tv Charlie Rose PBS May 17, 2011 12:00am-1:00am PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, frederick kempe and his new book "berlin, 1961." >> i became a cold worrier the old-fashioned way, by being a reporter out there, seeing people fight for freedom. i had relatives that were east german who i visited as a student. i then covered poland, the changes in poland, rights of solidarity, the fall of soviet communism, german unification. i today myself, what i care about most is the cold war. and i thought the year that was most decisive but that hadn't been written about as much as i thought it should have been was 1961 and clearly the epicenter of the cold war was berlin. >> rose: and actress keira knightley whose new film is called "last night." >> it's a discussion about what's worse between an emotional betrayal or a physical betrayal and i think what i really loved about it is it doesn't impose morality. it asks the audience to bring
their own life experiences, their own mortality to the piece. i think it's a discussion and i found that really exciting. >> rose: frederick kempe, keira knightley, next. every story needs a hero we can all root for. who beats the odds and comes out on top. but this isn't just a hollywood storyline. it's happening every day, all across america. every time a storefront opens. or the midnight oil is burned. or when someone chases a dream, not just a dollar. they are small business owners. so if you wanna root for a real hero, support small business. shop small.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: fedrick kempe here, president and c.e.o. of the atlantic council. he's also a journalist and author. his latest book is called "berlin, 1961: kennedy, kruschev and the most dangerous place on earth." it looks ater be flynn 1961 and the forces and pernal tease that shape the building of the berlin wall and therefore the cold war. this august march 50 anniversary since the wall was built, i am pleased to have my friend frederick kempe on this program to talk about this book.
welcome. >> thank you, charlie, great to be here. >> rose: when did you decide that this was a great thing to do? >> i read margaret mcmillan's book "paris, 1919" and i today myself-- this was my fourth book. and i said to myself "that's a really interesting idea. a city and a place that changed history. and i said, as you know, i became a cold warrior the old-fashioned way, by being a reporter out there, seeing people fight for freedom. i have relatives that were east german who i visited as a student. i then covered poland, the changes in poland, solidarity... right of solidarity, fall of soviet communism, german unification. and i said to myself what i care about most is the cold war and i thought the year that was most decisive but that hadn't been written about as much as i thought it should have been was 1961 and then clearly the epicenter of the cold war was berlin. so berlin, 161. >> rose: so how did you go... you went and had access to lots of documents that had not been seen before?
>> i got access to some documents that hadn't been seen and then i also accessed lots of documents that hadn't been used. >> rose: right. >> and there were soviet documents, there were german documents and there were u.s. documents. but the story that i ended up really spending a lot of time on because it became clear to me early on in my research that this is the story that wasn't told was the story of president kennedy's first year in office and his foreign policy regarding berlin. >> rose: you call it one of the worst first years in presidential history. >> and i'm sure i'll pay for that with... it will be the most controversial point in the book. but kennedy admits it himself. he says at the end of the year in a conversation with ellie able who was the... his... my dean at columbia university journalism school but at that time he was the detroit news bureau chief, the washington bureau chief and ellie able came up to him and said "i want to write a book about your presidency, the first year of your presidency." and kennedy said "why would
anyone want to read a book about an administration that has nothing to show for itself but a string of disasters." and if you look at it, he's right. the bay of pigs, botched invasion of cuban exiles that he allowed to go ahead but didn't give the teeth to succeed. the vienna summit with nikita kruschev by kennedy's own account to the "new york times" he was savaged, he calls it the worst day in his life, felt he showed kruschev a lot of weakness, and then the building of the berlin wall which i think was a total outgrowth of the bay of pigs and the vienna summit where kruschev was relatively confident that he could go ahead shut down the border, stop a hemorrhage of refugees out of east germany without kennedytor west really doing anything to oppose him. >> rose: you said? the book and i said in the introduction this is about two characters and the cold war, that's what it's about. and a city and a wall. but it was real they part of the cold war.
