The Director's Chair Interviews

Tim Robbins Quotes

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"I just have this unnatural fascination with Elvis. I guess it reminds me of how important perspective is. You know, watch out or you might wind up wearing really silly costumes with Hawaiian leis."

"I love iconoclasts. I love individuals. I love people that are true to themselves, whatever the cost."

"There is no question that [Dan] Quayle is an uneducated idiot. But someone, somewhere cleverly realized that the best diversion from Bush is to put on a clown show."

"I'm the kind of person who does not remember bad things."

"I'm fairly competant as a director and actor, but I am Mr. Neurotic as a writer. I just don't have enough confidence in my abilities to take criticism well. I take it personally. Start with 'It's a masterpiece,' and then tell me what you think could be changed."

"Directing a film is not a great aphrodisiac."

He says of the garterbelt scene in Bull Durham: "I was out at the mound at 4 a.m., pitching basically without any clothes on, and it was very cold."

"My philosophy is, don't take no for an answer and be willing to sacrifice your entire project for freedom."

"I'm six foot four and a half and I have a temper. It's reserved for very important issues. If someone is asking me to make an artistic concession, then I'll become a madman."

Advice to parents: "I certainly don't allow plastic AK47's in our house. As a child I was not allowed to play with guns, but I did create guns out of sticks. Kids are going to do a lot of things that you aren't necessarily crazy about. But if they know deep down that it's not your favorite thing, somewhere along the line they'll have to ask those questions of themselves. Disposible diapers are important if you travel, but at home one should try not to pollute. Try to avoid junk food. There are clever alternatives. We have these Tupperware molds that you fill with fruit juice. The kids think they are getting Popsicles."

"I think there are lessons you take from your parents, and one of the strongest ones I took from mine was that a mob isn't right. Just because your opinion is outnumbered doesn't mean you're wrong. Many times throughout history, it's been a sole voice that's been the right one. Just because someone gets arrested doesn't mean what they are doing is wrong. Some laws are unfair and unjust. One of the best things my parents did for me didn't seem so at the time. At 17 they told me they'd pay for 2 years of college and I would have a home during the summer for the first 2 years. But, when I was 19 I was out of the house regardless - the key was taken away metaphorically. It was harsh but good for me. I moved away from home and went to Los Angeles. I joined the Teamsters Union and worked at a warehouse. I got my own apartment off Hollywood Boulevard, renting a room in a house full of juvenile delinquents and thieves. They were always operating scams. This eldarly woman who ran the house was either crazy or incredibly brilliant. I never figured out whether she was the Fagin of these thieves. I lost money mostly. I didn't have many personal possesions."

"For a good deal of time I was more concerned about getting to my softball game and being a regular kid. I was an altar boy at St. Joseph's. I got to carry the crucifix and the candles. The thing I remember most about it was serving at funerals and trying to crack up the other alter boys. We sneaked communion wine, we stole unconsecrated hosts. In my life there was a period of apathy and overall disregard for current events. Between Watergate and the election of Reagan, I was more interested in getting drunk and getting laid than in reading a newspaper."

Talking about men's clothing: "I think it is so incredibly boring, these black tuxedos. The women get to wear all the fun stuff."

"I don't want people to be inspired or offended by what I do. If you determine your behavior by what [other people] want, you're screwed."

"They should have put a gun over the buttocks." (On "Donahue," referring to Ready To Wear's semi-nude poster)

"If I'm a commodity, it wouldn't be a wise idea to buy stock in me - although, in the long run, maybe I'm a slow growth investment."

"Americans accept that gangsters are running the government."

"In Los Angeles I've been stopped and had my car searched. Why? Because of the fictitious war on drugs that we are fighting. The emotional issue of the drug war is used to justify taking away civil rights."

"Bush is very clever. When the debate should have been about the deterioration of our cities and the lack of action by government, he sent in his idiot to make an outrageous statement about Murphy Brown."

"Look at the Gulf War; we were fed a fast-food war - without blood, without death, without babies screaming, without people being buried alive...We were given a clean, sanitized Nintendo war, and we loved it."

"I like to think of Bob [Roberts] as a young Bush with a guitar."

"I can sing better than Bob Roberts."

"In the midst of suburban sameness of concrete lawns and geometric rigidity flies a boy, a superhero keeping the world safe for bunny rabbits. In his heart lie great fantasies and heroism." (Jan. '99 issue of "Marie Claire." Tim was shown 12 pictures and asked to pic which ones he thought were erotic, moving, beautiful, soothing, and disturbing. This is him describing the pic that he found moving. [it's a pic of a young boy wearing a cape and underwear over his sweat pants. He's holding a rabbit and looks like he's about to fly.])

"All the nice clothes I have I got from those two films." (referring to The Player and Bob Roberts)

"I tried with Bob Roberts to get that David Duke hairstyle, and to be as chiseled as possible. That, combined with an idiot's smile."

"There's always someone telling you not to do something. The main thing is just to ignore them."

"In all the times that I've protested something in a Republican administration, I've never caught the hell that I've caught protesting against a Democratic administration. And I don't want to say it isn't a coincindence or anything, but I've been audited twice during the Clinton administration. You fill in the blanks."

PLAYBOY: If you were in charge of a TV network, how would you cover the next presidential election? ROBBINS: I would give everyone equal access...even the lunatics. Because when you make the judgment as a network that there are only 3 candidates, you are censoring points of view. I mean, what are they scared of? Who's going to vote for anyone in the Communist party, for God's sake? You know? People don't want that."

PLAYBOY: Has Clinton been a disapointment to you?
ROBBINS: In some ways, yes. He was never my guy. But I'm glad he's in rather than Bush or Perot...I don't care about his haircuts or his affairs or any of that stuff. But there are a lot of powerful people who have a lot to lose, and that's a large part of the reason he's been attacked so relentlessly from the begining."

