Richard Attenborough Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (4)  | Trade Mark (6)  | Trivia (109)  | Personal Quotes (27)

Overview (5)

Born in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, UK
Died in Denville Hall, Northwood, Hillingdon, London, England, UK  (complications from a fall)
Birth NameRichard Samuel Attenborough
Nickname Dickie, Bunter.
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Lord Richard Attenborough was born in Cambridge, England, the son of Mary (née Clegg), a founding member of the Marriage Guidance Council, and Frederick Levi Attenborough, a scholar and academic administrator who was a don at Emmanuel College and wrote a standard text on Anglo-Saxon law. The family later moved to Leicester where his father was appointed Principal of the university while Richard was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

His film career began with a role as a deserting sailor in In Which We Serve (1942), a part that contributed to his being typecast for many years as a coward in films like Dulcimer Street (1948), Operation Disaster (1950) and his breakthrough role as a psychopathic young gangster in the film adaptation of Graham Greene's novel, Brighton Rock (1948). During World War II, Attenborough served in the Royal Air Force.

He worked prolifically in British films for the next 30 years, and in the 1950s appeared in several successful comedies for John Boulting and Roy Boulting, including Private's Progress (1956) and I'm All Right Jack (1959). Early in his stage career, Attenborough starred in the London West End production of Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap", which went on to become one of the world's longest-running stage productions. Both he and his wife were among the original cast members of the production, which opened in 1952 and (as of 2007) is still running.

In the 1960s, he expanded his range of character roles in films such as Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) and Guns at Batasi (1964), for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the regimental Sergeant Major. He appeared in the ensemble cast of The Great Escape (1963), as Squadron Leader "Roger Bartlett" ("Big X"), the head of the escape committee.

In 1967 and 1968, he won back-to-back Golden Globe Awards in the category of Best Supporting Actor, the first time for The Sand Pebbles (1966), starring Steve McQueen, and the second time for Doctor Dolittle (1967), starring Rex Harrison. He would win another Golden Globe for Best Director, for Gandhi (1982), in 1983. Six years prior to "Gandhi", he played the ruthless "Gen. Outram" in Indian director Satyajit Ray's period piece, The Chess Players (1977). He has never been nominated for an Academy Award in an acting category.

He took no acting roles following his appearance in Otto Preminger's The Human Factor (1979), until his appearance as the eccentric developer "John Hammond" in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park (1993). The following year, he starred as "Kris Kringle" in Miracle on 34th Street (1994), a remake of the 1947 classic. Since then, he has made occasional appearances in supporting roles, including the historical drama, Elizabeth (1998), as "Sir William Cecil".

In the late 1950s, Attenborough formed a production company, "Beaver Films", with Bryan Forbes and began to build a profile as a producer on projects, including The League of Gentlemen (1960), The Angry Silence (1960) and Whistle Down the Wind (1961), also appearing in the first two of these as an actor.

His feature film directorial debut was the all-star screen version of the hit musical, Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), and his acting appearances became more sporadic - the most notable being his portrayal of serial killer "John Christie" in 10 Rillington Place (1971). He later directed two epic period films: Young Winston (1972), based on the early life of Winston Churchill, and A Bridge Too Far (1977), an all-star account of Operation Market Garden in World War II. He won the 1982 Academy Award for Directing for his historical epic, Gandhi (1982), a project he had been attempting to get made for many years. As the film's producer, he also won the Academy Award for Best Picture. His most recent films, as director and producer, include Chaplin (1992), starring Robert Downey Jr. as Charles Chaplin, and Shadowlands (1993), based on the relationship between C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham. Both films starred Anthony Hopkins, who also appeared in three other films for Attenborough: "Young Winston", "A Bridge Too Far" and the thriller, Magic (1978).