tell me how you saw kruschev and how he's so different. >> you are right. one of the lovely things about this book is his... you know, history sometimes gives you better characters than hollywood a k. and in this case you have a 43-year-old brilliant, handsome, charming son of privilege. and you have a 67-year-old hardened survivor of stall inism survivor of world war ii son of peasants. >> rose: who was illiterate until he was, what? 20? >> he was illiterate into his 20s. the thing that's interesting about kruschev as seen through this book-- and i think we don't understand that authoritarian countries also have domestic politics, and cruise chef was in a situation where he was really fighting for his survival. there was a... in may, 1960, the soviets shot down an american u2 spy plane. that might have looked like a try yum of the many, but for kruschev, who was really fight
for peaceful co-existence with the west, was trying to build a better relationship with president eisenhower, the stalinist remnants came out of the woodwork, mao tse-tung and china came out of the woodwork and said "you're not being strong enough to the u.s., you don't understand the threat of these imperialist capitalists." so going into 1961 kruschev has got a real domestic political problem and in october of that year he has a party congress coming up where he has taken out rivals himself at such party congresses and he knows that his biggest you will haver inability going into this party congress will be the situation in berlin. and-the-that he has to deal with it one way or another. either by negotiating with kennedy or by acting unilateral before his party congress. >> rose: so at the same time he's made a kind of gesture right after kennedy took office of saying "i'll return not francis geary powers but some of the crew..." or some of the people involved. >> rose: it's under the chapter
"kennedy's first mistake." and this really gets to the point of young, inexperienced presidents who think they know more than they do. we don't really prepare our presidents for the presidency. and you're playing match point at the moment you step into office. kennedy... >> rose: that's a nice phrase. >> it's... these are hard jobs and if you... whether it's president obama, whether it's president george w. bush, h.w. bush was a little different, better prepared, or president kennedy, pretty inexperienced at the purpose of running the world before they get into office. kennedy has two things he's looking at. one of them are gestures from kruschev because i think those were quite genuine because i think kruschev was looking for a way to reopen a dialogue with the u.s. president. this is the r.b. 47 pilots on the day after kennedy's inauguration, it was sort of an inaugural gift. he prints his entire inaugural
speech in the soviet press, which was unprecedented. and there are two or three other things he does. kennedy at the same time, however, is reading a speech that kruschev gave january 9. it's tough rhetoric. it's declaring a new cold war escalation across the developing world. he thinks this is a sign to him, it's an epiphany. he sees that this is the real kruschev. but it was really just a routine propaganda speech. but it turns... >> rose: a miscalculation by president kennedy? >> total miscalculation, total miscommunication between the two of them. what happens is he then delivers the most apock lip pick state of the union speeches that has ever been delivered ten days after his inaugural, taking a much harder line with the soviet union and at that point kruschev himself turns in a more hawkish direction in response to that. >> rose: and who was in this process... for kennedy, what lessons was he learning along the way? >> well, sadly, i think he
really didn't learn the lessons until 1962 of the cuban missile crisis. >> rose: listening to people like dean acheson and others or was he not? >> he was listening. the domestic politics of kennedy is awfully interesting in that time as well because he has what were called slobs-- soft liners on berlin-- and these were people liked a lay stevenson, admiral hair man and tommy thompson who was his ambassador to moscow and you had the hard-liners circling around dean acheson. kennedy brings dean acheson, secretary of state for harry truman, president truman, back into his administration partly to protect his hawkish flank because acheson is beloved by the hawks. and as a great man of history himself. so acheson does the initial review for berlin and for nato but kennedy is always on the fence. am i going to go down in
history-- and he wanted to go down in history, he'd made clear he thought he could be a great president like abraham lincoln and franklin delano roosevelt. but he was afraid because they went down in history through war and in the 1960s that meant nuclear war. so don't u do you go down in history by making peace with the soviets or going to war with the soviets? and he tries to strad this will line until after 1961 through the cuban missile crisis it's not possible any longer. he has to stand up to kruschev. >> rose: kennedy and kruschev were... what was it that made kennedy feel like he'd been beaten up. >> it was a two day summit in vienna. if you rewind a bit it was the first year that television played such a role in politics. 1960 you had the first presidential debates live on television, nixon and kennedy. you had the first live presidential press conference and this was really the first live presidential summit with...
in vienna. he was told by his advisors don't get into an ideological debate with kruschev. whatever you do, avoid that. so what does he do the first day? he gets in an ideological debate with kruschev and kruschev is just too good at that. it was almost like a soccer player monopolizing the ball and the field. the second day he goes to berlin and has a presummit agreement that nothing is going to be decided on berlin and kruschev dumps a berlin ultimatum in front of him and says "if you don't help me fix my berlin problem within six months, i'm going to do it unilaterally." caught him totally off guard. one other... >> rose: does that say as much about him than it does about his aides and the preparation he should have had? >> it says... first of all, he went into the summit late notice after the bay of pigs, kruschev only agreed after the bay of pigs so you only had a month and a half. not enough time.
