tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg August 17, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: we continue this evening with the events in charlottesville, virginia and the aftermath and the president's response. last week's violence continues to reverberate throughout the entire country. president trump yesterday defended his initial statement, reiterating that there is "blame on both sides." president trump: what about the alt-left that came charging at the alt-right? do they have any semblance of guilt? let me ask you this -- what about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs, do they have any problem? i think they do.
that was a horrible, horrible day. wait a minute. i'm not finished, fake news. that was a horrible day. >> the same level as neo-nazis? president trump: i will tell you something -- i watched this very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. you had a group on one side that was bad and a group on the other side that was also very violent and nobody wants to say that. i will say it right now. you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very violent. go ahead. >> do you think what you call the alt-left is the same as neo-nazis? president trump: all of those people -- excuse me -- i have condemned neo-nazis. i have condemned many different groups, but not all of those
people were neo-nazis, believe me. not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of the statue of robert e. lee. you take a look at some of the groups and you see and you know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you are not, but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of robert e. lee. this week, it is robert e. lee. i noticed that stonewall jackson is coming down. i wonder, is it george washington next week and is it thomas jefferson the week after? you really do have to ask yourself where does it stop? excuse me. you take a look the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of robert e. lee. infrastructure question, go ahead. charlie: some have suggested that the president's response to the protests will embolden neo-nazi and white supremacist groups. joining me now from
charlottesville is elle reeve, a correspondent for vice news tonight. she covers the alt-right. she has been on the ground in charlottesville since friday morning. here's a look at her report from the documentary "charlottesville: race and terror." elle: so when did you get into, as you said, the racial stuff? >> when trayvon martin case happened, michael brown and tamir rice, and all of these different things happened, every single case it is some little black -- behaving like a savage and he gets himself in trouble shockingly enough. whatever problems i might have with my fellow white people, they generally are not inclined to such behavior and you have to take that into consideration when you are thinking about how to organize your society. elle: oklahoma city. >> exactly, you have to go back to oklahoma city to talk about a white active terrorist. elle: elliott roger, dylann roof. >> ok, so now you have managed to name three people and i am pretty sure elliott roger was not explicitly white, by the way.
the thing is you remember the names of white bombers and mass shooters. can you tell me the name of all 19 hijackers on 9/11 off the top of your head? you can remember dylann roof's name. elle: you were asking whether white people were capable of violence. >> i didn't say capable -- of course, we are capable. carrying a pistol, i go to the gym all the time. i'm trying to make myself more capable of violence. i'm here to spread ideas, talk in the hopes that someone more capable will come along and do that. someone like donald trump who does not give his daughter to a jew. elle: donald trump but more racist? >> a lot more racist than donald trump. i don't think you can feel the way about race that i do and watch that kushner -- walk around with that beautiful girl. charlie: here is a dramatic scene of the drama taking place on the street after a car drove through the crowd, killing a young woman. >> they literally came down the street at 80 miles per hour to hit us just now. there are bodies laying on the ground right now. we told city council we didn't
want them here. they let them come. we told the police we didn't want them here, they let them come. i had to jump out of the way. i almost got hit by the car myself. i seen bodies flying after being hit by that car. i've seen people on the ground. this is my town. we didn't want them here. now we have bodies on the ground and they are trying to revive somebody right now. charlie: also joining me tonight from brooklyn, josh tyrangiel, the executive producer of vice news tonight and executive vice president of news at vice media. joining me at the table is nick confessore, a political correspondent for "the new york times." he has been following the rise of white nationalist movements throughout the country. he wrote during last year's election about then candidate trump and the politics of white resentment. i'm pleased to have all of them here. josh, give me the overview you
had and frame of mind how you wanted to cover this. what was it about this event that made you decide to cover it that way? josh: it really starts with elle. she has had her eye online. a lot of the behavior that has been coming out of the "self-proclaimed alt-right" -- elle has been paying attention to the way these people get together and congregate. describe the distinctions between their groups, their grievances. elle has done a bunch of stories elle has been paying attention about the rise of these white nationalists. when we heard a week ago that they were going to make the leap from the digital domain into the physical domain, and that 200 white nationalists were going to be gathering at an iconic american university without hoods, without anonymity to proclaim hate, it was an easy decision on our part to get down there. it is really as simple as having a pretty great reporter and you go from there.