Attenborough also directed the screen version of the hit Broadway musical, "A Chorus Line" (A Chorus Line (1985)), and the apartheid drama, Cry Freedom (1987), based on the experiences of Donald Woods. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director for both films. His most recent film as director was another biographical film, Grey Owl (1999), starring Pierce Brosnan.

Attenborough is the President of RADA, Chairman of Capital Radio, President of BAFTA, President of the Gandhi Foundation, and President of the British National Film and Television School. He is also a vice patron of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund.

He is also the patron of the UWC movement (United World Colleges), whereby he continually contributes greatly to the colleges that are part of the organization. He has frequented the United World College of Southern Africa(UWCSA) Waterford Kamhlaba. His wife and he founded the "Richard and Sheila Attenborough Visual Arts Center". He also founded the "Jane Holland Creative Center for Learning" at Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland in memory of his daughter, who died in the Tsunami on Boxing Day, 2004. He passionately believes in education, primarily education that does not judge upon color, race, creed or religion. His attachment to Waterford is his passion for non-racial education, which were the grounds on which Waterford Kamhlaba was founded. Waterford was one of his inspirations for directing Cry Freedom (1987), based on the life of Steve Biko.

He was elected to the post of Chancellor of the University of Sussex on 20 March 1998, replacing the Duke of Richmond and Gordon. A lifelong supporter of Chelsea Football Club, Attenborough served as a director of the club from 1969-1982 and, since 1993, has held the honorary position of Life Vice President. He is also the head of the consortium, "Dragon International", which is constructing a film and television studio complex in Llanilid, Wales, often referred to as "Valleywood".

In 1967, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). He was knighted in 1976 and, in 1993, he was made a life peer as Baron Attenborough, of Richmond-upon-Thames in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

On 13 July 2006, Attenborough and his brother, David Attenborough, were awarded the titles of Distinguished Honorary Fellows of the University of Leicester "in recognition of a record of continuing distinguished service to the University". Lord Attenborough is also listed as an Honorary Fellow of Bangor University for his continued efforts to film making.

Attenborough has been married to English actress Sheila Sim, since 1945. They had three children. In December 2004, his elder daughter, Jane Holland, as well as her daughter Lucy and her mother-in-law, also named Jane, were killed in the tsunami caused by the Indian Ocean earthquake. A memorial service was held on 8 March 2005, and Attenborough read a lesson at the national memorial service on 11 May 2005. His grandson, Samuel Holland, and granddaughter, Alice Holland, also read in the service.

Attenborough's father was principal of University College, Leicester, now the city's university. This has resulted in a long association with the university, with Lord Attenborough a patron. A commemorative plaque was placed on the floor of Richmond Parish Church. The university's "Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts", which opened in 1997, is named in his Honor.

His son, Michael Attenborough, is also a director. He has two younger brothers, the famous naturalist Sir David Attenborough and John Attenborough, who has made a career in the motor trade.

He has collected Pablo Picasso ceramics since the 1950s. More than 100 items went on display at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester in 2007; the exhibition is dedicated to his family members lost in the tsunami.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: ta (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Family (4)

Spouse Sheila Sim (22 January 1945 - 24 August 2014)  (his death)  (3 children)
Children Michael Attenborough
Charlotte Attenborough
Attenborough, Jane
Parents Attenborough (Clegg), Mary
Attenborough, Frederick Levi
Relatives David Attenborough (sibling)
John Attenborough (sibling)
Will Attenborough (grandchild)

Trade Mark (6)

Frequently filmed movies about former British colonies. Examples include India (Gandhi (1982)), South Africa (Cry Freedom (1987)), Canada (Grey Owl (1999))
Frequently directed films about real-life individuals
His warm, grandfatherly persona
His calmly rich voice
Frequently made films with a moral message or a liberal political perspective
Frequently cast Anthony Hopkins

Trivia (109)