and he's doing it partly to restore his foreign policy luster after having really botched the bay of pigs. so he's coming in already in a weakened position and a lot of people think he shouldn't have rushed to come to a summit when he was already weakened. kruschev, on the other hand, has just put the first man in space, gagarin, so he's riding on a high. and so already you have this problem. then one other problem which other historians haven't really connected to the vienna summit. kennedy was sick and he was in pain. he had chronic back pain, addison's disease, all sorts of different things and going into the summit he had his regular doctor along but he also had a doctor named max jacobson. >> rose: dr. feel-good. >> dr. feel-good. the dr. to truman capote, tennessee williams and he injected him full of a fluid that included animal organ cells
enzymes, vitamins, and amphetamines. so you have a situation where kennedy's fighting fatigue and depression but he's taking something that has the side effects of angstness, impaired judgment, mood swings from depression to euphoria. so this is... i don't know how you feel about your u.s. president, but i'm not sure i'd want the leader of the free world going to meet the leader of the communist world after having been injected with this. >> rose: take know the wall and the building of the wall and whether kennedy could have at that point changed history. >> my view-- and brent scowcroft who writes the introduction-- lightly says history doesn't reveal its alternatives and rightly reminds me that history doesn't reveal its alternatives. that being said, it's my view that if kennedy at vienna had
said very clearly what he would tolerate and wouldn't tolerate and he wouldn't tolerate any change of easter lynn statustor border status that kruschev would not have done the construction of the wall august 12, 13. what kruschev didn't need ahead of his october party conference was taking a huge risk or having a big failure in berlin. if he could have a win in berlin that was terrific. instead of sending him an unambiguous message that you better not change anything in berlin, kennedy instead sent the message as long as whatever you do stays within your own borders. if you don't disrurpt west berlin access or west berlin freedom, if you read between the lines, that's the message. i can put up with that. and the reason he's done that is pretty clear. kennedy has a world to worry about.
he has nuclear weapons to worry about. he wants to get a nuclear test ban. berlin stands in the way because kruschev is so nervous about it imploding. he thought he would get a more cooperative negotiating partner if kruschev were allowed to fix his berlin problem. and, again, another tragic misreading. instead he got a soviet leader who was willing a year later to try to put nuclear weaponss in cuba. so... but he... kennedy's biggest concern at that point was nuclear war and he thought that's what could erupt over berlin. >> rose: what do we know about how the russians saw ken economy? >> we know that in the runup to the election kruschev... during the election kruschev was already getting intelligence, questioning kennedy's character, questioning his strength. some of these issues regarding kennedy's womanizing were already known to russian intelligence. and also known to west german
intelligence. the west german chancellor knew about that as well, which is part of the reason why he was worrying about kennedy's strength in office. so kruschev much preferred kennedy to be elected because he definitely didn't like vice president richard nixon. but on the other hand, hi wasn't sure what kind of president, he would be dealing with. so they looked at that i mean way but he was also harder line than other democrats. he actually led a more hawkish campaign toward the soviet union than did richard nixon, partly to... and he may not have won the election if he hadn't gone in that direction. so he went very much to the right of richard nixon on issues to dealing with military defense in the soviet union. >> rose: so what impact did it have on the cold war? >> it extended it by 30 years. now, would it have been extended anyway by 30 years? perhaps. but the wall froze everything in place.
>> rose: or if there had been changes in the soviet bloc or if you had gorbachev come on earlier it might have... >> yeah. look. when president... >> rose: did... go ahead. >> when president kennedy acquiesced to the wall he could not have known that it was going to fall down 28 years later. he just couldn't have known. he was acquiescing to a situation, a status quo that he was willing to live with if it didn't get any worse. at that point, we were worried about things getting worse with the communist world. communism would spread even further. so to lock in the status quo and to get in a situation where eastern europe is yours, east berlin is yours, west europe... west berlin is ours. president kennedy went further than any president before him to accept the division of europe. >> rose: any lessons in this for america and the world today? are they comparisons to be made between barack obama and john kennedy?