you trust them and elle earned every bit of it. charlie: yours is not a traditional news program. there is no anchor there that introduces reporters. you have reporters essentially telling stories in the field every night. josh: that is right. we like to get as immersive as possible and take people to events and make them feel something. it is not that we are not capable of doing traditional reporting, we do plenty of explanation and analysis, but when possible we really want to be on the ground. charlie: elle, tell me, what did you anticipate when you went to charlottesville? elle: i knew this would be a gathering of a bunch of alt-right groups. the ones that built themselves had been infighting quite a bit. i thought it was significant they would all be getting together. i didn't anticipate how organized it would be. i knew they had a ring of private security comprised of
afghanistan and iraq veterans. once we were on the ground, they were very well organized. they had people doing crowd control, giving out tiki torches, dropping people off at the field. it's a highly organized group. charlie: did they trust you? you had a conversation there in which a guy was responding to your questions in a direct manner. elle: no, i don't think they trust me. they don't like women. they believe the media is run by jews. but, i do try to present their arguments because i think it is really important people understand what these people believe so that they can have counter arguments against it and i think that is why they were willing to talk to me. charlie: how did the events unfold in charlottesville through your eyes as you watched? elle: on friday night, we arrived at 9:30 at a field on
the virginia campus, and there were so many people there. they were lining up in two columns, they had tiki torches. it was this massive line that snaked all the way across the field. it was really stunning. it was maybe in absolute terms not that huge numbers -- a few hundred people -- but a very significant showing. when the march began, it was these animalistic chants, grunting, very explicit anti-semitic chants. they were so enthusiastic, so pumped. it was really scary. >> you will not replace us. you will not replace us. jews will not replace us. jews will not replace us. jews will not replace us. blood and soil. blood and soil. blood and soil.
blood and soil. blood and soil. whose streets? our streets. whose streets? our streets. whose streets? our streets. charlie: scary, because for your own safety or scary of what might happen because of the clash of opposing ideologies or views? elle: scary that they had so many adherents willing to show up and show their face, first of all. also, scary because many of them were armed. not at the tiki torch parade but at the next rally. scary because they were so emotional. it was clear they might act on their violent ideology. charlie: and when did the car accident -- how did that happen? not accident, when did the
car terrorist act happen? elle: so the event was shut down before it officially began. there had been a lot of fights between protesters and counterprotesters. it had gotten pretty crazy out there. so, the white nationalists were ordered to leave from the park and go to a different park. they were marching through the city. that got canceled. there was an emergency order put out, there could be no more assemblies. they were very agitated. they were not able to express themselves. we went downtown and there were counterprotesters marching through the town. we were following those. we crossed a street and about two minutes later, a car slammed into human bodies. charlie: killing the young woman. elle: that's right, and injuring many people. charlie: nick, having followed these groups and written about them during the campaign, a lot of headlines today that have been saying they have been emboldened by what happened in charlottesville and the president's response.
nick: this was a movement that was perhaps the first protest movement to live entirely online for most of its existence. these are people who could not have their views in public, who could not be known to have these views. they congregated on message boards, on reddit and 4chan, and were mostly anonymous. the president came out in recent days and he said that it was a real view to have, to be a white supremacist or nationalist was something that was not a terrible thing. he endorsed their views in some ways. the first time in history that a president has actually done that for them. they were excited by it. charlie: it was almost like they were recognized and respected. nick: he said well, i disavowed them later. they saw that as a strategy on his part and did not believe it
and they cheered by the fact he refused at first to say they were bad people. that is a validation they had never had from this high level of government in their lifetimes. charlie: they are strengthened and emboldened to do again what they did in charlottesville, to try to rise to the occasion in which there will be the destruction of a monument they think is an offense to them? nick: i think probably we will see more of this. i think that the alt-right or part of the alt-right we are talking about right here lives for media coverage. they exist in a symbiosis with us and the press. they are too small a number to have genuine political power right now. they are in some ways reflected in the president's views on immigration, on the idea of decay in america, the threat to order in america. they need these moments of confrontation to radicalize
