I knew all about Edward VIII’s abdication, George VI becoming the king and having a stammer, but nothing about how he got rid of it.
I often thought I was in the wrong business. I was pretty seriously thinking of tossing it in before I shot Shine. I do not know why. I was pretty restless, I had been through a bad period of stress induced anxiety – panic attacks – and I was not sure of what I wanted to do.
What I appreciated was the fact that the script delved into how Australians were – and still are – condescended to by the English.
When people come to me and tell me I was terrific in this or that, I do not want to fall flat on my face the next time. But, tough, I have fallen flat before. You just get up and dust yourself off.
People tend to think of Brisbane as a sleepy, sub-topical place. I don’t know. It’s like Baltimore or something. I don’t know. You would hear the family dramas going on behind closed doors.
There’s four biggies. There was Elizabeth I, George III, Victoria, and the current queen, who really dominated four eras.
I was never a leading man. I’ve always been in the outer concentric circles in the company, being a character actor, which is a good place to be. It gives you that diversity.
Nobody ever said that growing old would be easy. Just having to hold the newspaper out in your forties and then hair growing out of unusual parts of your body in your fifties. It’s tough on the ego.
But as my voice coach keeps saying, if we actually spoke the way they imagine the Elizabethan voice might have been, we wouldn’t be able to understand it.
They were saying, ‘Keep this under your hat, but Jack Sparrow’s going to die in the second movie.’ I went, ‘You’re kidding me. The fans are going to go berserk.’
I did not want to put myself on the line, as an Australian playing Britain’s greatest comic actor. The fans of Sellers are obsessive, possessive – and aggressive. I did not want to risk their anger – or my own reputation.
Most films I’ve worked on have had large casts, but they’ve been wonderful people. I think the monkey in Pirates of the Caribbean is the most temperamental costar I’ve had. It would throw tantrums like you wouldn’t believe.
I went to England in the ’70s, and I was in my early 20s. There was still a residue of that era of being an underclass or colonial. I assume it must have been a more aggressive and prominent attitude 40 years before that, because Australia internationally wasn’t regarded as having much cultural value. We were a country full of sheep and convicts.
Within our culture, every school has a swimming pool. We lived on the coast. People swam in the surf. It’s a very sporty nation and at that particular time anyone who had an artistic bent was very much an outsider. So if you liked reading or ideas or playing the piano then your dad viewed you as a sissy, basically.
Yeah, well, the F-bomb – it’s become as ubiquitous as the word ‘like.’ People just throw the word ‘like’ around as punctuation. And I think in a lot of everyday speech, the F-bomb has become a kind of dash or a comma.
People are intrigued and fascinated, almost obsessed with the private lives of great public personalities.