>> well, there's a simple lesson and there's a complex lesson. the simple lesson is when american presidents show weakness and indecisions to their adversaries and their friends you can very often end up paying that. whether it wiese the soviet union of that time or whether it's iran now. the more complex thing is when is it that presidents really learn and how do they learn and when do they become presidents? did president obama become president last week with the killing of osama bin laden? was that his cuban miltz crisis? president kennedy didn't live long enough for us to know... he had the cuban missile crisis, then he went to this triumphant berlin speech. he turned tougher toward the soviet union. so in some ways i'm watching obama now to see whether this osama bin laden moment has a larger impact on his presidency but i do think that even though we have very, very periods of time, half century apart, young, inexperienced, relatively
inexperienced brilliant charismatic presidents dealing with, i think, the 2011 is going to be every bit as important to world history as 1961 was if not more important. >> rose: really. because of osama bin laden? >> because of the middle east upheavals. >> rose: right, because of arab spring. >> right. and what a president does at times like 1961 and at times like the middle east upheavals is magnifyed in terms of its impact and ramifications. >> rose: so how do you assess what the president's done so far? >> in libya, i would have made some comparisons to the bay of pigs in the sense that people who told him to intervene... not to intervene. kennedy was told by some not to intervene at the bay of pigs. he didn't listen to them. obama was told by some not to intervene in libya. >> rose: even his secretary of defense said it was not a great idea. >> chair of the joint chiefs. a lot of people were telling him not to intervene. he didn't listen to it. on the other hand, other people
were saying "go all out. if you're going to intervene, you better be successful." and kennedy was given that option. obama was given that option. neither one of them took it. clearly these two situations, it's much more complicated, these comparisons, but i would have said that obama needs to be careful. whether or not this was the right course, he had to be careful how he was perceived. you saw the saudis move into bahrain. you see the iranians taking certain measures. when a u.s. president is perceived as weak it does have knock-on impact. and that's why i'm saying that the picture with osama bin laden you know, these are not black-and-white situations. but the perception of american power is still quite crucial to the world at times of historic change. >> rose: it is so far a fascinating story of a president who decides that he... that this may be an opportunity but he carefully goes through it and has a series of national security meetings and then the end listens and there was a divided advice and makes the decision on his own
understanding the risks, clearly understanding the risks. the risks that might have happened on the ground and the risks that it might be for his political future. >> kennedy was much the same sort of personality in the sense that people would talk about his cabinet meetings and seminars where he would draw out of everybody what they felt about the situation. he did this with the soviet experts. would never reveal at the meeting which way he was going but take all the information in and then go away and then make the tough decisions or not. >> rose: my sense is that is... i was thinking about this, actually. is that when you get to where the president is-- president obama or president kennedy-- you have reached a level in which you have got therein because you have trusted your own judgment. and in the end you want to make the judgment based on as much information, as much opinion, as much consideration as you can, but in the end you know it's your call and you have to make that judgment. you can't simply let it be a judgment of which you take a recommendation.
>> but that's why year one for a new president is so dangerous. because you're so confident of your judgment. >> rose: because you've won the election. >> but you don't yet have the experience, and you don't yet have the body of knowledge. so i think the mistakes one makes in year one of a presidency are much more likely than in year three, year four, or in a second term. george w. bush's second term was actually a pretty good second term. but if 9/11 had not taken place in his first term, would he have responded... within his first year, sorry, would she responded somewhat differently? i don't know, but he certainly wouldn't have responded the same. >> rose: so what's the judgment going to be about george bush, the response to late gore to iraq? >> there's still a lot of time to play out, as you know, when henry kissinger asked mao
tse-tung about the french revolution he said "it's too early to tell whether it was a success." so i think it's... >> rose: too early to tell. >> it's early to tell but on the other hand it really took our eyes of the ball. i think that even president bush himself in his own more honest moments might want to review that decision and think about it somewhat differently. there's no doubt that some of the top foreign policy minds in washington believe that it was one of the biggest follies, errors, in american presidential history. certainly it's the judgment of many of the... >> rose: do you think that's that large of a mistake today? >> yeah. if you look at the costs that have been built up, if you look at the distractions, if you look at our... how far we're stretched, i think that's right.
things could still turn out for the best in iraq. one has to stay engaged there. one did break up a logjam there. but i don't think we ever went in thinking it was going to be quite this long or quite this... >> rose: and afghanistan might have been different. >> i think if we had stayed focused on afghanistan-- which is really where the heart of the problem was-- and where the 9/11 attacks began and where the taliban and al qaeda had found their way together i think we might have had a situation where afghanistan would be a lot further along and we wouldn't be in a situation where in iraq. >> rose: you suggest here that the present day analogy for president obama is u.s./iran.
where president kennedy was u.s./soviet union. >> it's so much more complicated now. it was so clear for president kennedy who his adversary was and in today's world it's just not as clear. we have a reset relationship with russia, but on the other hand russia has a relationship with georgia and with ukraine that could cause us problems. we have a relatively peaceful relationship with china but on the other hand we have a host of difficult trade negotiating issues, competitive issues in latin america and china and then we have iran where we're not really at war with iran but on the other hand there's a great competition the middle east for influence. so i think the reason i raise iran is it's what comes closest to mind of an issue that we have to deal with quite soon which is its nuclear capabilities and also how iran is responding to middle east upheaval and that's
where i think the perception of presidential weakness or strength could play a real role today. >> rose: but do i hear you saying that before the killing of osama bin laden that the judgment on the foreign policy of president obama would have been low? low grades? >> you and i both talk to a lot of ambassadors and diplomats and foreign officials, and when you talk to them in their private moments, there was a lot of questioning about whether this president had the stuff for global leadership and you were hearing more and more of that from the chinese, from some of our european allies, and from others. what didn't come out in public was being said privately and in some ways he hasn't really engaged in foreign policy on a personal-to-person basis with a lot of these foreign leaders and so you were hearing a lot of that. and, you know, one action on one night in one place in pakistan
doesn't change... you wouldn't think changes the whole face of a presidency. but on the other hand only the president could make that decision and he took the more risky course, which was not dropping a bomb from a drone in the place and leaving in the shards but rather sending in a squad of seals to do a much more difficult job, to extract the intelligence. and these are moments that only the president can decide and in some respects president obama became president of the united states last week. and in some respects i think that's also true of president kennedy, that his learning moment-- and i don't know this for obama, historians will have to deal with that-- but his learning moments were berlin 1961.
