tv Charlie Rose WHUT June 14, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
>> welcome to the program. tonight a conversation about markets and regulation with gary gensler, chairman of the commodity futures trading commission. >> if the national football league were to expand eight-old, but didn't have any more referees, each game would have one referee on the field, we'd have mayhem on the field and the fans wouldn't have confidence. we can't afford mayhem in the financial markets. >> we conclude with one of the greatest artists of our team, mikhail baryshnikov, in the play "in paris." >> it's a story of a general, old general, who meets this young, beautiful woman, and she's waitressing in the russian
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> charlie: gary gensler is here, chairman of the commodity futures trading commission, that regulates futures and options contracts. these include commodities important to the check in and global economy, such as energy and agricultural products. in the wake of the financial crisis, the commission has been given expanded powers to oversee the swaps and derivatives
markets. priorities include transparency and the application of dodd-frank regulations to institutions abroad. the cftc is facing widespread budget cuts across government. i'm pleased to have gary gensler at the table for the first time. welcome. >> good to be here. >> let's start with definitions. first, where you are. your term has expired. >> so i am the chair of a five-person commission. we each get five-year terms. >> charlie: right. >> which you're right, my sixth term was up in april. but under the laws, i'm able to continue to serve until the president nominates somebody else, or nominates me, and the senate gets around to doing their actions on that. so, in essence, i'm here well into, you know, 2013, depending upon, of course, what happens in november and so forth. >> charlie: if the president is elected, would you like to continue serving?
>> i think public service is a great honor. i think the job we're doing at this agency is really critical. it matters to the american public, trying to complete this reform to lower the risk of these very complex markets to the american public. >> charlie: part of your job now is to define the regulations that come out of dodd-frank. >> it is, but within the law. congress debated it, then they handed us and said cu cue please further define things, write rules in 60 different places. we're well over halfway through that. >> charlie: it's taken a long time, hasn't it? >> it has. 8 million people losing their jobs, two years after the laugh, we need to get this done. >> charlie: has the congress cut your budget? >> they haven't actually cut it, but the house of representatives appropriations subcommittee voted just a few days ago to cut our budget. >> charlie: significantly? >> yes, yes. this is in the face of being
asked to take on the swaps marketplace that was at the core of the crisis. it's fully eight times larger than the markets we oversee. let me make an analogy to the football. if the national football league were to expand eight-fold but didn't have any more referees, each game would only have one referee on the field, what we have? we'd have mayhem on the field and the fans wouldn't have confidence. we can't afford mayhem in the financial markets. the american public -- >> charlie: do you think the subcommittee of the appropriations committee cut your budget because they didn't want to see more regulations? >> i think with respect to that they have a hard challenge, because we have this great national deficit, which is not sustainable. and so they're cutting everywhere, but we're good investments to the american public. the effect of those cuts if they went through would be deciding, on the wall street side, not the american public side, but i hope that's not what motivated them. >> a bit about you, because it's relevant. you became a partner at goldman
sachs. >> i did. it was a great honor. i was there 18 years. >> charlie: you learned a lot about the way markets worked, because you were very successful at it. >> you're kind to say that. i learned something. >> charlie: you were a major partner. they don't make partners to people who don't have success. >> i was able to be there at a time at that firm was growing, and it was really challenging and an honor. >> charlie: you worked with people like bob reuben? >> that's right. in fact, he asked me subsequently to join the treasure department under president clinton. >> charlie: so you had that experience. then you have this experience. has there been in gary gensler an evolution of an understanding of the need for regulation, the kind of regulation, and the process? >> i think that i've always felt that good rules of the road help us, and markets do best with rules of the road. but in addition, there's been an evolution. i worked in the merger and
$180 billion to bail out aig. you can go on and on, each of these examples of cries, long-term capital management, citigroup, the two federal bail-outs, londonent it's, cayman island entities. lots of cayman and london. >> charlie: regulations. do you accept the premise that bad regulations or too much regulatory overachievement can stunt growth and impede growth of financial institutions? >> well, i think that -- charlie: it's not black and white. >> -- the crisis in 2008 was both because of the financial system failed and the regulatory system failed. so as a result of that, congress came together and said, we have to do more. we have to have bright lights into this market so we can see buyers and sellers meeting. there will be costs on financial institutions. so, charlie, i'm agreeing with you, there will be costs and --
>> charlie: not with me, but the idea. >> the idea. there will be far greater benefits. 8 million americans lost their jobs in this crisis. millions more lost their homes. we have to weigh and balance -- some would just say let's look at the cost and benefit to financial institutions. that's too narrow. financial institutions are less than a percent of our economy. i mean jobs. >> charlie: financial institutions are too large a percentage of our economy? >> some would argue that. if all we looked at the cost and benefits to financial institutions we would not be doing our job for the public. >> charlie: let's stay with regulations, because it's important. it will be a debate in this campaign. i mean, governor romney and president obama have a different point of view on this. yes? >> well, i'm paid to be an independent regulator, not comment on an election. >> charlie: i didn't ask you to take a side. there's a difference of opinion.
