tv Charlie Rose PBS August 10, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with a look back at the republican presidential debate on thursday night. joining me ed rollins, nick confessore, nancy cordes, jeanne cummings, and vin weber. >> trump has changed the scorecard for all the other candidates. if your goal was to be the blunt straight talker in this campaign, you cannot pete trump at that. if that was your brand, that's now debate dead. now you're seeing a bit of a bidding war on substance and on abortion, for example. so rubio kind of locked himself into a pretty hard right position on abortion last night. huckabee had gone even further. i think we'll see more of that, differentation on policy which could be good for the primary and bad for the general. >> rose: we continue with jason segel who is playing david foster wallace in the film "the end of the tour."
>> i think somebody with the biggest brain in the room at all times, and what a difficult thinged it just to feel normal and at one with what's going on when you're aware of everybody's meetivations at all times. you can see the angle everyone is working. david lipsky is there to profile him. david foster wallace had done numerous profiles of people so he was aware of how this works and he's watching someone, with all due respect, at that time who probably had lesser skill at that, try to dissect him. and he could see it happening. >> rose: an analysis of the first republican presidential debate, and a conversation with jason segel about david foster wallace when we continue. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> rose: additional funding provided by:
>> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin this evening with analysis of the first republican presidential primary debate. the top 10 candidates faced off in cleveland as fox news moderators questioned them on a range of topics. these included the economy, foreign policy, and social issues. all of the contenders highlighted conservative themes. front-runner donald trump declined to rule out an independent bid. it was good television and one of the most awaited political events of the year. here's a look at some of last night's most memorable moments. >> this election cannot be a resume competition. it's important to be qualified but if this election is a resume competition, then hillary clinton is going to be the next
president because she's been in office and in government longer than anybody else running here tonight. if i'm the nominee, how is hillary clinton going to lect le me living paycheck to paycheck? i was raised paycheck to paycheck. how is she going to lecture me about student alones. i owed over $100,000 just four years ago. >> i'm going to have to earn this. maybe the barrier-- the bar is even higher for me. that's fine. i've got a record in florida. i'm proud of my dad, and i'm certainly proud of my brother. in florida they call me jeb, because i earned it. >> i think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. ( cheers and applause ) i've been challenged by so many people, and i don't, frankly, have time for total political correctness. and to be honest with you, this country doesn't have time, either. >> you fundamentally misunderstand the bill of right. every time you did a case, you got a warrant from a judge. i'm talking about searches
without warrants, indiscriminatelily of all american's records and that's what i fought to end. i don't trust president obama with our records. i know you gave him a big hug and if you want to give him a big hug again, so be it. >> at hillary clinton, i said be at my wedding and she was at my wedding because she had no choice. i gave to a foundation that, frankly, that foundation is supposed to do good. i didn't know her money would be used on private jets going all over the world. it was. >> i just went to the wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay. because somebody doesn't think the way i do, doesn't mean they can't care about him or can't love them. so if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course, i would love them. and i would accept them them. >> it's sad to think right now, but probably the russian and chinese government know more about hillary clinton's e-mail server than do the members of the united states congress. >> i've described many times how my father, when i was a child,
was an alcoholic. he wasn't a christian. and my father left my mother and left me when i was just three years old. and someone invited him to clay road baptist church and he gave his heart to jesus and it turned him and around he got on a plane and he flew back to my mother and me. >> i was appointed united states attorney on september 10 2001. and spent the next seven years might have career fighting terrorism and putting terrorists in jail. >> i'm the only one that separates siamese twins. ( laughter ) ( applause ) the only one to operate on babies while they were still in a mother's womb. the only one to take out half of a brain, although you would think if you go to washington that someone had beat me to it. >> rose: joining me jeanne cummings from the "wall street journal." here in new york, ed rollins a republican political consultant. and served as a senior adviser to ronald reagan. nick confessore is a political reporter for the "new york times." nancy cordes is a cbs news correspondent.
finally, from washington, former minnesota congressman vin weber. he served as a top policy adviser on mitt romney's 2001 campaign and is assisting jeb bush in his bid for the nomination. i am pleased to have all of them on this program. i will not ask you, ben, about jeb bush, but i want to go to your analysis, as a former politician and now a strategist and consultant as to how you saw the debate from yourwn sort of political experience. >> good and bad. i thought-- i thought, first of all, jeb bush did what he needed to do, gave a forceful presentation of his conservative record as governor of florida. we also saw that we have a broad range of candidates in the party, many of whom did quite well last night. that was the good. the bad was the big story today largely still is about donald trump. i had hoped to wake up this morning with people talking mainly about something else, anything else, and we're still talking probably more about donald trump than anything else. and i don't think ultimately that's good. i don't mean particular disrespect to him.
