Tommy Lee Jones
Date of Birth
19 February 1924, New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death
29 August 1987, Tucson, Arizona, USA (heart attack)
6' 2" (1.88 m)
Prematurely white-haired character star who began as a supporting player of generally vicious demeanor, then metamorphosed into a star of both action and drama projects, Lee Marvin was born in New York City to Lamont Waltman Marvin, an advertising executive, and his wife Courtenay Washington Davidge, a fashion writer. The young Marvin was thrown out of dozens of schools for incorrigibility. His parents took him to Florida, where he attended St. Leo's Preparatory School near Dade City. Dismissed there as well, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at the beginning of World War II. In the battle of Saipan in June 1944, he was wounded in the buttocks by Japanese fire which severed his sciatic nerve. He received a medical discharge and got menial work as a plumber's apprentice in Woodstock, NY.
While repairing a toilet at the local community theater, he was asked to replace an ailing actor in a rehearsal. He was immediately stricken with a love for the theater and went to New York City, where he studied and played small roles in stock and Off-Broadway. He landed an extra role in Henry Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951), and found his role expanded when Hathaway took a liking to him. Returning to the stage, he made his Broadway debut in "Billy Budd", and after a succession of small TV roles, moved to Hollywood, where he began playing heavies and cops in roles of increasing size and frequency. Given a leading role in Eight Iron Men (1952), he followed it with enormously memorable heavies in The Big Heat (1953) and The Wild One (1953).
Now established as a major screen villain, Marvin began shifting toward leading roles with a successful run as a police detective in the TV series "M Squad" (1957). A surprise Oscar for his dual role as a drunken gunfighter and his evil, noseless brother in the western comedy Cat Ballou (1965) placed him in the upper tiers of Hollywood leading men, and he filled out his career with predominantly action-oriented films. A long-term romantic relationship with Michelle Triola led, after their breakup, to a highly publicized lawsuit in which Triola asked for a substantial portion of Marvin's assets. Her case failed in its main pursuit, but did establish a legal precedent for the rights of unmarried cohabitors, the so-called "palimony" law. Marvin continued making films of varying quality, always as a star, until his sudden death from a heart attack in 1987.
Pamela Marvin (18 October 1970 - 29 August 1987) (his death)
Elizabeth (Betty) Ebeling (February 1951 - 5 January 1967) (divorced) 4 children
Typecast as a heavy before graduating to unsympathetic heroes
Films often portrayed his liberal politics
Says he learned to "act" in the Marines, trying to act unafraid during ferocious combat, which brought him a Purple Heart during invasion of Saipan.
His body was interred next to that of Joe Louis in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.
Son Christopher born 1952.
Daughter Courtenay born 1954.
Daughter Cynthia born 1956.
Daughter Claudia born 1958.
Was a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson and twice a descendant of male line relatives of George Washington.
Was Steven Spielberg's first choice to play Quint in Jaws (1975).
Was as surprised as anyone when his recording of "Wandering Star", from the Paint Your Wagon (1969) soundtrack, became a surprise hit, earning the Gold Record (the standard in those days) for one million copies sold in 1969.
Not a sentimental man by nature, Marvin kept only four souvenirs of his career over the years. These were his Best Actor Oscar for Cat Ballou (1965), the citation he received from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame for his performance in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), his Gold Record for "Wandering Star" and the high-heeled shoe that Vivien Leigh beat him with in Ship of Fools (1965).
Named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, who was his second cousin three times removed.
Bonded with co-star Vivien Leigh on the set of Ship of Fools (1965). When he and his partner Michelle Triola visited Leigh at her exquisite home in England, he tore up a deck of antique playing cards that they were playing with. Much to Triola's surprise, Leigh was not at all disturbed by Marvin's boorish behavior but seemed enchanted by him.
While serving in the Marine Corps he became best friends with John Miara of Malden, MA. Miara became Marvin's model for the character of Maj. Reisman in The Dirty Dozen (1967).
Turned down the lead role of Gen. George S. Patton Jr. in Patton (1970) because he did not want to glorify war.
Revisted Saipan (where he was wounded during World War II) in 1967, where his guide was P.F. Kluge, who went on to write Eddie and the Cruisers (1983).
Together with actors Nicolas Cage (Adaptation. (2002)) Josť Ferrer (Moulin Rouge (1952)) and Peter Sellers (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)), he is the only actor with an Oscar nomination for playing multiple characters in a film (in Cat Ballou (1965), he plays two characters, Kid Shelleen and Tim Strawn). Marvin is the only one who actually won one for a double role.