other people out there who don't realize that there's an alternative to mainstream politics. other people out there who don't realize that there's an alternative to mainstream politics. charlie: josh, as a news editor at a number of important news institutions and executive knew pretty rapidly this was going to be a big deal is the validation of the opinion. there is a reason -- there is a digital hood. for a long time, the ku klux klan, if you wanted to be a member, you had to put a hood on. you didn't want your views known. digitally, you can be anything you want online. the fact people were willing to go out there, have their face knowingly seen on many millions of television screens, shouting terrible things -- there was no pretense in our footage. there was no pretense that this was about a statue. there are plenty of legitimate arguments about what to do with complications in american history. that's not what this was. this is a canonical moment for us. we thought we had buried this
and it is very much back. it's hugely important. the way in which the president handled this the last couple of days, there is a reason we are seeing the outraged we are seeing. it's obviously a new and important moment and one we have to continue to be on top of. as nick said, we're asking all sorts of questions about at what point do we want to be very careful about not giving more time, not glamorizing something, but the fact this has leapt out of the internet and onto our streets and created violence and terror is a big deal. charlie: and onto our headlines. josh: yeah. charlie: elle, tell me about christopher cantwell. elle: he's an alt-right podcaster. he was a libertarian shock jock. he was kicked off the air for making comments about race and i.q. that was kind of radicalizing for him. he started doing more research, he says, into race and he came
to the conclusion that basically black people are inferior to white people so he took this up as a cause. he started crying while talking to me about it, saying he didn't want to have to do this but he was committed to defending the white race. charlie: we have a clip of that. >> i'd say it was worth it. we knew we were going to meet a lot of resistance. the fact that nobody on our side died, i'd go ahead and call that points for us. the fact that none of our people killed anybody unjustly, i think is a plus for us. i think that we showed our rivals that we will not be cowed. elle: the car that struck a protester, that is unprovoked. >> that's not true and you know that it's not true. you have seen the video. elle: i have seen a video. i don't know much about it. can you describe what the video appears to show? >> the video appears to show
someone striking that vehicle. when these animals attacked him again, he saw no way to get away from them except to hit the gas. sadly, because our rivals are a bunch of stupid animals who don't pay attention, they couldn't just get out of the way of his car and some people got hurt. that is unfortunate. elle: so you think it was justified? >> i think it was more than justified. the amount of restraint our people showed out there, i think was astounding. elle: what do you think this means for the next alt-right protest? >> i say it is going to be really tough to top but we are up to the challenge. elle: tough to top? someone died. >> i think a lot more people will die before we're done here, frankly. elle: why? >> because people die every day. charlie: when he goes home, who is he? elle: he lives in new hampshire. he's single. i asked him about this being his entire life.
he told me when he takes a girl out to the movies, they don't talk about racism. this does seem to be what he does all the time. he has a massive arsenal of weapons. he does live podcasts. that is how he makes his money -- through donations and people who agree with him. charlie: how large you think these groups are? elle: how large? i don't know. i could make guesses based on how many followers their biggest leaders have, but i think the most telling data point is a site called "wesearcher" has proven time and again to raise $100,000 overnight. i think that is very significant. charlie: is it possible, josh and nick, that the exposure rather than helping them will hurt them? they will be seen as something that is totally unacceptable in america, as people have
seemingly projecting what the president has said. josh: i think the value of what we did was shown yesterday when the president referred to the people in charlottesville that were protesting against the destruction of the statue as very fine people. you cannot watch the episode we made and think these are very fine people. it is not possible. i think in that regard, it will hurt them. the fact we are talking about this hurts them because it brings people back to their awareness that just because they live in a polite portion of society, doesn't mean that everyone else decided we should be a liberal democracy in which everyone's opinions are valued based on the content of their character. that is not where we are. the fact that this conversation we are having does do damage to their cause, but i'm very aware of the double-edged sword. we don't want to glamorize this, we don't want to bring more attention to them. but obviously, we are at an urgent moment. nick: i think this vice video hurts them in a lot of ways.
as recently as a year ago, the alt-right would dress its rhetoric up in ideas about the european-american culture defense. charlie: euphemism. nick: exactly. this was straight-up nazi. this was swastikas and violence. in a sense, they shed their garb that they constructed very carefully to try to escape a legacy of older neo-nazism. charlie: do the white supremacists and neo-nazis blend in terms of they both accept each other's philosophy? nick: it is a bit of a varied movement. there are different camps. there are people who say they are inspired by nazi ideology. there are people who say they are defenders of western civilization. i do see that sort of blending. richard spencer is a better-known figure. charlie: who was down in charlottesville. nick: before that, he was at an
event where he raised a fist and said "heil trump." that was a real moment for him.