it was the bay of pigs, it was the vienna summit, it was this early mistake, it was the berlin wall and then the showdown which we hadn't talked about but that was also a standdown on the u.s. side in terms of the principle that was at stake then. and all of that was a learning bloplt kennedy finally stood up to kruschev in cuba. but what my book makes clear is cuba never would have happened, never would have happened if kennedy had... if kruschev had walked away fromer be flynn 1961 with a conviction that kennedy could not be had. >> rose: because he would never put nuclear missiles in cuba. >> nuclear missiles 100 miles off the u.s. coast that could hit washington and new york. khruschev actually said that he felt he could get the missiles in and by the time kennedy would find out they would already be in place and from his previous experience he didn't believe that kennedy at that point would take any action. >> rose: this book is called "berlin, 1961: kennedy, khruschev, and the most dangerous place on earth." frederick kempe, thank you. >> thank you, charlie.
>> rose: keira knightly is here. to another e.r.a. think atonement, think pride and prejudice, earned an oscar nomination for that, here is a look at some of her work. >> elizabeth, will you marry me? >> you pledge your allegiance to rome, to those who take what does not belong to the that same rome who took your men from their homeland. >> listen, lady, do not pretend you know anything about me or my men. >> how my britains did you kill. >> as many as tried to kill me. >> animals is the natural state of any man who wants to live free. >> so this is your opinion of me? >> thank you for explaining so fully. >> perhaps you can overlook your pride. >> a bit of scruples about our
relationship, do you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your circumstances. >> throws the words of a gentleman! >> from the first moment i met you, you are selfish disdain for for others realized you were the last man in the world i could be prevailed upon to marry. >> do you know what i am talking about, don't you? >> you knew before i did. why are you crying? >> don't you know? yes, i know exactly. >> you don't know me i the least, do you? >> we are a bad match. i asked but two things, loyalty and a male heir. >> the same as your dogs. >> don't touch me. don'touch me!
>> get off! >> it is funny, i thought about you every day for the last few months, to see you again. i didn't think i would see you again. but yet i felt sure that i would. it is impossible to be complete without seeing you one last time. >> rose: she returns now with last night, set in contemporary times and explores marriage, trust, and betrayal. here is the trailer for the film. >> are you ready? >> yes. i am all set. >> wait, wait, wait. hello. >> laura, this is my jo an nancht hello. >> he is a new designer. >> pretty. you never mentioned that. >> what is that supposed to mean? >> she is going to philadelphia.
>> joanna. >> alex. i can't believe this. >> yes, sure. the timing -- >> why are you getting a divorced? >> no. hey, who are you? >> oh, i am grabbing a bite. >> would you like another? >> i would love another drink. just not here. >> alex! >> i had no idea you were seeing someone in new york. >> oh, no. we are just friends. >> have you ever been with someone else since you have been married? >> no.
>> >> wha what happens? >> i think of joanna. >> remind me -- >> geography andxd timing. >> so you were with him because he came first? >> he did, and i love him. and i love you too. >> are you happy? with what? with your marriage. i am pleased to have keira knightley back at this table. >> rose: i am pleased to have keira knightley back at this table. welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: we were just starting to talk about... you just came
off stage. >> i did. just came off stage, yes. >> rose: what was the production? >> the play was of "a children's hour" by lillian hell man. >> rose: oh, lillian hellman. >> yes. >> rose: did you enjoy it? was it something you wanted to do? >> the play or theater in general? >> rose: both. >> the play i thought was extraordinary and it's very difficult to find female roles like the ones in that particular piece and so i was very excited by that. the director is a man called ian rick swhon has his production "jerusalem" on broadway at the moment and i loved his work so i wanted to work with him. yeah, i did one theater production a year before which was my first and just thought it was so interesting and you can learn such a lot from it that i thought i really wanted to do it again. >> rose: one of the hallmarks of reading about you is the idea of learning and growing. >> hmm. >> rose: hmm. >> i think expansion and trying to get better and growth is very important. >> rose: you're in favor of growth and expansion? >> yeah, it would be a big shame if you just stopped and did the same thing. >> rose: so how did you grow? by the people you associate with? >> absolutely. the experiences you have, i think it's one of the major burdens of my job and a huge
privilege to be able to play characters where i get to learn something new, you know? like... i mean like "atone." and i got to read about the second world war and immerse myself in that and films at the time and read books i would have never necessarily read if i hadn't been doing that piece. and i've got a film coming out later this year about freud and jung and psychoanalysis and that gave me months of reading about psychoanalysis so i would never have gotten an opportunity to do that had it not been for that piece of work. so i think... >> rose: someone once said to me the great thing about acting beyond the challenge and the art of it all is that you get to go to interesting places and you get to learn about something that has nothing to do with anything you've known the past. >> it's wonderful. it's nearly the best part of the job, actually, the learning. >> rose: so tell me about this movie. >> this movie is about infidelity. >> rose: hmm.