Could not ride a motorcycle at the time The Wild One (1953) was filmed but, determined not to be bettered by the star, Marlon Brando, he quickly learned. He later became a keen competitor on his Triumph 200cc Tiger Cub in desert races.
Was offered the role of Col. Douglas Mortimer in For a Few Dollars More (1965), but turned it down to star in Cat Ballou (1965).
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 611-613. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
Was offered the lead in The War of the Worlds (1953).
Turned down William Holden's role in The Wild Bunch (1969) in order to make Paint Your Wagon (1969), for which he had been offered $1 million plus a percentage of the profits. However, the movie was a notorious failure on release.
John Boorman original wanted Marvin and Marlon Brando to play Ed and Lewis, respectively, in Deliverance (1972). But Marvin suggested that he and Brando were too old and that Boorman should use younger actors.
Jean Seberg likened his singing voice to "rain gurgling down a rusty pipe.".
He was one of the first Hollywood celebrities to declare his support for the gay rights movement, in his Playboy interview from January 1969. He further stated that he would have no problem playing gay characters on screen, since he was secure with his own sexual orientation.
Served as a marine in the Pacific theater during WW2. In total, he took part in the invasions of 21 islands, and was wounded and nearly died as a result during the Battle of Saipan. He was a sniper, and would be sent in during the night in a small rubber boat, prior to the rest of his platoon. His wartime experiences deeply affected him for the remainder of his life.
At the time of his death from a sudden heart attack, Marvin had been hospitalized at Tucson Medical Center in Arizona since 13 August 1987 with what his spokesman described as "a run-down condition related to the flu".
In December 1986, Marvin underwent intestinal surgery after suffering abdominal pains while at his ranch outside of Tucson. Doctors said then that there was an inflammation of the colon, but that no malignancy was found.
He supported Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 Democratic primaries, and voted for George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election.
Marvin hated his most famous film The Dirty Dozen (1967), which he made only for the money and said was nothing like the actual war. He much preferred Hell in the Pacific (1968) and The Big Red One (1980), both of which reflected his strong anti-war feelings.
He did not receive any offers at all for a year after "M Squad" (1957) finished, and fell into a deep depression.
Publicly endorsed John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election.
Went into semi-retirement from acting after filming The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday (1976).
Turned down the role of Col. Trautman in First Blood (1982), as he didn't want to play a colonel.
Lived with Michelle Triola for six years. In 1977 she sued him for palimony and the case went to trial. On 18 April 1979, Judge Arthur K. Marshall ordered Marvin to pay $104,000 to Triola for "rehabilitation purposes", but denied her community property claim for one-half of the $3.6 million which Marvin had earned during their six years of cohabitation. Both sides claimed victory, but in August 1981, the California Court of Appeal ruled that Triola could not show any contract between herself and Marvin to justify any payment to her. As a result, Triola recovered no money from Marvin.
In 1975 he left Hollywood and moved to Tucson.
Turned down two movies directed by William Friedkin, The French Connection (1971) and Sorcerer (1977).
Turned down Salvador (1986).
Turned down Dirty Harry (1971) and Death Wish (1974), both vigilante-themed movies. Marvin was director Sidney Lumet's first choice for Paul Kersey in "Death Wish", but Lumet dropped out and Marvin was no longer interested because of it.
Marvin was a close personal friend of the legendary character actor Robert Ryan. They did several films together, and both served in the Marine Corps in World War Two. The pair were set to star in The Wild Bunch (1969), but Marvin had several heated arguments with director Sam Peckinpah and left the project. Ryan was no fan of Peckinpah himself, but stayed on the film. Ryan and Marvin were favorites of maverick director Samuel Fuller - also a close friend of both.
Jeff Bridges has said that it was seeing Marvin and Robert Ryan at work in The Iceman Cometh (1973) that made him decide to fully commit to acting. He found that Marvin and Ryan, despite their obvious tough-guy persona's, were unusually kind and giving actors.
The last actor nominated, but the first to win, an Oscar for playing two roles in the same film. The first such actor nominated was Josť Ferrer, with whom he appeared in The Caine Mutiny (1954).
Burt Lancaster and he did not get along during the shoot of The Professionals (1966) due to that fact that Marvin's bottoming-out alcoholism was making him unreliable and difficult at the time. Director Richard Brooks felt the need to intervene because he feared Lancaster was going to "take Lee Marvin by the ass and throw him off that mountain".
