tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg December 15, 2015 7:00pm-8:01pm EST
>> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: ian mckellen is here. celebrated the most actors of his generation. known for roles that spam literature and popular culture. from king lear to lord of the rings. his latest film is "holmes." the secret life of the world's best-known detective. is an icon playing an icon. here is the trailer for the film. ♪ >> his name is mr. sherlock
holmes. >> i'm never warmer. i prefer cigar. >> did you do the thing? islandrough an southwest, that thing. >> that was an embellishment of dr. watson. if i ever write a story myself, it will be to correct the millions of misconceptions created by his imagination. >> murder. >> i did not know your stories. >> i decided to write one before i die. what are the odds you would know to men that worked on that? >> i didn't actually know him.
charlie: i am pleased to have ian mckellen back at this table. i have interviewed you for a number of years. you look fantastic. whatever it is you're doing, continue to do it. if acting is the secret, continue to act. ian: we both work and we both like working. charlie: it is good for you, don't you think? ian: i think you can do too much. just thinking about something new and getting excited about meeting new people. even meeting old friends. charlie: like sherlock holmes? ian: bill tomlin, in particular. he is my favorite erector because gods and monsters did so well. i really didn't know much about it.
there was a time i did not know who sherlock holmes was. i feel like i knew as much about him as everybody else. did you know 130 actors have played sherlock holmes? including the silent movies. what is it about sherlock h that makes actors want to play him? audiencesbly because can't get enough of him. suppose -- he seems to be the first, yes, the first fictional detective. at the end of a sherlock holmes story, the puzzle is solved. and it is so unlike life. it never sells itself. -- solves itself.
that is why we like it so much. but the conceit of this film was that sherlock holmes was not a fictional character. puzzle he is trying to solve which has been lurking around in his brain for 30 years is one which concerns himself. the puzzle is himself and he discovers himself. is the film about aging? ian: it's about a 93-year-old man looking back on his life. he is lonely, he is a sociopath, really. he doesn't really get on with people very well. and he discovers that he passed love by and never really noticed it and regrets it. -- heckground to that
can't remember, he can't remember. age knowsof our about, that thing i can't remember. it's a big thing, in his case. homes.wney played benedict cumberbatch. they are all big actors. ian: does anyone need any more sherlock holmes? this is the real sure a lot so maybe we have an edge on the others. and it has been a huge success for an independent movie. wonderfully so throughout the world. sherlock is a big draw. it's about things they can actually relate to, it's not just a puzzle to solve or a parity of a conan doyle story. charlie: this is you talking about memory.
here it is. motive couldble the german woman have had? i search for something to jog my memory. what?en -- and there it was. the picture. a few years ago, i could've told you everything. but that night, i could not remember any of it. charlie: who is your costar there? ian: that is milo playing roger. charlie: milo parker. ian: he had never been in front of a film camera before. had no worries about that. charlie: is he a natural? ian: i'm afraid he is.
i'm a plotter. i've had to learn how to act but he seems to be able to do it. with considerable help from the director, of course. charlie: can you imagine doing anything else? ian: i can imagine doing your job. i would love that. the first thing i wanted to do is be a journalist and interview people. find out the truth. charlie: someone i really admire said to another friend of ours, i used to want to be a shortstop. now what i think i would like to not me,harlie rose." personally, but having that kind of life. talking to people, figuring out what makes them tick and explore their world. trying to somehow figure out how their work and their person and their love all comes -- converges. ian: i can see that in the
questions you ask of me and other people. you are alive and kicking. not trying to imagine the past. i would like to teach. don't think i could teach. i like the idea of encouraging it. just encouraging people to be nice to each other. there is a theme that has come up in commencement speeches. another -- the theme has been kindness. both of those got enormous attention. we can all relate to it. we would rather be treated kindly than not.
