Return to Transcripts main page
Tom Hanks: American Superstar with Global Passions; Robert Redford: A Rebel with a Cause; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 24, 2015 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Good evening, everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London with a
special edition of the program, looking at some of the highlights of the year.
Now we sat down to talk with perennial Hollywood favorite, Tom Hanks, an American treasure whose film and personal interests revolve around
history and world affairs, from World War II to Somali pirates.
And this year he released a new film, "Bridge of Spies," which saw him partner with Steven Spielberg again. It is a legal thriller based on a
true story, where Hanks plays an American lawyer, James Donovan, who's made to defend a Soviet spy at the height of the Cold War.
Hanks has a passion for the history that shapes our world then and now. And he's almost finished shooting his next film, which explains his
look. He's playing Captain Sully Sullenberger, the American pilot who safely landed his passenger plane on New York's Hudson River.
AMANPOUR: Tom Hanks, welcome back to our program.
HANKS: Always a pleasure.
AMANPOUR: So let's take this film because obviously your big World War II film was "Saving Private Ryan." This is after that, in the midst of
the Cold War.
And right at your dinner table, you're having practically an existential discussion with your wife and your children. And they are
convinced that what you're doing, defending this Soviet spy, is really defending a traitor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BRIDGE OF SPIES")
AMY RYAN, ACTOR, "MARY DONOVAN": It's all about this man and what he represents. He's a threat to all of us, a traitor.
NOAH SCHNAPP, ACTOR, "ROGER DONOVAN": Who's a traitor?
"JIM": The Rosenbergs were traitors.
"NOAH": Who were they?
"MARY": Let your sisters have --
"JIM": They gave atomic secrets to the Russians. They were Americans. They betrayed their country.
But you can't accuse Abel of being a traitor. He's not an American.
(END VIDEO CLIP, "BRIDGE OF SPIES")
HANKS: The Red scare was a nationwide phenomenon. And it did permeate our lives. This is when I was alive. I was 5, 6 years old. And
I remember distinctly my parents discussing Khrushchev when he said, "We will bury you."
But for a 5-year-old, 6-year-old kid, I thought he meant he was going to dig a hole and pour dirt on us.
The us-versus-them dynamic was so prevalent throughout daily life, it was in every newspaper every single day.
Now the Red scare is also a version of a panic and the idea of defending, as a lawyer would do, someone who was quote-unquote, "a spy,"
and therefore a traitor to our country, well, that was not what you were supposed to do.
You were supposed to instead dig a bomb shelter and be on the lookout for spies in your neighborhood. And so he did run -- Donovan did run
counter to the status quo at the time. And he did it through constitutional means. I mean, he was a lawyer. He had helped prosecute
HANKS: -- Nuremburg war crimes.
AMANPOUR: And it's quite clear, without being a spoiler, that Abel never gave up the story.
HANKS: He did not.
AMANPOUR: He was faithful to the Soviet Union.
AMANPOUR: And therefore, in the finale, in the actual courtroom, he was given a life sentence instead of a death sentence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BRIDGE OF SPIES")
DAKIN MATTHEWS, ACTOR, "JUDGE MORTIMER BYERS": Pursuant to the verdict of guilty as to all counts, the defendant is committed to the
custody of the attorney general of the United States for imprisonment in a federal institution to be selected by him for a period of 30 years.
Marshals, you may take the defendant into custody.
MARK RYLANCE, ACTOR, "RUDOLF ABEL": No electrocution?
"DONOVAN": No, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why aren't we hanging him?
In the name of God, why aren't we hanging him?
"BYERS": Sit down!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a spy!
(END VIDEO CLIP, "BRIDGE OF SPIES")
AMANPOUR: What does that say related to then but also to today about the notion of due process, about we're actually maybe better than them
because we have a Constitution, they didn't have the rule of law?
HANKS: Change the color of Rudolph Abel's skin to brown. Change his name to something with a dash in it in a Muslim-sounding name and turn him
into something other than agent provocateur but instead a person who just perhaps goes to the wrong place on Fridays and worships the God that he
Now that man could have been born in America or he could have been nationalized as an American but there would be people who would say, how
How dare you go off and defend this Muslim for potentially being a traitor to the United States of America?
That might be a much tougher case for a lawyer to take.
AMANPOUR: And you're talking a little bit about Guantanamo.
HANKS: Well, OK.
You could definitely take the case of, well, what if -- what if they are guilty, you know?
What if, in fact, there has been terrorism afoot?
AMANPOUR: In the film, you, as a lawyer, had to confront the judge.