It was his life ambition to direct Gandhi (1982).
Philosophies include believing in content as opposed to style and sincerity rather than intelligence.
He reprised his Jurassic Park (1993) character, John Hammond, for Universal Studio's Jurassic Park: The Ride attraction. He appears in a short film at the beginning of the ride telling you that the NEW Jurassic Park (the ride you're on) is completely safe, and that there will never be another incident like that at Costa Rica in 1993.
2004: 57 years after he starred in Brighton Rock (1948), his son Michael Attenborough directed a musical version of Graham Greene's novel.
1952: Was the first to star in Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap", now the longest-running play in the world.
Has two brothers, naturalist/presenter David Attenborough, and John Attenborough. Also, during World War Two, his parents adopted two German Jewish girls, who had been brought to Britain as part of the Kindertransport.
He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1967 Queen's Birthday Honours List, made a Knight Bachelor in the 1976 Queen's New Year Honours List and a life peer in the 1993 Queen's Birthday Honours List.
2002-: Third president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
1971-94: Vice-president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
1990: Freeman of the City of Leicester, England.
1993: Fellow of King's College, London.
Created an honorary D.Litt of the Universities of Leicester, Kent and Sussex in 1970, 1981 and 1987 respectively.
12/02: Said he would go back on his claim to never appear in front of the camera again for one role only: that of Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films.
Brother-in-law of actor Gerald Sim
Former father-in-law of actress Jane Seymour.
Life President of Chelsea Football Club.
2003: Was made President of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), a role that had been vacant since the death of Princess Diana in 1997.
2003: Was awarded the Patricia Rothermere Award for his lifelong service to theatre at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
He was trained at RADA (The Royal Acadamy of Dramatic Arts), where he later became Chairman.
Father, with Sheila Sim of son, director Michael Attenborough born 1950, and daughters, Jane Attenborough, born 1955 and actress Charlotte Attenborough.born 1959. All, along with his brother David, lived within 15 minutes of each other.
Often cast Anthony Hopkins.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985". Pages 78-84. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
Steven Spielberg has named him as an influence.
12/26/04: Members of his family - daughter Jane, son-in-law Michael Holland, grandchildren Sam, Lucy and Alice and Michael's mother Jane - were holidaying in Phuket, Thailand, when the area was hit by the South Asian tsunami on Boxing Day 2004. Lord Attenborough lost his daughter, her mother-in-law and his 14-year-old granddaughter Lucy in the tragedy. His elder granddaughter, 17-year-old Alice, was seriously injured and his son-in-law and grandson survived unscathed.
Was involved in some form with the University of Sussex since 1970; he was elected Chancellor of the University on March 20, 1998, replacing the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, who had held that post since 1985.
9/05: Attended the funeral of British film producer Lord John Brabourne.
He was a close friend of the English actor Sir John Mills for many years, and gave the eulogy at his funeral in April 2005.
5/11/05: Gave a reading at a national British memorial service for the victims of the South Asian tsunami. He lost three members of his family in the tragedy.
Godfather of Emma Forbes.
Directed 4 different performers in Oscar-nominated performances: Ben Kingsley, Denzel Washington, Robert Downey Jr. and Debra Winger. Kingsley won an Oscar for his performance in Gandhi (1982).
1978: Officially retired from acting. He agreed to make a return to acting in Jurassic Park (1993), saying he was a huge admirer of Steven Spielberg and always felt bad that Gandhi (1982) had won the best picture award instead of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Spielberg had previously wanted to cast him as Tootles in Hook (1991), however, he'd been busy directing Chaplin (1992) at the time.
