tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg January 6, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: we begin this evening with a series of conversations examining the legacy of president obama. in two weeks, he will leave the white house following eight historic years in office. among his signature accomplishments are comprehensive health care reform and overhauling financial regulation in response to the worst economic crisis since the great depression. donald trump's election has raised questions about whether these and many other achievements of the obama presidency will endure. joining me from boston is doris kearns goodwin. she is one of the premier historians. i am pleased to have her at any
time back on this program. welcome. doris: i am glad to be with you, as always. charlie: let me begin with this question. when did you first get to know barack obama? doris: i first heard from him on my cellphone in the spring of 2007. all of a sudden i hear, "hello, this is barack obama. we have to talk." he was not talking about putting a rival into his cabinet. he was more interested, because he was behind hillary, how lincoln dealt with adversity and how he forgot his enemies, what kind of emotional intelligence he had. we talked about abraham lincoln. lincoln was the beginning of a friendship that started that many years ago. charlie: he began his quest for the presidency i think from springfield, did he not? doris: he did. he began it from springfield. the interesting thing is when he
finally won the nomination, a reporter said to him, so would you really be willing to put into your inner circle a chief rival, even if his or her spouse were a pain? and he quoted lincoln, saying the country is in peril, these are the most able men in the country, i am putting my rivals in my cabinet. he made hillary his secretary of state. when i saw her at the inauguration, she teased me and said you are responsible for my being secretary of state. not me, but abraham lincoln. charlie: he had not reached out to you until the campaign? doris: correct. i did not know him before that. i was not part of the campaign. my husband and i did meet his speechwriters in chicago because they wanted to talk to my husband is a great speechwriter. but i had only met him in a senate office building and then got to know him in the course of his presidency by going to see
him in the white house on a number of occasions. charlie: how did that happen? doris: i think he was interested in history in the first place and had a sense, not only of lincoln, but he wanted to bring together historians who could talk to him about his current problems in light of history. with me and a couple of other people, we put together a series of dinners which were really fun. we all came as our presidents. we did not dress up as them, what we brought their ideas and mindset and characters to bear on whatever issues he was facing at the time. it would be truman scholars and jackson scholars. the regular suspects, a lot of whom appear on your shows. he would have dinner where that had to do with different presidents. we had an easy, private conversation for two or three hours. everybody loved it i am sure. charlie: give me your impressions of him. doris: what you could see in those settings was the person that left a person totally at
ease talking about issues, policy, and history. there was a warm i saw that i know perhaps other people have not always seen in the dealings with congress for example. he said to me in the interview for "vanity fair" he was not an extrovert the same way bill clinton or f.d.r. was. he likes his quiet time. i think those dinners would measure into quiet time. they did not take anything from him. he felt he was gaining something from them. he is an interesting character as a politician because he does enjoy being with himself. he does not seem to need people in a certain way, and that can be a strength and weakness i think. lyndon johnson's need for people meant he had congressmen over every night. he had them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and got things done as a result. the question always will be for mr. obama, could he have done work by having them to the white house more than he did?
he wanted his family. the family became a rock for him. maybe that was more important to his temperament and stability than having congressmen over every night. i think he asked himself that question. charlie: i think he does, too. the interesting thing is exactly that. he seems to have in public statements and conversations with me to have said i do not think it would have made a difference. he does not think it would have made a difference. on the other hand, i have had one important official after another say to me relationships are crucial to the conduct of something as powerful and challenging as the presidency. doris: i think that is right. maybe because we now know the republicans said from the start we are not going to cooperate with him, we are going to, has mitch mcconnell said, make sure he is not here in four or eight
years, whatever it was. the perception of not appealing to them became part of the way we look at the president. i think no matter what, every congressman has to, at some point when you invite them to the white house, they have to come. it has to ease something. you have to believe in human relations or politics does not mean anything. maybe it would not have changed a vote, but it might have changed the way they talked about something. you do wish somehow that outreach continues. i think even going up to the hill yesterday with his own democrats he was realizing he wants to spend more time with them now to preserve this legacy that is so important to the country and him. charlie: what do you think will become of his life? what will he want to do? doris: he is so young. that is the thing that is going to be so complicated. he is so young. he has achieved his presidency and still has perhaps half a life left.
