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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  August 29, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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♪ >> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: his role in "12 years a him an academy award nomination in 2014 for best actor. chiwetel ejiofor stars in the post-apocalyptic drama "z for zachariah." for thethe trailer film.
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>> i haven't seen anyone alive for over a year. they told us you can't leave the valley. as long as we stay here, we would be protected. [screaming] hey, get out of there! you need to get out of the water, please. the water is contaminated. >> there's got to be an explanation. >> it is just crazy that it still here. >> ran out of gas. >> we can get it to work manually. >> it works! are you thinking long-term for us?
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>> it's ok. [dog barking] i mean you no harm, man. my name's caleb. >> hey! no, it's all right. >> that could be anybody for all we know. we survived because we have faith. what is the plan? i've seen the way you look at each other. it you need to figure it out. figure it out. out a lot of stuff about you. jealousy doesn't suit you.
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charlie: welcome. ejiofor: good to see you. charlie: tell me who john loomis is. ejiofor: a scientist who works in one of the bits, in the trailer there. you see him in this hazmat suit. it's one of the things he's been working on is a prototype. he's been working on it ever since the nuclear event. it killed him. he's trying to survive. he is out of food. he has his wagon and he's moving around from place to base. he comes across a valley that is untouched. it is fertile and luscious. he cannot believe it. the reason why it has been untouched because of the geographical components.
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and the wind patterns have allowed it to be free of nuclear fallout. they are the only two people left. he's a very heady guy. so leading with his head, he decides he's not going to rush into a relationship with her and try to establish this kind of friendship. the last thing he wants to do is get into a bad relationship with the last woman on earth. charlie: and how has the apocalypse changed him? ejiofor: i think there is an element of ptsd. i think he had -- there are issues that he had before. loneliness, the things he has seen and the things that he has done is the kind of the strong strife we
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were working with. all three of us, when these people have interpersonal relationships, they start to dramatically escalate. all of these elements of character. they start to reveal themselves. charlie: after the success of "12 years a slave," did you try to be careful about what you are doing or did you look for good projects? nothing had changed other than you were better-known? globally. ejiofor: i think that is what happened. i was constantly in the search for interesting projects. there was a lot to do with, a lot to bring. charlie: did you see more? ejiofor: yes and no. more projects, but the specifics -- charlie: not many good projects? ejiofor: the requirements that i have are complex. they are hard to explain.
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but the -- charlie: why are they hard to explain? ejiofor: they are slightly, in a sense, abstract. it's a feeling or a tone. appealthing that might to me, might seem a strange choice. charlie: as opposed to the agent standpoint. ejiofor: any combination. charlie: and it's a feeling. you cannot explain it. ejiofor: it is a pull towards. something you have to say in. that you are intrigued by. a color or tone. that you personally have not explored. in the end, that is something that is important. charlie: i would think that is easy in "12 years a slave." easy. something you might want to do. what is it here? ejiofor: a number of things. i have been interested into
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handers and three handers. they are quite rare. but they are interesting. to separate everything else away and see the kind of interpersonal dramatic relationships. a very small number of people can create the same tensions and dramatic tensions. just by the nature of who people are. there are no archetypal characters in this. there is no real sort of bad guy in the sense. they are all in between. charlie: things like jealousy and the like are as prevalent with three as it is with 6 million. ejiofor: and that was the real distinction for me. something i found was really important in this film. it was really interesting. the distinction between two people and three is massive. with two people, everything else falls apart. you know? it's sort of like they have differences, in terms of their faith.
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loomis is atheist. anne is not. but it becomes irrelevant. it is something they can have a difference of opinion of, but it has no political weight in their relationship. charlie: does he see her from the beginning as someone he falls in love with or as someone he's obligated to have a relationship with because of his commitment to the rest of the world? ejiofor: he sees that she is a beautiful girl. i think that he is -- it's not possible for him to take away this sense of fear of moving into a relationship sort of headlong. and front-footed. it can have serious implications and problems if it goes wrong. i think that he thinks her attractiveness is irrelevant. they need to find a way to
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understand in the capacity of a friend before taking that into any kind of romance or any kind of other realm. charlie: is this a modern-day biblical tale? ejiofor: it is like adam and eve, but for real. it is looking at the actual underlying complications within this kind of construct. they are in this kind of eden. the beautiful countryside of new zealand. you are trying to organize a relationship. it has that kind of external pressure. if you do not get it right it , has serious ramifications. every thought process, every word out of your mouth has to be weighed because you don't want to send the wrong signals. and get off into the wrong area.
