Belfast Telegraph

'On my last day of shooting, I'd be happy to fall off the twig'

By Staff Reporter

Actor and director Lord Attenborough was known for his pithy anecdotes and words of wisdom. Here are some of his best.

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."

Tragedy struck on Boxing Day 2004 when Lord Attenborough's elder daughter Jane Holland, her daughter, Lucy, and her mother-in-law, also Jane, were killed in the south-Asian tsunami. Afterwards, he said: "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 why he was always a character actor, never a traditional leading man: "Well, I'm 4ft 2ins, and not exactly a matinee idol."

On what could tempt him back into acting: "If Steven (Spielberg) asked me to do Jurassic Park Four, 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."

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 LA 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."

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