tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg August 25, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm EDT
charlie: leslie odom junior is here. what brought you to hamilton? leslie: sometimes you find the best jobs in this business, you did not audition for, you have no idea how you got there. week, if imy last get a straight offer, i do not want to ask how it came about. realize,id they might why did we asked this guy? years ago to two do a reading of the show. i had seen them do it at vassar. i had seen maybe 45 minutes and
was blown away. when i was invited to do the reading, i prepared like i'd never had before. i came in and all of my music. i knew what they were working on. it had powerful potential. i knew how it affected me. lyn is only one year older than i am, this is our music. i recognize the rhythms and the syncopation, and the pulse of the peace p --iece. charlie: people wondered when hip-hop would come to broadway, because rock had come to broadway. leslie: the height happening, and being a watershed moment for hip-hop music and latin american actors. , iistened to the heights
them andls -- i told one of my first rehearsals, from the first moments of that album. [singing] the need to communicate is something that has always moved me greatly. i saw a show when i was a teenager called, -- "death poetry jam." they put something on the paper and there is an urgency and a fire in their belly to get it. it came full circle when i was listening to a rehearsal, listening back and learning my part. i said, i can hear that need and what we are doing. i hear all of the preparation, to
do justice to the text that you are given. how much of it was important to know aaron burr? you play a character, and the narrator. you were there at every moment. burr is also the continuity. gifts: one of my favorite that people give, fans give us books of articles they find on ebay. steve and rhonda hawthorne have given me more than anyone. they come by with these books that they order. those have helped me a lot because i would not call myself a historian by any means. is,lynn has read enough about all of the events that he
has been able to come up with his own opinion on the events. that is what makes a historian. you read one book and you have one opinion. nowve read enough on burr to come up with my own theories. othere: there are opinions, some good, some bad. day, i at the end of the have to play with when road -- lynn wrote. charlie: you have to play into what you have experienced. aslie: and what i believe far as what my job is as a performer, that is another one of those things that this has intersected. there is a some -- certain amount of vulnerability that the show requires that i was not ready to embrace at any other moment in my life. there is a certain amount of honesty that if i am doing my
job right, i bring to the stage every night. that comes up time. charlie: earlier we talked to the composer,lynn and the director, thomas cale. here is a look. >> you sit in a room for six years making something, and you have the dream version of how the show will be received. we are experiencing that. 2008rted writing this in while i was still in my show, the heights. i was on my vacation when i borders, -- at charlie: i will take this one. lin: i knew he died in a dual, so i knew it would be a good ending. -- nature of hamilton's life
charlie: explained that. -- explain that. born out ofn was wedlock. his father split by the time he was 10 years old. his mother died in bed with him a few short years later. his brother was an apprentice to a blacksmith, he was by himself. he was sent to live with a cousin after his mother's death, and then the cousin killed himself. he was a clerk for a trading rumany that traded from -- and slaves. his way off of the island. he wrote a column describing the carnage saying he saw fights that would strike astonishment into angels. people took up a fund to get him
in education. charlie weis here we have a character, a great american. we know there is drama. he may have not fired his gun in the dual. here we have that story. you have translated it into so much more. tell me about the ideas you want to pour into this to make it a new look at the founding fathers, the american experience , and a different way of presenting that would appeal to young people, because you have young actors. lin: you speak to what we were conscious of. how do we eliminate distance between our story and now. that this is a country that was founded and created by immigrants. somebody in all of our lines stepped off of a boat.
they put their foot down on this soil and went to work. as we started thinking about taking the inspiration from ron's book, we thought, here are in, but we have to tell a story. we had all of the events laid out, we made a book and compared timelines. you have those things to plant -- build around. it came apparent so early on as we were designing how the show could function, that this idea of doubling characters for instance, took off. one of the characters plays jefferson. they have this relationship to france. how can we make the audience feel like who they are and what they understand is actually not so different from what the people struggled with. charlie: hip-hop seems like a genius stroke. but you knew that.
checked a versions of the book and i felt like someone had done a hip-hop version. lin: this was someone who wrote his way out of circumstances. is the hip-hop narrative from the south bronx in the 70's until today. -hip-hopd hamilton musical, it was not there. that was the first thing that jumped out, this is a fundamental hip-hop story. go, i amthe lyrics just like my country, young, scrappy, and hungry, i am not throwing out my shot. you performed that at the white house. lim: i performed the opening number.