i think it will be complicated because he will be in washington for the next couple of years. i understand why he did it. when your child is in high school, you want them to finish there. it will be hard for him to get away the way george bush did by going to texas. teddy roosevelt came back into the schedule because you did not have a two-term president, he hurt his own progressive cause. he will be in washington. it will be hard for him to stay away from fighting for the things he cares about. the part of him i saw before the election was happy at the thought i will be able to do other things, i will not have to think about this. i am not sure he will be able to make that break now. charlie: especially staying in that town, he has said there will come some issues i will have to be engaged in. he has some admiration for the way george w. bush has stayed out of political venues for the most part.
doris: i think for a lot of people in the country, there has been a certain dignity in the way george bush 43 has conducted himself since the presidency. i think it is a difficult thing because if it turns out the republicans and mr. trump are trying to undo the things he thinks were the most important things he was contribute into the country, and especially the affordable care act, if he feels he has some power to shore up the democrats or reach out to the country and make people better understand what the health care bill is about, it is gone to be hard for him to go off to hawaii or someplace like that. when i think of the mood when i talked to him when it was certain hillary was going to be the presidential candidate who would win the election, he said to me i would like to believe the next president will think i have made a good start and there will be improvements on what i made.
that is not a failure for me. things get better when you learn more. that was the assumption, that the a.c.a. would be there and make improvements as opposed to repeal and replace. charlie: the president is an optimistic man. doris: without question. that is an important thing for a president. one has to be realistic about the problems you are facing. i think about f.d.r. coming into the great depression. despite everything pulling apart in the country, banks were unloading, people were losing their savings, he was optimistic the country would get through. i think that optimism will help obama now. this has got to be a hard time for him when he thought things were on the road toward that relay race, and now they may well be upended. that optimism will have to give him the confidence that history will talk about it in the way he would like them to. otherwise, i think it is a difficult time for him now even though he is not showing it in a certain sense. charlie: what do you suppose he would have done differently?
he mentioned to you he wished he had special talents as roosevelt had in terms of optimism, l.b.j., teddy roosevelt. i often ask people who were president what skills you wish you had that you did not have. doris: it is very interesting because i think the one skill we thought he had as the greatest skill, his communication skills because of what a good speaker he had been during the campaign and how some of the speeches he made had been unparalleled by recent presidents. but when i look back to the summer of 2010, the turning point of his presidency, the health care bill was being debated in the tea party that summer. the democrats lost control of
the message of the bill. that is when death panels came into being. from that point on, the idea of what a.c.a. meant and what it means to people now, he was never clear enough as to what it was going to mean to them and what it means now. maybe if you ask him what kind of communication skills, he will honestly say i am not a slogan guy, i am not a soundbite guy. in today's world, maybe that was the one skill needed on health care to hammer into people in clear terms what this means to them or else they would be fighting for it now. they will have to fight for it. it will have to be local people who care about this bill fighting at their local level doing what the tea party people did the democrats and their own republicans if they are going to keep that bill alive. charlie: at the same time in 2012 at the convention, he called on bill clinton to
explain his own presidency. doris: that is right, explainer in chief. one thing the presidents i studied all touched on is simplicity. roosevelt said instead of saying we want a more inclusive society, say we want a society in which no one is left out. he said when you can use short words, use them instead of long words. obama speaks and thinks in paragraphs. he is a writer. the same problem i have. i cannot say things shortly. as president, slogan presidents like teddy roosevelt, there never was -- there was a new foundation obama talked about for a while, but there was never a label able to clearly explain a lot of the positive things he was doing and put them together. that takes a different kind of thinking i suppose. charlie: we remember lyndon johnson, who you know better than most. the idea was always let lyndon be lyndon.