you should be kind to other people. you can be kind and critical. but sympathetic is what it's all about. -- ife not heard anything we have heard anything from acting, don't judge. discover. try to understand. not necessarily like. but don't just say, off with his head. why, why, why. charlie: anything and acting that you wanted but did not get? not necessarily a specific role, but -- ian: i had always admired older actors longevity and their career. olivier -- in looking back as i constantly do
to see how they have changed and what they have done, to go on being successful as long as your body allows you to be. regrets? no. there are two productions i wish i hadn't than in -- been in. everything else i thoroughly enjoyed. charlie: unsuccessful productions? ian: i just wasn't doing very well. but getting better at the job. this is from the guardian peter bradshaw talking about holmes. he is as ancient as a galapagos tortoise and the physical impersonation of a very old man is tremendous. he relishes every glare, every
resentment, then did smile, grimace, wrinkle, and liver spot exhibits disapproval. even with the slightest muscular effort and clearly agony. wearing gloriously old-fashioned pajamas, it's like a mini disasters spectacular of the sort james cameron could have choreographed. it's well-written, isn't it? ian: critics can write. charlie: does he have a point? ian: the point i recognize in started on the stage and remained a stage actor -- i am aware of the whole body. in the cinema, the faces what we are mostly interested in. we very rarely see feet. on stage, the first thing you
charlie: any shakespearean part you wanted to play that you didn't play? any role? ian: i still hold out hopes for mercutio, romeo's best friend. he's down on romeo when he falls in love with a girl. i want to play him as an old queen, frankly. but he's gotten there before me. eyes.n his antonio, the merchant of venice. sad because his boyfriend just told him he's going to get married and he wants to borrow money to woo the bride-to-be.
i may be not too old to play that one. but i'm certainly not going to play. falstaff. don't understand it. never have. back as youring life -- on your life as a game man, do you wish you had made it public earlier or did you think the timing was right based on when you chose? ian: i wish i felt able to come out earlier. charlie: able? ian: everything in society was against people of my generation coming out. every time you have sex, you are reminded you are a criminal. it's not something you necessarily want to talk about
unless you are a strong bread person. my life was not really talking about it. most people don't have to. when you're in the public eye, there comes a time when it is appropriate. there is disadvantaged gay people and that is when i came out. it was the right time for me. 49. i was confident. i could organize a sentence and make a case and feel passionate about it. there was a part for me to play. and then i felt a better person all the way around. charlie: here is something they handed me when i came in here to
talk to you. -- ian mckellen tops russian maxim list in a that actors, authors, and historic figures are respected despite their sexual orientation. it has been far too long before something offensively anti-gay came out of russia. they released a list titled "gays we respect." heavily implying that if you do not entertain the masses, you are not a person. you, alan turing, neil patrick harris -- ian: oscar wilde. charlie: what you think of all this? ian: context for all that. ago, it was throughout
russia that it would be illegal to talk positively about under the age of 18. or knowinging up gay people who were gay or wondering about it could not discuss it with anybody. you could not promote homosexuality. it was the law that got me out on something with the same phrasing. the russian version of this magazine -- it could be that this is a parody that they are trying to criticize their own government by saying here are the ones we respect. there must be millions more. hasregular magazine
denounced itself for being taken at face value. i met poor beleaguered gay actors in russia. young men and women. they can't communicate with each other. they can have meetings. they can't tackle this law or criticize it. they can't be themselves except in secrecy. gays were second-class citizens. i was at a gay film festival and -- they said, we can't protect you if you are going to be yourself. you will be breaking the law. it is a horrible situation. what do you do? i try to help these activists.
is the show seen in russia? we've done some good. i should go to russia and wave the flag and make a fuss, but you can't really do that unless you've talked to the people on the ground. will it be more foreign interference in russian affairs? charlie: does it make your life easier or harder? ian: it's a wicked world. charlie: we've come a long way in this country. ian: a long way. charlie: it's hard to imagine when you seen the movie "the imitation game." in the 50's, what happened to alan turing. the school he went to. a private school.
the teacher called me up one day -- could you help me? six or seven years ago. i went down. he had never had any gay students at his school. staffe had gay members of . i talked to the boys in question that said it was a wretched school to be at. as soon as they were leaving, they would make public their disapproval. left, the head teacher said, any suggestions? alan turing was at your school. when you put a statue up and say you are proud and say you are sorry, i don't think they like that. stamps, i think.