i just think we need to get more of the focus on the other republican candidates. and that started to happen last night. >> rose: but do you think this was the beginning of the end for donald trump or does he have staying power? >> oh, i think he's got a lot of staying power but i think we also saw the seeds of vulnerability planted a little bit last night. he-- he's deified the laws of political gravity that most of us, you know, have lived by all of our lives. and things that he has said and done in the last few weeks would have killed another candidate at other time and we're all scratching our heads how come it hasn't killed donald trump. but i don't think at the end of the day he deifies the law of politics forever. >> rose: ed rollins? >> i totally agree with that. normally debates reinforce your base, whoever that may be, and i think donald trump has an anti-establishment base poop we have an evangelical win, tea party wing, and the will to do, the establishment wing. the establishment wing is never going to accept him.
evangelical wing probably won't over time. the tea party is going to fight foor walker. i think he will diminish over a short period of time. what has held him up and given him all the time is the media coverage. not saying they're pro him but he dominated the media for six, eight weeks, taken all the oxygen out of everybody else. last night's show was basically the donald trump show again. we have some very substantive people. i think we have a of a top six or seven people that will go on and be a very viable candidate >> rose: who had the best night? >> i think marco rubio did. i think bush ask walker did not make the final sale. they didn't hurt themselves, but people aren't saying, "that's my guy, i want to go for him today." and i think carly fiorina is going to get another look here. >> rose: nancy? >> i agree with ed that marco rubio had a great night. he sort of sailed above it all. some of them were engaging with trump. he is the one who made the argument i'm post-2000.
i'm the candidate for the next century. and, you know, i'm just going to rise above the morass. i thought he did well. i thought john kasich-- >> john did well. >> presented himself well, and he had a really low bar. he's still polling in our cbs news polls at 1% or 2%. so, you know, he showed in front of a hometown crowd that was very supportive of him that he's got good ideas and he's got a sense of humor. he made a nod to the people who donald trump is appealing to. he said, "i get it." >> rose: as did marco rubio. >> he said i understand why they like him but he laid out his own platform. >> rose: jeanne? >> i agree with the assessments that have been made. i-- i think in the case of rubio, what made him step apart from the rest is that they threw a couple of zingers at him, and he navigated them right there in live time in front of people really professionally and in a polished way. he was basically invited to say something bad about jeb.
he didn't. he stepped away from that. and so i think that-- that thinking on your feet was pretty impressive from him, and i think that's what made him have a better night than, say, bush and walker. >> rose: nick, overall? >> i think in some ways the most important thing here in this debate is that trump is now at war with fox news. you can be in a war with the media if you're a republican and win. you can't be at war with fox news in a primary and win. you can't dp after megyn kelly like that and win. i think if you're an undecided voter, if you're coming to this fresh, kasich last night was great. i thought he was-- he had the best way of hamming trump-- embrace the resentment or the y, "i get it. the man. you're angry, but there are other solutions." sm i thought that was very effective. >> not only did he fight with fox news but when he was asked about some misogynistic comments he made what, did he do? he made some more misogynistic
comments. calling out megyn kelly. he was still going on twitter at 3:30 in the morning, still working it out of his system-- >> nobody cares about his fight with rosie o'donnell, a feud that's 10 years old now. >> he retweeted someone who called megyn kelly a bimbo and it's just reinforcing what she said about him. >> rose: does somebody have to take him on or will the events take him on? >> i think the events will take him on. i think nick is exactly right but a lot of republicans are going to be very conflicted if they have to defend anybody in the news media, even fox news. but i think-- >> i'll defend fox. ( laughter ) >> but i-- i don't-- i don't think that it's wise for a candidate to take him on directly as their strategy. the candidates that we've talked about, rubio, kasich, walker, bush, that have a real shot, maybe carly fiorina, at being our nominee need to focus on defining themselves and not defining themselves simply in
negative terms towards trump. i think events, because of ed's analysis, i think events are going to deflate him. i think it's going to take a little longer than ed thinks, but somebody who decides to define his candidacy in opposition to trump is to go so because they haven't defined themselves and that's not where you want to be if you want to win. >> rose: what about carly fiorina? you mentioned her. jeanne, what was about her performance in the first debate that made her stand out? >> she knew what she wanted to say. she had polished, precise answers, and she was willing to attack. and the republican party do want to fight her, especially the base. they want someone who will come out and fight for their convictions. and she was willing to take hillary on. she was willing to take on her republican rivals. and, you know, the interesting thing about the happy hour debate is that to get out of
there, somebody's got to take down one of the top 10. so you have to fight to get into that top 10. and she was willing to go there. that is why she was such a standout in that predebate. >> the only problem-- and i have great respect for her and i thought she had a great night last night. i've been in the choosing of a vice president on several occasions, people say she's a candidate for vice president. against a woman we're not automatically going to draw women. she has no political base. she lost california by a million votes. she's somehow got to win her way up. she has to raise money. she somehow has to get numbers to get into the next debate. my sense is she will get a the love media attention the next week but it's a tough hurdle -- >> she is better off today. >> the attention will turn to her business record, her godden parachute when she was fired. >> rose: let me talk about who people who there was a lot of early speculation before this primary season got under way, one, chris christie, and the
senator from kentucky, rand paul. >> i think -- >> they mixed it up a bit. >> they did, to both of their benefits, i think. in fact, before this debate even happened a the love people were predicting that if there was going to be a brawl on the stage, it would be between chris christie and rand paul. you know, it's a long established that there's no love lost -- >> rand paul came for a fight. he even telegraphed it on the morning shows before the debate. >> and he took on donald trump too. both of them have kind of got a little lost in the shuffle lately. they weren't interested in really taking on trump the way some of the candidates who are even lower in the polls have done but yet trump was stealing a lot of their thunder as sort of outspoken conservatives. so they both needed to get intak into the conversation and this fight helped them do it. it was a fight over privacy issues and the the fisa court. rand paul said, "look,," you know, we need to be collecting fewer documents not more from
individuals." and chris christie called him out. he said, "look, i've actually had to take on terrorists. i was a u.s. attorney." he really wanted to remind everyone watching at home that he has this unique experience. and rand paul on the other hand wants to remind people that he is the biggest privacy advocate on the stage. >> but to vin's point, i think he lost almost every one of those exchanges. he came out there to fight. he took several shots at donald trump. he lost almost every one, and to vin's point, if you're being defind as the attack dog and no one knows who you are or what you're about, it's actually not that effective. >> rose: speak to jeb bush now. we have established that you can characterize an adviser, consultant to him and friend, i'm sure. what's wrong with his campaign for those who suggest that he can't seem to bring it all together? he's raised a ton of money, but it is not as strong a campaign as people thought might be. >> i'm not sure i agree with that, charlie.