PLAYBOY: If you had an hr. w/Clinton what would u say to him?
ROBBINS: I would want to know who he is, because I'm not sure he is who people think he is. The problem w/talking to politicians is that they know how to read people. They say what needs to be said and don't say what they might really feel. They need your I don't know if I'd get an honest answer. I'd say, 'Bill, what are you going to do?' And he's say, 'I'm trying this and that. I'm doning everything I can.' And that's a bunch of horseshit. That would be a waste of an hour."

PLAYBOY: If they put you in charge of the war on drugs, what would u do?
ROBBINS: Legalize marijuana.
PLAYBOY: And then?
ROBBINS: And then we would save an enormous amount of taxpayer money, specifically on the penal system, which is overloaded with marijuana abusers...Marijuana is just like any other thing that might not be good for you. If you do too much of it, it can screw up your life. But it can't screw up your life like cocaine or heroin or downs or ups or LSD."

PLAYBOY: Is this an admission that you still smoke pot--or was that just a phase that you went through as a kid? ROBBINS: I take the Fifth. [laughs] Considering the fact that it's still illegal, I don't see how it would be wise to - let's put it this way: Considering the fact that I've used it in the past, and know what it is, and seen the results of it, I don't view it as a dangerous drug. I've also used drugs that I do consider to be dangerous, drugs that are potentially detrimental to kids and society at large. But I don't want to advocate anything like that in print, because it's a different thing for different people. Some people can handle it, some can't. Some get really dumb and stupid and embarrasing on pot and some people are funny and creative. But for me to just blanketly say that I use it and, therefor, other people should, would be, I think, irresponsible.
PLAYBOY: So what would you say if your kids came to you one day and said,'Dad, did you ever take drugs in the 60's and 70's?'
ROBBINS: I would say, 'no, it was in the 80's.' [laughs] Yeah, I would be honest with them. And I'd tell them exactly what each drug does to you.
PLAYBOY: You realize that, having admitted these things now, you've just disqualified yourslef from being a Supreme Court Justice or the attorney general.
ROBBINS: Well, I didn't say I inhaled."

PLAYBOY: If you were going to run for office, how would you do it?
ROBBINS: I wouldn't.
PLAYBOY: But say u were. Say that something compelled you to run and you couldn't stop yourself.
ROBBINS: I would stop myself. There is absolutely no way that I would enter that world."

The interviewer asked Tim to say something about each of the directors that he had worked with over the years. The interviewer started naming off names and Tim would say a couple sentences about each. When the interviewer said that Tim Robbins had directed him in Bob Roberts, Tim said "What a bastard. I would never work for him again."

PLAYBOY: You did frontal nudity in The Player, though you were covered with mud in the scene. What's the hang up about male nudity in films?
ROBBINS: I don't know what it is I don't know a lot of women who are turned on by a flaccid dick, either. But there's also the theory that nudity doesn't really make something sexy. The scene in The Player in which Greta Scacchi and I make love is filmed, I think, in a way that's incredibly sexy. And you don't see anything but our faces."

PLAYBOY: If you were running for office how whould you deal with character issues when they came up? ROBBINS: 'Mind our own fucking business.' That's what I would say. And I wouldn't even get elected. And I'd probably deck a couple of people too - which would not play very well with the national media."
PLAYBOY: Would you want your kids to become actors?
ROBBINS: If it makes them happy. But I would want them first to have a well-rounded education like I was able to get. There's nothing more boring than unintelligent actors, because all they have to talk about is themselves and acting. There have to be other things.
PLAYBOY: As a kid, you got kicked out of league hockey for fighting. Were fist fights a regular part of your life?
ROBBINS: Well, yeah. You had to know how to fight or you had to know how to avoid a fight. Growing up in that neighborhood, if you avoided a fight, it sometimes had more ramifications than if you just took a couple of licks. I didn't enjoy fighting, so I learned how to avoid them. It was also dangerous to hit the wrong kid in my neighborhood, because a lot of the guys I played with had fathers in the Mafia. I remember being chased by a couple of them."
PLAYBOY: Once you got interested in theater, your father didn't allow you to go to the High School of Performing Arts. Why not?
ROBBINS: He said, "you have to get an education first." At the time I hated him for it. But, ultimately, he was dead on right. I don't think those schools really produce intelligent people. They produce people who aretechnically better dancers and singers and actors. I learned never to listen to acting teachers because they don't know what the hell they're talking about... I think it's a terrible profession. I think acting teachers are worthless. I learned so much more about acting from philosophy courses, psychology courses, history and anthropology than I ever learned in acting class. So I just don't believe in it.
PLAYBOY: You and your family performed as the Cordless Family in something called the Eveready Tour. What do you remember about that?
ROBBINS: It was a promotional tour in, i think, 1966. We toured the Eastern Seaboard and the Midwest for Eveready batteries. We drove in a Rambler station wagon, sang songs on the way, went sightseeing, stayed in hotels - a big thrill. In every city we would do a couple of television and radio spots promoting Eveready batteries.
PLAYBOY: What was your part in that?
ROBBINS: I had to play with a toy that was powered by batteries. It was a train I think. I don't remember what my brother had. My father had a carving knive and my mother had a hair drier or something. My parents have pictures of that somewhere. They're pretty funny.

ROBBINS: "I don't remember much of my childhood before the age of six. From what I hear, everyone did my talking for me. I didn't really speak until I was 3 1/2 or so. I didn't really have words. My father described me as the oldest baby he'd ever seen. I apparently was very serious and reflective."

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