Tequila. Straight. There's a real polite drink. You keep drinking until you finally take one more and it just won't go down. Then you know you've reached your limit.
[upon accepting his Best Actor Academy Award for Cat Ballou (1965)] I think half of this belongs to a horse somewhere out in the [San Fernando] Valley.
Ah, stardom! They put your name on a star in the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard and you walk down and find a pile of dog manure on it. That tells the whole story, baby.
If I have any appeal at all, it's to the fellow who takes out the garbage.
Stimulation? Thursdays. Motivation? Thursdays. Paydays. That's it. It's important not to think too much about what you do. You see, with my way of thinking there are always Thursdays -- no matter how the picture works out.
[on Robert Aldrich] I loved Aldrich. Very saddened by his passing. Richard Jaeckel was a good friend of his. He went to see him on his last stretch in the hospital. He was in a coma much of the time. And Jaeckel asks if there is anything he can get him. And Aldrich says, "Yeah, a good script."
[on Sam Peckinpah] Sam was dangerous for me. He had my number and I had his, and that can be bad between an actor and a director. 'Cause he was a little guy.
[on working with Paul Newman on Pocket Money (1972)] I remember "Pocket Money." At the beginning, it was understood that Newman and I would earn the same amount and have roles of equal importance. Well, I've never seen a situation so much reversed. It was Newman's company who produced the film and when they came to show it, Newman had become the sole star and I was nowhere.
[on Robert Mitchum] The beauty of that man. He's so still. He's moving and yet he's not moving.
There was that very credible virility of guys like Spencer Tracy or Humphrey Bogart. I don't think that I could one day resemble them, but in life and in movies I profoundly admired Bogart, both personally and professionally.
[on Marlon Brando] Brando is not exactly a generous actor, he doesn't give. But he does make demands on you and if you don't come through then he'll run right over the top of you.
[in 1977] I know my career is going badly because I'm being quoted correctly.
[on Johnny Cash] Do you realize that he gets three million a year for singing that shit? "I walk the line, I keep my eyes wide open all the time." I met him in Nashville. He said, "You haven't heard my other stuff?" "No", I said, "I haven't." He sent us his complete 27 fucking albums. Jesus, Johnny, I like your stuff, but for Christ's sake . . .
I studied violin when I was very young. You think I'm a dummy, right? I'm only in dummies. The Dirty Dozen (1967) was a dummy moneymaker, and baby, if you want a moneymaker, get a dummy.
[on John Wayne] Something good about Duke, I gotta admit: When he's on, he's on. "Send us more Japs", that's The Duke for you.
[on Paul Newman and Pocket Money (1972)] Newman has it all worked out. I get a million. He gets a million, too, but that includes $200,000 expenses. So, if that's the game . . . I never talked to Newman in my life. No, I talked to him on Park Avenue once. Only to give him a piece of advice. This 15-year-old girl wanted his autograph. He told her he didn't give autographs, but he'd buy her a beer. "Paul", I said, "she's only 15". "I don't give a shit", he said. I think it shows. With Newman, it shows. Cut to an old broad in Miami Beach looking at his picture in Life magazine: "A Gary Cooper he ain't."
All I can say is that, in Europe, American pictures are the most popular, which amazes me. They do love the violent pictures. And, of course, they have seen violence. So maybe an acting-out on the screen alleviates the pressure on them. I know when I was a kid and would see John Wayne punch some guy and knock him through the wall, I'd say, 'Boy, I'm glad I wasn't that guy.' Or I didn't wan't to be involved in that relationship. So maybe there is good value to it. Now in acting, when craziness is shown in a sick manner or, in other words, 'to no value', I look down on it. Because real violence is a thing that must not be tolerated, and in order not to tolerate it you must be educated in knowing what it is. Violent films come out with value ... When I play these roles of vicious men I do things you shouldn't do and I make you see that you shouldn't do them. I played a lot of what I hate, now I like to play parts which I love. I can play bigots, etc, parts no one else will. I am not fascinated by death any more: there is lots of anti-violence in my heart, and after committing murder it was hard to find peace. Acting is a search for communication - that is what I am trying to do, get my message across. Marines are all volunteers: when it gets rough, you say to yourself, 'Well, you asked for it.' Cat Ballou (1965) was about an aging ex-gunfighter who took the easy way out; to me, he became the Marine I once was, or had wanted to be.
