On Hillary Rodham Clinton:
"I like the idea of a strong First Lady. I like 'uppity' women. I've appreciated her outspoken intrusion of a feminine point of view into policy." ...Politics Now

"Acting is about discovering what's true in the moment. It's playing jazz on your own nervous system."...Tricycle, The Buddhist Review

"It's a gypsy life. I'm a migrant laborer. I'm hired and I go to work. It's not like I'm a Kevin Costner and I get millions of dollars a movie and I can stay at home and wait for the right role. There's a misconception that we as actors have that much choice. I always look for excellence first...if the characters are alive. If they're not, secondly, I have to ask, 'Do I need the money?' It's not like I can wait three years for my next script... Am I an outsider? Yeah, I think I'm still an outsider. You don't see me banking any big studio movies as a headliner." ...Chicago Tribune

"There's an ambiguity as to whether I'm a good guy or a bad guy, and a sense of complexity that's not very consistent with mainstream America." ...GQ

"No one knows how hard we work. We work about an 80- to 100-hour week minimum, and by the time you're let go or spit out at the end of the day, you barely have time to brush your teeth." ...West Coast Live Show

"A film set is the most sexless place in the world." ...San Jose Mercury News

"What intrigues me is to see how much you can do without changing your looks - how, by just changing the wiring, twisting the dials a little bit, you can create another reality people can accept within the same face. Attitude changes face. And, after a while, this self - this corpus - can do anything." ...The Austin American-Statesman

"In another era, I could have been a Robert Ryan, who worked all the time. But it doesn't bother me that I don't get the big films. It would be fun to make Terminator, but I'm not really interested. It does bother me, however, that I don't get the little, interesting films. That's the part of the equation I don't understand." ...Sixties Radicals, Then and Now by Ron Chepesiuk

"There's a lot of concord between Zen practice and acting. Zen practice takes you down to ground zero. It's like having a clean piece of paper with which you assemble a character. The truth is, once you've gotten the character, the way he walks, his posture, his dialect, his accent, the process still comes down to being in the moment. You take impulses from the environment, your nervous system and the other actors."...Interview with Gaylynn Baker.

"Though I'm quite well known and respected in Europe, I'm not a bankable actor in America by any stretch of the imagination." ...Los Angeles Times

"I understand why they cast me as lawyers, because I can wear the suits but what is it about my face and demeanor that suggests crappy writing?"...Philadelphia Inquirer

"I always find that the posture of the character, or his dialect or some adjustment that changes the way my body feels, functions like a mask. It gives me a much bigger field to run around in." ...Los Angeles Times

"Acting affords the best possible forum... It's magical and immediate and it's the only grammar available to talk about certain things. Acting is a way of participating in a kind of public dream." ...Washington Post

"I like working with women directors. It's more complicated in the best sense. The language of acting is nuance. It's a language that's natural to women. With a woman director, it's always about the color and shading. There's not a subtext of who's in charge, as there often is when a man directs." ...Boston Globe

"Nobody hires me because I look like Richard Gere. I'm not that kind of guy. I get hired basically because I'm good at what I do and I'm smart. I'm one of a number of actors who are really there to serve the script." ...Lexington Herald-Leader

"Of course it's flattering to know that people are interested in you, but I would never have been hired a second time if people weren't interested in me. So I know that. I don't need to go out of my way to get flattery. And if I wanted flattery, I would go into the guru business, where people would worship me directly." ...Albany Times Union

"When preparing a role, you invite your unconscious to dance with you, and demons get called up - you invite ghosts to the dance. They come." ...Philadelphia Daily News

"After E.T., I was out of work for nine months. After Cross Creek, I was out of work for ten months. After Jagged Edge, I was out of work for eight months. You have spurts of activity, then long hiatuses. It's a tough life, and your success is not necessarily based on your talent." ...The Austin American-Statesman.

