I was in the Marine Corps in 1971. The idea 'Where does authority come from?' is fascinating to me. And also, the idea of a chaplain is fascinating to me because it's a man of the cloth in uniform, and it's the uniform of a killing machine. Back when I was in the Corps, when I saw that, I was amazed by it.
Conscience is the most dangerous thing you possess. If you wake it up, it may destroy you. To live a life of total moral rigor is not necessarily the way to go. It's the path for very few people. Most people need to come up with some kind of middle ground that satisfies their practical, moral, and philosophical esthetic needs.
I'm Irish as hell: Kelly on one side, Shanley on the other. My father had been born on a farm in the Irish Midlands. He and his brothers had been shepherds there, cattle and sheep, back in the early 1920s. I grew up surrounded by brogues and Irish music, but stayed away from the old country till I was over 40. I just couldn't own being Irish.
When I visited Ireland with my father and heard the people on the farm talking, I couldn't believe the gift of language they had. I felt very untalented.
You have to live in order to have something to write about - you get caught up in moviemaking and celebrities and money, and it's very intoxicating, but it doesn't give you what you need as a writer. You have to do something else for that.
I've been writing plays since the seventies and only came to moviemaking when I basically realized that I needed some money to pay the rent. I started to watch films with an eye to figuring out how to write them.
If you put someone in a room with no script to direct, they're just going to sit there. Writing scripts is the execution for a show. Then the director takes that and hires people. It's like trying to build a house without any bricks. You need the script. I could build the house, but I have to know how.
Playwriting is the last great bastion of the individual writer. It's exciting precisely because it's where the money isn't. Money goes to safety, to consensus. It's not individualism.
Some actors are brilliant in David Mamet, but they would crash and burn in my plays and visa-versa. You either have my music in your body, or you don't.
There is some level on which this life must occasionally become repugnant and unappetizing to you and you must step back from it. And then you have a new relationship with it, and then you step back into it from a different angle - with a new appetite - and then you find the next leg of your journey.
Back when you were doing plays like 'The Miracle Worker,' you had 20, 25 people in the cast. When you go to make the film, that's not such a stretch. But when you're doing plays like 'Proof,' it's just five people or something in the thing, and it gets to be a really difficult re-conception.
I adopted two children, then I got eye disease and five rounds of surgery. I went blind in one eye, then the other eye, and that went on for three or four years. I got very enamored and involved with the theater and did a lot of plays.
It wasn't until I was 35 or 36, when I wrote 'Danny and the Deep Blue Sea,' that I began to get some notoriety, though I only made $5,000.
When I finally went to Ireland, I had to go. It was 1993. My father was finally too old to travel alone, and he asked me to take him home. When an old man asks you to take him home, you have to do it.
I've done very well in the film business. Whenever I have wanted something, the film business has given it to me. I'm very fortunate. My big problem in life has always been, 'What do I want?'