he had spent a long time trying to construct what he thought was a socially acceptable version of this ideology. charlie: tell me about robert ray. elle: oh, robert ray. he writes for a neo-nazi website called "the daily stormer." it is extremely racist but it also uses teenagers' memes, jokes, bright colors, pictures. it tries to be hip and witty. the person who runs it is very good at writing a headline. they say they get about 100,000 readers a month. charlie: here it is, robert ray talking to elle. elle: tell me what you think. what do you do for "the daily stormer?" >> i'm a feature writer. i'm generally their man on the ground at events. elle: what do you hope to get out of today? what does it mean to you? >> for one thing, we are showing to this parasitic class of anti-white vermin this is our country. this country was built by our forefathers.
it's sustained by us. it will remain our country. as you can see, we are stepping out of the internet in a big way. last night at the torch walk, there were hundreds and hundreds of us. they are part of a larger whole because we have been spreading our names, we have been organizing on the internet. now they are coming out and now as you can see, we greatly outnumber the antiwhite, anti-american filth. at some point, we will have enough power that we will clear them from the streets forever. that which is degenerate in white countries will be removed. elle:
you are saying showing up in physical space lets people know that there are more like them? >> we are starting to slowly unveil a little bit of our power level. you ain't seen nothing yet. charlie: for all of you, put into context the impact donald trump has had on this. nick: i think what the president
has done is taken a version of some of these ideas and some of the language that they use -- invading hordes, the country being stabbed in the back, immigrants taking your jobs and threatening your families. he is taking those ideas and has made them mainstream. he's putting them at the center of public discourse and that is why they are so excited. it is not that they think he is a white nationalist or share all of their ideas. what they believe is he has created a pathway for their ideas to move into the public sphere, into the mainstream and that is the impact. josh: there are certain viruses that if you don't stamp them out, you're basically giving them license and i think that is exactly what he has done. elle: an alt-right organizer texted me last night, "god bless this man," speaking of trump. he said he really does have our backs. that is why they feel powerful and can take steps forward and do more protests. charlie: elle, good work and
a new production is now running at the public theater. it stars oscar isaac and is directed by sam gold. the two first conceived of the project when they were students at juilliard. productions of "hamlet" will run until september 3. i am pleased to have oscar isaac and sam gold back at this table. welcome and welcome. you are here for different reasons. you because we did the whole thing. sam: not that long ago. charlie: how did you guys at juilliard say one day let's do "hamlet" together? oscar: i think it started by doing it at school. sam was there as a directing student and i was an acting student. we did all of the "hamlet" and rosencrantz and guildenstern scenes together. i think it was part of your course, right? sam: i was studying shakespeare and wanted to work on "hamlet." everybody basically wants to do this play so it wasn't a strange idea to want to do "hamlet." it is like the best play ever
and everybody wants to get their hands on it. i grabbed oscar on the minutes he has down from 24 hours a day from acting training, and said on your breaks, would you come do some "hamlet" with me and do the r&g scenes? charlie: is that what they call it? sam: usually, you tackle the nunnery scene, the closet scene or one of these big meals and i thought it'd be fun to start with these friendship scenes. we were students and friends. it just seemed kind of appropriate for the vibe at juilliard. oscar: we did that at school and after we graduated, we kept in touch. we worked together -- on "romeo and juliet," you were an assistant.
we were always wanting to do "hamlet." we were finally able to get some time -- it took about two years of really finding when we can both have time to put the play up. we finally did. it was almost 15 years. sam: 10 years of talking about doing it and then a couple years of actually doing it together. charlie: what makes it as great as it is? sam: it is a bottomless play. you can look at it from a million points of view and each one of them feels like an entire universe. you think, oh, someone else has this other idea of the play. when they open up that door, it is another endless -- the term poem unlimited is shakespeare's term. it just keeps going. sam: it's a mirror, the play. it reflects itself and it has an ambiguity of religious text. a line is crafted in such a way that it feels like it has infinite meaning. one of the funny things that sam
would say is any question an actor would ask him, the opposite is always true. any answer that he gives them -- sam: the most frustrating play in the world to direct because you can never get to a choice where you're like this is right. you choose something and someone can always say, yeah but, wouldn't the opposite also work and it does. it's like directing in quicksand. you are trying to lay some groundwork and get some ideas settled. you want it to be functioning but every time you get somewhere, you can keep digging and digging and you are digging into quicksand. charlie: few people do the entire text. kenneth browner did it once. you have four hours here. sam: three hours and 45 minutes but we cut quite a bit. i go slow. charlie: what was the vision you presented to oscar that you wanted to do?