>> rose: okay. >> i think-- to get pack to the point that ed just made about the debate is one huge event but now we're back to basics. i think that governor bush's campaign has done pretty well with the basics. you made the point they raids a lot of money. they're putting organizations together around the country. i think that the only problem with the bush campaign is there was an expectation many months ago that he was going to come in and completely dominate the field. and what we have found is the field is pretty strong and nobody is able to dominate it, not even donald trump, as quirky as he is. but i think that governor bush is on track. i think he's got serious competitors, strong competitors. but i still think he is the most likely republican nominee and the republican nominee best able to broaden out our appeal in a way that can win the white house back. >> and the clinton campaign clearly still thinks that he is the most likely nominee because he is the one she attacks when she is going to attack 99 on the stump except for the odd comment
about donald trump here and there. he's the one you get press releases from about all the time from the clinton campaign. they still think that he is the person that they need to draw the sharpest contrast with. >> john kasich, though, last night, the last guy to get into this race that mattered stepped into the big leagues last night and my sense is he is someone who can attract the establishment, can have evangelical support. he is going to be a contender. i'm not saying he will win this thing but the potential is there and we have a long ways-- >> charlie, can i. >> rose: go ahead. >> i served with john kasich in the congress. i know him well. i'm pro bush i want to make it clear i am not anti-kasich. he is a great guy. >> rose: rubio? >> i don't know him well but i thought he did well last night. >> rose: will we see a turning point where there is more attention focused on the other candidates and their positions and who they are. >> i think so so. there were three bases to the party. obviously, bush has the establishment element.
christie may have got a few of his fund raisers back but i think kasich is going to have an independent but a very good campaign moving forward. i think the critical thing here is self of the-- we need to get out of 17. we have way too many candidates and the superpacs may let them go on. dut five, six serious people, and i think we talked about them, bush, kasich, they're walker, my sense is that the huckabees, the carsons, rubio it's huckabees, the carsons and those people who have a certain element that likes them very much. they're going to falter as time goes on the not having the money or resources. >> the falter-- the falterers, as ed puts it, will have a great temptation to go hard right. if you think you're not making that cut that ed rollins just defined, you're not in the top five or six, how do you get back in the game you? go hard for the republican base, and there's a little risk in that because they'll drag some of those top five candidates along with them. >> you're absolutely right. >> rose: who has the evangelical vote in the
republican party right now in the primaries? >> i would say that's-- they. >> rose: huckabee? >> they've been rallying around ted cruz. many of them have gone there. huckabee, clearly. last name i'm sure he even helped himself but he's got some support that's residual from when he ran and from his programming on television. what's interesting is that you don't see the-- as many of them rallying around santorum early, even though they were so important in just the last election psyche toll help him win the iowa caucus. so they could still come to him. but cruz moved early, and forcefully and passionately to try to get at-- lock down some portion of that vote. you know, even with his announcement speech. so he-- i think he's got a head start when it comes to the evangelical vote. >> aside from that, if you look
at the debate last night, right, trump has changed the scorecard for all the other candidates. if your goal was to be the blunt, straight talkener this campaign, you cannot beat trump at that. if that was your brand, it's now dead. so now you're seeing a bit of a bidding war on substance and on abortion, for example, right. so rubio kind of locked himself into a pretty hard right position on abortion last night. huckabee had gone even further. i think we will see more of that differentation on policy which could be good for the primary but bad for the general. >> there's nobody that had-- the answer to the question you put, though, charlie is, compared to previous campaigns-- and i'd like to hear what ed has to say about this-- nobody has the evangelical vote that, say, mike huckabee did, or go back further pat robertson in the 80s. i might agree with jeanne that cruz got a little bit of an edge but it's nothing like the
candidates who have used that base in the past. >> the evangelical croat voet, which is obviously very important in iowa, we now almost have a southern preer the the first part of march, and the evangelical is very strong in the south but it's a different evangelical, and i think there will be several candidates that will make that appeal. >> rose: speaking of donald trump, he also in the very first question said he is not ruling out a third party candidacy. >> i would basically love to run an independent campaign against him in new hampshire and line up conservatives to take him out right this. >> rose: you would? now, vin, there are people who have a different point of view on that and they think ross pero kept george bush from winning the presidency. >> there is some postelection analysis that disputes that and argues perot's vote would have split in a couple of different ways and i accept that that data is accurate. i do think in sort of a higher level analysis, the effect of perot throughout the campaign was debilitating to bush.
