RIVER PHOENIX, actor (deceased)
For being beautiful. I was driving my dog, taking it for a swim on a Sunday afternoon, and on Radio 1 it came on, at about 330pm, 'River Phoenix has just died', and I nearly crashed the f***ing car. I was more upset by River Phoenix dying than the BNP getting in power (here we go again - Ed). I know that's morally wrong, but pictures in magazines always have a massive effect on me, and 23 is a young age to die. The movie industry tried to put him across as such a clean little boy, doesn't drink Coca Cola, does all the right things, and only since he's died everyone's said that for the last year of his life, he was completely f***ed up. Quite sad, really.
"'But when l phoned James up when I got back, the first thing he said was, f**ing bastard" And I bet every other actor thought the same, Johnny Depp especially. I bet he shouted, 'you little c***!’, giving the body a good kicking as the ambulance drove him away. I wouldn't say he's immortal - I wasn't a fan of 'My Own, Private Idaho', it was overrated but he's there forever, picture-perfect: he'll never get old, grey or wrinkly. He's not the James Dean of his generation, but he's closer than most."
STONE GOSSARD, guitarist with Pearl Jam
"The rest of the band aren't big fans to say the least, but think Pearl Jam are the closest America will ever get to The Smiths, lyrically and musically. Stone Gossard is the Johnny Marr of American guitar rock. 'Jeremy", 'Rear View Mirror' and 'Daughter' are snippets of American culture just in the same way The Smiths gave us 'William' or 'This Night Has Opened My Eyes. Nirvana are a lot more abstract, lyrically. I like Nirvana—they're playing on my cassette right now – but that would be such an easy thing to pick. I'd choose Stone Gossard before Eddie Vedder any day of the week, for his work on the Brad album. He just got some other musicians from Seattle and did it in 14 days. I got the album when I was going through a bad period, when we were on tour in Germany, and it was the only thing that meant anything to me at all, the only thing I wanted to play."
PETE MILLIGAN, comic writer
"He’s the only comic book writer - not 'graphic novelist', it's definitely comics -who did anything good in '2000AD'. The main character in 'Bad Company' [one of the first things he did] is one of the most beautiful comic book creations ever, like a mix between Col Kurtz from 'Apocalypse Now' and The Virgin Mary. Just recently Milligan moved onto 'Shade The Changing Man' on DC, and this year, on DC's more adult Vertigo range, he created 'Enigma', a mini-series of only six or seven episodes (little pants-pisser Michael Smith is the main chap). It isn't often a comic strikes you as truly great, but along with Neil Gaiman, he's the only person doing anything good in the genre at the moment."
"I grew up reading Marvel, especially Spiderman, but stopped at about 13 because, I wouldn't say it was Enid Blyton, but it always had to be very moralistic at the end. Once you actually realise all that's bullshit, you go off it. And even when '2000AD' came along, it was very macho; something I could never like. Judge Dredd was like watching a f***ing 'Dirty Harry' film: this holier-than-thou cop blowing people away."
JEFFREY EUGENIDES, author
"He wrote 'The Virgin Suicides", about a lower-middle-class American family whose first daughter kills herself, and then there's an escalating scale of events where all her sisters follow, but the family, which has a very traditional sense of morals, are so castrated they can't do anything about it. They still keep imposing ridiculous rules they know their daughters can't possibly obey, and blindly ignore the signs that death is coming."
"He puts in all these really good statistics, like the fact that 33 per cent of jump suicides have tear muscles in their shoulders, which means they jump off bridges, then try to grasp and cling: the reflex instinct for human survival is so strong, even when they're that far down. Not a brilliant book, but it makes its point very well. It's a subject that interests everyone. But most people... I wouldn't say they don't have the guts, but so many people rely on you, that's what stops you from doing it. It's hard to imagine how low you'd actually have to be..."
DAVID THEWLIS, actor
"HE plays Johnny in Mike Leigh's 'Naked', one of the most honest things I've seen in the cinema all year. People condemn it because it offers no hope. And he is a c***, basically, a nasty piece of work, but it starts off with a rape, so you immediately know where you're morally supposed to stand."
"I think people like Carla Lane are patronising to the working class, but Mike Leigh is a genius and has only been constrained by money. 'Naked' rises above kitchen-sink gossip and bitching. Johnny's quite a satanic creation, very Nineties. A little intelligence goes a long way: he's read a few books, and it's frightening to see what that can do to somebody."
ROB LOWE, actor
"Did you see him on BBC2 in 'Suddenly Last Summer', the Tennessee Williams play? I'm a fan of Montgomery Cliff (who took Lowe's role in the film version) bull thought he seemed so sad - probably because I know about his life and I'm reading too much into it—and almost too melodramatic to be Dr Cukrowitz. I never liked Rob Lowe before, but he was so understated, in line with the play, where the doctor is more of a narrator, allowing the story to flow. He's in my Men Of The Year just because any Tennessee Williams that gets on TV is worth it."
"People say Williams' plays are very similar, but I haven't got a problem with that. I think if you've got a theory to write about, there's no reason to change. 'Suddenly Last Summer' is my favourite play ever. It's so dramatic: looking up at the sky and seeing it blackened with birds, or the turtle eggs on the beach all getting devoured. It was dealing with madness decades before 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'."