Only in the sense that if the violence in a film is theatrically realistic, it's more of a deterrent to the audience committing violence themselves. Better on the screen than off. If you make it realistic enough, it becomes so revolting that no viewer would want any part of it. But most violence on the screen looks so easy and so harmless that it's like an invitation to try it. I say make it so brutal that a man thinks twice before he does anything like that. A classic example is All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). Lew Ayres jumps into a shell hole with a Frenchman and knifes him. He's stuck there for the rest of the night with this guy dying. He'll be killed if he tries to get out. In the morning, the Frenchman is still looking at him, but he's dead. Ayres spends the rest of the picture in captured France trying to find the dead man's wife and apologize to her for his brutality. A statement was certainly made there, and it was made through violence. In a typical John Wayne fight in a barroom, on the other hand, tables and bottles go along with mirrors and bartenders, and you end up with that little trickle of blood down your cheek and you're both pals and wasn't it a hell of a wonderful fight. That's fooling around with violence. It's phony; it's almost a caricature - as opposed to a fight like the one in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), when Tim Holt and Humphrey Bogart walk into the bar and Holt gets hit in the mouth with a bottle by Barton MacLane and all he can do is hang onto MacLane's leg for the rest of the fight. That scene conveyed a sense of real pain and hurt. Or take the fight between Ernest Borgnine and Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity (1953). You don't even see them; you just see their feet behind a barrel - and you hear. One man gets up and one man's dead. You know how mean that fight was, even though you never even saw it.
The mood of sickness is in the audience; the filmmaker is only reflecting the climate of society. You don't make films to change a nation; you make films to be historically true to their time. That's what makes them current and commercial. If the audience responds to it, baby, you know where the sickness is. Criminal violence always attracts a crowd, though people are afraid to admit it. The bigger the crowd, the more the shoving; the more the shoving, the more irate the viewer becomes - till eventually he's part of the riot. The current cycle of crime films is a vicarious way to participate in the current crime wave without committing a crime yourself. That feeling is latent within each of us. Everybody wants to get even with somebody. Because of the wave of riots, the distrust, the various assassinations and the lack of socially acceptable answers to them. So you go see it on film.
I don't take pledges; I quit drinking every morning and I start again every evening. I wonder how long they'll stay on the wagon. Don't get me wrong, though; I've always been against senseless violence myself. When I incorporate violence in my performances, I make sure there's a point to it. If I were playing a heavy, say a cowboy bad guy, I would commit some senseless crime so that I'd have to be destroyed in the third or fourth reel. Holding up the stagecoach, for example, and shooting the old lady because she turned her back on me. So I'm against pointless violence, too. Apropos the current debate, I found myself involved in a conversation the other night about Sirhan Sirhan. Some older woman said that they ought to take him out and shoot him. I just looked at her and smiled. She was the one who talked about peace and nonviolence. But when it hits her, baby, she's ready to kill.
The big adventure in my mind at that time was over - the possibility of the North Pole or the South Pole or the Australian bush safari; the horizon was taken away from me by being married. To me, marriage symbolized the end of the road. I was still a dreamer, but I saw myself marking time until I fell into the ditch. Now that I'm alone, more or less, I don't have to think about that anymore. I can be more concerned with myself and my own feelings again. But I'm 44 now; I hope by the time I'm 45, the urgency of self-discovery will become less intense, that I'll become less important to myself, in the sense of the quandary of thinking it all out. Maybe I'll know a little bit more by then, so I don't have to sit on the porch and waste time thinking about it.
What transpires between two adults is definitely their own business. If a girl likes to have Coca-Cola bottles shoved in her ear, that's up to her. The guy who's doing it says, "Leave me alone, I'm having fun." Who's to deny him that, as long as she doesn't scream murder? A third party, like a police officer, has no real reason to become involved - unless he's a voyeur. All voyeurs are essentially deviates. You eliminate the third party and there's no problem, no deviation. So someone digs whips. That's up to him. Or her. Two's company, three's a crowd. Too many of the archaic laws we're saddled with go back to the days of witch burning. I dare say the reason they burned the girl at the stake was that she wouldn't go down on the parson. So he says, "OK, I'll get you." And he does. He burns her. Fortunately, he had a gold-edged book on his arm, so that makes it legal. These same puritanical elements are responsible for all these incredible sex laws that are still on the books. It's the same kind of attitude that makes it impossible to imagine our parents having an affair. We've had various and sundry relationships with the opposite sex, yet we still cannot get through that barrier of imagining Mommy and Daddy balling. The New Morality may help change all that, but for now, it's still nothing more than a wind waiting for a storm; go too far and it'll all turn back into exactly what it was thirty, forty, fifty years ago.