charlie: alan turing was the man that saved his country. he was a gay man that, during the war, brooke the german code. in doing that against all odds and certainly helped defeat the nazis. then, because he was a gay man, was coerced into taking chemicals.. chemical castration killed him. thatand some people think they take a bite out of the apple, and it was a reference. charlie: steve jobs has said no, although he recognized what a great man he was. but we have made significant progress. you saw it happen right before your eyes in terms of the american political -- state-by-state and the historic
-- moreit is so much difficult in your continent to make it happen. in the u k, probably 100 people whose opinion had to change. newspapersbe running , and they all live in london. they sort of all know each other. i could get into those circles. they pass the law and that is the end of that. but here, goodness me. state-by-state, the supreme great sympathy that it has taken a little bit longer. the time that is coming in or going out, whichever metaphor you choose. but it happens by degrees and because of individuals and groups. charlie: if you are certain ian
mckellen, you can't serve in the house of lords? ian: you can, but it would take precedence -- charlie: they can't call you lord something. ian: you drop the "sir." but that is not something i look for. the other reason for me to was in theg sir midst of this gay rights stuff, having already talked about it. it meant that they were accepting of the sort of person. i wasn't the first. i was the second openly gay
person. sir angus. charlie: i have asked you this before and i am fascinated by. there is something fascinating about england and actors. ?an you define it in a ian: the english, perhaps more than the british, the english do seem to like a show. very good public shows. charlie: i thought you might say they like language. ian: some of the shows don't involve language. marching soldiers to the streets. we do it terribly well.
when it comes to the theater and acting, language would be crucial. the language of shakespeare, of course. ovenever you do a check it, why don't i speak russian? show one moret to scene, you end your housekeeper played by the great laura linney. >> sir. roger has been help to you. he's been a good boy. he's always been clever. we were not the sort to know the things that roger takes interest in. >> exceptional children are often the product of unremarkable parents. >> i've got a sister that lives in portsmouth.
a couple of her acquittance is opened a hotel there. they wanted to take roger and me on. >> you have a sister? charlie: how good is she? laura linney? ian: meryl streep, cate , and the, judi dench youngest, laura linney. total pro. arrived knowing everything she needs to know. charlie: do you? ian: i try, yes. i admire her that she is happy to let it all go and live absolutely in the moment. which you have to do. wonderfully secure for the other actors. notice the woman in front of you who you are going to respond to and if you respond a way that she is not expecting, she will
not be phased. and she is a wonderful friend. charlie: she is? ian: now, yes. she had a baby at age 49, 3 months before. she brought the baby. in between takes, she is breast-feeding her baby. thathe effect on the set we had a little life to 10 to and-- to tend to and care about. every movie should have a baby. every office should have a baby in the corner. charlie: [indiscernible] ian: i watched my family getting older and dying off.
it was a possibility and i think early on, it was the only good thing about being gay was that you did not have the have children. it is very touching and a lot of gandalf's fans are very young. eight and nine. they want to come over and give you a hug. charlie: it introduced you to a whole new audience. ian: absolutely. it's been wonderful. charlie: this is what you said to the shakespearean quarterly in 1982. as an actor, what i admire most is not the characters but the way they are presented on the page. appreciate shakespeare more as a writer than a humanitarian. craftsmante him as a rather than just a man of the
world. it is the theater i respond to. the person that wrote his words down and understood that words themselves are not enough and that you need actors to present them. ian.very good, well done. charlie: impressed with the way i read that? ian: i did a whole show about this. i am convinced he was himself. it would be all about how to help the actor deliver it. shakespeare the on 100 years ago is telling how to speak and make it all work. we will be right back. stay with us. the only way to get better is to challenge yourself,
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i'm pleased to have him at this table for the first time. jonathan: i love this table. charlie: the table loves having you here. let me turn to hamilton. why? it has such a hold on all of us. everyone is -- i did a piece that the genius is all there. but what is it for you? that makes it so magical? it is unlike anything i have ever been part of or ever seen before. i got to see the show before i joined the cast off broadway. the actor that was playing king george off broadway to leave to fulfill another commitment.
i stepped in. i am friends with lin. the most energetic, positive, intoxicating human being. .e met years before he asked me to come in and step in for this actor playing king george off-broadway. i said yes without having seen or heard anything because of lin. he's a person you say yes to. i sat in the audience of the public theater, and you could feel the energy in the theater before the showing even began. wepthow began and i just from start to finish. ingenuity ofy the the writing. the freshness and the direction. the choreography in the cast. the whole idea was just so incredible.