how about this, that there's a difference of opinion in the country among people who comment on these things and politicians and bankers and analysts about the impact and necessity of regulation. >> absolutely. that's what our great democracy deserves, is that debate. >> charlie: we hope that will take place in the campaign. i'm just trying to understand, how do you define what is exactly fine-tuned the right amount of regulation, because most people, including jamie dimon who opposes regulation, are in favor of regulation. other people on the other side say, well, you're not really, because you tried to gut the dodd-frank bill before it even became law. >> you can go back to adam smith who wrote the great book of economics in the 18th century. and one of the pieces is that markets work best when information is either free or it's very low cost. right now the information in these markets is heavily weighted toward the wall street
firms. >> charlie: meaning what? >> well, it means when you come together to buy or sell these derivative products, interest rate swaps and -- wall street has the advantage. you can't turn to the new york stock exchange or turn and open up "the new york times" and see here's where it's priced, or see on the internet, as well as what you can in what we call the futures market or the securities market. so why don't we bring those great reforms of the 1930s to this vast marketplace called swaps. if they bring some of that, buyers and sellers have to compete in the marketplace. yes, it may well be that five or six or ten big firms here in the u.s. earn a little less money on these, but it means all the users of these products get a better deal. >> charlie: okay. dodd-frank does not eliminate derivatives, credit swaps are or anything else. >> that's correct, that's correct. >> charlie: what does it do? >> what it does in this area is
three key things. it says, let's shine a bright light on that -- >> charlie: transparent. >> transparency. that means it lowers the cost to the use of these risk-reducing products. two, it says, let's lower the risk to the american public that these big dealers need to have comprehensive reform, having more capital cushion, and also risk management, so that we taxpayers don't stand behind them. and then another piece of it is something called central clearing that the american public hasn't heard, but it's a way to lower the risk and lower the chance -- >> charlie: central clearing of the derivative markets. >> that's right. lowers the chance that -- there should be a freedom to fail in america. if one of these big banks goes, we should be able to let it fail. in spain right now, the government is talking about they have to support those banks. we don't want to replay that. >> charlie: the european
commission has said we ought to support those banks, because their liquidity might be in question. >> right. but do we want to replay that here in america, that we as taxpayers support our banks? there should be a freedom to fail. so one of the things of this reform is to sever some of the interconnectedness between these banks with other banks through these complex contracts. >> charlie: two things. one, risk. i mean, clearly what happened that led to the crash of 2008 -- and the financial system tottering -- it was that too many institutions tooktops risk beyond their capacity, and therefore when the thing began to get dicey, you know, some came tottering down, and they began to pull others back. if the government wouldn't have stepped in, we would have a total clasp of the financial system. fair? >> yeah. i think we were circling the drain, if you want to put in that type of way. >> charlie: circling the drain? >> it was september of 2008, the other financial firms would have
come down if it weren't for the backing of the u.s. government and the taxpayers. >> charlie: so what the effort is today, is to redefine risk and make sure that financial institutions are not taking on too much risk having to do with their financial assets and base. >> we won't be able to get rid of risk. risk is part of an -- >> charlie: and good. >> and taking risk leads to innovation, it leads to job creation. >> charlie: right, right. so it's good. you don't want to say risk is good? >> no, because risk is risk. charlie: yeah, okay. >> if you concentrate so much risk in financial institutions, and have we as taxpayers backing them up, that's toxic. so risk -- taking risks -- i have three daughters. i tell my daughters that it's good to take risk. you're going to fail. >> charlie: right. it teaches you. >> failure teaches you and you get back up and so forth.