Ever since World War II, there's been a trend, slow at first, toward dealing with reality instead of fantasy. You see it not only in sex but everywhere. Look at what's happened to the old "happily ever after" ending. Even children in kindergarten don't believe that anymore. How can you kiss a frog and turn him into a prince? The kids say "Bullshit!" because they're a much faster generation; their maturation level is coming at an earlier age than it used to be. Some people still like happy endings in movies like Gigi (1958) and My Fair Lady (1964), but they know they're seeing a fairy tale. If you represent a story as reality and then give them a fairy-tale ending, though, they're not going to swallow it. If it's a hard-type show, mirroring life the way it exists today, they realize it's not going to be resolved simply by a kiss or a reunion - because life goes on, regardless of whether boy gets girl or the bad guys get knocked down. Most people today are concerned with real life; if you don't give it to them on the screen, they're not going to watch.
People today have a more worldly point of view than they did when they were stuck on the farm or the block they lived on in the city. The larger-than-life image of the Arrow Shirt hero just doesn't cut it anymore for an audience that's been around. The big breakthrough was the believable masculinity of guys like Tracy and Bogart.
When I hear our names linked, I feel almost a little embarrassed. Bogart was somebody and I'm somebody else. The only real parallel is that he started out pretty much as I did, playing bad guys and heels. As audiences warmed to him, he metamorphosed into a good-bad guy and finally became all good. The same thing seems to be happening to me - God forbid.
Well, I don't think I'll ever be in the same league with Bogart on screen or off, but I certainly admired him as much personally as I did professionally. His pleasures were as simple as a truck driver's. Like me, he enjoyed getting a little juiced with his cronies once in a while and telling funny stories and sneaking out of the house. He was the total opposite of the standard leading man of the Thirties, who would jump in his Rolls-Royce and buzz off to his country estate and drink champagne from slippers and eat caviar for breakfast. Excesses like that have almost completely left the film community; the actor of today is much more a man of the streets, and I think that's all to the good.
My mail has certainly become more pungent in recent years. Not long ago, for example, a letter arrived from West Berlin. It was from a girl who wrote that she was an ardent admirer and, to prove it, she enclosed a photograph of herself sitting on a couch in her living room. She was suggestively dressed. She ended by saying, "Please answer this letter." What am I going to say, "Yeah, baby, I'll give you a call"? So no answer. About a month later, another letter arrived - with another picture. It's the same room, the same couch, the same girl. But now she's wearing a little less clothing. This went on for three or four letters. It reached the point where she was completely nude and her legs were spread. That broad obviously was horny even before she ever heard of me. I just became the target. There's also a dame in Georgia who writes me that she's seen The Dirty Dozen (1967) forty-five times. She asks for bus fare to Hollywood, not even plane or train fare; the Greyhound is OK for her. She needs $29.65; she's still waiting for it. There are a lot of "I'm coming to Hollywood and I want to be a star and I know you'll see that I get right to the top" letters. I take them and give them to my attorney; most of them I don't even read. I have a tough enough time with my ego without indulging myself in that kind of thing.
Particularly now that I have enough bread to protect my privacy, I've become more appreciative of it and more bugged when it's violated. In the past, success was more my need. Therefore, I was just a pawn in the hands of my audience. I'd do anything they wanted me to, just to fulfill their expectations of me. One of the things that drove me to become an actor was that I was insecure; I thought laughs and applause would give me the security I was looking for. But as I grew older and wised up and began to enjoy some of the benefits of success, I became less concerned with how the public responds to me collectively than with their private, individual response, which I can get better sitting at a bar talking with a stranger than I can sitting in an audience watching one of my own movies. But now that I've become well known, I can't do that so much anymore, and I miss it, because the people I like best are those I don't know and who don't know me.
I can't stand myself. If I could, I'd play the same guy in all my roles. I don't even like my own company; I've got nothing new to tell myself. Nor do I like the company of other actors; if I don't like myself, how could I like them? Since I can't go out in public as much as I used to, I do most of my socializing with the working stiffs on the set during a movie - the stunt men, the gaffers, the propmen. These behind-the-scenes guys keep me straight. They're working men; from their attitudes and the discussions I have with them, I get a sense of what I must do with my current role or my next one. It keeps me on their level - the level of the public. So I shoot the bull with them, hoist a few drinks, share some laughs instead of going into my dressing room and picking up the phone and calling Paris while I drink the chilled champagne. It keeps me from becoming a "star."