let alone the story itself. is such an emotional, moving, inspiring piece. i got to go into it off-broadway and join the cast for broadway. it has just been one of the most extraordinary things. charlie: you never saw brian do it. jonathan: i totally saw him do it. into new york on friday, i saw the show over the weekend five times in a row. charlie: five times in a row? jonathan: five times in a row. i feel like i'm going to need therapy because if i see this show one more time and weep for three hours, i'm going to have a mental breakdown. charlie: you seem to have shaped it in your own way. it was it written that way or did you shape it? jonathan: i have this theory. i did awakening and a lot of actors came in to replace --
when people come into a show and try to make it there's right away, i find it really annoying. respect what dinner before and try not to mess anybody up when you first go in. stand in and do the thing. did.s what i i did what brian did. as time wore on and i became more familiar with the part and the company in the audience, the piece, the show, i started to shape it and make it my own. i decided to do a british accent. it started as an rp standard thing and morphed into a character accent. the off-broadway run was a few months of or her soul in front of an audience. it was amazing and exploratory and i learned a lot from it. how many appearances
did you make during the 2.5 hours of the production? jonathan: i have three numbers. charlie: what do you do in between? jonathan: nine minutes of stage time. when we were off-broadway, i watched the show every day. the way the public theater is set up, you can enter from the audience. and perfectly watch the stage. every night when we were off-broadway, i would leave it. i would leave the stage and go stand and watch. it was amazing off-broadway because the show was still evolving and finding its power. the performers were still discovering big things. like from when it
that numberwatch become the production number. because suddenly, the performances get bigger. by the end of the theater run, this show wanted to explode out of the theater. 'stween the audience anticipation and the actors on stage filling the space, i couldn't not watch it. it had this explosive energy with the public. charlie: but what happens when you come out? it's like king george says to the colonies or the revolution, we love it there. it you've got to come back. back, i willcome have to kill you and your family. it's what he says. but the way you say it is a showstopper. you know that. jonathan: it's such a brilliant piece of writing.
in the show, it's the first song that isn't really rapped. it's the first character from history that we see walk out that is completely recognizable. i'm 30 years old so it's a little different than we are used to seeing. way -- costume and the the minute king george walks out, everybody knows who this person is. everybody knows his perspective. the minuteojecting he walks out, his feelings. is this brilliant moment that everything -- tommy is the amazing director. so full of movement. it's a revolving stage. stops andow itself king george walks out. the audience knows who it is. this is a moment about stillness.
it is a moment of stillness. you,ver that means to embrace it how you may. but being as still as possible is the most powerful thing in this moment. charlie: what are your first words? jonathan: the price of my love is a price you are not willing to pay. you cry in your tea which you hurl in the sea when you see me go by. why so sad? so brilliantly written. it is delicious writing. i love seeing it every night. i knew that it was nine minutes of showtime. and ight it would be fun heard so many great things about the show. i have not gotten sick. i've done it over 100 times. ty.is so naugh
[laughter] and wonderful. always sodience is receptive to it for the reasons we described. it is like a drug coming out there every night. it's so amazing to be breathing in the air of the hamilton experience. is incredibly special and something i will never forget. charlie: has broadway seen anything like this for a while? jonathan: no. what was really interesting is that we were doing interviews. the album had not come out yet. the 60 minutes piece had not come out yet. they had not released clips from the show. months, we were sold out. no one would know anything about the show and the lights would go out. people would start screaming like they knew what was going to
happen. it was like rent in the 10th year when people have the words memorized. this was the lights going down with people excited about a show . an original piece of theater with no celebrities. --n a historical celebrity charlie: all kinds of people. hispanics, blacks, all playing the founding fathers. thomas jefferson and lafayette -- it's brilliant. and that people are embracing it. when president obama came to see it for the first time, he saw the sixth preview. he came backstage at intermission to meet everyone. he could not come back after because they closed down the street. everyone across the
street. everyone was locked until president obama left. it was really meaningful what he said. people make great things, and often times it never gets recognized or it takes a long time for it to get recognized. really just taken and enjoy the fact you have created something great and from the beginning, it has been embraced the way it should be. it and: george lucas saw said it was shakespeare. beyonce saw it. and says, i want to take that walk. your walk. jonathan: i love it. blush. is making me i'm obsessed with beyonce as so many of us are around the globe.
