The British comedian admires Oscar Wilde, Nelson Mandela and likes “anyone as unlike [him] as possible.”
Question: Who are your heroes?
Stephen Fry: We’ve mentioned some of my heroes. Oscar Wilde is certainly one. I like people who are as unlike me as possible, which is not an expression of self disgust or self hatred, but it’s just that you know you obviously particularly admire things that you recognize yourself as not having, so ornery artists, people who speak their mind and don’t care who knows it because I fear that one of my greatest faults is my desire to please all the time and my dislike of offending people. I think it’s a good thing in many ways. I’m absolute attacking my own instinct for politeness, but I think I admire artists who just speak out or who are strong, so it’s very hard. You know if I name them I’ll go home thinking why didn’t I name this person or that person and obviously the usual suspects of the you know. Your Mandela’s and your whatnots, how can you not admire them? But also and this will sound sentimental, people who live quiet ordinary lives of unremembered kindness, people like my brother. I’m not saying he is ordinary. He is remarkable, but you know he is a reminder to me of the you know the… just the virtues of being a good person.
Recorded December 8, 2009