"Do you know that great singing-bad exercise? You get someone in acting class and tell them, 'I'd like you to sing this song now, as badly as you can.' And they do, and you say, 'No, no, you can do worse than that.' Until finally they have let it all go, and so we all try to be smart. We all try to be witty and we all try to be talented. Especially guys like us. I think it's smarter to know when to be dumb." ...Whole Earth Review

"Acting is not my greatest gift. I wish I was a genius as an actor because it's my livelihood. I love it, and I like to do it, or I wouldn't. I don't think it's easy. People like Gene Hackman or DeNiro invest the totality of their existence in it. They're artists. I just don't have that kind of talent." ...High Times

"I think you have a responsibility as the villain which is pretty different from the hero's responsibility. If you have any kind of a social or political conscience at all, the first thing you want to do is make malevolence recognizable to people, almost as a kind of teaching aid." ...Los Angeles Times

Janis, Dylan, and the Beatles:
"Janis was a money magnet and she was under pressure to be a salable commodity. Part of that commodity was being the tough, boozy, two-fisted broad who always went home alone." ...Twin Cities Reader

"There was this thing about revolved around Albert (Grossman) as the manager of Janis and Dylan and the hippest of the hip. There was a meanness, an edgy kind of competition. People had to be on their toes. You got the feeling of ins and outs; when you were on top, it was fine, but you could lose status quickly and suddenly be excluded." ...Music Central

"Dylan's detachment is impeccable. He sings as one already dead, beyond the pull of superficial temptations, beyond the expectation that things might get better or ever be different. Yet, the songs themselves and the effort to create them, are his most eloquent statement of hope."...Tracking Bob Dylan

On a trip to London in 1969 with Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead - "we thought the Beatles were brilliant musicians and wanted to see what their lives were about. It turned out that they weren't very interesting, but we loved the London scene and had the opportunity to meet underground people from all over Europe. It was a party."...Philadelphia Inquirer

The media:
"I have a big ax to grind with the media. They don't use free speech. They have fallen down on their responsibilities as naysayers and whistle-blowers. There's really no longer... investigative journalism. For ten years, Ronald Reagan was briefed with cartoons. Daily. Did we hear about that then? Or during Desert Storm, when everybody was talking in the first person plural, dressed in camouflage, did we get reports on children and civilians who were killed?" ...Chicago Tribune

"If I wanted to destroy a culture, I'd build a free-market system and give it television, and you'd be guaranteed everything would sink to the lowest common denominator. Fundamentally, TV exists to sell razor blades." ...Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Everything I've heard from the American media is either information, misinformation or error,and I don't have the criteria to distinguish. I live my life like an espionage agent, putting together webs of probability." ...High Times

"TV has just decimated intellectual life in this country. I don't like it, and I don't watch it. Occasionally, though, something of quality will come through that piques my interest." ...Lexington Herald-Leader

Chairman of the California Arts Council:
"It didn't pay a dime, but it was too good an invitation for an old radical like me to turn down. I'm proud of my accomplishments, setting art and cultural policies for the state and raising the budget from $1 million to $13 million during my tenure."...Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Arts funding is really research and development. Are we going to say that anything that sells is OK? Or, like the British, are we going to spend billions on the arts? Unless you're willing to subsidize the arts, you're just handing down what's been done before."

"The premise of the Arts Council was that art isn't just high-status western European art forms like opera, symphony, or ballet. There are 50 disparate cultures in California. They are all taxpayers; they all have cultural traditions. These people have a right to tax dollars and to cultural expression. What we managed to do that was so clever was come up with a way of funding this that obviated liberal/conservative dichotomies and brought everybody onboard." ...Ron Hogan interview

"The terrible thing about being an actor is that it's not a solo occupation. Writing is something I can do by myself."...Los Angeles Times

"I was a writer before I was an actor so I hate being typecast as a bad writer."...San Diego Union-Tribune

"I have so much respect for anyone who has ever finished a book, even a bad book. I liken the project to climbing up a glass building by your fingernails." ...Interview with Coymoon

On women:
" I'd rather be a thinking woman's sex symbol that an imbecile's although my suspicion is that smart women don't really have sex symbols." ...Rolling Stone

"I am fascinated by women. They're as close as you get to experiencing 'the other.'" ...San Franciso Examiner

"When I look back, most of the momentous, political and life choices that I made were in pursuit of some woman or another." ...West Coast Live Show