doris: he felt he needed to have a straitjacket on him because he was afraid the colorful language and metaphors he used would come out and he would not be dignified as a president. the lyndon we knew never was before us. now the tapes have allowed us to hear the man and know that he was not only interesting, but he understood politics and how to get to the emotional side of an issue. he is still be most remarkable character i have known in political life. charlie: this ties back to what you mentioned earlier. obama preferring to be alone, johnson preferring the association of people, johnson never wanting to be alone. johnson wanted people around him as he fell asleep so he could carry on a conversation going to sleep, even going to the bathroom. there is this notion that
probably contributed to lyndon johnson capacity to read people. therefore, he understood their strengths and could inspire them. he also understood their weaknesses, and he could bring fear to them. doris: i think there is no question about that. the more time a politician spends with people. especially lyndon johnson. he had a psychic understanding what a particular senator or congressman cared most about to get him to go with him on a bill. whether medicare, education, appalachia, poverty. he knew that person cared about taking a trip to europe or that person cared about going to a social event or being invited to the white house. he was able to give them what they needed. that is what the art of compromise is all about. when we look at president obama and his legacy, i know as an historian you have to question
how much is the man and how much is the times. what did the context of this time afford him, what opportunities? i think he would say even though it was the worst recession since the depression, it somehow did not bring forth the common effort the depression did. roosevelt got both sides working for him in the 100 days. somehow, that did not happen here. is that because polarization reached a point that no matter what he did, it was not want to happen? or was there something more he could have done even from the beginning with the stimulus bill to get more republicans on board, or with the a.c.a. to get more republicans on board? that is what historians will have to sort out 50 years from now. ♪
charlie: president obama described abraham lincoln as someone able to see humanity clearly, see the fundamental contradictions of the american express clearly, and remain full of humor and have basic sympathy for the human condition even in the midst of a terrible war and having to make terrible decisions. and having a forgiving spirit. doris: right. abraham lincoln still mystifies me in terms of the combination and characteristics he brought. when he was leaving springfield to come to the capital for his
inauguration, he gave the farewell address at the train station there and talked about the burden of the task facing him being even greater than that of washington. he knew the union was tearing itself apart. seven states had seceded even before he became president. and yet somehow, he maintained humility about, can i do this task? but self-confidence, but i have to be able to because the country needs me to do it. george washington on his way to washington -- the capital -- which was going to be in new york -- on the way to his inauguration, he talked about did he have the ability and skill and confidence to do what was needed to be done. what you have got to hope for now in mr. trump is that combination of confidence in oneself but with a deep humility about the task being really big. both lincoln and george washington talked about the need
for divine assistance to deal with the task. there was a humbleness in the face of the excitement of becoming president that is important for us to see in the new president. charlie: what is president obama think his legacy is? doris: i think on the one hand in a simple way, i think he can say to himself, and i don't know who could take this away from him, but in the eight years he was there he conducted himself with dignity. there were no scandals of any import. he gave an impression of a man who really had a sense of trying to do for the country what he thought was best for the country. on a larger scale, i think he thought he had laid down certain markers for social and economic justice. in the long-term, that is what history looks at. and he would see that in the health care act, and having made the economy come back from its deep recession to a better place so more people had more wages and opportunities, see that in
some of the things he did on education. he thought he was making progress on climate change with the climate change agreement in paris. again, that is something that could be up for grabs now, which is something he probably thought was laid down in stone. i think he would say to some extent some of the things that happened that were good like gay marriage and gays in the military happened on his watch. and maybe his openness toward that and his appreciation of that helps. all of those are substantive things. in the long run, you would have to put it together as hoping he moved the ball along towards more social justice and economic opportunity during his eight years. and the substance helps to see what that becomes. the question is to see if that gets turned backwards. that will be hard for him and his belief in the country. charlie: you have said adversity in almost all of the presidents
i have studied changed them. what adversity changed barack obama? doris: i think he would talk about the fact that as a young man when his father was an absent father and that desire to prove yourself to the absent father or being of a mixed race and getting some teasing from that, the desire i can prove i can be a black man with a white mother. that is where ambition comes from. he talked to me about that. he said when you are young, you have this ambition to prove yourself to other people. adversity somehow hardens that. after a while, that ambition becomes something more particular. in his case, i think it became politics became part of that ambition, public service and the desire to somehow make the country. and i think this must mean a certain sadness for him because he thought he would be bringing a country together. because of what happened at grant park, because of the notion when he won the election in 2008 that we had moved
forward in civil rights and the sense of racial justice, and then it became so complicated when he got there and the polarization became deeper. these presidencies are never simple. i think that is why it will take a lot of generations to figure out this presidency, as it does any other one like lyndon johnson's or ronald reagan's or harry truman's or bill clinton's. that is what keeps historians in business, i suppose. charlie: people, it is often said, and presidents especially say this because they have the unique perspective. in the end, there is no perfect preparation for being president. you cannot prepare yourself perfectly for this job because it is so awesome because the heavy hand of responsibility to protect the nation to keep it safe, move forward, ideas of justice and equality, all of that weighs heavily on you
because you have more than anyone else in the country the opportunity to do that. how did he change? how did he change his perspective on the presidency? doris: i would guess, i got this feeling when i was talking to him for that article, that he felt as he got into more years in the presidency, that you do become more acclimatized to the job. and by the second term, you know a lot more than you knew in the first term. there's certain preparations for the presidency. we say there is nothing you can do. but i think about teddy roosevelt and the fact he had such winding experiences before he became president. he had been at every level of government. he had been at the state legislature. he had been in war. he had been assistant secretary of the navy.