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so there are all of these choices. they are pressured. she is much younger and he is introducing technological things back into the universe. so there is something paternalistic about their relationship. for all of those reasons, he is taking it very easy. and taking it very slow. all of which turns out to be a terrible idea because he's not the last man on earth. it turns out, he's the second to last man on earth. when caleb arrives. he is an alpha male as well. you know, a completely destroys all of these best laid plans that loomis has. charlie: which makes an interesting film. ejiofor: absolutely. it becomes a question of jealousies, and how do you silently fight this kind of situation? you do it through manipulation if you can.
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, you do it by trying to outmaneuver the other guy. you do it through every kind of , every sort of means that you have in your disposal. he finds himself, equally, a minority. which is irrelevant if it is the two of them. but racially and in terms of religion, he is minoritized which then creates a system of self-consciousness. charlie: how has he changed by the end of the film? ejiofor: all the way through the film, the distinction between who loomis believes he is and who he actually is gets increasingly wider. as he is having to justify all of these decisions and actions that lead him down a path. that if you were to talk to him at the beginning of the film or even the beginning of the
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nuclear event, where he ends up is not a place you would think is conceivable for him. he is a moral human being. an ethical man, a scientist, a man of reason. but within a certain sequence of circumstances, he is forcing himself to justify, more and more, the unethical and immoral acts. charlie: where are your stage ambitions? ejiofor: i am on stage the national theater. i am at the olivier. they are doing "everyman." i have a brief break. then i come back and finish my show. i'm almost at the end of it and it has been an extraordinary time. it is a 15th century morality play updated by the poet laureate caroline duffy and directed by the new artistic director of the national theater.
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rufus norris. it has been an incredible process. and i think, for me, an exceptional show. charlie: how are you growing as an actor other than you growing as a human being? ejiofor: that's an interesting question. i feel like it happens concurrently. but you -- i definitely feel like doing a play like "every man," and trying to get into the moral and ethical complexities of this time, and what a morality play means for us now -- environmental concerns and our self-centeredness as well. it is something that i feel like, by the end the play, it is something that has made me, in some ways, a better person. it is a great gift. charlie: it has influenced the humanity of you. ejiofor: that's not something i necessarily look for.
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but that it is something that is happening is very deeply gratifying. i think that when in doing theater, making films like these, zechariah, and the plays like everyman, to flesh out the nuances of it makes me a better actor. that is always going to be the goal. to keep on improving my work to the point that i am satisfied. charlie: who has had the most influence on you as a director? ejiofor: in theater? in theater, i would say that i had the extraordinary opportunity to work with michael greenwich a few times. we did othello in 2008. and a noel coward play. i've always had a remarkable
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time working with him. for me, he has a great way of speaking to actors and of guiding a piece. charlie: do you know what that is or do you just know it happens? ejiofor: i think it starts with a great overview of the piece. and a very watchful eye. and he is able to -- and the skill is to be able to niger avigate performance very gently along a certain way which opens up the actors for the audience. that whole kind of area. he is somebody that understands that is what the audience is looking for. everyman was, for me, just over five weeks. the company was rehearsing for longer. i was making a film so i came into it. charlie: when does that come out? ejiofor: this year. november.
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charlie: what is the satisfaction of acting for you? ejiofor: i think there is something about it which is, to me, and artform. and this is what i was always trying to get to. ever since the first time i performed. it is always a form of self expression. i was never naked. i can express myself artistically. and never having to do it as myself was a great advantage. i think if you are in any other artform, if you are painting or singing, dancing even, you are so much more exposed. musicians are so exposed. i think poets are exposed. writers, obviously. acting has that special thing, that you can kind of be
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concealed. i imagine it would have been writing. i have a very deep connection to literature from when i was growing up. and in some form, i would have moved into part of that. the thing about reading plays, i decided that i wanted to see what the structure and the form were meant to be shown. you know? i went down to the theater at my school to see what was going on, and of course got the bug. charlie: if you had had -- i thought this -- instruction. the more you understand the construct of the play, the more you understand what goes into it. in terms of i think, the more , you appreciate it. the more you know about art, the more you appreciate the artist.