Old cars:
"My two favorite vehicles are, respectively, twenty-five and seventeen years and both run perfectly. They are easy to repair. They are simple to understand. I like the fact that for seventeen and twenty-five years, no one has had to mine iron ore, tap rubber trees, mine copper, chrome, tin, zinc, lead, etc. to build new cars."...The Nissan Report

"Americans will not blink at showing the most intricate acts of murder and dismemberment, but they will react in outrage at frank discussions of sexuality. I can't tell whether it's anything more than a cultural peculiarity."...Los Angeles Times

"Nudity sells soap on French television. The Europeans joke about our hang-ups. They say, 'In America, if you kiss a breast, it's an X rating. If you hack off a breast, it's an R." ...San Jose Mercury News

"I'd love the opportunity to talk about pornography and obscenity because I have my own very clear, stringent definitions... Let's talk about the obscenity of people stepping over other people in cardboard boxes on their way to the opera. Let's talk about selling cocaine to finance anti-Communist activities in Latin American countries, which the voters and Congress have voted down. I'm ready to talk about that in a hot minute and to pose all that against one movie (Bitter Moon) that has some dirty words in it and deals with one questionable man's ideas on sexuality. Let's talk! I'm formidable at this." ...Los Angeles Times

The Sixties and The Diggers
"The Diggers knew what was wrong with the culture and believed that if we created enough examples of "free-life" by actually acting them out on the streets, without the safety-net of a stage, then people would have alternatives to society's skimpy menu of life choices. But the strain of inventing a culture is exhausting. Everything comes up for review. No limit or taboo is sacred, especially when the investigation is coupled to belief in a high and noble mission. If our souls know no limits, why should our bodies? Drugs became the fuel for imaginative and physical transcendence."...Intro to Ringolevio.

"I'm not sentimental about the '60s. I don't feel that my life peaked there. But it was a peak time for the U.S. ...Chicago Tribune

"It was a heady experience from which I have never recovered. Sitting down to dinner with 20 people; making music every night. All of your problems are naked before everyone else; your laziness, your weaknesses are put o the table for review." ...Omnibus

"It's not important whether you live communally or whether you live in a village. What finally translates into palpable achievement is your intention. And if your intention is to build community, you will build community whether you live in a nuclear family or a community family... I think it's a mistake to expect the '90s to look like the '60s and to look for the same institutions, but if you look for the way the intentions of the '60s are being played out in the '90s, then you'll be able to follow the track of our contributions, I think. ...Interview with Christopher Lyden

"Doing your thing means doing what you want - actualizing your vision. Becoming your own poem... Life as a social art form... It means doing it! It takes no ideology to feed people. It takes no ideology to give something to someone who doesn't have it." ...Voices from the Love Generation by Leonard Wolf

"I spent ten years de-educating myself. I wanted to learn how to live with no money, no future and no security. To learn to live by own wits." ...Washington Post

"Our parents came out of the Depression and built this permissive loony bin of a culture and the kids grew up knowing they were being shortchanged. They were not getting vital stuff. Part of the energy for the Haight was this hunger for real experience." ...Bill Graham Presents by Bill Graham and Robert Greenfield

On religion:

"Buddhism makes people receptive to the implications and facts of interdependence at the same time that they're working to still fear, hatred and delusion." ...Los Angeles Times

"Judaism has three vessels -- culture, intellectual tradition and religious practice. When I meet rabbis who give me a hard time I remind them that I've sailed on two of those vessels, but Judaism is as foreign to me as anything else." ...Jewish Bulletin of No. California

"It seems pretty obvious to me that the Judeo-Christian paradigm isn't working for a lot of people. There are intellectual flaws in it, and also some character flaws in the people practicing it. I see a lot of New Age stuff as an attempt to come to terms with something that's real. Unfortunately, I also see that the same character flaws that are making the Judeo-Christian world view not work, are turning a lot of New Age practice into bullshit." ...Interview with Elizabeth Gaylynn Baker