to a certain extent, that winding set of experiences prepared him better than almost any other president, i think, for the presidency because he had had all that experience at a different level. then you contrast that with lincoln who had just terms in the state legislature and one single term in congress and yet turns out to be our best president. it is not just the place where you were. james buchanan had also those things. he was one of the worst presidents we ever had and had been at every level of government. it is not just the title position, it is what you learn from the position and how you learn from your mistakes and do you grow. that is where adversity matters. the presidents i studied say they all suffered bad diversity. polio for f.d.r., he thought his life was at an end. after that, he became more empathetic and understanding to people. he was able to make people feel happy about their lives again during the depression. teddy roosevelt when he lost his
wife and mother on the same day became a different kind of person after being in the badlands and outside with ranchers and cowboys, becoming a more ordinary person. lincoln's whole life was adversity. interestingly, lyndon johnson when he suffered a near fatal heart attack became more interested in a purpose to which his power was going to be put. to go back to the earlier question of yours, you really hope even if people climb for power in the earlier part of their careers, by the time they reach the presidency, now they have to decide for what purpose is my power going to be put. that is what l.b.j. said. some people like to strut around. i want to do something. he knew what he wanted to do. that was social and economic justice for more people. charlie: i think specifically about war. do you get a sense he has been hammered by his judgment that the united states could not do much, that times had changed in
terms of the middle east? to put men and women on the ground there would not make a difference and make things worse, and that assumption drove his concept of u.s. power? doris: i think you are right. i think that is really important understanding that, because so much of his political career was built on understanding the foibles of what the iraq war meant to the middle east and toward american power. there was more of a hesitancy of using overt power, using soldiers and boots on the ground, because you knew how messy it could be on the other end. that becomes maybe more the use of drones on his part. more the use of intelligence, and not the direct intervention.
i suppose for every president, just like for l.b.j. the memory of the munich agreement. you cannot allow something to happen. in vietnam, he thought there would be a domino effect. you cannot get away from the previous experience he just had. and it does change the world power. i had not thought about it, but i think it is interesting what you are saying. charlie: bob gates has worked for as many presidents as you have written about. bob gates said to me the essential quality for a president is to have the right temperament. it is that more than almost anything. walter lippman said franklin roosevelt had a second-class mind and first-class temperament. who said that first? oliver wendell holmes?
doris: oliver wendell holmes, when he saw franklin roosevelt said a first-class temperament and second-class intellect. i don't think he had a second-class intellect, but he certainly had a first-class temperament. you got to be confident but have some sense you may not know things all the time. you know you are going to make mistakes. franklin roosevelt would say about himself, i know i'm going to bat, maybe three out of four times i will get a hit, whenever two times would be great. when i make a mistake, i will own it and move on. that is part of temperament. president-elect trump said i have the best temperament of anybody running for president because i always win. that is not true. i think it is learning from adversity. it is learning from failure. it is learning how to grow as a result of your mistakes. it is also a temperament that can take enormous criticism from the outside in and not take it
personally and somehow be able to know that they are against my ideas not myself. temperament is who you are. it is character, disposition, and i think it is the most important thing we look for in a president. it gets revealed over time. we will see more as he gets into office. as he got into office and that will be one of the things people will look back on also. he kept a certain ability during a tough time and temperament helps you with that. charlie: and in fact that is my last question. if temperament is so critically important, how would you rate the temperament of president obama in looking at his legacy? doris: that is not an easy question. as you look at temperament, you look at a man who came into the office during a period of great uncertainty. when you imagine what it must have been like in that fall, right before he took office when it seemed like the economy was falling apart and he went along
with what he thought needed to be done. he did not lose his sense -- oh my god, this is overwhelming me. he had confidence. some of that confidence may have moved towards arrogance or cockiness but sometimes it was measured by humility. i could feel that. he projected to the american people, someone who felt comfortable in the job. maybe did not love it the way you might want someone to love every aspect about it. talking to congressman until 3:00 in the morning. but he recognized that he had been given a great responsibility and was doing it to the best of his ability. there is a certain kind of prudence and easiness and stability about that temperament that i think people will look back on. we saw it. i do not think he will seem very different to historians from the man that we saw today.
