and I think that Steven Spielberg, who I'm very fond of, is a genius.

"I think ET is a quite extraordinary piece of cinema."

  •  Telling the Guardian why he was always a character actor, never a traditional leading man: "Well, I'm 4ft 2ins, and not exactly a matinee idol."
  • Telling the Evening Standard what could tempt him back into acting: "If Steven (Spielberg) asked me to do Jurassic Park 4, then I'd jump at it, but that's about it."
  •  On his hopes to keep making movies until the day he died: "On my last day of shooting, I'd be happy to say: 'Cut, it's a wrap' and fall off the twig."

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