he was not running to defeat clinton. he was running to defeat bush. and even though his voters at the end probably split evenly i think he had a corrosive effect on the bush presidency. >> four million republicans, four million republicans voted for bill clinton. if those four million voters would have voted for george bush, he would have been president. >> rose: may i turn to the democrats even though the republicans had the field last night, the attention of all of us last night bhap do you make of the campaign so far, vin? >> if we department have donald trump around, the biggest story of the summer would be the decline of hillary clinton's candidacy. if you-- you know, judge her from when she left the secretary of state's office until today, it's been a remarkable collapse in support for hillary clinton. and the bad news, or the worst news is all the negative news stories that have eroded her popularity are not going to go away for a long, long, long time. but she still has a huge lock on the democratic party. i talk to my democrat friends and i don't sense any concern about her winning nomination at
all which is both a good and a bad thing. if she bounces back, that's a good thing. but if she continues to erode and the stories continue to take a toll on her it's a problem for the democrats. >> look, who knows what would happen if she was facing kind of field that these republicans are facing but she's not. her biggest competition is bernie sanders. so she is polling very well among democrats. i think what is very interesting is that in our most recent cbs news poll, when we asked democrats, "do you think she is honest and trustworthy?" three out of four of them said yes. when we asked, do, you view her favorably?" eight out of 10 said yes. so she still has a lot of support. a lot of these people could be saying look, i'm going to hold my nose and vote for her but i really don't want to. but that's not what our polling showed. it showed that they are standing by her. now, obviously, when you throw that question over open to the entire electorate her honest and trustworthy numbers plummet. >> which is a killer. i can just tell you.
i've been in this game for 50 years, if they don't trust you, they're not going to vote for you. and the independent vote tips the balance. i think we're going to be very competitive with her. it's not going to go away. she's not run a very good campaign to date and the most telling story i saw this week was white women starting it move away from her. if she can't hold white women she ain't going to be a viable candidate at the end of the day. >> that was in the "wall street journal" poll we did, and the-- she may be able to hold white women, but that's not all she has to do. she has to expand her support among white women, and so it's two-fold. the challenge to her is two-fold-- hold them and grow because they have-- they already have baked in an expectation that the minority turnout, particularly among african americans, won't be at record levels given that barack obama is not on the ticket. and so when they try to build
the obama coalition, they have to have a way of making up for a potential slip among african american voters. they need that to be for now white women and that looks to be a much bigger challenge for them than we might have thought. that said, we are so early in this race, and no one can predict what the historic nature of her candidacy might ultimately do to the the female vote. >> she's run one of the worst campaigns i've seen. she's got everything going for her, from money to staff to professionals, and i think she's run a terrible campaign and a lot of stuff should have been taken care of months and months ago. >> rose: do you think the e-mails will come out because on somehow, somewhere, they will not have been deleted? >> sure. you can't delete anything anymore. the bottom line is it's all out there. i don't worry about the ben gauzy and house committee. i would be worried about chuck grassley, chairman of the judiciary committee and he has a bone in his mouth and he's as tough a guy as any i've dealt
with. >> or a criminal investigation by the department of justice. >> i think it's a bomb bask argument that we don't want to see a re-run of bush-clinton. >> it's constant. i don't think at the end of the day it's definitive. but it's out there, certainly. and you can see that, and governor bush hases to answer the question all the time and there's a lot of republicans, i think, that simply are fearful that the bush-- a third bush presidency is too high a hurdle to climb. they don't object to the bushes at all. i mean, there's a great admiration for the bush gamily, particularly in the republican party, but even more broadly in the country. i think it fades as people meet jeb bush and distinguish him as an individual, not just a member of a family. but there's no question there's a lot of talk about that. >> rose: one last question for each of you. what will be the defining issue of this campaign once all is said and done? >> leadership and strength in the international arena and what the game plan is because the middle east is going to basically get bigger and bigger
before the election. >> rose: so leadership and foreign policy. >> foreign policy. >> rose: ben? the defining-- >> yeah, i would-- somebody that can convince the country that america can lead again in the world. that's sort of what ed said. i put it a little bit differently. there's a growing sense in this country of pessimism about america's ability to lead in the world and a leader that comes forward and says that's not true. america is still the force for good in the world that it ought to be and we can still lead effectively, that's the candidate that's going to be president of the united states. >> you're always more articulate than i was. >> rose: if he was the candidate -- >> the first foreign policy focus presidential election in several cycles. the economy is improving bit by bit. >> rose: is that because of president obama's stewardship of foreign policy that we're look at that as a divide ago as the decisive issue in the 2016 campaign? >> >> i think it's just what's going to be on the plate. partly it's going to be what's on the plate of the next