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for me it doesn't mean you can't , enjoy it and you can't enjoy it on some level of spontaneity, but the more you can find, connecting with how it affects your life were finding parallels -- at the same time, the more you know about what goes into, and how difficult it is, does it make it good? the more you appreciate it. ejiofor: that is very true. i went to see, recently, a play for othello. and having such an intimate knowledge of the play, a word for word knowledge, it is always great for me to see that play and see what choices people are making. to see what they are doing. how they are doing it. how it affects the rest of the play and the audience. you know, where they've hit with
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the humor, where they lost it. it's a fascinating thing to do. and part of it is holy, because i'm still within it. i know it's a well. charlie: we both talked about being in london and seeing benedict cumberbatch and hamlet. but because of the number of years i've been on the air with this program, 25 years, we've had a remarkable group of actors that have acted as hamlet. it has been a defining experience for them. livier, toy back to o take those different performances. you understand a bit about the craft of acting and playwriting. if you can take a play and see it done in so many different ways, all true to the text, but at the same time, understanding the creative imagination that goes into -- ejiofor: especially hamlet. charlie: most of all, hamlet.
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ejiofor: it is difficult. it is so well known. it is hard to, kind of -- it is surprising. i saw hamlet, and outdoor hamlet that was an amateur production in oxford. in fact, the production was actually rained off because they could not do the last fight scene. it was too slippery and too dangerous. but i remember halfway through, for the first time, i caught the emotional wind of hamlet. it really shocked me. i had been familiar with it for years. charlie: how many times have you done it? ejiofor: never done it. charlie: never once? ejiofor: i have been asked to do it on different occasions. charlie: why have you said no? ejiofor: because i do not know that i fully understand hamlet in theater, is my admission. and because of that, i never really found myself totally
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capable of being inside the play. charlie: what is it you not -- that you do not understand? ejiofor: their dynamic. their relationship. charlie: unless you understand that, you don't think you could. ejiofor: it has made it hard for me to understand the dynamics. suicide, the relationship. how he treats her. and what that is ultimately about. i have read extensively about it. i still don't quite -- i have never been able to sit with it the way i have been able to sit with other -- charlie: there are people here that really don't do shakespeare that are very good actors. bill nigh. he has no interest in shakespeare. i can't imagine you won't do hamlet. you can have a life without it, obviously. i'm not saying you have to do it to be happy or fulfilled. but you are so good --
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[laughter] ejiofor: i would love to find a way of really connecting. i haven't yet. but the penny might well drop. you know? i have read it through and have been really happy. and reaching a certain point. thinking what is this? charlie: let's take the film role. z for zachariah. did you have to understand him? did you have to see and understand the relationship he had? ejiofor: i think you have to understand and imagine yourself there. there is a lot of work to do once that happens. you know there are a lot of , dynamics and nuances to flesh out. but of all the basic dynamics in place, if i get it, i can get on the train, at least. charlie: what is the worst decision you have ever made?
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ejiofor: the worst career decision i have made. charlie: either by omission or commission. ejiofor: i suppose, in the end, there are a number of different pathways. one could take -- charlie: and you can't really tell if you took this you might not have seen this. ejiofor: i mean, the clearest indication of that was, for me, which is not a decision i don't think was a bad decision but -- it did not seem like a decision that would likely have a good and. that was after i did amistad. i was young. i decided not to stay in hollywood. i decided to go back to london and continue the theater career. at that point, i assumed i would be doing theater. i didn't envision possibly having a film career.
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even though i had just worked with steven spielberg. [laughter] it struck me that was a mistake. maybe at that point i should have started to try to do films and do films in los angeles. but i don't know. i think my decision to go back to london also influenced my -- and to go back to the theater is why i met bill nighy, and i met others and did things. you never, there is no part of it that is cut and dry. there are so many different little avenues. i could drive myself out. charlie: it premieres in theaters and on vod.
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charlie: it's been great having you here. ejiofor: it's been a pleasure. ♪
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charlie: al pacino is here and he is an oscar, tony, and emmy award-winning actor. strasburg once said of him, some actors play characters.