AMANPOUR: You had to confront the CIA. You had to even confront the Supreme Court. And you made the moral case for the rule of law and for the
Constitution of the United States, which was the greatest rule book in the world.
HANKS: How do we define ourselves and when do we choose to define ourselves?
We have to be the best version of the United States of America, no matter who we're holding in our jails. We have to hold those people to
account by the same due process laws that have defined us since 1782.
AMANPOUR: Do you have a view on whether Guantanamo should be shut?
I say that because you're from California. Senator Feinstein has again come up to try to move the process along and to say it's counter to
our values and we need to shut it down in a sensible way.
HANKS: Bigger than my pay grade but I would have say that there is -- are we defining ourselves by the continuation of Guantanamo?
Are we saying this is what America does?
It's beyond me but I would just say I think that we should be holding our prisoners to the same accounts that we hold everybody else.
AMANPOUR: There's a scene in this film, which is so brutal and so evocative also today. You've got the destruction of East Berlin. You've
got refugees, people who are trying to get across.
HANKS: Yes, you do.
AMANPOUR: You have this scene where you're in the train and you look out and there are these young people trying to climb the wall and they get
mowed down by automatic gunfire from the East German border guards.
Obviously, we cannot help but think about what's going on right now. They're not getting mowed down but there are fences, there are walls, there
are refugees storming into Europe. There's the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
HANKS: After the fact, looking at what was going on, you couldn't help it -- here's -- the big difference -- and this is in some ways why the
movie is almost -- our film is almost -- what's the word I'm looking for -- almost comforting in its nostalgia, is that we were dealing with the other
side that still had some semblance of modernity to it.
AMANPOUR: One of your most famous films, certainly abroad, you've said, is "Terminal," where you did play a refugee. Again, it was a Steven
Spielberg film, one you did together.
HANKS: Yes. In Europe, parts of it, many people have come up to me. I was "Terminal." I was "Terminal." You made my story. This was me.
And I think that what it is, it's holding up America to still some degree of the Promised Land. The United States of America is still held up
as this place where freedom reigns and they can be free from the degree of tyranny and there was -- even though -- look, life will be one damn thing
after another; they will not have the sword of Damocles hanging over their head throughout.
AMANPOUR: And you modeled your character in that after your own father --
HANKS: My father-in-law, yes.
AMANPOUR: -- Rita's father.
HANKS: Yes, who was -- who escaped every brand -- he escaped the communist camps. He was beaten and slapped and tortured and he was in
camps where people were hung for no reason whatsoever.
And he made five daring escapes, only the last of which succeeded, in order to get him away. And I cannot look at anybody who is not an American
HANKS: -- wants to come to America and not see it through my father- in-law's eyes.
AMANPOUR: So what do you say, then, in today's presidential race in the United States, demonizing immigrants?
HANKS: Well, yes, let's not demonize them. Let's humanize them. Let's not call them refugees. Let's call them men, women and children.
AMANPOUR: I just want to go back to "Bridge of Spies."
AMANPOUR: A truly gee-whiz moment comes after the film during the credits, when you realize that James Donovan not only negotiated this
exchange successfully but then went on to be asked by President Kennedy to talk about -- to exchange prisoners from the Bay of Pigs, that invasion of
Cuba, shortly after --
HANKS: From "Bridge of Spies" to Bay of Pigs.
AMANPOUR: -- well, there you go. And when you see 9,000 people your character managed to get back to the United States, it's breathtaking.
HANKS: It really is. And I think it goes -- again, here's a fellow who utilized all of his skills as a negotiator, learned as everything from
a prosecutor to an insurance lawyer in order to make the other side feel as though they were getting something out of the deal as well.
And I don't know how anybody puts on a light shirt, goes down to Cuba after the Bay of Pigs invasion and says, you know what, Castro?
I've got a great deal for you. You let 9,000 people come home with me and we'll get -- I don't know, you'll get some cash. You'll get some trade
deals. You won't get another invasion.
I don't know how he did it. But it's funny, as an actor, I find myself learning skills that I do not have instinctively by some of the
roles that I play, some of the research I end up doing.
And I must say, the next time I'm in any brand of a negotiation of any sort, I'm going to do what James Donovan does, which is make the other feel
like he wins, too.
AMANPOUR: And are you surprised to see Cuba and the United States reopening diplomatic relations?
HANKS: Dear Lord. Now there's a number of things in my lifetime I thought, well, just kiss that good-bye because that ain't going to happen.