>> it's a discussion. it's a discussion about what's worse, between an emotional betrayal or a physical betrayal. what i really loved about it is it doesn't impose morality. it asks the audiences to bring their own morality to the piece. so i think it's a discussion with the people and i found that exciting. >> rose: so you enter into this conversation about whether i am more betray bid emotional intimacy or physical. >> and it was terribly interesting. going into it i always thought emotional betrayal was worse. and that sparked huge arguments with everybody on set. >> rose: there a male/female divide on this? >> i thought would be. i thought possibly the female point of view would be that the emotional betrayal was worse and the male point of view would be the physical betrayal was worse and sometimes that's the case but quite a lot it was completely the opposite. so i think what i found out is that it's about the individual and not the gender. >> rose: before you went into this were you lening one way or the other? >> i was thinking emotional and i think i still do.
but it depends on the people and the time of their lives. there are so many different factors. this week it could be t emotional betrayal and next week the physical betrayal. who knows? talking to different people everybody else has a different opinion so i don't think everybody has a blank answer which is why infidelity as a subject matter can be written about and so many films can be made about it and there are never any answers. >> rose: take a look at this. before i show you this clip, tell me about how you feel about jealousy. >> jealousy's a fascinating one. >> rose: yes, i know. >> it's completely destructive. i think it's probably one of the emotions that has no positive to it whatsoever and yet you can't avoid it. >> rose: you you have... ego is all tide up in it. >> absolutely. yes. >> rose: here it is. this is your character joanna and she's watching her husband and a person that works with him. >> where is michael anyway? >> oh, here he is.
>> joanna... >> i'm going go to the ladies room. >> okay. >> rose: so there's a jealous woman. >> there's a jealous woman right there. >> rose: but she survives this, doesn't he? >> yes, but i think the character i play is somebody he who thinks she's entirely secure in her own life at this particular moment. she knows who she is, very confident in her relationship. >> rose: very confident in her profession? >> perhaps. on the surface, at least, she's confident. and then suddenly something happens and everything gets
rocked, and i think we do always think we've got a handle on things and then suddenly these things happen and whether it's a jealous moment and suddenly you find yourself if i recall spiraling down and you have to question everything. >> rose: then after this happens and other things add to her anxiety about this relationship and then all of a sudden... let me see if i've got this here. all of a sudden we meet your ex-boyfriend in the character you play, alex, right? >> yes. >> rose: but before that would she have been open to alex if she wasn't hurting from her anxiety about her husband? >> well, that's a big question, isn't it? possibly. he's very charming. possibly. >> rose: alex is. >> alex is, yes. >> rose: we have two clips to show. this is you and michael played by... >> sam worthington. >> rose: from "avatar" fame. husband and wife talking about
relationships. >> prey. >> what? >> you never mentioned that. >> laura? >> yes, laura. didn't you describe her as "whatever"? >> i don't remember. >> you didn't tell me she was in l.a. with you. >> she wasn't in l.a. with me. we were just there. >> michael, face me. you didn't tell me anything about her before tonight, but then i think you know that. >> rose: so there you go. >> there you go. >> rose: the plot deepens. yes, it does very much. >> rose: i want to introduce the characters because there's much to be talked about here. this is where you... the scene in which we mentioned earlier joanna runs into an old flame, should we say? >> yes. >> rose: who still carries the flame in his little heart. >> i think so. >> rose: i think so, too.
roll tape. here it is. >> joanna. >> alex, what are you... what are you doing here? >> i have some work here. >> (laughs) i can't believe it! >> yeah, it's been a while. how are you? >> i'm... i'm fine. it's just... i can't believe you're here. how did you know i'd be here? >> i keep tabs on you. >> i'm serious. >> so am i. your christmas cards have the return address on them. >> rose: >> what if i'd moved. >> you haven't. >> how long are you in new york for? >> i leave tomorrow. actually, i'm late for a meeting. will you come to dinner? >> yes. yes, sure. >> good. i'll call later with the time. >> okay.
wait, wait, do you need my number? >> has it changed? >> no. >> then i'll call you later. >> rose: actresses that you admire. we talked about vanessa redgrave. >> yes. >> we talked about ellyn burstyn. and... >> liv ullman. >> rose: liv ullman. what is it they share to recommend to you as a... >> passion, i think. complete passion. >> rose: obsession. >> obsession with what they do. >> rose: yes, because you've said that before. >> really, have i? >> rose: obsession with the craft that you have. >> i think you have to or i don't know whether it's relevant. and i think i've just worked with ellen burstyn and the obsession over the craft is just phenomenal and inspiring and she's constantly seeking and trying to get better. >> so when you talk to these people you talk about life but you also talk about the craft that you both share, the business you're in. >> yeah. yeah. and what do you ask them?