"Buddhism helped me to get out of a rut I was in in the sixties - we were always trying to make a separate kingdom, to dream an alternative society. Pondering interdependence made me realize that there is no outside place to stand." ...Tricycle, the Buddhist Review

On drugs:
"It's kind of fixating, like looking at a cobra or a falcon. And every time you do it, you' re kind of walking a tightrope, you know. Is this going to kill me? You know, is this going to be great? Is this -- what is it going to be?" ...Fresh Air with Terry Gross

"I think a hundred years from now, people are going to look at the drug policy we have in place as people today look at the religious beliefs of people who lived during the time of the Inquisition."...Sixties Radicals: Then and Now by Ron Chepesiuk

"My health was seriously compromised. It's an ongoing problem even today. I have liver trouble related to all the drugs I did. I watch myself very carefully. ... San Francisco Examiner

"The person who's closest to how I was is Robert Downey, Jr. With all the transgressions and mistakes, I look at him and feel a real pang of pain. I intuit what's going on inside him. I certainly used the same drugs, and much more than he has, and buried many more friends. I'm just hoping that he realizes how short life is and gets it together." ...Joey Berlin interview

On his book, Sleeping Where I Fall:

"The responses have either been from people who were there saying 'Yes, that was the way it really was' or by young people saying, 'This is the best thing I've read; I always wondered what it was like.'" ... San Francisco Bay Guardian

"I actually wrote this book to my children. My older daughter is 28. Many of her friends have asked me about it. It's a period that has been redefined by the mass media and Reagan and pundits like George Will. I wanted to get it on record." ...Joey Berlin interview

"I challenge any politician in the United States to live on welfare for one month. To pretend that people on welfare are being coddled is a preposterous fiction; a smoke-screen to deflect attention from the fact that even after the fall of Russia, policy makers are preserving a Cold War military budget three times the size of any other on the Planet."... Democratic National Convention Diary

"We are living the culture of capital. We believe that if you are good, you will be rewarded with wealth and if you have wealth, that means you were good." ...San Jose Mercury News

"I think that the political system is less accessible; it's wrapped up by big money. I choose to make my contribution in the cultural arts." ...Los Angeles Times

"I can't put on a tuxedo and go to an environmental event in a 7,000-square-foot house in L.A. that uses enough electricity to power an entire African village." ...Omnibus

"I think we are creating an anti-government counterculture. All of these Army of God bombings, the Waco incident... are evident of a large counterculture which is growing in response to the hard-heartedness of the government, the cruelty of its economic practices and policies. They are an armed and dangerous counterculture, and it remains to be seen what havoc they are going to wreak on America." ...San Francisco Bay Guardian.

"Americans think freedom is being able to shop where you want, or to build any house you want on your property. They know nothing about walking around a country like you own it, like it's yours, and living in a culture where people talk, and instead of one political party, you have ten. Where people are debating ideas and political philosophy, and they're not afraid of intellectualism, and they're not afraid to be smart and educated." ...Ron Hogan interview

"How do we know that Medicare premiums have to rise if we cut the military budget or the criminal justice system budget? Who says?" ...Politically Incorrect

Voice like Henry Fonda's:

"I've had to deal with that all my life. I can't take much credit for it."...Chicago Tribune

"I inherited my dad's temper and I struggle with it to this day. I see myself inflicting it on my own son and I am mystified that it still floats through time like an aberrant gene." ...San Francisco Examiner

"Fearlessness, according to Don Juan is one of the first great enemies of mankind; the first hurdle one has to pass en route to real knowledge. I guess you can intuit from how often I use "fearsome" what an issue it has been for me. An ongoing struggle." ...Interview with Coymoon

"I learned to develop a sense of interior privacy that you have as an actor where you operate as if you had a clear cylinder surrounding you that protects you not from the sight of the audience, but from being too impinged upon by them. Even today people will be amazed that I can sit in a room with crying babies and people arguing, and be reading or writing or thinking and detach if I want to." ...New Age Journal

''I've never lost the sense of devotion to the universe I had as a kid. I've felt my basic intention was always to wake people up to this majestic planet, wake them up and appreciate it.'' ...Orlando Sentinel

The Official Peter Coyote Web Site