how did you want to make it contemporary and at the same time there? sam: it really came from us and our friendship. it never was like here is my idea. we started miles and miles from where we ended up and it was really what was inspiring us, what was moving us. how we we were seeing our lives and seeing ourselves reflected in the play. when it came time to actually go into production, it was what was on both of our minds. i think what we were both really interested in at the time that we started getting into rehearsals was the death of the father. that the play starts with the death of hamlet's father and about his grief, and the mourning process and the stages of grief he is going through. the idea of a man who has lost
his father and the grief sending him into madness was something that both of us could really see the play through, entirely through that lens and do quite well. charlie: you have spoken to the point that your mother was dying and you read from "hamlet" and you were informed by that experience in terms of how you wanted to own the part. oscar: we had already had decided and figured out when we were going to do the play which was we were going to start rehearsals in may. in november of last year, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. it happened very quickly. her decline in health, so i was able to be with her the whole time but at the same time i was preparing for this.
her favorite thing in the world was to see me do shakespeare. she loved it. she came to see me in school. she loved it so much. when i was sitting there with her, i would read it to her and as i was memorizing it, i would do the soliloquies. i ended up doing almost the whole play for her. it was, i guess when i say the religious text, it felt -- because there are things in it that feel like parables. particularly, a meditation on letting go and grief and death. so, it was very comforting -- for me and her too -- there was this one section where i read about the readiness is all. if it be now, 'tis not to come. if it be not to come, it will be now. if it be not now, yet it will come. she was very moved by that. as it got worse, in february, she passed. having -- she never wanted a
funeral, so we didn't do that. we as a family had our own little thing to say goodbye. my sister came to see the show and it feels like this is the version of a funeral she would have wanted. have this space to grieve and tell the story about losing a someone you love so much and having this beautiful architecture, this beautiful framework and communion with everyone else to tell it. charlie: this guy came with a sheer command of elizabethian -- sam: oscar, it is kind of a magic trick where he knows the play inside out and knows what each word means and how to use each word so well that he can do it as if it is contemporary conversation. it is so clear in his mind. it is like when you learn a foreign language and you get to
the point where you are thinking in the language, not thinking in english anymore. that is how he has gotten with the part. he brings the text alive in a way that is musically very beautiful, but also extremely easy to understand and follow. charlie: a lot of people have spoken to that. audience members have spoken to that as well. it is more compelling for them because they understand it better. sam: i think a contemporary audience is a lot less used to rhetoric and the idea of speaking verse. i think it is really important to honor the tradition of speaking verse and poetry and giving the audience poetry which has music to it. i think it is important not to alienate the audience and to claim that poetry, but to find a way that it is also contemporary communication. alienate the audience and to i like to put a group of people
together -- we have 299 people come every night and they are all in a room together and we are going to communicate things about grief and suffering and we are all going to be in the room to experience it together. the communication has to make it to the audience. it can't just be 400-year-old poetry. it has to be a contemporary conversation about something everyone in the audience is going through. sam: hamlet says it in the play twice in two different spots. he says the actors are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. and that the job of the actor is to show the age and body of the time, its form and pressure. that is about now. that the actor's role is to reflect to the audience how man is right now in this moment in time. for us, it was very important to try to strip away as much artifice as we could and all that representational stuff. trying to convince you we are in
elsinore, in denmark, in the medieval times, the crowns and thrones, and try to find a way to make it much more immediate and relatable. charlie: do you think the audience makes a connection between the political time we live in? oscar: absolutely, because man is a political animal. if you really bring everything you can to it, that happens. just yesterday in the middle of "to be or not to be," when i say "who would bear the whips and scorns of time. the oppressor is wrong. the insolence of office." and i looked at the audience and they all erupted clapping. because the thoughts of what was happening right now, particularly with what is happening in charlottesville and the president's terrible response to that, people are upset and angry.
from watching. what i did instead was i really fell in love with john gielgud's recording. because i knew that i could never get to that kind of poetry, so even if i tried to imitate him, i could never get to that but i love hearing it like music. in a way, it is -- at least in rehearsals, it felt more like playing music. i'm a musician. i often sometimes when dialogue is very sparse, you have to think of a lot of things and then you infuse the words with these feelings. these words, what happens is it is almost like playing a song. i don't have to think about sad things before i play a sad song. i start playing it and then things happen. you start to say these words and it starts affecting you and you are affecting it and it creates this perpetual motion that just goes. charlie: what is the hardest part about it, other than the length?