president and the big stuff is really foreign policy. >> rose: jeanne? >> >> i actually think we're probably going to come home. if we're talking about a general election, i think that many americans want to find out who is the person that they believe will get the economy churning, not growing bit by bit, but moving again. >> rose: and the last word from my colleague at steebs. >> well, i agree with jeanne. i think that the candidates need to clear a bar on foreign policy. they need to show they would be a strong commander in chief and that they have ideas but i think at the end of the day voters want to know what are you going to do about stagnant wages? what are you going to do about my rising cost of living? how am i going to send my kids to college? how am i going to get ahead? what happened to the american dream? i think these are the kinds of questions people are going to have as we get into the general election. >> tough to answer. >> rose: yeah, tough to answer. thank you, all. we want. stay with us. >> rose: jason segel is here. he is best known for starring in the cbs sitcom "how i met your
mother" and films including "forgetting sarah marshall." he plays the late author david foster wallace in a new film "the end of the tour." and here is the trailer. >> when i think of this trip, i see david and me in the front seat of his car. he wants something better than he has. i want precisely what he has already. >> wallace, welcome to minneapolis. >> david and david. >> we only just met. he's writing a piece. >> what's the story about in your mind? >> just what it's like to be the most talked about writer in the country. that sort of thing. >> you're, like, a nervous guy, right? >> no, no, no, i'm okay. how are you? >> because i'm terrified. >> i gotta ask-- what is with the bandanna? >> i know it's a security blanket for me. whenever i'm afraid my head is going to explode. >> if we ate like this all the time what would be wrong with that? >> like good seductive
entertainment, like can the die hard." >> the first can the die hard?" the best. >> i think the book is about anything bthe question of why. why am i doing it and what's so american about what i'm doing? >> i'm responding to your work and your work is really personal and reading you is another way of meeting you, is that right? >> that's so good. thank you. ♪ i don't know >> i think there's a sort of sadness in people under 45 that has something to do with pleasure and achievement and entertainment. like a sort of emptiness at the heart of what they thought was going on. i have a real serious fear of being a certain way. i treasure my regular guyness. >> you don't crack open a 1,000 page book because the author is a regular guy. do you it because he's brilliant. >> what is with you? >> what is with you? >> i'm not so sure you want to be me. >> be a good guy.
>> the more people think you're really great, the bigger the fear of being a fraud is. >> the books exists to stop you from being lonely. it reminded me of what life is like and the conversation is the best one i ever had. >> this is me talking into a tape recorder. i'm smoking, having said i wouldn't smoke, i'm smoking just me and you and the tape recorder. i am pleased, very pleased to have him here at this table. welcome. >> thank you. thanks for having me. this is a real dream. >> rose: how so? >> well, i watched your show growing up, to be honest, and i watched your interview with david foster wallace over and over again and nprep for the movies. it was one of the few examples i had of him during this period, which is a really important
distinct period because things are going well at that moment. and you see him as sharp as you can possibly see him. but also, in my opinion, i mean, all of these things are guesses as i prepared to play him. but i think there's some sort of moment going on where things go as well as you've dreamed that i they will go and you're confronted with the fact that you still feel the same. >> rose: yes. >> and it's a very scary moment, i think. >> rose: tell me more about him. >> well, i suppose he's a writer who resonates with people so deeply because he feels like one of us. when i read "infinite test," that's probably the best way i can describe him is to tell you my experience with him. when i read "infinite jest" it came at a very particular time in my life where i had been working for about 17 years in this business and had zeroing
degrees of success and some of them-- some real high-highs. and i found myself feeling really dissatisfied. like, if anything was supposed to do it, dancing down the street with the muppets should have done it. you know what i mean? for a guy like me, that should be it. i should be-- i should go to sleep feeling really good that night, but i found that voice in the back of my head that either tells you you're doing great or you're nothing. i just wasn't friends with it. >> rose: you're doing great but it's not enough. >> yeah, that's right. and i read "infinite jest" exi felt like-- i felt like it was me, or one of my friends, but with the emotional vocabulary that you wished you had who was able to articulate these feelings that you don't know how to express, that you push down, that you try to ignore, that you're embarrassed of. and all of a sudden, you feel like, "oh, my god! i've got a friend." and he's willing to do the
talking for me. >> rose: this movie is about the tour he did, where he was full of offense-- going from town to town, followed by a "rolling stone" writer, and in a sense who wanted to be him. >> yeah, that's right. a book comes out and people say it's the book of a generation, the awards have been decided. i would imagine that as a writer himself, david lipsky looked at that thinking if if i could just get there. >> rose: exactly. where david foster wallace is, is where i want to be. >> and you have david foster wallace looking back at this kid, his younger self, saying, "hey, i have bad news. i found out there's no 'there've. this road goes on forever so unless i make there right now i'm going to have a really hard time." >> rose: this is the scene where he's talking to david lipsky about his discomfort. here it is. >> you know what i would love to do, man? i would love to do a profile on one of you guys who is doing a
profile for me. it would be interesting, though. >> you think? >> i'm sorry, man. >> what's wrong. >> it's just you're going to go back to new york and, like, sit at your desk and shape this thing however you want, and to me it's just extreme he disturbing. >> why is it disturbing? >> because i think i would like to shape the impression that's coming across. i don't even know if i like you yet. i'm a little nervous about whether you like me. >> rose: wow. that was for him and for me a sense of being able to pierce right through which was the essence of the moment. >> yeah. i think somebody with the biggest brain in the room at all times, and what-- what a difficult thing it is just to feel normal and at one with what's going on when you're aware of everybody's motivations at all timeses. david lipsky is there to interview him, to profile him. david foster wallace had done numerous profiles of people so he was aware of how this works.