did he make the most of his times? did he exploit the opportunities that were there? could he have done more? i think he feels he went in the right direction but the question is could it have been different? and those will be the things he will live with for the rest of his life but hopefully, when he can think about it in the way that most politicians do not think about themselves from the outside in. it will be great for us as historians if he can do it because that is what we try to do 50 years later. charlie: it is always great to have you here. thank you so much. doris: you are the best. goodbye. charlie: goodbye and happy new year. ♪
charlie: naomie harris -- it says here that she first rose to fame in danny boyle's 2002 zombie thriller "28 days later." she later went on to co-star in the pirates of the caribbean and james bond film series. she is now earning praise for her performance in barry jenkins' film "moonlight." she plays a crack-addicted single mother in the projects of miami. the los angeles times writes that harris "conveys an emotional rawness that is almost too much to witness." here is a look at her performance. [ video clip ] >> it is all good. >> shut the -- up. >> calm down. >> you, shut the -- up. what is wrong with you? >> who the -- do you think you is? huh?
to get it from somewhere. i'm going to get it from you. but you are going to raise my son though, right? you ever see the way that he walks? are you going to tell him why the other boys kick his -- all of the time? are you going to tell him? you ain't --. charlie: i am pleased to have naomie harris back at this table. welcome. naomie: thank you. thank you for having me. charlie: what is it about this film? naomie: for me, it is one of these rare films that is not just speaking to your head but it speaks to your heart and has the ability to cut through all of these identities that we like to attach to ourselves like race identities, ethnicity, gender. it breaks all of that and says that ultimately in our hearts, we are all the same and we are struggling with the same issues,
issues of connection, and were no will desperate search for love. and we also ultimately all come from this damaged beginning because no one has a perfect childhood. and it makes our journey to get i that love and connection that we so desperately need, really convoluted. for everybody. charlie: but you had said at one time, and i read this -- i always said that i want to base my choices on portraying positive images of black women. and i will never want to play a stereotypical role because there are enough of those out there. and i always said i would never play a crack addict. i assume that you liked this character because it gave you such a dramatic range. and because there were some positive things in could find there. naomie: to be perfectly honest with you, i did not want to take this role. i wanted to play the role of teresa, played by janelle monae. i wanted to be part of this project but i did not want to play paula. but it was actually speaking to barry that changed my mind. because i always had said that i
do want to only portray positive images of women and that is because of my upbringing. you know, my mom had me at 18 years old. and she then decided that she would wait until i was five and then i could go to school and she would put herself through university. when she went to university, i used to sit in the corner of the room and coloring in and i was so inspired by this woman who managed to turn her life around and become it a very successful television writer. and she was surrounded, she was part of a community of women that was strong and capable and intelligent. and i was like -- i do not see those women represented on-screen and i desperately want to see those women represented onscreen. and so that is why i really struggled about taking on this part. but it was not until i sat down with barry and we had a skype conversation and he said look, i do not want to ask you to play a stereotype but the reality is that this is my story. and my mother was a crack addict and to tell my story, i have to include that fact. and i thought, here for the first time i met someone who is
invested emotionally in ensuring that this woman does not get reduced to just her addiction. but that she has her full humanity and emotional complexity. charlie: and concern for her child. right there. naomie: her concern for her child but as the film goes on we see that her addiction really makes it very difficult for her to continue to care for her son and she is incredibly brutal with it. some people say that they do not like her which always hurts my feelings because i think that paula is an incredibly damaged human being. it is very difficult for her to be loving and likable at all times because she never got the love and nurturing that she desperately needed. charlie: how did you prepare for this? naomie: youtube. charlie: is that right? naomie: yes. youtube is like this incredible -- charlie: a gold mine. naomie: it really is because you have these people with camera phones that go into crack dens and places you could never go and they have these intimate interviews.