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al pacino becomes them. here's a look at some of them. >> i take you back, and you still my wife? >> i love you. i was going to go out and score for you. >> the reality is, we just -- i don't care if i am in trouble or who gets it anymore. including myself. if we have to go to outside agencies -- where are we going to go? where am i going to go? i know it was you, fredo. you broke my heart. you broke my heart. get back there, man. get over there. he wants to kill me so bad, he can taste it. attica! attica! you want to play rough? ok. say hello to my little friend!
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you want to learn the first rule spentuld know if you ever a day in your life. never open your mouth until you know what the shot is. there is a time i could see. and i have seen boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. but there is nothing like the site of an amputated spirit. there is no prosthetic for that. if it's between you and some poor bastard whose wife you are going to turn into a widow, rather, you are going down. this guy is the top scientist. he is a corporate officer. you never get whistleblowers
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from fortune 500 companies. this guy is the ultimate insider. he's got something to say, i want him on 60 minutes. charlie: what do you think about this career in acting that you have had and continue to have? pacino: you know, you spend your life just moving on. it is one of the perks. and also one of the issues you have when you're with a group of people. and you know, you all sort of feel that way. actors are transient. charlie: somebody said all actors are gypsies. pacino: they are. they have that in their spirit. when i look at things i've done before, there is a merciful distance you have and you look at it and say, it's all part of -- if you want to call it development. i remember there was a special evening and they showed old movies they did.
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how am i still walking around? i remember once they did one for me. i never was in rehab. charlie: the question posed, stay true to yourself. you stay true to yourself, for the most part, haven't you? pacino: i guess so. here and there. i've feared off. i don't make those kind of -- i don't think of myself as that at all. being true to myself. i can feel when i'm not.
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i can feel when i've gone off the track. charlie: in your personal life or the performance? pacino: both. it is random for me. these lives all over the world, going to the access in my life and my world. >> people say that you shouldn't read tolstoy until your 30. until you understand it. >> you should not do hamlet until you are at least 40. except you've got to do hamlet earlier because you won't do it if you wait. you know it's impossible. the best ring is to get in there. i love when the young actors do it. i never did it. i never felt like i was right to it. i never did it. i never feel like i existed in that play. like when i get older, i will understand it more. there is a question of understanding it. that is the separation. charlie: it was hamlet and somebody having you do a reading. al: it was strasburg. i was afraid to do anything. i was very young. i got to the actor's studio a young age.
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i would stand around and watch them and i would go home. throughout my life, i have committed to memory certain monologues that i like. charlie: you were almost a teenager? al: early 20's. i thought, gee, i have these great monologues in me. a great eugene o'neill monologue. and i had the wonderful -- what a peasant slave am i. i had them committed to my mind. i went for the first time. i was sitting there for six months. finally, i got up the nerve to sign up. lee strasburg lifts the paper and he was able to pronounce my name. al pacino. most people said "pakeeny." he said, al pacino? what's this? "hamlet," and "the iceman cometh." he said ok, you know, we take all kinds in here. [laughter] i got up there and i did a
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ferocious peasant. and i went wild with the eugene o'neil -- and i was really giving it the old gung ho. him stepping on the gas and stuff. it wasn't that good. it was over and he was looking at me and the audience got kind of teary about it. it had a lot of commitment and energy. he said, here's what i would like you to do. immediately, this was the genius with him. he said, i want you to do i want you to do hamlet as hickey from "teh iceman cometh" and hickey as hamlet.
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i immediately went into it. he was very happy about that. i did not pause. i just switched it. charlie: the character of hamlet and the text of hickey. al: yes. and the text of hamlet and -- charlie: and hickey as the presence he had. al: i learned more that day than i had in my entire life. charlie: and how have you managed to be a star to this day not playing character roles as much as you are playing stars? you are the center of these two films. pacino: again, i am going by what i am feeling.
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you know, some movies i have made that were not character driven, i don't know. it's a mystery to me. a mystery that i'm here talking to you and that i'm still doing this thing. i started early, too, as an actor. i was in a play in the new york, and i got an award for that year. it was faye dunaway who saw me in this and told the great producer marty bergman. that play, there was something in that play. it hits real hard. it is a beautiful play.