and he's watching someone, with all due respect, at that time who probably had lesser skill at that, try to it dissect him. and he could see it happening. >> rose: yeah. that's really the remarkable thing. he knew all the moves, so, therefore, he knew-- >> that's right. >> rose: he knew every moment. >> rose: take a look at this. this is an interview i did with david foster wallace which, as i said to jason, a list of 10 of the interviews i get asked about the most, this is one of them. >> i'm going to look pretentious. >> rose: worrying about how you look and just be. >> i have news, coming on a television shows stimulates what am i going to look like? you may now be such a veteran you don't notice it anymore. >> rose: what did it do to you? "newsweek," truly remarkable, what weird fun, to read the "new york times." wallace is one of the big talent of his generation, who can
seemingly do anything. that's the way i feel about you. i'm a little bit-- i hear a brain at work there, sort of where do you want it to go? what does it-- >> i think not exploding would be a start. that kind of stuff, i dissorbate very well, and it's a useful talent. writing for publication is a very weird thing because part of you-- part of you is a nerd and you want to sit in libraries and don't want to be bothered and are very shy. and the other part of you is the worst ham of all time-- look at me, look at me, look at me-- and have fantasies of writing something that makes everybody drop to one exweerk like al jolson. to get just a little bit of it is very, very strange. very often for me, i didn't israel reada whole lot of the reviews but a lot of the positive ones to me seemed to misunderstand the book. i wanted it to be extraordinarily sad and not particularly postmodern or jumbled up or fractured and most
of the people, the reviewers who really liked it seemed to like it because it was funny or erudite or interestingly fractured. >> rose: i just loved talking to him, the whole sense of his capacity and command of language. >> yeah. well i think he worked for the dictionary at the end of his life. that's not a joke. he was literally defining words for the oxford dictionary. i could be wrong, but i think that's true. i heard him say something else on a recording because david lipsky, the "rolling stone" reporter, recorded these and made them available to me and about the subject he was just talking about david lipsky says, "it must feel good to have people respond to the book the way they have." and he says, "well, i'm not a dummy." i'm paraphrasing. a lot of these reviews came out two weeks after the book came out. it takes three months to read this book properly. the reviews are about the buzz of the book, not about the book of itself. it's a tough brain to live inside. >> rose: and insightful, too. >> that's right. >> rose: you were not an
obvious choice for that. >> yeah, that's right. >> rose: and why did the director want you? because he pretty much made up his mind pretty quickly. >> yeah. it was a really interesting moment for me, honestly. as a man. the director said that he saw something behind my eyes in my comedy, dating back to "freaks and geeks" when i was a kid that was very sad. and i knew what he was talking about. but to have somebody so-- to have somebody point it out so explicitly and say, "i see this, and this is not something for you to be ashamed of. you should build around that. that's special." >> rose: what's amazing to me, and admiring as well, is that you realized that you were paying attention to all the
people who didn't think you were right or had something to say or visualize david foster wallace and his movie portrayed in a certain way, which wasn't necessarily your way, partly of what they thought of you in terms of experience, weather comedy or whatever it might have been. and you said i'm not going to pay attention to that. i'm going to pay attention to what i have to do which is capture him and understand him, his mannerisms, his voice, his inflections. >> well, you know, here's the challenge, the challenge in our ego out of it, which i've gotten much better at doing. there is some version of being resentful-- they don't think i can do it. i'll show them-- which is not going to help me. what is the truth when i heard that is i understood. you butt up against people's imagination. they have plenty going on in their own lives so there's no reason for them to try to take the time of having a nuanced view of what i might be capable of doing. it's just not their job. >> rose: i know exactly what
you mean. >> what was my job was to eliminate all of the voices that were telling me i couldn't do it and to be honest, the loudest one was my own. i was not really worried about anybody else's voice. i was worried about the part the me that might have tried to play this part apologetically, just that littlest bit, so that when you watch the movie, he doesn't really buy it. and fidon't buy tnobody else does. >> rose: you're about the same height? >> we're about the same height. >> rose: 6'4"? >> that's right. >> rose: i'm always interested in whether a director is influenced not only by talent-- which he obviously is-- but also physical resemblance. he made you look like david foster wallace. >> it was a really amazing team of hair and makeup people and wardrobe. and we had a photograph from the actual four days. like, we knew exactly what he looked like during that period. and it's like you said, what-- what you're trying to balance, especially coming from comedy,