One of them was, of course, the Berlin Wall coming down. That wasn't going to happen.
If you would have told me that in 1966, I would have -- and here's what was so magnificent about re-establishing ties with Cuba.
It happened in the wink of an eye and everybody said, oh, yes, I guess, yes, of course. It's just time. It was just time to do that.
Now look what can be done when some degree of -- what's the word I'm looking for -- oh, let's just call it common sense -- reigns and there's no
reason to continue along in this way anymore because, at the end of the day, everybody just wants to be able to sleep a little bit better and eat a
little bit better and make sure their kids can have a slightly better life than we had.
And that's what's happening now.
AMANPOUR: This could be the year of the woman, let's say. There's a lot about gender equality going on.
A lot of your female co-stars are also saying it's time for Hollywood to get real and to get equal, give us equal pay, equal billing, equal
What do you make of that?
HANKS: I think what would happen differently if there were actually more women who were actually running things -- and there was a handful that
I've worked with, almost all of them -- but when there are actually women executives and women on corporate boards and what have you, then things
will be -- change.
But just the very fact that people are now realizing that it's out there and it's vocal, I think there's some agents and producers and -- what
do they call, business affairs representatives at the studios? They'd better start ponying up.
AMANPOUR: Tom Hanks, thank you very much.
HANKS: Christiane Amanpour, always a pleasure.
AMANPOUR: And earlier this year, I also spoke to another A-list star with the issues of the day and the fate of the planet at heart. He's a
keen environmental campaigner but you'll know him as a Hollywood heartthrob. Why Robert Redford is pleased that he shrugged off that title,
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to our special year in review program.
Now it's hard to believe that the Hollywood heartthrob, Robert Redford celebrated his 79th birthday this year. It's really hard to believe. We
all know him as the Kid, the Sundance Kid, alongside Paul Newman's Butch Cassidy in the classic 1969 Western.
Since then, Redford's constantly been on the move, acting, directing and supporting causes close to his heart, like founding the famous
independent Sundance Film Festival, now 20 years old, and, of course, combating climate change.
But he's been really busy this year starring in "A Walk in the Woods," a story about an unlikely pair who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail.
He also has starred in the film, "Truth," along with Hollywood actress, Cate Blanchett, about a crisis in American journalism.
I sat down with Redford in Paris and discovered the unconventional life behind those very conventional good looks.
AMANPOUR: Robert Redford, welcome to the program.
REDFORD: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: I was surprised to learn that you, who do not have a reputation as being the bad boy of cinema, had a pretty well-earned
misspent youth that landed you here in Paris as a young man.
REDFORD: Yes. That's right.
AMANPOUR: What was that all about?
REDFORD: I wouldn't consider that my bad time. That came just a little bit before.
Up to that point, my life had been constricted by growing up in Los Angeles and I was not inspired by that. I felt like my life had not really
And then when I went to Europe to study art, I came to Paris. Once I came to Paris, that's where my real education began.
AMANPOUR: What was it that you were rebelling against?
I read that you just didn't want to do what your father wanted you to do.
And what did you find when you came here, where we're sitting in this great city?
REDFORD: Well, I think in terms of my dad, I mean, my dad was a good man. But he grew up in poverty. And so he was kind of saddled with what
that brings about; you know, poverty makes you afraid to try things. You want to grab a hold of something and hang onto it for security.
Because I was very different and because I guess I was very rebellious and I wanted to be out of the box, so to speak.
AMANPOUR: So I ask all that because it leads to me perfectly into your new film, "A Walk in the Woods," which is open in the U.S., which is
opening here around the world. And you and your sort of wild man friend, Katz, in the movie, are talking about your wild years.
And it seems -- what is it?
Why did you want to do this particular film?
Was it about nature?
Was it about midlife crisis?
REDFORD: Well, kind of both.
First of all, it was a comedy and I -- it had been many, many years since I had done a comedy. And I wanted to do a film that had comedy in
But this was a comedy that also had pathos and it had that other level to it that I was drawn to.
And that had to do with friendship. I felt that friendship was a valuable topic to explore, friendship that started when you were young; you
became very close friends and then something happened, you fell out. You fell out with each other.
And then 30 years later, you come back and you find -- you revive that friendship. I just thought that was a nice theme, friendship. And then
the idea of being in nature, developing that in nature in a way that neither character knew what they were getting into.
AMANPOUR: Apparently you had wanted your old friend and fellow costar, Paul Newman, to play Katz, the Nick Nolte role.
That didn't happen. Tell me about how you first envisioned this film.