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john lasalle was in it, too. and i had been acting maybe 10 years before that. i was quite young, my mid-20's. it started this along. i did feel, oddly enough, as an explorer in my work in a way, experimenting and trying to learn more about the classics and myself. i got a lot of joy out of that. i was at a place in the actor's gallery down in soho which no one could even find in those days. and then to be lauded in a way, suddenly, everything upped the stakes. the star thing came in. the title came in. somehow i was trying to preserve
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something. i thought i understood earlier on because i then found myself in another world. i liked. i thought it was a good thing. i still think it was a good thing. it was a lucky thing. things happen that way. there was a -- maybe something happened that was a new kind of person. it was not comparable to things other people were seeing. they came out of the 1960's, came out of this time in america where people like me were given an opportunity or whatever. i don't know. it was a combination of things. i remember one time, i did a scene one time, charlie, we had this scene in the studio. i will never forget this because i saw him on his deathbed, and i said, charlie, remember the time when they were doing this big thing and i was one of the seams in the school and every teacher
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brought their student that they wanted to show how they were doing there. i went into this thing and i did this scene. i said, remember when i came to see you, charlie, grabbed me and said, good stuff. good stuff. and the teacher got up. and went crazy against me. they thought it was the worst. it was like, who do you think you are? luther adler? you come up here and do this. what is this about? i told charlie in the hospital, in the hospital, do you remember that time? he said, yeah. what was that? why did he get so upset? he said, he saw a new era.
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i thought that, in some way, i think it's very dramatic to hear that when charlie says, i don't know if it true. but i do know it was interesting because that was happening. it happens today something comes along and you get used to it. in the old days, actors have to pronounce things a certain way. to be seen in the audience. i don't mean to compare myself to people. i was always reading books about actors. and edwin came at a time when he came from a whole other climate. a whole other world. there is something about the roles i played in this situation
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and the times we are in and i got lucky. and it's been this thing all my life. everybody says it, but it's true. i remember saying wants to someone, we are all together and actors. i'm no better than anybody else. i have seen people do such great stuff. at the same time, you're doing so well. a few years into it. what is it? why you? why not me? all this stuff, you wanted it. i said, you you wanted it, i think i had to have it.
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charlie: oh, wow. pacino: that is an interesting distinction. i don't know. i just think that -- charlie: you had to have it. pacino: i never thought it would turn into this naturally. but i knew it was my time. then i would be seen. that enough had happened and this part in this play -- you know, i went up to boston and i did three plays. i went to do a part in a play. i got up and did it. they said you were going to be great in it. it was not good at all. as a matter of fact, i remember i was in the dressing room.
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somebody came down. i heard it on the speaker. my entrance was coming up. and this guy in the dressing room was really excited by this review of the play we were doing. i said, what is that? he tried to cover it. why is he covering it? i said, can i see that can i see that? he said, yeah, here. he pushed it over to me. i looked at it and it was a great review. this person, that person, how great. with one exception. [laughter] it was al pacino in the role, it was terrible. as i was reading it, my cue came on and i had to go on stage. i had to perform after reading that in the play he was criticizing.
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but i laughed. i think at a certain time the ability to look at something like that and laugh, it might have helped me a little bit. i don't know. it hurt. another part that i did not want to do i was ok in. it was always the question of, what do we do? you walk along the street, you see a certain tree. you either take a picture or you get the canvas out or you painted. you never know what is going to happen when you read a script. and with actors, if you don't try it, you are not going to know. what happens is if you start to censor yourself, i think when you start to censor yourself a gets a little -- because we don't know. charlie: thank you for coming. a great pleasure. ♪
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charlie: helen mirren is here and she is an academy award-winning actor. she became a dame of the british empire. she stars on broadway as the queen. the play is called an audience. it is a private conversation queen elizabeth had it with her prime ministers over the last 60 years. the associated press calls it a touching portrait of power and majesty. >> goodness, no. no, no. there is a photograph of me taken outside downing street. some people interpret it as such. there was never any scheme or plan. the three children where i grew
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up never had any boots nor shoes to their feet. they were clubs because they lasted longer. as children, we never had any dreams or hoax the on survival. i nearly died of typhoid. mirren: i bet she is proud. >> she is furious. doesn't care for the limelight or the thrust of westminster. certainly doesn't care for our new home. living in the office, she calls it. mirren: my husband feels the same way about this place. we all do, actually. >> no. mirren: yes. >> water? charlie: when peter morgan calls you -- peter, who you know.