if we concentrate risk in some of these wall street firms, and then implicitly have taxpayers backing it, that's not a good solution. >> charlie: if lehman brothers had been rescued, whatever that may have taken place, and if it had been legal to rescue lehman brothers, would we have avoided the financial meltdown we had in 2008? >> well, i think it's one of the great questions that historians will debate. i think that it would have still been a bit of a mess. i mean it was a bigger mess as it turned out, but aig was tottering that weekend as well. so what we have -- >> charlie: loaded up with -- >> with great defaul credit def. they had done it out of london. we've seen this movie before. here we see it again in the last few weeks. and it was beyond lehman
brothers. >> charlie: when jamie dimon has testified, there was a mia culpa in his testimony, but at the same time he basically said that -- people saw his testimony -- but it morphed into something beyond what it was intended to do. what did it morph into? >> well, i think -- again, i want to be careful, because we have an investigation. i don't want do compromise that investigation. i think banks need to hedge. that's a fancy word for saying by lowering the risk by -- >> charlie: explain that. >> if a bank has a loan to a small business in a community, it might be that that small businessperson might default on the loan. >> charlie: right. >> at the same time the bank might want to take out another financial instrument called a swap that in case that small business defaults they protect against that. that's called a hedge. another form is if you have a
mortgage. in case -- i don't think charlie rose is going to default on his mortgage, but if you were to default on your mortgage, well, to be buying insurance. a hedge is insurance against that. >> charlie: right. >> and markets move up and markets move down. >> charlie: these things have value themselves. >> right. from my experience on wall street, you want the insurance, the insurance, so to speak, to be reasonably related or correlated to the position. if you buy a bunch of mortgages, and you want to hedge it, if the mortgages make money, the hedge should actually lose money. if the mortgages lose money, you want the hedge to make money. it kind of goes together. >> charlie: so all your eggs are not in one basket, as my father would say. >> that's right. and though sometimes -- and as the news reported in this circumstance -- this, quote, hedge -- >> charlie: jpmorgan had a hedge. >> that's what they called it. you can call it a lot of things.
you can call this roundtable a hedge for something. i don't know for what. >> charlie: a hedge against bad programs. >> you have a very good program. you might not need that hedge. but more seriously, if it's separated off in another city, if it's separated off and has its own profit and loss and own management, my own looking at this, and experience from other circumstances, it's harder to consider that to be really a hedge, because it's off there and it's saying, well, you guys, maybe it starts to be proprietary trading, which congress said let's not have proprietary in these banks any longer. >> charlie: because they have deposits, federally insured. >> that's right. charlie: and they shouldn't be using that for proprietary trading. is that right? >> that's right. congress came together and debate. president obama put this forward with the former head of the federal reserve, paul volcker.
