I think basically becoming famous has taken the place of going to Heaven in modern society, hasn't it? That's the place where your dreams will come true. It's an act of faith now; they think that's going to sort things out.
My activities have never had anything to do with the idea of becoming famous or achieving success. I have always been concerned with getting people to listen to me. In everything I do ... my aim is to make people listen. I want to communicate the things that I love and in which I believe, because I think that people can derive a general benefit from them. What I really want is success in a philosophical sense: I want people to grasp something of the ideas and hopes which I express in painting.
I didn't have any aspirations of becoming famous or successful; in fact I was scared to death of all that. I remember somebody once said that if a rock musician goes on tour, he goes insane. I was very impressionable and I carried this useless weight of fear around with me about going on tour, all because of this thing somebody said.
It means a lot to me that people appreciate what I do. That's why I give a lot of importance to my fans and I like to maintain a certain proximity to them. I already feel very thankful that people enjoy my work so much, and becoming famous is not my ultimate goal. I think it's important to keep a good balance between what I want to do and what people want to hear; otherwise I might fall into the dark side.
Americans respect talent only insofar as it leads to fame, and we reserve our most fervent admiration for famous people who destroy their lives as well as their talent. The fatal flaws of Elvis, Judy, and Marilyn register much higher on our national applause meter than their living achievements. In Amerca, talent is merely a tool for becoming famous in life so you can become more famous in death - where all are equal.
When you start to think of the arts as not this thing that is going to get you somewhere in terms of becoming an artist or becoming famous or whatever it is that people do, but rather a way of making being in the world not just bearable, but fascinating, then it starts to get interesting again.
I'm not in the business of becoming famous. And that's the advice I give to younger aspiring actors. Work onstage and do the little roles. In the end it's not important to be seen. It's important to do. There's a lot of disappointment in this business, but my family keeps me grounded