i suppose in a crack in it feels like it is just two people interacting with a little phone and you do not think about the thousands of people that can potentially see it once it is uploaded to youtube. but there are these incredibly intimate interviews which i found online and they gave me such insight into what it was like. what the world of addiction is all about. charlie: what is it you're looking for -- a world that you knew nothing about, the world of addiction? but are you looking for the way that they express themselves? the way they move? naomie: all of that. charlie: physical? tone of voice? naomie: it is also about -- it is literally all of that but it is also that i'm looking for a way in. because for me, i started with paula and i really struggled to connect with her because i did not understand. i had a lot of judgment. i had a lot of judgment about the fact that she at many points is such a brutal mother.
such a negative influence on her son's life. i had a lot of judgment -- how can you be a mother and an addict? do you know -- and i had to overcome all of that to say -- and what is paula's journey? how does one really become an addict? you know -- what encourages them to have to develop this habit? i am looking for those kinds of answers. for me, the biggest in to paula was that every single woman that was interviewed about their addiction had been raped or sexually abused. and that was the biggest a-ha -- charlie: every single woman? naomie: every single one. charlie: had been abused in one way or another. naomie: yes. i interviewed a woman and her journey did involve sexual abuse. charlie: how did that affect you? naomie: also, i spoke with barry and he said it was true for him. and to the original playwright
as well. it helped me. i understood -- i saw what was going on. what people do not understand about rape and sexual abuse is that no one is ever abused just once or raped just once. it is a trauma that is relived in the body and the mind continuously. it becomes a torment. and you are searching for a way to numb the pain and that is what drugs are about. especially in a community that is deprived economically, you cannot afford to go and see a therapist. who do do you reach out to? charlie: is it the violence itself? naomie: it is the violence and the fact that it is such an
intimate form of violence. and there is a stigma and shame attached to it as well. charlie: and you incorporate that. how do i see that in the performance? naomie: you see that for me in the way that i build paula -- i am basically wanting to show her from all. i want to show that this is a woman traumatized and she is handed this child and she is trying to do the best that she can for as long as she possibly can but her demons eventually catch up with her and it becomes too much for her. her self hatred is played out in the way that she treats her son. charlie: what did barry add to your performance? naomie: the biggest thing was the freedom that he gave me. he is one of these rare
directors -- i have never had a director do this before but he actually -- i gave him every reason for him not to give me this part. he asked me if i had any experience with addiction. and i said no, no one in my family. and i am a health nut. this could not be further from me. despite me saying that, he still gave me the role and he never once checked up on me during my research process. which was so wonderful. charlie: it gave you confidence. naomie: that gave me confidence. he really trusts me. the first time he saw me deliver was on set. all he did was provide an environment that was totally nonjudgmental and free. it is one of the most creatively rewarding experiences i have had. charlie: this is one of your scenes in "moonlight" where you are asking your son for money. here it is. [ video clip ] >> i need the money.
>> for what? >> it is my business. >> i don't have the money. >> don't lie to me. i am your blood. and i am not feeling good. i need something to help me out. come on, baby. come on, baby. >> where am i supposed to get money from? >> teresa didn't give you anything? give me the -- money. >> i don't have any money. mama, mama! ok. ok. >> give me the -- money. >> here.
>> that is what i thought. you are my child. and tell her that she better not forget that. go on to school. aren't you late? charlie: how do you watch this? naomie: it is really upsetting, i have to say. charlie: i can feel that sitting next to you. naomie: it is very brutal. it is hard to do scenes like that particularly i have to say not just with ashton but when i was with young alex hibbard, he was only 11 years old. he was asked to do scenes where i am really traumatizing him and screaming at him. i asked him not to be onset when i did scenes like that.
i thought it was too much. charlie: how do you handle that as a human being? you have to go deep inside. obviously, it is called craft and skill. naomie: but you also have to have that kind of well of emotional torment within you to be able to find it somehow. you have to be drawing stuff that is already there. i find it hard to watch but i also find a very cathartic to do, to exorcise whatever demons are in me. charlie: you have a capacity to reach in and bring them out. naomie: exactly. in everyday life, we become so constrained to portray just one version of what we are. as human beings, we are
incredibly complex and multifaceted. this is a luxury and an opportunity to delve into all of that. charlie: think of all that you just said. roll the clip. [video clip] >> they already briefed me. >> i am the official director and i want to help in any way that i can. >> you like spying. >> mallory is not as bad as you think. >> she is a bureaucrat. >> she is a colonel and spent three months in the hands of the ira. >> you are more than what meets the eye.