is accuracy versus butting up against an impression. you don't want it to feel like, oh, look, he's doing david foster wallace. you want to get to the point somehow where you have captured a witch's brew of things stow that the audience is willing to say, "for the next hour and a half, he is david foster wallace." >> rose: i can see david foster wallace. i don't see an actor trying to imitate david foster wallace. >> that's right. i think so. i felt like, by the time they said, "action," confident enough to feel that way. >> rose: i always wonder, too, with the talent that he had, whether there was anything anybody anybody could have done to stop him from doing who he did, to hang himself and commit suicide. >> i just don't know. i think that it's very-- most unqualified to answer the question, i should start by saying. i think when you deal with issues like this and-- we all
have-- we all have zeroing degrees of these feelings, varying degrees of these feelings, but i think when you have them acutely, one of the things you're aware of is it's your job to manage your feelings moment to moment. i think it's a little bit like having a twisted ankle. even though i'm sitting here i'm aware i have to stand at the end of this interview. >> rose: and i know what it is going to feel like. >> right around the corp if i'm not careful these feelings are there and they're going to take me somewhere-- they're going to take me for a ride, someplace i have no control over. i think you lose-- you lose control or you get a little liz diligent, and something overtakes you. he writes really beautifully about depression in a lot of his work, and the sort of overpowering nature. you know, you hear this idea of, like, just kind of feel your way out of it. and i think it shows a lack of understanding of how completely immersive that feeling is.
>> rose: did he talk about it to lipsky much? >> he did talk about it a bit. there are some things in the recording that really moved me. one of them is when he talks about using every mental gymnastics was the phrase he used, and it really hit me-- using all the mental gymnastics at his disposal just to feel okay. and it's one of the things that's raised in the movie. it's a facade that david foster wallace is putting on for lipsky's benefit. and i think that there is a facade but i don't think it's for lipsky's benefit. i think it's for his own benefit. >> rose: go ahead. >> yeah, just to construct a version of yourself where you feel okay moment to moment. a lot of this stuff is stort of fake it till you make it, like i'm going to choose to feel okay today. >> rose: the interesting thing about manic depression, and we have done programs about it at this table, it is that there are people who have been there and are there talk about how severe the pain is, just pain. >> there's a passage from
"infinite jest" where a girl is brought into the hospital after a failed suicide attempt and the doctor says, "why did you want to hurt yourself?" and she laughs. she smirkz at him and says, "you think i wanted to hurt myself. i was trying to end the pain." >> rose: the interesting thing, too, about david and what he's talked about and what sort of is at the core of the film is this observation about things. he knows he's in the throes of it, but he almost wants to be bemused by it all. or more. >> yeah. well, what-- what a tough dichotomy to desperately just want to feel normal and at one with what's going on, and all of a sudden, everyone wants you to be other, wants you to be something other than-- glipt ?r they want you to be the person they imagine you to be. >> i have a feeling about fame,
meeting your idols and things like that. you need them to be other than you because it justifies -- it justifies for lipsky why his book didn't do as well. > rose: yeah, exactly. >> "oh, it must be because he's david foster wallace." >> rose: exactly right. "if i had what he had, i'd be where he is. that's the difference between us." this is another clip talking about the appeal of alanis morissette. here it is. >> you can do me a favor? can you tell me about that poster over there? >> oh, anna. >> yeah. >> i don't know. i guess i'm susceptible, like everybody else. why? >> i mean, she's pretty, all right-- >> she is pretty. she's pretty in a very sloppy, very human way. you know, she's got this, like, squeaky orgasmic quality to her voice. here's what it is. a lot of women in magazines are pretty in a way that is not erotic because they don't look like anybody that you know. >> true. >> yeah, like, you can't imagine them putting a quarter in a parking meter or, like, eating a
baloney sandwich. whereas, alanis morissette i can and have imagined her, like, chowing down on a blown stand witch. >> rose: the the other thing that is great about this susee him thinking out lout loud. >> yeah. it's one of the things i actually noticed during your interview. i have never seen anybody able to form an argument off the cuff with a thesis and a conclusion. do you remember the movie "minority report?" >> rose: oh, sure. >> and he has this screen, this kind of computer screen where he's able to move information and around i would watch david foster wallace talk and it was a like a man with all the information at his disposable moving stuff around and creating the argument. he was talking with his hands in a way like he was conducting language. >> rose: what was the toughest part for you? >> i think that the-- a movie like this is just a test of how honest you're willing to be on the screen. there's not big lot movements in the movie. it is about if you're willing to go there.