You don't like people because they're beautiful or they've got money or don't have money but because they're straight and honest and you feel at ease with them. Money is all a transient thing, anyway. After a certain amount of income, money ceases to have any meaning. Once I settle whatever my expenses are for the year, all the dollars above that just become a bunch of zeros. They don't make you any happier or better as a human being.
If I had a $5 pistol and a guy offered me $10 for it, I'd be a fool not to sell it to him, right? If they're willing to pay me $1 million a picture, baby, I'll take it.
It's like I told the audience when I went up to accept the award: "I think half of this belongs to some horse in the Valley. Then the house came down. I was totally serious. That drunken horse really helped me. What was I supposed to say - "I'd like to thank my mommy and daddy"? - On winning an Oscar for Cat Ballou (1965)
Well, I tried to deliver the most realistic performance I could. It's a story of survival in the South Pacific during World War II - not what berry to pick or what root to gnaw on but the psyche of survival, which is what really keeps you alive, aside from water and food. The plot concerns the confrontation between an American Marine fighter pilot and a Japanese naval officer who have been marooned on a deserted Pacific island. They're men at war who have to learn to live with each other in order to survive, despite the barriers of race, ideology and language. - On Hell in the Pacific (1968)
I remember the uniform of flesh, not the clothing. I remember the men. The war effort, at that time, was a condoned worldwide effort for peace and freedom. But uniforms, even then, seemed to take identity away from the individual. It's the mentality of the uniform that I don't like; I attack the uniform as a symbol of that mentality. I feel the same way about the police mentality, but instead of attacking it, I avoid it; you're in trouble if you give the cops an excuse to unload on you.
I see you've read those stories about how I'm drunk on the set all the time. Well, on occasions I have been. So what? Pope Paul VI can't take a day off and go out and get smashed at the local gin mill, but that's one of the prerogatives I can enjoy. Just because it happens once in a while, people think it's a pattern. My performance as Kid Shelleen in Cat Ballou (1965) didn't help things, either. I guess I acted so realistically drunk that audiences figured nobody could pretend that well.
The world has gone by quite a few days since I was a kid. I was raised in New York in the Twenties and the early Thirties in a very class - and race - conscious area. Your address meant something - and your "background." I heard all the bigoted remarks by the time I was five or six. Kids talking. Adults grumbling, "That so-and-so prick!" Growing up and discovering that the other races, creeds and colors weren't really any worse than mine was a revelation for me. I still can't say that all the stereotypes aren't true, but they're more often false than true.
Fear is possibly the greatest motivation there is. But, as I said before, by pretending not to fear, you can make it work for you and get the job done. Every actor is full of doubts about himself, and I'm no exception. If you see those fears in yourself - and expose them - the audience can associate with you more deeply than if you try to play it safe and pretend to be the invincible tough guy. To show my strength is nothing; to show my weakness is everything. I suppose it takes a certain kind of strength to admit your fears, but I really don't think it's anything more than simple honesty.
You have to remember there are tremendous chasms between the peaks. I've lost my grip before and it could happen again. It's a long way down and it gets deeper every time. To be a failure when I was 30 isn't like being a failure when I'm 44. There's more to lose and less time to get it back.
I don't want any more than I've got coming to me, and I don't understand those who do. Like, why would anyone want to undergo a heart transplant? A person would have to have led a pretty empty life to be that frightened of dying. How would you like to be walking around with a 17-year-old broad's heart in your chest, just to live a few years longer? You wouldn't know whether to menstruate or ejaculate. Jesus, give me my span of years and knock me down when it's all over. You've got to make room for the other guy. I know that when my ashes are blown away or they stuff me in a sewer, it's not going to hurt. I've had the simple pleasure of being present when the sun was shining and the rain was falling. I've had mine, and nobody can take it away from me.
[on filming the Klansman with a very sick Richard Burton] It was a wonder he [Burton] could move at all, but you have to hand it to him, he had guts, and I admired that. He never complained of being in pain. I'd say "Rich, are you okay?" and he'd say, "Just a little discomfort." Discomfort! Jesus, the guy was in f-----g agony.... I said to him, "Rich, you can't go on like this." He gave me that defiant Welsh look of his and said "Just watch me", but I could see tears in his eyes. He was crying out for help and I couldn't do anything for him.
[Seated in the audience, to Rod Steiger, his rival in 1965 for an Oscar] You know why they put me ahead of you? Because when they call your name I am going to stick my big foot out and you are going to fall on your ass.
[on winning Best Actor for 'Cat Ballou'] I think one-half of this belongs to some horse somewhere in the Valley.