Received an honorary doctorate from Dickinson College, Pennsylvania.
Originally considered for the role of Harry in The Ladykillers (1955) by director Alexander Mackendrick. The role eventually went to Peter Sellers.
In 2008 the UK Regional Critics' Film Awards were renamed The Richard Attenborough Film Awards, in his honour.
He was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film culture.
Along with Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner and Robert Redford one of six actors to win an Academy Award for "Best Director".
Was hospitalised in August 2008 when his heart stopped beating for a time, and again in December 2008 when he went into a coma for several days after suffering a fall.
Is one of 10 directors to win the Golden Globe, Director's Guild, BAFTA, and Oscar for the same movie, winning for Gandhi (1982). The other directors to achieve this are Mike Nichols for The Graduate (1967), Milos Forman for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Oliver Stone for Platoon (1986), Steven Spielberg for Schindler's List (1993), Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain (2005), Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity (2013) and Roma (2018), Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant (2015), and Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water (2017).
The last veteran of World War II to win an Oscar for Best Director.
Before entrusting post-production on Jurassic Park (1993) to his friend George Lucas, Steven Spielberg thought he would have to divide his time between this and directing Schindler's List (1993). Spielberg at one point asked Attenborough, who had just appeared in Jurassic Park (1993), to serve as assistant director on Schindler's List (1993). This would have reunited Attenborough with Ben Kingsley, whom he directed in Gandhi (1982), which defeated E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) for Best Picture and Best Director. Attenborough's services turned out to be unnecessary, but he is not without his own connection to the material. While Attenborough is not himself Jewish, he does have two Jewish sisters: after World War II, his parents adopted two little girls whose parents had died in the Holocaust.
According to his brother David Attenborough, before his death, Richard was no longer able to walk and got about in a wheelchair. However, he still had all his other faculties about him, and was still as gregarious as ever.
He was a close friend of Diana, Princess of Wales, and he coached her privately to help her become more confident about speaking in public in the early years of her marriage. She always called him "Dickie".
To date, he is the only performer to win two Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actor but not even be nominated for a corresponding Oscar. [2014]
He made a cameo appearance as a lunatic wearing glasses in A Bridge Too Far (1977). This was his only acting role in a film that he directed.
He died in Denville Hall care home in Northwood, London, on August 23, 2014, at lunchtime, five days before 91st birthday. He moved into the care home because of his failing health, in March 2013. His wife, Sheila, had been based there since June 2012.
He was considered for the roles of Dr. Hans Fallada, Dr. Bukovsky, Sir Percy Heseltine and Dr. Armstrong in Lifeforce (1985).
Laurence Olivier offered Attenborough the role of one of the murderers in Richard III (1955) but he was unavailable.
He directed his brother-in-law Gerald Sim in seven films: Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Young Winston (1972), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Gandhi (1982), Cry Freedom (1987), Chaplin (1992) and Shadowlands (1993).
He died only thirteen days after his Hamlet (1996) co-star Robin Williams.
He appeared in five films with John Mills: In Which We Serve (1942), Operation Disaster (1950), The Baby and the Battleship (1956), Dunkirk (1958) and Hamlet (1996). He also directed him in three films: Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Young Winston (1972) and Gandhi (1982).
In an AFI poll, he described Charles Chaplin's film The Gold Rush (1925) as his favourite film.
He directed Anthony Hopkins in five films: Young Winston (1972), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Magic (1978), Chaplin (1992) and Shadowlands (1993).