because these are very nuanced emotions, and it's people talking about feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction and depression and thoughts of suicide. and is that going to feel like i'm reciting something somebody else said? or am i willing to speak from the heart? that's what felt like the biggest challenge. >> rose: and what's interesting is that at the time that you-- you're about 34, right? >> i'm 35 now. >> rose: but you were 34. and he was about 34 at that time in his life. same age, same height, same age. and in a sense you were thinking about the idea of where do i fit in? what do i do next? i have this huge success on television but it's not exactly what i define as who i am. a parallel. >> i think i was at a point-- yeah, i was feeling a real separation between what i was thinking about and what i was putting on the screen.
the, which doesn't feel good when you write your own material. i look back at something like "forgetting sarah marshall" and it's really reflective of where i was at 24 years old, where a breakup feels like the biggest thing in the world and you call it "the breakup" like anyone else cares,un. and i think to some extent i got less brave about my choices and started thinking i've had success doing this thing. i will continue doing that. and i think at some point it just-- i started to feel like why am i continuing to do this? >> rose: so what happened to david lipsky? >> david lipsky, i was with him today. david lipsky went on to write w. the article did not get published when he came back from these four days. he was sent off to do another story -- >> why was it never published? >> it ended up being published after david foster wallace passed away. but the-- what happened was he came back. there was-- there was sort of a
heroin epidemic, actually, going on, and david lipsky was assigned to go cover this heroin story. and when he came back, it was three months after the book had come out, and i guess in the publishing world, that's a lifetime. and the story-- the story was no longer applicable, i guess. >> rose: or as timely. >> yeah. >> rose: and today he writes? >> yes. >> rose: what does he say about it? >> well, this movie is based on david lipsky's book which is basically a transcript of the four days. david lipsky recorded all of this on his tape recorder. so it's a really beautifu beautl memory of these four days with him, and i think it meant a great deal to david lipsky, and i think-- i don't want to speak for him, but i think there are things he would do differently. >> rose: and what else other than watching him on television
helped you get david foster wallace? >> honestly, i think that there was nothing more informative than reading " infinite jest." >> rose: in the end that's it. >> listen, that is fiction but i feel like it is the most honest thing i've ever read. i feel like david foster wallace is every single one of those characters. and i also-- for me, it felt more like a man speaking in metaphor than fiction. i felt like he was talking about himself. you've got a recovery house in boston is one of the prongz of "infinite jest." the second is a tennis academy which represents achievement. and the third is an international conspiracy involving entertainment. and these are the central themes he was thinking about, you know. he was thinking about fame. and he was thinking about achievements. and he was-- he was thinking about things like addiction. >> rose: he was not thinking about death. >> you know, i don't know.
i don't know the answer to that is the most honest answer i can give you. if i had to guess, i actually think that there were moments where he probably was. i don't think that -- >> you think he had to. >> i think so. >> rose: to do what he did. >> well, listen, the leap of faith david foster wallace makes in his writing is that we're all the same, i think. and so my experience would be that when you're dealing with things like that, you're thinking about all that kind of stuff. >> rose: you also take note of the fact that you thought one of his endearing qualities was empathy? >> yeah. well, i think that's the same premise, this idea that we're all the same, that our emotions are very similar. if you strip away a lot of the ego on top of it, i think that's why his writing resonates so much because you feel like it's you. it's the way that people feel when they first read "catcher in the rye" in high school, where all of a sudden you've read-- what you've been able to say is,
"get out of my room." and now you read someone who is able to articulate it. >> rose: exactly. somebody has said what you think better than you can say it. it's a bit like they've been inside your mind and repeated it to you in a way that was more cristal and more clear-- >> no wonder -- >> a gift of a writer. >> and i felt a great deal of empathy for people who felt ownership of david foster wallace when they heard that i was cast because -- >> i did, too. that you were tampering with something that had been dear to me, my admiration for him and my respect for him and you may screw it up and i don't want you to screw up my david foster wallace. >> that's right. "he's been in my heart." you know what i mean. that's a special place to be. it's a rare gift. >> rose: so at the completion of this, anything you would have done differently? a sense you say, "this is my art. i gave it all i could, and like it or not, there it is." >> it's a funny question, it was the first experience i ever had-- and i think it's the
result of thinking of all these themes-- this is a change within me. not a reflection of anything-- any achievement. when i finished, i felt like, well, i've really done everything i possibly can. and, you know, what? i haven't been looking through the camera. this whole movie might be out of focus. you know what i mean? like, i cannot put anything on a result. all i know is i did the best i could. there's a line in the movie where he asks him about "infinite jest." and he says, "look, all i can tell you is this is the best i can write from this year and this year." and this is the best i could act in the spring of 2014. >> rose: congratulations. >> thank you. >> rose: it really is, for somebody who just knew him sitath this table, but read "infinite jest," and admired him, and went back to him because so many people would want to talk to me about the interview because there were not that many out there.
and to see the film with great anticipation and to see what you've done and how you've captured him, it's a great pleasure to have you here. >> thank you so much. really, it's my pleasure. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org