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mirren: he didn't call me. he e-mailed me. he said, i've written a play and i would like you to look at it. i e-mailed back to words. "you bastard." i knew he knew. i knew that he knew, in the end, i would have to do it. i was so cross. charlie: you said no, and then you said yes. you saw them in a room -- mirren: i saw stephen doldry, one of the greatest directors and european theater. i saw bob crowley. one of the top designers and european theater. i saw robert foxe. i said, don't be ridiculous. you will never get to do this again. charlie: is it easy or more difficult -- and you knew peter from your previous -- is it easy to play her on film or on stage?
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charlie: this was very different -- mirren: this was very different. the first time i had done it or anybody had done it on that scale. the implications of it were terrifying about how it might be perceived and what flak we might receive. now we know those things are accepted and we know about it. maybe, in a way, in the film, it would be a different animal. that is tough and difficult challenge. give got to have that kind of work.
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charlie: let's talk about with the play is about. mirren: she needs for 15 minutes, no longer. just to know what is going on politically. but neither the queen nor the prime minister's ever talk about what they talked about. and there is no one else in the room. it is completely and utterly private and is one of the few places that either of them can feel utterly secure. charlie: so peter had to imagine. mirren: peter imagines everything. but the only thing the prime ministers have said is that they felt they could say things to the queen that they could not say to anyone else because she is in a position of knowledge.
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and at the same time, she's got to keep her mouth shut. for some of them, she became kind of a shrink. charlie: you see her going from churchill to cameron. she was 26? churchill was a friend of the royal family. mirren: absolutely. and through the war and everything. charlie: her attitude had to be a certain sense of awe. mirren: yes. she was the queen. yes, of course. that early scene where she is young and does not know what she's doing. he is training her up, if you like. i love that scene. charlie: when you look at the
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career you have had, would you have had it any different? would you like more early? mirren: yes. i unfortunately hit -- you really want to talk about me, charlie. do you? mirren: yes -- charlie: yes. as much as you may not want to. mirren: when i was in my golden era between 27 and 37, which is a great era in anyone's life, male or female. you are at the top of your game and beginning to be wiser. it was a very bad time for british film. confessions of a window cleaner. just awful. it wasn't until i came to america -- prime suspect. charlie: something like 14 million viewers in london, prime suspect. mirren: i had done a lot of very good tv at that point.
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charlie: you would like to have more film roles early? you could be, essentially, notwithstanding however old you are -- you work all the time. mirren: yes, i do. charlie: you are in the prime of your career. mirren: i have gone between tv and theater. charlie: you can be prime for a long time. but it is good as it has been. mirren: absolutely. definitely. to be starring on broadway is fabulous. so great. charlie: let's good about it? mirren: that thing about seeing your name in lights. it's pathetic. but it's great. and all the people. amazing. my sister and i -- charlie: even now, you get excited about things like that?
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mirren: definitely. it's fantastic. charlie: did you say your greatest guru was francis bacon? mirren: yes. charlie: how did he influence you? mirren: he was a great painter. obviously. there is a book called "interviews with francis bacon." at the time, i had not thought of the tension between inspiration and technique. and the way accident is very important in art. but you can only achieve accident in a full way after you have fully mastered technique. it's true. children under the age of seven, every single one of them is a genius painter because it is totally instinctive. but you can be paid in -- painting like a seven-year-old when you're 14.
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you go for this painful process of learning technique. you have lost all instinct and inspiration. you are just learning how to draw. and then you get through that. and you can allow accident to happen. it you are open to accident. you have all the technique. you have all that -- so deep within you, you don't even have to think about it. it has to become thoughtless, the technique. and then you can allow inspiration to come back. charlie: thank you for coming. mirren: thank you, charlie. brilliant. ♪
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announcer: the following is a paid advertisement for time life's video collection. carol burnett: hello, i'm carol burnett. and i am here at cbs in los angeles, at studio 33. come on in. ♪ announcer: from television city in hollywood, it's the carol burnett show. carol burnett: this is the stage where it all began.

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