oscar: this production, the way we have approached it because we tried to strip away as much artifice we can and approach it in a very direct way, it is physically very demanding. the four hours. the vocal requirements, the physical requirements for everyone involved. it is a very muscular show. i think i remember a friend telling me that in shakespeare's day, they would only do tragedies on the weekend and do comedies during the week because the tragedies are too intense. it is like opera. charlie: here's kenneth on this program talking about the timelessness of "hamlet." the central thing that i'm trying to achieve here and also looking at all of these plays is looking at different actors who play the particular roles, whether it is "hamlet," and not say this is better than that,
but say this is the genius and great joy of theater. you can see different people with different life experiences bring something different to bear to something that was the same. kenneth: i agree with that wholeheartedly. that is why i'd never feel how could i possibly about any of the plays and films i have made? you never listen to a favorite song once. it is a favorite song because you listen to it again. it's going to strike you differently. you never listen to a beethoven symphony once. i could see "hamlet" for the rest of my life with different actors because something in the play will respond uniquely to what that actor gives, uniquely to the time, circumstances and the audience it plays to. that is why we do it, because it will live again anew, refreshed at that moment in time and needs to be done then and only then. others on record and film have wonderful value and great
import, but shakespeare -- it is because he is here and he is now. charlie: you agree with that? sam: absolutely. charlie: what, for you, knowing the history of how many productions there have been and continue to be everywhere every year, did you go on to make sure you did? sam: "hamlet" is this play that is a little devil for a director. you have to battle with it because everyone has tried to do their "hamlet" and it could really get in your head that you have to add something to that history. that is not a very healthy way to approach working on a play. for me, i tried to not think about any of the productions i had seen and not think of its
history at all. charlie: can you? sam: i think because -- like what was said, you responded to the people you are in the room with. i get in the room with a group of actors and this beautiful language and you see what happens. you just focus on that. what do they have to offer this audience in this moment in this room we are all in and it kind of takes over. i tried really hard to listen to that. i try to strip away everything else. i didn't come in with a concept. i didn't come in with -- i wasn't trying to think about a fascist dictator or what is elsinore, what's rotten in denmark, or make some statement about it. i just said we are in an empty room with an audience and these words, let's see what comes out of our time together.
the essential nature of that helped me from having to be in too much dialogue with concept or with history. charlie: you have to assume hamlet went mad because of the killing of his father? oscar: not necessarily. i think that madness, for me, understanding it through the lens of grief became so much more relatable because grief feels like a form of madness. it feels like it could easily -- it is such a shock and such a trauma to lose someone you love so much that on the other side of that, it is a whole new existence. i think many people who have had to deal with that can feel how easily their mind can get away from them and change and see the world differently. you -- a lot of pretense falls away. that, i feel like in some ways
in the play is a euphemism for the feeling of grief. charlie: some actors have told me after doing "hamlet" for a run in theater, they have to take off for a while. they don't instantly go to another work. they live with it for months after they quit the run. is it inside you? this is the period that you are on stage doing it, but -- not sure what i'm asking, but it overwhelms you like no other character does. oscar: it is. it is very overwhelming. the interesting thing that has been so different in a short condensed amount of time, with some of the things happening with the passing of my mother, getting married, the birth of my son, that it's almost like my personal stakes in doing "hamlet" and the play lowered. it didn't mean everything to me. it felt more like a release than something that needed to be proved.
that is a wonderful state to be because as an actor you always want your personal stakes to be low and the character stakes to be really high because that gives you freedom. i think i was able to approach low and the character stakes to it in a strangely relaxed way even though doing all the work. not overburdened with the personal costs of it. charlie: one of your colleagues at juilliard said about you that the thing about you was your ambition was about being good, not about anything other in theater. just the idea of being good. does that still infuse you? oscar: yeah, i think a little bit less so because that was a bit more can i be as good as i think i can be? i think now it is about more about can i be as honest as i want to be? it's still about how to approach the work.
