When he received the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award in 1989, he warned of the dangers in having 'all pictures and television' made by 'two or three of these behemoths who happen also to own magazines, newspapers and cable stations.'
He continued: 'If these Mount Everests of the financial world are going to labor and bring forth still more pictures with people being blown to bits with bazookas and automatic assault rifles with no gory detail left unexploited, if they are going to encourage anxious, ambitious actors, directors, writers and producers to continue their assault on the English language by reducing the vocabularies of their characters to half a dozen words, with one colorful but overused Anglo-Saxon verb and one unbeautiful Anglo-Saxon noun covering just about every situation, then I would like to suggest that they stop and think about this: making millions is not the whole ball game, fellows. Pride of workmanship is worth more. Artistry is worth more.'
Mr. Peck said he thought that an actor's main obligation was to entertain, never to bore, and to perform with precision, professionalism and charm. 'Overacting,' he once said, 'is a self-indulgence, while underacting comes either through a lack of talent or a lack of courage.' Asked why he usually played sympathetic characters, he replied, 'I don't think I could stay interested for a couple of months in a character of mean motivation.'