she came to this show and we were all freaking out afterwards. only two times, it's a big cast. famous people and politicians and everybody comes on stage and it feels like a party. everyone is talking. there are times the entire company has been on stage surrounding someone and you can hear up and drop. it was president obama, beyonce and jay-z. just waiting to hear what they were going to say. so generous and kind to everyone. the songs in the audienceooks out to an and sees today's leaders. the vice president, the
president, dick cheney. there is george washington and thomas jefferson engaged in a war of words with alexander hamilton. if you told someone this was going to happen, they would say, show me. you?id it change personally and professionally. jonathan: the great thing about theater, i think, you do it eight times a week. it is almost a religious experience because you are repeating the same words every night. and you are listening to the same words every night. but have anp indelible print on your soul after you are done. i try to kick my theater pieces carefully because
of that very thing. you end up getting infected by whatever sort of message the show is. you sing it every night. it's a must like a prayer. almost like a prayer. it becomes a part of you. and i share a dressing room space. tell people we shared a studio apartment in midtown. we share a bathroom and it's hilarious. he is such an inspirational human being that being surrounded by him, you want to take in that air. charlie: he said i will know it's great when kids are learning it in high school. that'll be the real test. jonathan: won't it be great? imagining high school kids
performing hamilton is a big dream for him and what he is trying to expedite so it doesn't take as long to get to schools. the usually have to wait for the whole broadway run. and young people come into the production. high schools and things like that. jonathan: a whole thing happening this spring, schools coming in with lots of student matinees. charlie: were you sad to see it go on hbo? jonathan: we cried. we did this wrapup film. i think i cried every day. we got to do the film and it was great. it was like a beautiful goodbye. the characters are really personal to all of us. a lot of people worked on it as well.
it's incredibly moving. such a specials city. city --braced by the sometimes we have to walk. charlie: what did you do in frozen? jonathan: i was the voice of kristof. how did you get a role like that? jonathan: they had already cast kristen bell. you read some lines and record it. i got down to the final three. they do this big blind audition with groups of people. whose voice sounds best with kristen bell? i got the job because i sounded
good with kristen. you go fromre do here? it's like the best of times. television.vies, closes, another opens. all of that. think, for me, i love theater. i loved doing the animated thing with frozen. that what i love more than the median is working with people who are inspired. it has been the case with looking. going to the theater eight times a week and feeling c change. charlie: lin was sick for a
little bit. people don't complain. they are so caught up. i don't think they do. i don't hear about it. for lin.a stand-in it just carries whoever is there. thing has such -- it comes together. if one person steps away for a moment, there is someone that can come in. it is so strong and powerful that it doesn't miss a step. i feel like that is the true testament of a great piece of theater. when you think of hamlet, i don't think of it related to any one particular actor. or gypsy. that are shows phenomenally written that you want to see it again and again.
the true test is for a piece of it in highen you do school and it still moves people. and you do it with people who are not professional actors who do not know how to sell a moment. you can just sit down around a table and sing to these songs and read this material and it can rack everyone -- wreck everyone. inspire everyone. or scream and applaud. that is the testament of a great theater piece. hamilton is that and i think it will run forever. past everyone that is in his current cast. linlie: opening night, when came out. he jested there. -- just stood there. jonathan: lin is a genius. a certified genius. and yet, he is so celebratory of everybody.
opening night, he came on stage. you were there. it felt like a high school pep rally. it did not feel like a fancy highbrow new york -- "i am a genius and welcome to my piece." there's nothing sophisticated about him. there's everything sophisticated about the writing. it speaks for itself. he called everyone out and everyone was like -- [table drumming] charlie: something actors don't like to do. i will fight the fight and win the war for your love, for your praise. you until my dying days. jonathan: when you're gone, i will go mad. so don't throw away this thing we had. because when push comes to shove , i will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love. da da da ♪
♪ >> all eyes will be on center stage to see if the two former allies go after each other. >> i think it is going to be big. >> who will attack trump first? >> maybe they will have a flashdance dance-off. ♪ john: happy what happens in vegas definitely doesn't stay in vegas. we are live at the venetian hotel, where, in a few hours,