>> charlie: the volcker rule. >> the volcker rule. paul's recommendation was that these banking enterprises shouldn't be betting on whether the markets go up or down, or the yield curve twists or flattens, these types of things. and yet, at the same time congress said to us regulators, let's make sure they can still hedge, because that's a good thing to lower risk as well. >> charlie: right. >> lower risk to the taxpayers of a possible bail-out. let's not have them punting and batting like a hedge fund, but let's lower risk also by letting them hedge. therein you have the challenge to the regulators, because it's ban one thing, allow another thing, and unfortunately sometimes people use the word "hedge" in an expansive way. so in this circumstance, again not speaking of the specifics -- >> charlie: right. >> -- the question is would this have been allowed, should it be
allowed under -- when we finalize -- >> charlie: what does gary gensler say? >> i think congress has spoken to it. congress has said that hedging for specific risk of individual or aggregate positions has to be allowed, but it has to be related to those positions. just from the press reports and everything, this looks like this had -- or in mr. dimon's words had morphed beyond that. so it looks like this would have gone beyond what congress would cocaine are there financial institutions today that are too big to fail? and nothing has come out among the lessons of 2008 that have dealt with that idea? >> we can look at europe right now. it's very recent. we're living it right now. the governments are looking -- of europe and spain -- of linking their taxpayers to supporting or bailing out those banks. i think we have to do everything as regulators to try to sever that link between the government
and the banks. otherwise you get all sorts of disorganizations. you get heads i win at the bank and tails we all lose. >> charlie: what do you think would happen if greece withdrew from the eurozone? >> i think it's going to be a very, very challenging time. >> charlie: what does that mean, "challenging time"? >> financial markets will probably retreat. what i mean by that is banks will wish to lend less to the european banks, because the question on their mind will be, will another country will be next. what will be beyond -- >> charlie: if it's another country, it might be spain, which is much bigger. then another country, might be italy, which is even bigger. >> right. charlie: then all of a sudden you've gone from catastrophe to disaster. >> well, we live through things. the currency unions in the past,
and probably in the future, will be challenged and may come apart. our role here, i think, is to ensure that we're best protected. so at the cftc, the small agency, we're trying to get our rules done, because if we get these rules done we'll be on the margin, a little better, to be able to be protected if this comes from europe. there's many, many people writing now that think this situation in europe is high risk for us now. >> charlie: many of them, yes. you go to a conference, and that i worried to death. >> so it's the topic of those meetings. wouldn't we be foolish if we don't finish the rules four years after the crisis. >> charlie: why aren't they finished? >> well, because you said earlier, there are a lot of head winds. we were asked to do 60 of these. throughout government, there are
400 that congress gave to the various regulators. >> charlie: does that mean the regulations are too complex. >> part of me wishes congress hadn't given us as much to decide. >> charlie: why did they do that? to kick the can down the road? >> they're complex topics. there's different parties and individuals in the legislative branch to kick it to the experts, if that's what we are. >> charlie: i would hope so. >> i would hope so, but part of the time delays also we have to live by things called the administrative procedures act and so forth and get public comment. we've had over 30,000 public comments on these 60 rules. they run into the thousands of pages when you add them all up. we have two of our final rules in court, industry folks, industry association of wall street firms are taking us to court on two of the rules. we think we got them right. we'll vigorously defend them.
if the court says otherwise, we'll be back to the drawing board on some of these. >> charlie: when you look at the arguments die jamie dimon and other financial regulation that too much regulation can be harmful to growth -- and a lot of these financial institutions are strong enough to take risk -- >> i think 2008 was proof on the other side. you know, it failed. and so to say -- to stand there and say to the american public, no, we don't need more transparency -- >> charlie: is that what they're saying when they go down to congress, we don't need more transparency? >> that doesn't sell so well, so they'll say too much regulation could hurt markets or market liquidity. >> charlie: or stunt growth. >> or stunt growth. but 94% of the jobs in america, private sector jobs, are not in finance. only 6% are in finance. >> charlie: of the jobs.