, islie: before we see that that what the president responded to when he said geithner should see this? the audience this was the first time performing this in public. they asked me to perform something from in the heights. they allowed me to close out the show with that. his response is, we have to get geithner. charlie: did he think of him as hamilton? lin: he had a quote at that time because the economic crisis had just blown up. he said geithner had the hardest job since alexander hamilton. i think that was his quote on the record. this was early in obama's administration. how were just figuring out to do this. how to get us out of the whole.
how to get us -- out of the hole. he also performed it from burr's point of you. they got a laugh. charlie: where was that idea from? thomas: i look at musical history, we have a great tradition of andrew lloyd webber of the antagonist in the story. that was immediately where i went. lin: that set up the difficult task of figuring out who it aaron burr is. he is known as the villain. him --: using more of but you think more of him. lin: i do. gore wrote a historical fiction novel.
one of the things i learned about burr is he is an early minister. his daughter received an education better than any man. he was close with his wife and daughter. he was on the society with alexander hamilton for the evolution -- abolition of slaves. there are redeeming characteristics to this guy. -- myto find my we and way in because every biography is defensive or vilifies him. burrie: on one hand aaron was cautious, careful, laid-back. alexander hamilton wanted to charge forward. lin: hamilton left behind 21 volumes of written work. left two. -- burr
the tragedy of the show is, at the moment when burr is reckless and let's go, and hamilton is cautious and throws away his shot, one kills the other. that is how they are remembered. thomas: let's make a story about two people who were very dear and complex friends. they were soldiers, lawyers, statesmen together. charlie went you thought about playing burr -- charlie: you thought about playing burr? lin: because he gets all of the best songs. now you watch the show and cannot imagine me playing him. he gets these wonderful moments, one of my favorite seeing where he talks about -- being where he
talks about not being in power. he says how am i not in this room? charlie: take a look at this, this is you in the white house in 2009. how does a vaster -- son, grow up to be a hero and a scholar. the $10 founding father without a father got a lot farther by working harder. by being a self-starter by 14 they placed him in charge of the trading charter aways carter -- carted he is expected to be a part of the brother a hurricane came devastation reigned
the future dripped down the rent -- drain he wrote this for free word got around and they said this kid is insane let's send him to the mainland, get your education the world will know your name what is your name? alexander hamilton his name is alexander hamilton there are a million things he has not done, just you wait when he was 10, his father split alex and his mother were bedridden alex got better but his mother went quite >> -- his cousin committed suicide alex started reading and
retreating what is there left to do? , clerking forking his late mother's landlord he got his hands on every book he could the bow of the ship headed for a new land in new york you can be a new man the ship is in the harbor, can you spot him? another immigrant coming up the bottom him the fool that shot ♪ charlie: unbelievable. -- it isost unlocked almost like if they did not have hip-hop that had to be created for this. lin: thank you. that means a lot.
it is a love letter to hip-hop and musical theater. you are right, it is this heightened language. we are learned -- learned early on, energy went out. we had this ball that we throw in the air so high at the top we have to keep it at that level. there are times when we take these are the slow it down, and speed it up again, this is heightened-- this language seem to be the only way to convey the worldview. charlie: did you once say that hamilton reminded you of tupac? lin: yes, he embodies contradictions. he is both thoughtful and boisterous, brilliant and self-destructive. he would get into fights that in retrospect, why are you fighting with anger -- with that guy? that is what is so brilliant.
photographed -- photographs, caused social taboos. the way i approach my work -- i start projects because i want to play with material. life -- mye time my ideas generate the next ideas. is a lot of experience asian -- experimentation. >> what is your work about? is one: eugene o'neill of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century. he is the only american founder to have won the nobel prize for literature. he has been called the father of american theater, paving the way for arthur miller.
