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Jeremy Irons

Award-winning Stage and Screen Actor

If you're successful in a sort of role, when people read another role that's rather similar they think, "Ask him, he's the man." You read it and you say, "I've done this. I did this for this guy. I don't want to do this." So nevertheless, what I'm saying is that what one is -- one's parameters are constantly narrowed by one's success, and my desire is to widen my field even if I risk failure. The risk of failure and daring failure, I think, is another great way towards success, which George Orwell says in 1984 doesn't he? I don't remember the quote but, "If you take away the freedom to risk then you take away the freedom to succeed." I'm misquoting. What I try to do as an actor is constantly find that, find ways to risk, find opportunities to fall on my face if it's going to be worth it and then maybe I'll surprise myself.
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Jeremy Irons

Award-winning Stage and Screen Actor

"You're being very British about this, Jeremy. You're 30. If you're going to make it in this life you're going to make it in your 30s. And you think you're right, and you're stepping down because you've been told you can't win in court -- If that's the way you're going to manage your life then fine, but don't expect too much." So I sat down. I had a couple of martinis and dinner and then returned to my home and wrote a long letter to the chairman of the television company telling him that I was off unless by six o'clock the following day he would agree to release me to make this film. And I laid out -- I knew everything he would do to me. I said, "I know you can bar me from the union. I know you can sue me." They by then had spent eight million, I think. I said, "My house is worth 85,000. That's about all I have but you can sue me for that. I'm not a hysterical actor. I'm just an actor against the wall." You know. I called my lawyer the first thing in the morning and read it over the phone to him and said, "That's what I want to send." He said, "If you're absolutely sure. You seem to know the down side." I said, "Yes." He says, "All right. Fax it to me and I'll have it delivered around," which he did.
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Jeremy Irons

Award-winning Stage and Screen Actor

I went to lunch with my agent in a restaurant. There was a phone call during lunch from the chairman of the television company who said, "Will you come for tea?" I said, "Yes." I asked my agent for a valium, went to walk the dog on Hampstead Heath, and then went down to have tea with the chairman of Grenada, who was very cross, said he felt let down. I said, "I feel let down. We're both in the same boat." He said, "If I can work something out, will you go back to work?" I said, "Certainly. I'll be back there tomorrow morning." He left the room for about 15 minutes, came back in and said, "I'll work this out in three weeks. Give me three weeks." So I went back to work. Three weeks later they tied the two things together, the film and the television, so that the film paid for the down time in the television, and the television invested in the film, and I was able to do both. But on the journey down, the night before when I had driven down in my Volkswagen Beetle, a long drive on the M6, about a four-hour drive, I remember thinking "That's it. That is it. Now if I'm not going to act, what am I going to do? I could be an agent. Should I write? Well, can I write? I don't know." But I knew that was it. And I knew that I had taken my destiny in my hand in a way that I had never felt before and I think that's when I grew up. I knew I was my own man. I could do anything.
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Sir Peter Jackson

Oscar for Best Director

I left the newspaper, left my full-time job after seven years. I left at the moment the Film Commission came in with money for me to finish it. Quit my job, and I've never been back there since. Always felt that one day I might have to go back, but I guess now I probably can start to put those fears to rest. I still have recurring dreams that I'm back at the newspaper there, that things haven't worked out well in the film business, and I'm back in the photolithography department.
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Donald Johanson

Discoverer of Lucy

At this point the principal, Mr. Quirk, interesting name, came under a lot of pressure from the Board of Education to silence these students. And in fact, I was called in to the principal's office and told that this was really not my role as a student to interfere with what adults were doing and the decisions which they had made. And once the decision was made, there was a big article in the newspaper about how these young students had begun this movement and I all of a sudden became very unpopular with Mr. Quirk and others.
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Donald Johanson

Discoverer of Lucy

I had an invitation to go to Sweden to participate in a Nobel symposium. And I decided this was the venue, this was the place, where I wanted to announce the new species. And I thought how substantial an impact this is going to have and I went to this Nobel symposium, and there were very few people at the symposium who knew it was going to be announced. There were only two or three people in the audience who knew that it was going to be a new species. When I made the announcement, you could hear a pin drop in the room. I mean, here was assembled 15 of the world's specialists in human evolutionary studies. Richard Leakey was there, Mary Leakey was there, a whole host of people, from prestigious universities, who were published widely, and here I was - 1978, I was at that time a young scholar, 35 years old, making this announcement. And furthermore, I presented a new view of how the family tree looked. I thought that this was going to generate enormous discussion. I finished my paper, and there was a question and answer period, and nobody asked a question. They broke for tea, people left the room, and only one scientist came up to me afterwards, and said "It's unbelievable." They were so taken aback by this that they didn't even want to discuss it. During the week's discussion, whenever people would start debating a family tree, I would say, "What about my family tree? What about what I'm suggesting?" Some people deliberately tried to ignore it and not consider it because it really upset their views of human evolution. They found it very difficult to subsume that into their view of human origins. So this was a high risk time in my life. We keep going back to the strength which I had throughout my career. I must admit it was one of the times when I really had to dig deep, take a deep breath, and say, "I believe I'm right. I believe that I will be vindicated. Lucy will be accepted as Australopithecus afarensis, and she will alter everyone's views of how we got here."
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