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‘I’ve done the most appalling s**t for money’: Welsh superstar’s down-to-earth comments revealed

19 May 2022 2 minute read
Richard Burton in Divorce His, Divorce Hers (1973), his final film with Elizebeth Taylor. Photo marked Public Domain

One Of Wales’ greatest ever actors and a genuine Hollywood superstar described some of his work as “appalling shit” and said sometimes he was “ashamed” to be an actor.

Regarded as one of the greatest actors of his generation, and something of an hellraiser, Richard Burton’s self-deprecating observations were made during a heavy drinking session in a break from filming the TV miniseries Wagner in Venice in 1983.

Irish star Gabriel Byrne, who co-starred in the series with Burton, Byrne recounts the boozy comments in his memoir Walking With Ghosts, the basis of a new one-man show, which open’s in London’s West End in September.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Byrne recounts the conversation:

“I’m rather ashamed to be an actor sometimes,” Burton admitted.

“I’ve done the most appalling shit for money…

“Give it all you’ve got but never forget it’s just a bloody movie, that’s all it is.

“We’re not curing cancer.”

In his interview Gabriel Byrne said of Burton’s comments: “Those words stayed with me.”


Born in Pontrhydyfen in 1925, Burton appeared in 17 films in a career that he embarked upon following his discharge from the RAF in 1947.

He was nominated for an Academy Award seven times, but never won an Oscar but did win BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and Tony Awards for Best Actor.

By the late 1960s, Burton was one of the highest-paid actors in the world, receiving fees of $1 million or more plus a share of the gross receipts.

He was just 58 when he died of a stroke at his home in Céligny, Switzerland, where he was later buried with a copy of Dylan Thomas’s poems.

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arthur owen
1 year ago

Fine actor but a bit of a poseur.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
1 year ago

Interesting fact…..Burton only learned to speak english, when he was 7, when he went to “big school” down in town, in PT!!

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