it is a little bit like those monks that do their -- their dust drawings. it is a one-way street. you put all of this effort and focus on one thing and it is monks that do their -- their gone. charlie: if you could sit down with the actors of any production, whether it is shakespeare or not, and say to them this is what i want you to give me, what would you tell them? sam: yeah, truth. to me, it is always about honesty and not pretending. like being -- having the thoughts that character is having when the character is thoughts that character is having them as honestly as humanly possible. charlie: a very good actor said to me that the essence of acting is being able to repeat lines as if you just thought them. sam: having a thought -- i think that is an amazing thing to
watch, for an audience to watch an actor have a thought. you see the thought that gives birth to the language of a play and you see that ignite in the actor's imagination. i think the audience just gets so excited to see that and see someone not faking it. see it actually happening. charlie: what is that about as an actor? oscar: i think as an actor with an audience, it is about synchronicity. you try to synchronize with the other actors and other people so that everyone is moving together almost unconsciously. when you are approaching it that honestly, your body unconsciously behaves in certain ways that the audience unconsciously picks up and suddenly we are all synchronized and moving at the same time together. i think that is when you can really feel things are alive. i think it is about, working on it, there is so much puzzle solving we had to do. well, puzzle solving like what
is -- why suddenly go into a soliloquy here? what are these long thoughts? what are we getting to? once those things can be broken down so clearly, then -- charlie: is that a collaborative what are we getting to? process or a singular process? sam: if you take the idea that the play is not inevitable, what happens next does not have to happen next. it happens next because it happens, why does it happen? we sit and come to some, why would hamlet want his girlfriend to go to a nunnery? you have to know why in that moment that happens and we wrestled with that. we really wrestle hard to try to give good answers to those questions that could be enacted. charlie: you have to put circumstances,he
the motivation of shakespeare at the time he wrote it. sam: i think because most of my career has been with new plays, i work with writers mostly. i'm not used to dead writers. i'm used to it being the person next to me and ask why did you write that? what's going on? with shakespeare, i try to have the same approach even though i can't really know what was going on in that guy's mind. all of that is kind of nonsense. what is important to me is i have that conversation enough to be able to get an answer that works for me. for me, shakespeare was a guy who had just lost his son. to me, he took an existing story of revenge-tragedy and he lost his son and he put his grief into looking at revenge-tragedy and saying maybe this character can't even get through his own revenge plot because he is in such deep grief.
that idea that there is a man, shakespeare, whose son really died and as a playwright trying to grapple with that grief -- whether it is true or not, whether if he could get out of his grave and talk to me, he would tell me i'm totally off base, it helped me stay specific about the world we were making. a real person with deep feelings who put those feelings into an imaginary story and we have to bring that story to life. charlie: what is the answer to why did shakespeare have such genius? sam: that's crazy. oscar: at times, i think he was keyed into some -- i don't know what happened there. i think particularly with this play -- charlie: in the few passages, oh my god. sam: i believe in the theory of evolution.
that things get better through -- it develops in stages. he took pre-existing material and he filtered it through this his own company and put it in front of an audience and he got response from the audience every night and he keeps getting better and better. there is something about that, to me, that proves the theory of evolution to me. oscar: i think it was slightly accidental too. charlie: evolution is also learning from your mistakes. sam: it is not creationism. he was not born with a pen in his hand and wrote "hamlet." he had these collaborators. he had these actors he worked with, these audiences giving him feedback. it happens in layers and stages. charlie: the public theater is a great place to stage this production? sam: they were amazing. amazing institution. they were really supportive and gave us a great home for a very important project.
charlie: you have actors playing more than one part. sam: we have a small company, nine actors and a 10th performer who plays music. the way they -- because there is a play within a play, players and actors within the play, the play provides an interesting opportunity to see people play multiple roles and always be actors, always be the players. charlie: you always have time to return to the theater no matter how many acting roles you have in film? you will always come back? oscar: yeah, the last play i did was with sam which was seven years ago. it'd been quite a time away, but return to the theater no matter doing this again just reminds me how important it is to me and how special it is when you can have that kind of synchronicity with an audience live and say these kinds of words.
charlie: it bounces off them. oscar: it is such a physical sensation. even saying these words and doing it, it is all in here. charlie: it is between you, the stage and the actors and audience -- that is the synchronicity you are looking for. oscar: for sure. to speak of the music, we have an incredible cellist who does a lot of the music for films. he did the incredible soundtrack "cave of forgotten dreams." he is like a one-man band and plays music throughout the show. it is a special thing to be a part of. charlie: thank you for coming. thank you very much. glad to see you. at the public theater until? oscar: september 4. charlie: you don't want to miss this. thank you for joining us. see you next time. ♪
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