He directed Edward Fox and Colin Farrell in three films: Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Gandhi (1982).
He appeared in three films with his wife Sheila Sim: Dancing with Crime (1947), The Outsider (1948) and The Magic Box (1951).
Of the twelve films that he directed, Magic (1978), A Chorus Line (1985) and Closing the Ring (2007) were the only ones which were not based on real events.
Carl Foreman was so impressed with his directorial debut Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) that he offered him the opportunity to both direct Young Winston (1972) and play Lord Randolph Churchill in the film. He declined the latter offer.
He directed both A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Magic (1978) in exchange for obtaining financing from Joseph E. Levine for his dream project Gandhi (1982).
He directed his former daughter-in-law Jane Seymour in two films: Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) and Young Winston (1972).
Steven Spielberg offered Attenborough the role of Tootles in Hook (1991) but he had to decline as he was directing Chaplin (1992). Arthur Malet was cast instead. Spielberg later cast Attenborough as John Hammond in Jurassic Park (1993), which was his first acting role since The Human Factor (1979).
He appeared in six films with his brother-in-law Gerald Sim: The Angry Silence (1960), Whistle Down the Wind (1961), Only Two Can Play (1962), Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), The Last Grenade (1970) and A Bridge Too Far (1977), which Attenborough also directed.
He was the grandfather of Tom Attenborough.
After Joseph Mazzello played his grandson in Jurassic Park (1993), Attenborough cast him as Douglas Gresham in Shadowlands (1993), his next film as a director.
He was 25 when he played the 14-year-old Jack Read in The Outsider (1948).
Of the twelve films that he directed, Magic (1978) and A Chorus Line (1985) were the only ones set in the present.
For his work in both The Sand Pebbles (1966) and Doctor Dolittle (1967), he's one of only 7 actors to win the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a motion picture without receiving an Oscar nomination for the same performance. The other 6 are, in chronological order: Millard Mitchell in My Six Convicts (1952) , Earl Holliman in The Rainmaker (1956), Stephen Boyd in Ben-Hur (1959), Oskar Werner in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), Richard Benjamin in The Sunshine Boys (1975) and and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Nocturnal Animals (2016).
He appeared with Joseph Mazzello in Jurassic Park (1993) and later directed him in Shadowlands (1993).
He appeared with Marianne Stone in Brighton Rock (1948) and later directed her in Oh! What a Lovely War (1969).
He appeared with Michael Denison in The Magic Box (1951) and later directed him in Shadowlands (1993).
He appeared with John Gielgud in The Human Factor (1979), Hamlet (1996) and Elizabeth (1998) and directed him in Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) and Gandhi (1982).
He appeared with Michael Hordern in Secret Flight (1946), The Magic Box (1951) and The Baby and the Battleship (1956) and later directed him in Gandhi (1982).
He appeared with Candice Bergen in The Sand Pebbles (1966) and later directed her in Gandhi (1982).
He appeared with Laurence Olivier in The Magic Box (1951) and David Copperfield (1970) and directed him in Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) and A Bridge Too Far (1977).
He appeared with Pat Heywood, Robert Hardy and Basil Dignam in 10 Rillington Place (1971) and later directed them in Young Winston (1972).
He appeared with Robert Flemyng in The Outsider (1948) and The Magic Box (1951) and later directed him in Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Young Winston (1972) and Shadowlands (1993).
He appeared with Hardy Krüger in The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) and later directed him in A Bridge Too Far (1977).
He appeared with Michael Byrne in Conduct Unbecoming (1975) and later directed him in A Bridge Too Far (1977).
He appeared with Saeed Jaffrey, Tom Alter and Barry John in The Chess Players (1977) and later directed them in Gandhi (1982).
Had been cast as Archbishop Langton in the period action-drama Ironclad (2011), but had to relinquish the role after suffering a debilitating fall down the stairs of his home, complications of which led to his death. He was replaced by Charles Dance.