>> i don't know. i... um... i'm not even quite sure. just generally about approaches. ellen is from the actor's studio, and it's a method i don't know much about that. so i was talking to her trying to find out about that. >> rose: so are you still in search of the whole technique of doing what you do? >> yeah. going on stage, the technique of it becomes very... it's very obvious when you don't it which i didn't the first time i went on stage simply with the muscle of the voice i didn't have because i'd never trained it so that was... it was interesting from that standpoint to take it from a technical point of view. i'm constantly thinking about how i can work in the best way, what is the way i like that work. and my method of working constantly changes and i like it to change with the people i work with. i don't like to be strict about it. but when you get an opportunity to work with somebody like ellen who is co-president of the actor's studio al pacino i
picked her brain about it, obviously. >> rose: (laughs) >> what's the secret? and it's fascinating. i find it fascinating because it's what i do and i'm fascinated by it. >> rose: what would be a defining terrific? >> as far as the work goes yes i try to take work. sometimes i don't know whether i manage to do it that because my taste comes into it and if i fall in love with a project that other people think you deal that well and i'm in love with it i'm not going to say no to it because i don't think it's risky enough. but doing theater for the first time last year when i hadn't trained was a risky move. you can't hide behind it. >> rose: what did you have to learn? >> projection. (laughs) quite literally. and also overcoming stage fright. >> rose: you had stage right? >> i think i suffered from stage fright on film but i never knew that that's what it was but it didn't make sense because i wasn't on stage but i think i suffered from it for years and it wasn't until i got on stage that i realized the walls i kept hitting when i was on a film set was pure fear and stage fright. so it was actually a helpful
process to be on stage and be in front of a live audience and be okay, that's what that is and maybe i can find a way of dealing with it now. >> rose: did the audience feed you? did you draw from the audience? >> hugely. it changes every night depending on the mood of the audience and the audience has a completely different character every single night. it's very strange. if they're buoyant than you're buoyant. if they're flat... >> rose: and you can tell quickly. >> you can tell as soon as you step on. >> rose: you can tell by the applause when they first see you? >> it's england so there isn't any applause. it's an america thing. >> rose: exactly. >> it's like meeting a new person and you get the energy from them as soon as you walk in >> rose: on film, how does the fear manifest? shaking? you forget... you would never forget your lines. >> nothing like that. but like not being age to reach that emotional place you want to reach.
not being able to fully kind of engage. not being able to forget there are a million people watching you and cameras literally self-consciousness and you try and fight against it and that means the performances go a little bit average in one direction because you're desperately trying to battle against fear but that stifles a performance so it was something i was aware of and trying to find a way to battle but i didn't know what it was. >> beyond that what's the hardest thing for you to overcome in terms of this remarkable diversity of roles you've had. >> fear is it. >> rose: fear is it. you can get fear. >> fear is the big one and i haven't managed to overcome it. that's the one i'm working on. >> rose: what was it? some great movie mogul said it's all about sincerity if you can fake that you've got it made. >> there you go! okay, that's good to know.
>> rose: what sells going on in your life? >> what else is going on? i am going off to l.a. >> rose: l.a.? what are you going to do in l.a.? >> i'm going do something called "seeking friends at the end of the world with steve car rell." >> rose: it has to be a come day. >> it's a very dark comedy. >> rose: and what about the freud movie? >> that's later this year or next year. it's called "a dangerous method" directed by david cronenberg. >> rose: oh, so it will be dark and dangerous. >> it's very dark. >> rose: did you deeply get into understanding freud? >> i don't know that i deeply did but... >> rose: well, take it. did you slightly get beneath the surface of understanding freud. >> enough to know what i was talking about when i had to say lines. >> rose: i'm interested in the sense of preparation. a sense of how you get comfortable. how you inhabit the character? >> my character play s more into junk. >> rose: what did you learn about jung? >> there's a great book i read.