>> of the jobs. but that's what matters. when somebody in the public, when my mom or dad were working, they didn't work in finance. they didn't -- that was some fancy thing going on in new york. i mean, their kid, my twin brother went to wall street as well. but that was foreign and removed. for most americans after the crisis, they didn't work on wall street. yet 8 million of them lost their jobs. so i say there's going to be a cost to wall street. i don't think we should avoid that topic. this will be a cost of regulation on wall street -- dloig i don't wan -->> charlie:d it, but -- >> there's a tradeoff. charlie: do you think there's a wall street movement? >> they hit b nerve with the american public owe. >> charlie: what's the nerve they hit? >> to me i think we live in a great society that's had great
innovation and economic advances, but it hasn't been shared throughout this country. >> charlie: there's nothing, i think, more to be scared about than what's happened to the middle class in america. the middle class is the essence of america. >> yeah. i think we all do better -- >> charlie: and the essence of america, the majority, and yet their standard of living, their sense of the future, you know, is shrinking. >> right. that's right. >> charlie: they're shrinking. their numbers are shrinking. >> so you have that as a backdrop. we've had the ate other type itr history, say in the 1920s. on the rules of the road, these common-sense rules of the road, is to think about, you know, my mom and dad -- >> charlie: i want you to think at this table now larger. what are we doing wrong so that
somehow the middle class is shrinking in america? is it the fact that we've made rules that only be benefit the , and 1% controls everything, so therefore the system only works for them? >> well, i'd like to think it works much broader than that. >> charlie: you'd like and don't or you'd like to and believe it does? i mean, this is the essence of one of the great questions in america today. >> i know, you're trying to swim, and you're trying to pull me into another lane. you're doing well at it. i think that until we address as a nation the income disparities and sort of get a little back to where we once were, i mean it's going to be hard for the whole economy to grow. i think this is actually an issue, even for the top of the income curve, that you need the whole economy to grow, the
social fabric is stronger when it grows together. there's more buying power in the middle. there's more consumer demand when it's more rateably through the economy rather than sharp curves that we have. dloig i mean, the biggest thing that's fueled the emerging nations, you know, has been with some ability to create and sell products. they have in part created a middle class in their own country with their rising economic fortunes, can make a demand for new products, right? >> right, right, right. and so these reforms, if i can just turn back to it, we have to remember, these reforms are basically to ensure that we don't have another crisis where -- i mean, who took it really on the chin? who took it on the chin were the middle income americans. the 8 million people that lost their jobs.
yeah, some of the wall street folks lost of their jobs, but most of that was throughout america. they weren't people in finance. >> charlie: and that's not fair. >> it really -- charlie: and fairness matters. >> it does matter. and these rules of the road are common-sense rules of the road that roosevelt and the congresses of the 1930s brought to the 30s markets. it's not like we're trying to do radical things here. is transparency in these markets, the buyers and sellers meet in the marketplace and compete in the marketplace on a level field. that's sort of logic of how markets can work best. >> charlie: i know you're not into politics, but let me ask this. >> i'm going to try to stay away as a independent regulatory chairman. >> charlie: but tell me what we need serious consideration on. tax reform? >> i just said i'm an independent regulatory -- >> charlie: tax reform is a partisan question. whether we need it or not is not
a partisan question, is it? >> it's that i'd like to stay with the derivative. you're trying to get me on something else. i'd say this, whether it's in europe or in the u.s., we as nations have very high levels of debt, and long term they're not sustainable. so the challenge -- and it's not my role. it's the congress between the congress and the president, the treasury secretary and so forth -- is how to balance that with the need for short-term stimulus and short-term getting us going as a nation. i leave it to others. i mean, i really do. i've got enough to do this thing called swaps and derivatives. >> charlie: you basically said we need to be regulated, because that got us into trouble in 2008, because w they weren't regulated sufficiently, and
dodd-frank has solved that problem. >> i think it can if we finish the rules. >> charlie: i want to go back to europe. many people in the political arena say, look, this election could have a different turn, you know, regardless of where it is, if in fact there's a collapse in europe. >> uh-huh. charlie: there's nothing that can be done, is the question. is there anything that can be done by the president or the congress or regulatory authorities to have any impact on the crisis in europe? >> you know, europe, i think i was looking at numbers between the eurozone, an economy just a little bit smaller than ours. 10 trillion euro, which is about $12 trillion. >> charlie: and a huge market for china and the united states. >> absolutely, absolutely. and it's our partner. it's very much our partner. but beyond offering advice and support and so forth, to come
together and resolve this. what we need to do here is to certainly give them the best support and advice to succeed, but also be prepared if the risk comes crashing back here. part of those risks are even to get back to this london and the earlier thing we were talking about. we have to make sure that whatever we do here, whether it's the bank regulators, or like ourselves, these derivative regulators, that we guard against and cover and finish -- i mean, think what the public would say if we have risk coming from europe and we haven't finished the risk from the '08 crisis. i think we should get on with it. >> charlie: bad idea to change