the iceman cometh is one of his most powerful place. pl --ays. joining me now, two tony winning actors, nathan lane's and brian dennehy, i am pleased to have them at the table. welcome. nathan: thank you. charlie: there is a story i read, you saw this production was take place, and you said this is right for me. you notify the director? -- you notified the director? withn: yes, it started kenneth branagh and a bar. he said you have to do these great parts. charlie: i've never thought of that. you do, youaid if will learn a great deal and it will be life-changing, it does not matter what anyone says. i read an interview 10 years
falls,ith brian and bob and they were discussing potentially revisiting "the iceman,." did o'neill play that? nathan: i think he did. when i heard them discussing brian taking on the role of larry, i wrote an e-mail to bob falls, even though i did not know him that well, saying i would love to play hickey. fortunately he responded positively. we got together and discussed how we could do it. charlie: how do you see him? nathan: when i read the play as a kid, i got a collection of eugene o'neill plays, i read cometh," i was
drawn to the character of hickey. he describes them as short and roly-poly with a button nose and a twinkle in his eye he always writes these long descriptions of characters, rather too specific for everyone to live up to. when he created i thought, and what i was bringing up to bob in it is defined by jason robards. he is the gold standard. he defined who that character is . it was a much darker -- then say the original in 1946. jason brought this mischievous .1 at -- malevolence
i was saying to bob, wouldn't it be interesting, taking what o'neill has said about him, the notion is he loves these guys. het as he ultimately says killed his wife and said it was n act of mercy, he came to help them. unfortunately he feels the only way to do that is for them to kill their pipedreams. thought, it has to come out of that. it has to come out of love. not that he is trying to destroy them, but he is trying to help them. in a way that is more disturbing. and the fact that it is a joyous thing when he arrives. offputting that this person they love is driving them to do this thing. in a kind of
semi-delusional state. he feels this is his lack -- last act that could bring -- not absolution, but it is a way to prove what he did was right. ultimately his pipe dream is that he did this out of love. charlie: he is doing it for them. -- ais an different different hickey? brian: oh yeah. -- it'seat role interesting, when i started working all i knew was jason robards along with everyone else. when we started rehearsal along time ago, almost 30 years ago, i said i will just steal jason character.
finally i realized after a few weeks of coming up with bad jason robards's interpretations, i said i cannot do this. i came up with the happiest guy in the world. death.nny salesman of big smiles all of the time, big hearty laugh, slowly it becomes obvious that this guy is selling something that is not quite as advertised. charlie: is he selling it out of love? brian: sure. there is an interesting discussion constantly with likee i care cells -- ourselves, just how crazy is he? is he crazy enough to know exactly what he is doing, in terms of embracing his craziness? or is he not crazy.
charlie: he sort of compartmentalize his -- compartmentalize his everything. he knows that what he did was wrong, technically. nathan: shooting your wife in the back of the head, that is technically wrong. he knows he must be punished, ultimately that is what he really wants. he wants to be punished. that is what he always wanted from his wife, she would not. she kept for giving him. -- forgiving him. this is an unhealthy codependent relationship, he does love her. that is one theme, a man cannot live with his allusions, another theme, how does love and hate coexist? way he can stop her from forgiving him is to
make sure she is dead. otherwise she would forgive him. pull the trigger, i forgive you. nathan: it is an unraveling. in the fourth act when he famously recounts in order to prove to the group he was right, he recounts his life story. leading up to the night of the murder, as he is going along, he was not planning on telling the story, but then he has to. he is driven to do it. to prove to them. these revelations start happening. is like therapy, someone says, tell me your life story. you start to talk about things you did not expect to talk about. it takes you someplace else. it takes years -- and you think, maybe i was wrong about this or that. as he slowly starts to unravel
as he is revealing more and more about his own self loathing and shame, about what he did to her. in a way, he finally convinced himself that was the answer. that is a story you would read in the new york post, and you would say, you believe this happened? and yet it did. we are human. done allhas doing this of the things can of branagh said it would do? nathan: without a doubt. it was prophetic. charlie: that was 10 years ago. nathan: yes, it took a while to get me to chicago. i instigated the whole thing. fortunately, it was a huge success in chicago, which led to venueng it at the perfect , the beautiful harvey theater. this extraordinary company of
actors that charles discussed. it is a remarkable group of people. i think that is what is also making it so special. it has lived up to those expectations, and more. it has changed me as an actor. certain --e are look, anyone in show business, there are certain conceptions about them. we think we know them because of two or three things they did that were successful. needed -- i age, i had more to offer, and wanted to challenge myself. i certainly wanted to do it with bob and brian. i knew that was the way to do it. charlie: here is what bob says about you. brian goeskable that through these roles, he knew he was the right age for slade.
brian: he is referring to the british system. turn -- start out you playing a young man. i guess that is true. i feel comfortable with larry. especially since he sits on his -- the whole play. it is an interesting, complicated part. in many ways it is as complicated, if not more so then than ticky. out, has stuff to work especially with the kid. it is a similar situation, parallel, except in larry's case he finds out that the real generous thing to do is to make sure of that he killed himself.
