The Observer, Apr 2007
Also at The Observer
I carry fingernail clippers everywhere I go. I don’t like to have my nails done by a manicurist because they transmit germs.
I was close friends with Bobby Kennedy. And I’ve been working on reopening his assassination case since 1970. It’s very complex, but there were more bullets fired that night than were in Sirhan’s gun. So there were two shooters.
My mother taught me the ‘To be, or not to be…’ soliloquy when I was four. When I was six, I met John Barrymore – Drew’s grandfather – who at that time was the greatest American Hamlet. So as long as I’ve been vertical, it wasn’t so much that I was going to be an actor – I already was.
I think in a former life I lived in Elizabethan England. England is more culturally oriented than America. I like the sense of humour, the sound of the speech.
To to be a well-known actor growing up in Hollywood, and to have money in your pocket is like having died and gone to heaven.Hollywood is where every beautiful girl in the world between the ages of 18 and 22 comes to become movie stars. By the time they get to 24, most of them are gone, but we got them while they were there.
The best year of my life was 1956. About 30 days after I got out of college, I did a play and at the opening night party I met Natalie Wood who I started seeing from then on. And a week later, Burt Lancaster came to see the play and signed me up for two pictures.
An autobiography is a history of your life. A memoir is how you remember it. I’m attempting a memoir. It’ll be published in spring 2008. It’s about the time up to when I got married – I was a bachelor till I was 41. I’m trying to make it more than just ‘then I left London and I fucked Jane Brown…’ – you know the sort of thing. A lot of my memories are ‘and then I fucked’ memories.
I’ve absolutely led a charmed life. When the timing of something could go either way, it usually went in my favour. It’s still true.
Marry a woman that’s brighter than you are because otherwise marriage can be dreary. I have friends who married wives strictly for their appearance, and they no longer appear too well, and never were bright to begin with. They’re the guys who cheat constantly.
I’ve made about 120 movies. I think maybe six are good. The two pictures that I’m most remembered for are two pictures I never thought would be successful. I thought The Magnificent Seven was going to be terrible. And I turned Bullitt down four times. I thought, ‘This’ll be another dumb picture with a car chase.’
Cary Grant was able to have a child after doing LSD. So I guess it’s good for some people.
No one should marry anybody that they haven’t lived with first under the rules of marriage. Because it’s different – if you’re living with somebody and fucking 15 other people at the same time, that’s not a normal marriage. Maybe it is for some people. I’m not that well organised.
‘Listen well and answer carefully’ – that’s the best advice I ever received. It came from the philosopher Krishnamurti, whom I met at a lecture.
I don’t have an email address. There’s a computer in the house but I don’t know how to operate it, nor will I ever learn. I just recently got a cell phone last year but I use it as little as possible. I’d like to have less communication with everything else in the world and I’d like the world to have less communication with me.