He and his grandson Will Attenborough have both been in films titled Dunkirk, made nearly sixty years apart, which detailed the evacuation of British soldiers from the battle in World War II: Richard in Dunkirk (1958) and Will in Dunkirk (2017).
His mother, Mary was president of Leicester Little Theatre.
His father, Frederick was MA Principal of University College in Leicester.
He only ever had one long term film contract which was with The Boulting Brothers who he met when he was seconded from RAF Traing Command to the RAF film unit, which John Boulting was running, to appear in 'Journey Together'.
When he originally started planning filming 'Gandhi' he approached Peter Finch, Albert Finney, Tom Courtney, Alec Guinness and Dirk Bogarde for the part of Gandhi.
With Brian Forbes he formed Beaver Films whose first film was The Angry Silence. Others included The L Shaped Room, Seance on a Wet Afternoon, The League of Gentlemen and Whistle Down the Wind.
He got the role in 'Dr Dolittle ' as a last minute replacement.
He was 26 when he played a schoolboy in the film 'The Guinea Pig' in which his wife Sheila Sim played his school house mistress.
He made his stage debut while at school as a fairy in Iolanthe.
He became chairman of Goldcrest, the BFI and deputy chairman of British Channel 4 television.
Failing in obtaining any scholastic achievements his father gave him the ultimatum apply for and get the Leverhulm Scholarship for RADA or return to further academic work. He got into RADA at 17. While there he met and fell for fellow student Sheila Sim, marrying her in 1945.
He won 5 BAFTAS and 8 Oscars.
Appearing in the play 'Ah Wilderness' at Palmers Green with Peggy Cummins her agent saw the play and enthused about Dickie to Noel Coward and cast him in 'In Which We Serve'.
Goldcrest raised 2/3rds of the $22million required for 'Gandhi with the rest of the money coming from India.
He got the financial backing for 'Oh What a Lovely War' after singing and dancing though the score for Pamount's boss Charles Bludhorn who handed him a cheque for $6 million on the proviso he got 6 international stars for the film. He got 13 most of which did it for the minimum daily rate.
Originally turned down directing 'A Bridge Too Far' as he was almost set to do 'Gandhi' then a state of emergency was declared in India allowing him to do 'Bridge', which at the time had the largest budget of any film up to that time.
Lampooned by Greg Proops.
Directed five actors whom he had also acted opposite in other films: John Gielgud appeared with him in The Human Factor (1979), Hamlet (1996), and Elizabeth (1998), and in his films Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) and Gandhi (1982). Candice Bergen appeared in The Sand Pebbles (1966) and Gandhi (1982). Closing the Ring (2007) featured Shirley MacLaine and Pete Postlethwaite, who had appeared with him in The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (1968) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). Joseph Mazzello appeared in Jurassic Park (1993) and Shadowlands (1993). In addition, Debra Winger, who appeared in Shadowlands (1993) as Mazzello's mother, also played the on-screen daughter of MacLaine in Terms of Endearment (1983). Her on-screen son was played in The Evening Star (1996) by Mackenzie Astin, who appeared in In Love and War (1996). Winger's husband, Arliss Howard, appeared with him in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997).
A memorial service was held for him at Westminster Abbey, London on 17 March 2015.
He and his family lived on Richmond Green in Surrey near his brother David.
Used to be part owner of the 500 Club in Albermarle Street in London.
Big supporter of Chelsea Football Cub.
His first big success Was 'Brighton Rock'.
On the stage in London's Wet End in 1942.
While in the RAF he was taken off duties for a leading part in a recruitment film. 'Journey Together'.
With John Mills he ran the '500 Restaurant and club in Albermarle Street in London.
Richard Attenborough got the role in 'Dr Dolittle ' as a last minute replacement.
Johnny Depp met with him to talk about the title role in Richard's film of Chaplin even though he knew he wouldn't be free to do it.
Got the role in 'Dr Dolittle ' as a last minute replacement.