DR HASSAN EL TURABI, President of Sudan
"He’s come to power in the Sudan and reintroduced Shariya law which isn't Islamic Fundamentalism, but along those lines: amputation for theft, which… I'm not saying it's a good thing, but I quite like what he's doing. Islamic Fundamentalism scares the West, and makes us examine our own moral ambiguity. There was a programme on him the other night where a Western journalist was condemning him, but said 'We only amputate one per cent of the thieves we catch.' The journalist was saying 'One percent is so many people!' and his reply was classic, so deadpan: 'One per cent may be a lot where you come from, but to me, one per cent doesn't sound like many at all.' I know it's very easy to congratulate that from a distance . . . butt AM from a distance."
CALVIN KLEIN, fashion designer
"For the 'Obsession' cinema ad with Kate Moss. Well filmed, well done, but really tacky. She keeps going up to the camera going ( whispers) 'Obsession' while the camera closes up on parts of her body, in really dark black and white... but there's nothing in it which involves men."
"Commercials can definitely be an art form. I didn't like The Gap adverts with Marky Mark and Kate Moss, only because you know what Marky Mark says afterwards in the press: 'Kate Moss is OK, but I prefer girls with big tits.' Makes it all seem a bit cheesy."
"I had this argument last night, talking about 'Supermodel Superficial' by The Voodoo Queens. The whole media had centred the supermodel argument on Kate Moss: that you have to be bulimic, starve yourself to appeal to paedophile obsessions in men (every man wants to f*** a 13-year-old girl). But another supermodel is Claudia Schiffer, and by any definition of the word, she's a woman. No way is she girlish."
"And The Voodoo Queens next single was 'Keanu Reeves, We Love You', offering exactly the same role model to men. On 'Richard &Judy' yesterday, there were men having silicone chest implants to get an Arnie-type body. Albeit to a lesser extent, it's definitely moving in that direction."
"To say the world would be a better place without supermodels is naïve. It'd be a duller world, with less things to talk about for a start. If Voodoo Queens really wanted to help, they'd write a song in praise of Andrea Dworkin. But they pick on, rather than offer anything.
BRAD PITT, actor
"For 'True Romance'. Not brilliant performance, but along with Christopher Walken, he saves the film. He's only in it for about 15 minutes, stoned, lying on a couch, with all these strange things going on around him. He's so unaware: all these men walking past with Uzi machine guns, he's just going 'fancy a bong, man?'. He was really underrated in 'Johnny Suede' . One of the best-looking men on the planet. He does make a good poster, and you can't do much better things in life than that."
"I didn't like 'Reservoir Dogs', and disliked 'True Romance' even more. It's a really Nineties way of dealing with violence, to make it very glossy, superficial and even funny. The end, when all the different factions burst in the room-.- a door opens, f*** you!', another door opens, If*** you!', another door opens, /f*** you - is Benny Hill! He did that to death 100 times! I much prefer films like 'Taxi Driver', which doesn't offer any hope at all, or any humour. "There's the bit in 'Reservoir Dogs' where the ear gets cut off, the quirky David Lynch bit with the music in the background, and half the audience laugh. I don't think that's a very good way of dealing with it.
THE CONTROLLERS AT RADIO 4
"I dunno if they're all men, I'm just assuming that with the male hierarchy they probably are. "My favourite radio programme this year was about... not cult books, but books which have aroused a lot of displeasure. They started off with Hubert Selby Jr's 'Last Exit To Brooklyn', with the author talking about it and reading excerpts, then JG Ballard's 'Crash", where the anti -hero Vaughn is obsessed by car crashes, drives round west London photographing them, and dreams of dying in a very sexual crash with Elizabeth Taylor. Then they did a defence of Bret Easton Ellis' 'American Psycho'. All three books are very moralistic, dealing with society as it went along. 'Last Exit' was all about sexual emancipation, 'Crash' was man's fear of technology, and 'American Psycho' is about the drabbest aspects of consumerism (e.g. Patrick Bateman's tie, socks and suit having to be a specific colour and make). And all these people wanted to control their own destinies. Bateman wanted the privilege of looking at a girl and saying, 'I could slit her throat and shit down her neck. It is only my decision that she's alive."
PHILIP LARKIN, poet (deceased)
"He had so much abuse this year. Almost every supplement carried huge articles defaming his character, his work, saying everything he said was worthless because he wrote a few nasty letters. Butt think that makes his poems seem a lot more real, because they show a lot more human characteristics than anyone imagined: this stunted little bookworm who never did anything finally becomes flesh and blood. When I read his (racist, misogynist) letters, I didn't feel outraged, I felt… not pity, but I knew where he was coming from, why he felt so castrated. Sexual frustration turning into muted aggression and feelings he knew were wrong but couldn't help: I think a lot of people can identify with that. And 'Aubade" is one of the most brilliant poems ever written."
"Again, it's the way some people decide what morally is right: 'We know what he's really like, he's awful, so go away and burn your Philip Larkin books." I find that deeply offensive"
JULIAN CLARY, comedian
"Just to have a go at Reeves & Mortimer and Newman & Baddiel, who have been on TV pretty much non-stop this year. I've watched every show, and I just cannot see the point. One is trying to be a cool Morecambe & Wise (who were cool because they weren't cool), and the other has not one redeeming feature. I don't swallow Rob Newman's supposed depression or alienation: I just think he's a c***. They wanna be so Nineties, but the last show had a piece on The Jesus And Mary Chain. It's so out of date!"
“But I loved the episode of Terry And Julian where the two Julian Clarys -the macho working-class yob and the regular one gets confused and says, 'All I ever wanted was a brute with cheekbones.' Because I think that's all anyone ever wants."