we're talking about o'neill here. what was interesting about the darkness, it was written about the same time as he was writing the family play. ordeal, hairy difficult in -- very difficult in california. he wrote a friend in new york saying he had to stop working on the family play. do somethingd to different, i am writing something now that makes me laugh every day. nathan: i think he did love these guys. this was when he was in early 20's and he attempted suicide. these claims, that and the golden swan which had a back room call the hellhole.
these guys saved his life. tomorrow wasjimmy a scottish reporter who saved his life, any attempted suicide -- in the assented suicide. most of the characters in the play are based on real people he knew and live with. -- lived with, except for hickey. did you know he was reading nietzsche? he was carrying around "the birth of tragedy." it is obviously influenced by other players -- plays, but nietzsche was a huge influence. did you have this insight after that you got the part -- after you got the part? when i knew i was going
to do it, i started doing research about the play. charlie: they say that to do o'neill is tough, like climbing mount everest. do you think that is true? nathan: a course industry. charlie: do you know why you get into the zone? sometimes you see where the zone is and you get there more technically. that i do not know. it is not science. it is human chemicals that are pouring in. as much as you prepare, veryimes you are in a specific moment, a quiet moment, and someone in the audience goes [cough]
and that can throw you. but that's what live theater is about. it is about keeping a large group of people from coughing. as someone said famously. it is about concentration and focus. charlie: did you prepare more for this than anything? nathan: without question. -- huge leap. this is a degree of difficulty that is up there with -- brian: the other thing along those lines, he is not the most adept writer of phrases. he will back up on himself that does not necessarily come out as easily as it should. for mccarthy was famous being a critic for the new yorker in the 1940's, she was
the curse of a lot of playwrights. she always said the same thing about o'neill -- they were not good writers, but they were great writers. meaning that they were not particularly thoughtful with the language, or facile with the verbs or nouns in a way for example let's say updike was. charlie: they were good at understanding the human condition? they insisted on going to the deepest, darkest parts. arthur miller, who i was privileged to work with, we talked about the differences between a lot of playwrights he always said that o'neill was the deepest diver. he was not interested in -- he was interested in cell -- s oul.
bill: he used to come up to me and say something so profane, i could not repeat it. it was encouraging. he would say something good, you would -- he would have seen me in a play and that would get me through the next 16 months. he is someone who i responded to. he was a model actor, contemporary. charlie: what does that mean? he was notans confined by the conventions of performing. he was radical in a way. apart from the fact that he is touched by genius. i know that is a cliche, but i feel it to be true. he thrilled me. "skylight," hew created this role, i soared
sword fenced all of the way home. i was thrilled, i was proud i did the same job as this people. charlie: the next person is david hare, what is it about the two of you? bill: my relationship started when i was 30. when i read the first thing he in a way rang in me that great writing or arts does. it was almost as if it were familiar. if you had given me time i would have gotten around to saying this. -- things like that. of -- and the beauty, and the wit was something that was very familiar. it was the first time i had read
a contemporary script that blew me away. counted recently, 10 things we have done together now. i treasure that. filmie: stage, theater, and television. some actors tell me that they rarely accept apart if it scares them -- a part if it scares them. bill: i used to turn them down. i would invent a reason, then i got real. i started to take jobs which apparently i had invented -- it was apparently out of my range. charlie: an example? bill: "skylight. " it was one of the greatest things i had seen.
traditionally i would turn it down with my agent and then would david would call me personally and i would hear his way sensei, ok i am coming -- and i would say, ok i am coming. where do you want me? that happens with "skylight." my first thought was, you have to be kidding. charlie: why did you do it again? do not absolutely know the answer, but i will speculate. when is i wanted to do a play, and there are not many i want to do. i wanted to do it originally in new york, i figured that justified it. it turned out i could not do that, i did it in london. i loved the play with all of my heart. i think it is brilliant.
it had not been produced majorly for a long time. i love it. charlie: what you love about it? isl: i love the fact that it funny in a way that i find heartbreaking. the broaderay that issues are practically -- perfectly and invisibly story ofd into the these people trying to come to terms with one another on a personal level. i love the fact that it is built like a bomb. put togetherully so that it unlocks something in the audience, they go away, aboutlly full of hope personal relations and universal issues. it is one of the rare occasions
where those things are integrated. charlie: did you see it differently when it was done by michael? bill: yes, it would be different. it was a long time ago, i cannot really remember. i cannot remover my first performance -- remember my first performance. i have fond memories of the offstage stuff. i'm not reprising anything. i would imagine opera is like that. it is a brand-new production, stephen is a brilliant man, sensational director, has delivered something beautiful. everyone will tell you the set is the most beautiful. it is a beautiful package. charlie: how could you say no? bill: exactly.