glass-steagall? >> it's changed over the years. it changed throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. the bigger issue looking back is we didn't cover these derivative products. i think we ought to have. i also think that we've let some of these get, as you said earlier, so big that the taxpayers felt they had to come in and support them. >> charlie: right. >> i'm a big believer that you've got to have a freedom to fail in this economy. it's what disciplines, in a sense, harsh discipline at times -- >> charlie: are you suggesting you would have done anything differently than paulson and bernanke and geithner and the president? would you have done anything different than they did? >> i don't have any views to change history. i don't have any views to change
him. i will say this, that we ought to be in a place -- and dodd-frank was that big step forward to do it -- to ensure that we don't come to the rescue of banks, and we really can shut them down if need be. >> charlie: here's jamie dimon testifying before congress yesterday. >> it's the ability to actively make markets, the ability to actively raise capital for companies and clients and investors. and we have the widest, best, deepest, and most transparent capital markets in the world. the capital markets of america are part of the great american economic business engine. we have the best in the world. we had some problems. we should recognize we have the best. don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. >> charlie: do you agree with that? >> i think we have some of the
deepest, best capital markets in the world. but at the same time congress said we shouldn't have proprietary trading in these lank banking enterprises, and we'll go about finalizing the rules. listened closely to what he said. it's about market making. we will allow market making in the final rule congress told us to, so we'll follow their direction, but we have to make sure that something that's not hedging doesn't slip in and be called hedging. >> charlie: be called proprietary trading? >> if it's proprietary trading, it's banned. they'll call it something else. >> charlie: there's more to talk about. i mentioned something called mf global, a company in terrible financial shape, and normally you would be involved in regulatory -- or at least the
examination of that, and you had to excuse yourself because you worked with mr. corzine when he was at goldman sachs, and any comments would be forthcoming for that reason. it's a pleasure to have you here. it's important to provide a better understanding from whatever quarter we ought to do. >> i thank you for having me here. i hope i was helpful on some of these topics. i do think the american public will do best if we actually shine a light on these markets and lower the risk of them. >> charlie: i agree. back in a moment. stay with us.
>> mikhail baryshnikov is here, one of the greatest dancers of the 20th century. in 1974 he left the former soviet union in search of both artistic and personal freedom. he's proven him of as a dancer, actor and choreographer. for his new play, "in paris," he spoke in his mother tongue. [speaking russian]
[speaking russian] > charlie: there it is, your russian. how often do you speak russian? do you speak russian every week of your life? >> yes, but not every day, let's say, but definitely i read a lot in russian, and i speak it with some friends on the phone or i do -- >> charlie: is the russian you learned different from the russian that i would hear in moscow streets today? >> well, it's my mother tongue. you learn this from your parents, you know. but i grew up in latvia. >> charlie: right. >> it was a multilingual situation, you know. the latvian, russian, and a lot of jewish population, yiddish, a mixed bag. and learning german in school. my language is a bit chaotic.
>> charlie: this is a labor of love for you, because you're putting up are your own money, yes? >> yes. charlie: with your partner. >> with my partner, yes. charlie: why this? >> i really didn't want it to get into a situation to go to broadway producers and get myself into the sort of situation that i have to play this, if by any chance, it's a success, at least public success, that you have to really work until the audience will sort of fade out, you know. i've been there and i wanted to kind of, first of all, control the -- you know, the rehearsal process a little bit, and decide how many weeks here and there, in which countries i can perform, and have something to say. >> charlie: "in paris" is based on a short story by a russian --
>> that's right. he was a great writer, who lived in the '30s, '40s, beginning of '50s in paris after the civil war. in russia he was a -- >> charlie: and won a nobel prize. >> the first russian writer who received the pre-nobel in the early '30s, i think. >> charlie: this is adapted from the short story? >> adapted from the short story. the short title "in paris." it's the story of a sort of old general -- my age general -- old general who meets this young, beautiful woman. she's waitressing in a russian restaurant. it's classic, very simple, and very poignant and tragic story
about their short-living love affair. >> charlie: what made you want to do it? >> i felt that i know a little bit about this man, you know. i grew up knowing quite a bit about white russians, because it was civil war, the red army, white army, and their defeat. those people were the best of military intelligence of russia. it was horrific part of russian history. well, any civil war is a horrific part of any history of any country. you know, those people had been
thrown out, most of them went through istanbul, constantinoples, to central europe, to paris. they were received, not with open arms by the french. it was a difficult time. they were recovering from the first world war, you know. then suddenly hundreds of thousands of russians came from abroad, and needed jobs. people like my character of this play -- >> charlie: nicolai. >> -- he was luckier than others. he was writing about history of
those wars for foreign publishing houses. most of these people, that were working as taxi drivers, bouncers in restaurants, trying to farm, trying to do anything, what they could to survive. there's a story about two lonely people. they, mind you, left not voluntarily their homeland. you know, that's the story. >> charlie: your father was a military man? >> yes. charlie: so you drew on him as well? >> a little bit, a little bit. when you're a military man, you're a military man, you know. he was a bit -- somehow when i read this short novella, i had images of my father from my childhood came through my mind. one of my favorite actors would play my father.
