by Lisa Oldham

JB wasn't just good-looking...he was well-spoken, too. Here are some random quotes that I've personally gathered over the years from off-line sources (e.g. magazines and newspapers), with citations. Enjoy! 


Sherlock Holmes

Which screen Holmes JB thought was "best" -
"I liked Robert Stephens very much in the Billy Wilder film, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, and I liked Colin Blakely very much too as Watson, though I don't rate the film too highly. There are so many ingredients to bring together in portraying Holmes and Watson that it's very difficult to pick out the best, however, I would like to mention that Nigel Stock was a very, very fine Watson. I liked bits of John Neville's Holmes, and I liked bits of Christopher Plummer's Holmes. Again, there are so many facets to Holmes that it's very difficult to see all of him in just one film." 1

Playing the "definitive" Sherlock Holmes - "I've done 33 Sherlock Holmes stories and bits of them are all right. But the definitive Sherlock Holmes is really in everyone's head. No actor can fit into that category because every reader has his own ideal." 5

"I see the definitive Holmes as a cross between Ben [Kingsley] and Al Pacino with a touch of Daniel Day Lewis thrown in." 6

"There is a tremendous delicacy in preserving Holmes in other people's imaginations because there are a million different ways of seeing him. You try not to interfere with anybody's image." 8

"As a person I'm hooked, but as an actor I'm confused by playing a man who lives by his brain. I keep asking the lighting man on the [Sherlock Holmes] set to light my forehead to see if there's anything inside!" 10

"Holmes is such a cool cat. I much prefer to play romantic extroverts with long, flowing hair and passion in their souls." 11

"I will never get to the bottom of the barrel. When I get stuck, I put my hand further into the sawdust. Holmes is the most complex, isolated creature--a complete eccentric, a very private man, a very lonely man. He's a man with a brilliant instinct who can be a demented nightbird, driving around the streets of London in the dead of night. He's very gracious to women, but a man with a fear of women--a man who doesn't believe in society of trivia." 15

The "heroic" appeal of Sherlock Holmes - "Tina Turner may not agree, but the world does need heroes and yet again, at the end of another century, Holmes captures the heroic bent...I think he's a very modern person. He's interested in the poor, the street, law and justice. He got there before Clint Eastwood." 6

The image of Sherlock Holmes vs. the image of Jeremy Brett - "His [Holmes'] image isn't me. My image, I think, is a kind of cross between Ben Kingsley and Al Pacino with a touch of George Hamilton. [Holmes is] a genius, I'm just an actor. He's an isolationist, I'm gregarious. I think he's better read. I must be truthful."  16


"I'm not looking and I don't go hunting. I'm the type who's got to be found."  4

"Love usually happens when you're not expecting it.  There is such a thing as love at first sight. It gives you a flying start, but then you have to see how breakfast goes!"  2

"...I like a girl who looks you 'straight in the eye', especially when you're talking to her. Girls who give sidelong glances or look around the room the whole time are no pals of mine. I also think the shape of a mouth tells a lot about a girl's character--and I'm not deceived by make-up, either."  12

"Actors are impossible to live with; I don't know how women put up with us. Actually, arranged marriages are probably best. It's being in love that destroys you, not being without it."  13

Learning One's Craft

"The most important thing when you're working with greatness is to learn from it, not challenge it."  3

Pic of JB w/Gladys Cooper 1964

"Doing work you enjoy helps, too. I mean it helps if you can find a job that interests you enough so that each week when you're paid it seems like a minor miracle--and I've always been fortunate enough to do that"  7

"I feel blessed to be working whatever the part. America has taught that to me. One's career is only there by the grace of God and this carpet!...I love to work. Being allowed constantly to play charades and be paid for doing what one adores is unbelievable. It's also an escape. It's easy to become a workaholic because when you're working there's a clear focus. Life is much more complicated, but then it's such an honour to be working when only four percent of actors in Britain are employed." 10


"Money to me is a very complicated game and I'm not very good at it. I try very hard, but I regard it merely as a necessary means to an end. I've no idea how to look after it."  9


"I always read any reviews about my own work--I think it's important to know the worst!"  4

O-H! I-O! Go, Jeremy!

"I love the word 'Ohio.' It's always been one of my favorite words in the English language. It has two 'O's in it, which makes it so very special. I just love to write it."*  14

(*Which thrills and delights your editor--LLO--a native and life-long 'Buckeye'  ;->)

On Being a Star

"When you're a star, you're like a big box of chocolates. Everyone takes a nibble"*  17

(*Years before Forrest Gump used that metaphor! ;->)


 1Interview w/JB by Wai-Ming Chan & Imran Hussain at Wyndham's Theatre, 5/4/89.
  2Quoted by interviewer Jennifer Selway (date/publication unknown)
  3 From
Olivier at Work, compiled by the Royal National Theatre w/Richard Olivier & Joan Plowright (c) 1989 by RNT & Nick Hern Books, UK
  4"Why is Sherlock Starving? It's Elementary, My Dear Watson." UK People Magazine interview by Jane Oddy, 1991.
  5"It's Holmes and Away..!" UK TV Times interview by Katie Ekberg, February 16-22, 1991.
  6"Brett Noir" Music and Video Insight interview by Max Bell, issue No. 15, 1989.
  7"'I Want to Be a Star,' Says Jeremy Brett." My Weekly interview by Yvonne Wyatt-Rees, April 7, 1979.
  8"Keeping Holmes' Fires Burning." Mystery News  interview by Elizabeth A. Trembley, September/October 1991.
  9"The Real Jeremy Brett - Alive and Well in 'Exquisite Poverty'." UK TV Times  interview by Kenneth Passingham,   February  24-March 2, 1973 
10"The More Than Elementary Mr. Jeremy Brett." Woman and Home interview by Marianne Gray, June 1984.
11"'At Last I'm Free From the Shadow of Holmes!'" Woman's Own interview by Jo Weedon, March 11, 1991.
12 "Lucky Penny Talks to Jeremy 'D'Artagnan' Brett." Diana interview by Lucky Penny,  March 25, 1967. 
13 "'Hope I Made Sense,' Says Swashbuckler Brett." Woman interview by Margaret Hinxman,  February 18, 1967.
14 TV column, Tom Feran,  Cleveland Plain Dealer,  December 12, 1991. 
15 JB quoted in Daredevils, November 1984. 
16 "For Jeremy Brett, Holmes Still Bit of a Mystery". Scripps Howard News Service article by Luaine Lee, published in Reading (PA) Eagle, July 10, 1990. 
17 "On Our Wavelength" column  by Christine Osbourne, Fabulous 208, January 28, 1967

Photo of JB w/Gladys Cooper from TV & Movie Album #7, 1964

(Updated August 3, 2013)

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