everyone that worked on it, it is bathed in intelligent light. --bathe -- bathe me in intelligent light. bill: carey mulligan was an assassin. charlie: roll tape. -- i remember you saying your management skills, but you still treat people -- >> the man is a driver. you know that drivers do not drive. they spend their lives waiting.
happy.s perfectly he is a bloody well paid. he listens to kiss 100. and read the men's interest magazines. >> it has come down. >> frank is better off in a warm mercedes. this is the problem. this ridiculous self-righteousness. you always had it, i knew. it is going to get worse. >> nothing to do with my teaching. it has nothing to do with what i do, it is a way of respecting people. >> frank is not people. frank is a man who is doing a job. you have these stupid gestures, nothing to do with what people might want.
people want to be respected, not look down on as if they were disabled, as if they needed help. this was the whole trouble with business with you. you look down at the way we did things. finally, that is why you left. >> will i must say. i never knew that was the reason. >> i'm sorry. >> i never knew that was why i had to leave. >> i did not mean it badly. >> i thought i left because your wife discovered i was sleeping with you for over six years. >> yes, that played a part. charlie: carey mulligan is here, she is currently in "skylight." her costar said she is dead on, impeccable. her performance led to a first tony nomination. this is his creation said about you, if i was starting and national theater
with an active company like olivier had come i would start with her. --t would be an infringer and adventure? carey: i would do it with david, if he asked. charlie: what is it about david? kerry: he is a wonderful writer and person, we have had the privilege of running time with him. he was around during reversals and previews. he is brilliant, he is the writer on this project because working, he is so gifted at both. charlie: what i love about him is the curiosity he has for the themes. kerry: he is an observer. here in stephen work well because they're both curious. even in trivial conversations. charlie: he got stephen to do this? kerry: yes.
it had not been done since bill did it. 15 years ago. london. it in 15 years later, we did it in london. charlie: was it an instance -- instant yes? carey: yes. i did an opt -- off-broadway play before which was great. it was very dark and difficult. i was looking for the next play. i always wanted to work with stephen daltrey. i had never read "skylight." i read 10 pages and hope the rest was good. they kept getting better, by the end i was in heaven. charlie: it was a carrier -- character you love.
carey: yes, it is truly great writing. that is the kind of work you can do in london for 12 weeks and not tire of. charlie: was a different? -- was it different? carey: yes, it is a british play. story, what ishe the back story? carey: they met when my character was 18. she started working for him and his family and his restaurant chain. much sheouple of years went away to university and they started a relationship which lasted for six years, which his wife did not know about that. after six years, his wife discovered and left. you are meeting them three years after that happened. left.e: cara and then she died.
and then he ends up at your doorstep. carey: yes, on a cold night. charlie: in a drafty apartment. leaving -- she is leading that lifestyle. charlie: has she found what you wants -- she wants? think she found what she wanted to do living in chelsea. and then he shows up and questions everything laboriously. charlie: what are the possibilities for her when he shows up? carey: initially there is a possibility for them to be together. charlie: he spent the night.
carey: there is the possibility of the reunion, he has sort of held her at arm's length. as it develops, you see ultimately what it is that will keep them apart. charlie: why did she not want to reignite the relationship? because ultimately i think he brokered trust -- broke her trust. she would never be a will to trust him again. charlie: she found out the fact that when he came, the fact that he had broken her trust last time, he still had that in him. carey: there was knows he can begin change in him. you see so much of their history and nostalgia from what they used to have, they still have it, that also means he has not really changed. to a degree she has not either.
there is a mix between lovely memories and being in the exact same place they used to be. charlie weis here's a scene with you and bill cooking. charlie white and here is a scene with you and bill cooking. >> what? what are you thinking? >> are you putting the chili and first? it infuseshili so oil. [laughter] .> aha have, i do not do that, i been doing it the way i have been taught. [laughter] charlie: [laughter] carey: that noise brings the house down.
charlie: this is when they are in the apartment. >> as it happens i get it at a cheap rent. >> i should hope. >> you have lost all sense of reality. is not special, it is not especially horrible. >> please, let us be serious. >> it was not until i left your restaurant, it was not until i deserted that -- >> you liked it. >> i do like it, yes i do not deny that, that it was not until i left your limousine, i left that irm bubble of money remembered most people live in a way that is different. you have no right to look down on that. >> you are right. however, one thing you are , yourent, i have to say