Personal Quotes (27)

At my age the only problem is with remembering names. When I call everyone "darling", it has damn all to do with passionately adoring them, but I know I'm safe calling them that. Although, of course, I adore them, too.
I want to make a film about Tom Paine. I think Tom Paine is one of the greatest men that's ever lived. He lived in the 18th century, as you all know, he was an Englishman who was involved in the writing of American Declaration of Independence, the American Constitution, the French Constitution, wrote the great book called The Rights of Man - commercial over! But nobody wants to make it. Nobody. Because it's politics, it's period, it doesn't have any of the things that now are supposedly our prerequisites to commercial success. I'm going to make it, provided I'll stand on my feet, but it's not easy, any more than Gandhi (1982) was, any more than Cry Freedom (1987) was, et cetera. Those movies are very difficult to make, and if you're not prepared or interested in science fiction, which in terms of movies I'm not, if you're not interested in terms of all the CGI stuff that you can now do in the cinema which is quite remarkable compared to the time that I was making movies, 30, 40, 50 years ago, then if you're not prepared to indulge in the pornography of violence or overt sexual matter, it's very, very difficult. It is hard to raise the money. I don't think it's any easier. It wasn't easy then and I don't think it's become any easier. What I am sad about is that there is now, in America, no equivalent to the art circuit. In other words, the cost of promoting movies, the advertising and promotion of a movie, the budget is almost as large as the cost of the movie. And these huge blockbusters that you see have tens and hundreds of millions of pounds and dollars spent promoting them. And if you don't have something which they believe will reach an enormous audience, then they won't go for it. And so you fall out. And there are companies in the UK, terrific companies, young companies, who made, you know, whether it be Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) or whatever, or Trainspotting (1996) or whatever, who are having a go, but it is not any easier, in fact I think it's even probably more difficult than it was when Forbesy (Bryan Forbes) and I were starting, which is a pity.
[on the competition between Gandhi (1982) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) at the 1983 Academy Awards] Diana (Diana Hawkins) and I went to see E.T. 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 - E.T. should and will walk away with it'. Without the initial premise of Mohandas K. 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. E.T. depended absolutely on the concept of cinema and I think that Steven Spielberg, who I'm very fond of, is a genius. I think E.T. is a quite extraordinary piece of cinema.
I hate and despise the pornography of violence. I don't believe that we can totally excuse ourselves from that situation. I believe that both cinema and film to a certain extent have encouraged it.
[on Kevin Kline] A complex character, a total chameleon - and an engaging and bewitching man. He can charm the birds off the trees, but he is also terribly shy.
Never operated a camera in my life. Never did home movies. Michael [Michael Attenborough] did, but not me.
I was on my own union council for twenty-odd years.
Well, you cannot think of cinema now, and you cannot think of cinema in the UK and not place Chaplin [Charles Chaplin] in the most extraordinary elevated context, if there can be such a thing, in that he was a genius, he was unique.
There's nothing more important in making movies than the screenplay.
I just love biography, and I'm fascinated by people who have shifted our destinies or our points of view.
I think it is obscene that we should believe that we are entitled to end somebody's life, no matter what that person has supposedly done or not done.
I believe we need heroes, I believe we need certain people who we can measure our own shortcomings by.
[on an acting performance he considered underrated] Well, I think In Love and War (1996), which had a wonderful performance by Sandy, Sandra Bullock, who the authorities and, the supposed authorities, in cinema didn't want to know about.
[on his father] He was a generous man, but we were all apprehensive of his displeasure. Always desperate for his approval.
I can't write, I can't paint, I don't compose.
I do not have a brain that I long for in dealing with matters of which I am ignorant, that don't come within my ken and a rationale, a reason, and argument and so on, and I can't do that and I'm not in that bracket at all.
You can't outrun your grief. You have to confront it.
I'm a passionate trade unionist.
I came from a family who believed in, in quotes, the Rights of Man, who believed that in order to justify the sort of luxurious life that the majority of us have, related to the whole world, that you had to do something.
David has asked me, a number of people have asked me and said, What performance do you like best or what's the best film you've made and so on and I don't really have any hesitation that the film I'm least embarrassed by and ashamed of or uneasy about is Shadowlands (1993).
There are certain things, and they are evident, obviously, without being boring about it, but I mean obviously, the two evident and easy ones being Gandhi (1982) and Cry Freedom (1987), there are things which I do care about very much and which I would like to stand up and be counted.
I don't read a great deal of fiction, to my shame, other than the classics.
I am passionately opposed to capital punishment, and I have been all my life.
I believe in trade unionism, and I believe in democracy, in democratic trade unionism.
I do care about style. I do care, but I only care about style that serves the subject.
I prefer fact to fiction.
My parents always stood up and were counted wherever they saw an injustice being done.

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