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Quotes to Live By From 12 Oscar-Winning Actors

The first Academy Awards were given in 1929 at a private dinner hosted by the swashbuckling star of silent cinema, Douglas Fairbanks. Back then, the ceremony lasted just 15 minutes, in stark contrast to more recent spectacles, which on average stretch out for three and a half hours.

More than 3,000 Oscar statuettes have been awarded since 1929, and among the most eagerly anticipated awards each year are those for acting — actors are, after all, the stars of the show. The Best Actor and Best Actress categories, as well as the awards for supporting roles, are highly competitive, with the winners typically bursting into tears and thanking everyone they’ve ever met in their acceptance speeches.

The recipients include some of the biggest names in Hollywood — a roster of stars with plenty of wisdom to share. Here are some inspiring quotes from 12 Oscar-winning actors, from Katharine Hepburn to Lupita Nyong'o.

Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only with what you are expecting to give — which is everything.
Katharine Hepburn, Best Actress for “Morning Glory” (1933), “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner” (1967), “The Lion in Winter” (1968), and “On Golden Pond” (1981)

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I was the shyest human ever invented, but I had a lion inside me that wouldn't shut up.
Ingrid Bergman, Best Actress for “Gaslight” (1944) and “Anastasia” (1956), and Best Supporting Actress for “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974)

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If you do things, whether it's acting or music or painting, do it without fear. That's my philosophy. Because nobody can arrest you and put you in jail if you paint badly, so there's nothing to lose.
Anthony Hopkins, Best Actor for “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) and “The Father” (2020)

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When you look at life retrospectively, you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn't do.
Jack Nicholson, Best Actor for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and “As Good as It Gets” (1997), and Best Supporting Actor for “Terms of Endearment” (1983)

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The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.
Meryl Streep, Best Actress for “Sophie's Choice” (1982) and “The Iron Lady” (2011), and Best Supporting Actress for “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979)

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You cannot look up at the night sky on the planet Earth and not wonder what it's like to be up there amongst the stars. And I always look up at the moon and see it as the single most romantic place within the cosmos.
Tom Hanks, Best Actor for “Philadelphia” (1993) and “Forrest Gump” (1994)

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I was often told that I wasn’t a thing. “She’s not pretty enough, she’s not tall enough, she’s not thin enough, she’s not fat enough.” I thought, “OK, someday you’re going to be looking for someone not, not, not, not, and there I’ll be.”
Frances McDormand, Best Actress for “Fargo” (1996), “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017), and “Nomadland” (2020)

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Don’t be afraid to go outside the box. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to fail big, to dream big, but remember: Dreams without goals are just dreams.
Denzel Washington, Best Actor for “Training Day” (2001), and Best Supporting Actor for “Glory” (1989)

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If you can do what you do best and be happy, you're further along in life than most people.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Actor for “The Revenant” (2016)

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There will always be forces — things like jealousy, greed, and anger — trying to push you away from the ideas you believe in and the causes you care most about. Life is an active, not a passive, journey.
Forest Whitaker, Best Actor for “The Last King of Scotland” (2006)

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Your mind can be the hugest obstacle or tool, depending on how you choose to use it. And I find that a lot of people who are successful in life say, “I can do this, and I will do this.” Their minds don't get in their way.
Hilary Swank, Best Actress for “Boys Don't Cry” (1999) and “Million Dollar Baby” (2004)

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When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind every child that no matter where you are from, your dreams are valid.
Lupita Nyong'o, Best Supporting Actress for “12 Years a Slave” (2013)

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Photo credit: Kevin Winter/ Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

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About the Author
Tony Dunnell
Tony is an English writer of non-fiction and fiction living on the edge of the Amazon jungle.
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