yes? it kind of helps. >> charlie: yeah. does max remind you of your father a bit? >> no. he was much taller, much more -- >> charlie: max is touch taller? >> of course. my father is probably my size. you know, he was just -- you know, i'm a big fan of this actor. i remember one of the first -- a powerful experience, i saw him in bergman's filming, and he plays chess with the -- i remember that. then i had a luck and privilege to meet him a few times. an unforgettabl forgettable act. >> h.charlie: he was at this tae within last year. >> very kind, very simple.
wonderful. >> charlie: the director advise you not to get too emotional? >> well, i don't remember exactly his remark, but he used to be very well-known painter, son of very famous -- his mother was a very famous theatre critic, and theatre historian and founder, one of the best theatre directors. he took the last name of his mother for some reason. his theatre is not a typical
traditional russian psychological theatre, let's say. it's more in the way he -- the way he tell story, it's nothing like it. that's why when he approached me with this project, i happily agreed to it, because i felt i i can -- i can understand these people, and i can be -- and especially it's in french and russian -- that would be a challenge and a sweet beginnings or sweet endings. somehow i felt that people who hear me speak russian, they
think that i speak in different timber of voice and different register somehow. i never notice myself. but, you know, when i speak russian on the phone with somebody, people don't recognize me, let's say, sometimes. >> charlie: they don't hear the same inflection that is they hear in english? >> that's right. charlie: do you like acting? >> i love acting, you know. i grew up in -- in the theatre, you know. first of all, i start to perform as a child at age 9, 10, 11, 12. at first n the theatre, in the opera house as little i'm roles, a little bit of dancing, you know. at first, you know, my theatre experience were acting experience. and, you know, in your tender
age, when is given the task to just be natural and react, what adults are telling you, showing me, that's -- that's the first very important step. i loved it. it was a happy marriage. >> charlie: i suspect you're not a man who looks back and says, i wish i had, i wish i had, but might you have done more acting, or have you been busy enough? >> somehow i always felt like i'm a dancer who can act. i'm sometimes actor who dances, you know. i have really -- i never separate -- first of all, in theatre, a dance -- in 19th century ballets, you know,
there's natural progression for an actor, because you have to perform a role. >> charlie: a physical thing. >> then of course it's not spoken, but you have to be behave in a more decorative way. you have to be truthful. you have to pay attention, what's your partners telling you. you know, my instincts as a dancer, i'm using as much as i can when it's appropriate on stage. >> charlie: there's a dance in in play. >> it's a couple of minutes long.
it's choreographed by a great russian, working now with the american ballet theatre. you have to see it. it's kind of a little bit epilogue of the whole play. >> charlie: before we get to that moment, which you have to go to the theatre, we don't have a clip of that, here's the two of you, you playing nicolai, and olga is playe. here it is. [speaking russian]
>> charlie: you were quoted somewhere as saying that the story of this play is all in the details. >> yes. the young woman is wonderful actress. i'm trying just to listen to her and react. you know, that's always a huge help, and the partner is that open and that helps. >> charlie: this runs how long? be performed at lincoln center, a short run at lincoln center. what else? >> oh, my god. my plate is really full. i'm kind of -- i haven't been on stage dancing for a while. it's a bit of a secret. i'm having a dance project in
the fall, a great choreographer. you know, it's not yet for -- for announcement. then i'm doing another -- >> charlie: but the way you think about it, you can just say that it's something that excites you? >> very much, very much. charlie: great to see you. >> thank you. charlie: mikhail baryshnikov. thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org