>> rose: if someone said to you if youz engage in analysis it will make you a better actress. >> lots of people say that. >> rose: i know they do. because they say you'll understand motivation and personality. >> yeah i think... >> rose: so? >> i think there's a big argument to be said for that and for that film i spoke to two analysts. i spoke to a freudian and a jungian analyst. not about myself but the character i was playing and it was fascinating and i previously had meant to do a film about zelda fitzgerald but the money fell through and a friend of my mother's is a psychoanalyst and i got her to read the script. >> rose: your mother's a playwright, isn't he? >> yes. and her friend is a psychoanalyst and she gave me a full kind of analysis on the character which was completely brilliant because it made me see in the a completely different way. i love stuff like that. your father is an actor. >> yeah. >> rose: you were born, as i
remember this story from... you were born because your father said to your mother "if you go sell a play we'll have another child." and lo and behold there will you are. she sold the play. >> she did,. >> rose: and he continues to act? >> yes, yes, he's working right now actually doing chekhov. i can't remember which one. >> rose: on stage in london? >> yes. >> rose: and your mother continues to write plays? >> my mother is currently writing. >> rose: so it was inevitable you would do this? >> possibly. it's very boring. >> rose: did you ever think about anything else? >> no. >> rose: never? >> never. not even for a second. it's weird. >> rose: you would have no idea what you would like to do if you didn't do this? >> i took a year off, three years ago now, to actually kind of go, okay, wait a minute, is this a path you want? >> rose: this is great. you took a year off? >> i did. >> rose: and what did you do? >> i traveled a lot. >> rose: you did? >> i read a lot. >> rose: yes. did you do this by yourself or with a significant other or... >> a bit by myself, bits by various others. >> rose: (laughs)
you don't want to characterize them as significant? >> absolutely not. >> rose: because we'll all be watching. >> i just took a bit of time. >> rose: to find out what question? to answer what question? >> i got very tired and as far as growth goes i felt like i hit a brick wall. >> rose: you plateaued, as we say. >> i plateaued and i was aware of not being able to move forward and i didn't know why and this comes into where the fear thing came from. >> rose: this is great. so you went off in a sense on this journey, not knowing when it would end or did you say "i'm going to do this for a year." >> it didn't have an end.
i was very lucky. how privileged to be able to do that. i was 22... >> rose: you're what, 26 now? >> i'm 26 now. very old for an actor. >> rose: (laughs) yes it is. >> ancient. >> rose: you have only a few good years left. >> i know. so i went off and searched a bit. >> rose: but seriously, tell me what you found out. >> i don't know what i found out. i wanted to act, that's what i found out. >> rose: that's important. you're beginning to say "i don't feel the same motivation. >>" absolutely but it was also about what i like about my job and how i can get the most out of it. >> rose: what did you find snout >> well, that was the learning side and what i love is doing things that challenge me and confront that fear whatever that fear is and i don't like being safe with the work that i do and i don't like doing the same thing again and again and again. >> rose: it's my impression you can choose about anything you want. >> i wouldn't go that far. up? how far would you go? look at what you've done. pefred you pieces. >> yeah. lots of period pieces. (laughs) topen thes of period pieces, yes. >> rose: what is it about you and period pieces? >> i love it because it's fantasy. it's not our world.
and i think a funny kind of way it's easy... i find it easier when i watch films to kind of dive into them and be completely transported if there's nothing i recognize and i think that's why as i kid one of my favorite subjects was world history because it was another time, another place and my imagination could be... i've always loved it and i continue to love it so i will continue to make period films. >> rose: anything else you have great passion to do in the next several years? >> i mean just keep looking out. keep looking at the world and trying to learn and understand it and people think. i think that's very important. i think judgment is very easy. empathy is difficult. >> rose: so you're become more'm pathetic? >> trying to. i'm very judgmental. >> rose: are you? you decide whether you don't or don't like instantly. having to do with food and people and... >> no. i think being judgmental is very difficult and i think it's always somethat that people should work on. >> rose: tell me your your moment because intrigued by her. massy. >> massy tadjedin.
>> rose: she's iranian? >> she's an iranian american. she's the director, writer, and producer of this film and also one of my closest friends and has been since i was about 18. she is a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant woman and really without this film would not be here and she's the reason all of us wanted to make it because she's exceptional. >> rose: among other thing she is has a nice touch. it has a kind of... feeling it's real and... >> she's got very beautiful taste and she's inquisitive about everything and incredibly intelligent and i think you can see the intelligence in the writing and the fact that she doesn't judge the characters i think is a really.... >> rose: are unlike you. >> unlike me. that's a really difficult thing. >> rose: it does maintain your interest in essentially what is two relationships. >> yeah. i mean, yeah, i found it fascinating. it makes you question everything. it makes you... the numbers...
the conversations that you have arnold that we had when we were making it that people have after they've seen it. i find that... again i find that an exciting part of the whole piece. >> rose: thank you. >> thank you. >> rose: "last night" is the film and it has been in limited release since may 6, 2011. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org