>> we will see. >> keep still. this is the tricky part. better? charlie: that is something different. naomie: that is something very different and it brings a smile to my face. charlie: it was a wonderful experience. from one scene to the second scene, it shows you your range but also a sense of what acting is about. naomie: it is diving into these different worlds. completely polarized worlds. that is the joy. that is the gift. i particularly love the part of
the whole bond franchise because barbara barclay is an extraordinary woman. she is like a motherly figure that wants to take care of absolutely everybody. i did a film with damien lewis and he said he mentioned to her while he was filming that the pillows in his hotel room were a little hard so barbara went on a train to john lewis, bought two pillows for him and brought them back to the isle of man. and that is barbara. such an incredible woman. charlie: that will generate a friendship. naomie: she is like that with all of us. it is like we are her children. charlie: and it is her responsibility to do things for you. is it diversity that you pursue? naomie: i always want to be kept on my toes. i want to feel challenged and scared. every role that i take on
completely scares me and paula terrified me more than any other role other than playing willie mandela. charlie: why was that terrifying? naomie: because she was a living icon and i was filming it in south africa and people have such ideas of who she was. and i knew my producers had a very specific idea about who she was as well as my director. when you read about who she is, she sounds like two different people and to find her in the midst of that -- charlie: she carried the torch while he was in prison but at the same time, she was accused of a lot of stuff. naomie: a lot of horrific crimes and found guilty of quite a few things. charlie: you have two women there, one driven by her own ambition for good or bad. naomie: and she is a prime
example of someone who is incredibly brutalized during her time in solitary confinement. she would not speak about what happened to her in prison. charlie: not even to you who were playing her. it was too painful? naomie: she just did not want to go there. she is a product also of brutality, immense brutality. charlie: "collateral beauty." tell me about that. naomie: madeleine is a beautiful person. i would love to be her. she is in this immense trauma of having lost her child and then has dedicated her life to helping other people get over that trauma. or to at least find some sense in the madness and find some sort of healing as well. i think that is so beautiful to dedicate your life to helping
other human beings. and that is what life should be about. charlie: and what is the story? naomie: howard played by will smith is going through a breakdown and his friends devise a plot to bring him out of this depression he is in which involves getting love, time, and death to become personified to speak to him so he can learn to see the beauty in life again. charlie: you get to work with some pretty interesting people. naomie: amazing people. amazing people. and will smith is one of the most extraordinary human beings -- charlie: you did not say extraordinary actor. naomie: i've learned so much from him. we would be filming on the streets of new york and we had crowds wherever we filmed. hordes of people that wanted autographs every single day.
and he is playing a very emotionally wounded character and he would still step offset every day, sign every single autograph, take selfies with everybody and entertain the crowds. and i wondered how he found the energy. and he said it is because that every single one of these people are going through something and we have the opportunity to give some light and joy to their day. charlie: it takes nothing from you. naomie: but the funny thing is that so many people that i work with do not do that. it is extraordinary. you are right -- it does not take much and it actually gives you energy to give others joy. charlie: what are the essential qualities that a good actor has to have? naomie: an openness. an emotional vulnerability. a willingness to share. you have to be open to your fellow actor and be willing to go on an emotional journey with them.
my final scene in "moonlight" with trevante rhodes. i met him 10 minutes before we did that final scene. and that meant that we did not have an opportunity to connect as personalities. we had to connect at a very deep and soulful level and be willing to be incredibly vulnerable with one another in a short space of time. and that is what you have to do as an actor. charlie: it is great to have you back here. naomie: thank you for having me. charlie: our pleasure. naomie harris. "moonlight" and "collateral beauty." in theaters now. thank you for joining us. ♪