REDFORD: When I first read it, it was back in maybe 2002 or something -- it was just after 9/11. And because Paul and I had become really good
friends and we had done these two films together, and we both wanted --
AMANPOUR: These two films, "The Sting" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" -- we'll get back to "Butch Cassidy."
REDFORD: -- because of that, we both wanted to have a third that we could do that carried the same quality that the first two had, the
relationship between the two guys, but in a different category.
Couldn't find it. And when I read this book, I thought, well, maybe this is the one. And so I called Paul.
I said, "Read this book."
He read it; he laughed. He said it's great.
When I came to visit with him, you know, Paul -- one of the things I liked about Paul is that he is a very honest man, very honest about -- he's
a very generous man. As you could see in the first two films we made, because nobody --
REDFORD: -- wanted me in "Butch Cassidy," the studio didn't want me because I was not known like he was.
And he said, "I'd like to work with this guy." So he's a very generous man.
AMANPOUR: Didn't he even flip roles to make sure --
REDFORD: Yes, yes. He was supposed to play Sundance, yes. It was -- the original title was "The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy."
REDFORD: Yes, it was, yes.
That was the original title, because he was going to play Sundance.
AMANPOUR: That's pretty amazing.
REDFORD: Yes, it was.
AMANPOUR: Because film history was made, certainly your film history.
REDFORD: Well, we didn't know it at the time. I mean, I just didn't know it at the time.
But the point was that Paul had the option not to consider me.
The fact that he supported me was something -- it made a big difference in our relationship, because I thought I really owe him that.
He's such an honest guy, he said, you know, Bob, he said, "It's been 20-plus years since the last film we made. And time is different. I'm
different. I'm older. I can't physically do what I used to do. I can't trust what I used to trust about my memory and so forth."
He says, "I don't think I should do this."
I thought, wow, that's pretty impressive. And that's pretty honest.
He said, "I think I should step aside, because I don't think it would make sense," that the age difference between us, which was about 14 years,
would be too pronounced.
So I was disappointed but he was also right.
And so he stepped aside and, at that point, I thought, well, who else?
And I thought of Nick Nolte. And I thought, because Nick and I probably shared a similar background in our youth and I had kind of pulled
it together and he hadn't quite pulled it together and so -- but he was smart, he was a good actor.
AMANPOUR: You were really young and this is about the next stage of life and, I don't know, you're 79 years old. Who would know that you're
nearly 80, really?
REDFORD: Suddenly I'm feeling very old.
AMANPOUR: What has it done?
Has that liberated you, sort of the pretty boy but very good actor, but you were getting certain roles for a long time.
Can you -- do you have more choice now, more freedom?
REDFORD: Yes, you're right. I mean, you said it. I think I got -- I wasn't prepared for being locked into a box. I didn't see myself the way
others saw me. And so therefore it was hard for me to accept it.
And then I realized I was kind of feeling trapped because I couldn't go outside the box of leading man or good-looking leading man. It was very
flattering but it was feeling restrictive because I started out in the business to be an actor, to play all kinds of roles.
So it took many years to break loose of that. And I think finally that's happened. And that feels good.
AMANPOUR: Apparently, you don't like to watch your own movies.
Is that true?
REDFORD: I don't have a good answer for it. I wish I did. I don't know why. I just don't like it. I've never liked looking at myself. It
sometimes embarrasses me. You know, I don't want to be embarrassed. So.
AMANPOUR: I read that it kind of goes back to your childhood.
Didn't you used to go to movie theaters a lot --
REDFORD: It could be; yes, it could be that I grew up in a rough neighborhood as a kid and we would go to matinees. You know, we'd go to
matinees -- basically we could go to see the cartoons or the serials, you know, Wonder Woman, Flash Gordon, Tarzan.
And when the films would come up, we would be in this mood, where we would not take them seriously. And so sometimes we'd make comments to the
screen. I'm embarrassed to say that, that it had to do with growing up the wrong -- and --
REDFORD: -- in a weird neighborhood. And so maybe that was in my head when I became an actor. I said, boy, I'm up there and I can imagine
myself sitting in the audience, saying, oh, come on, you know.
AMANPOUR: Be real.
REDFORD: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: And what about retiring?
Not so many years ago, you talked about kicking back, but there is no sign of that.
REDFORD: Seems perverse. I mean, I say I want to kick back and I do twice as much as I've done. I think probably as I really look back on it,
I don't really mean it. I think the idea seemed good.
But when you get right down to it, I don't think that's who I am. I think the idea is when you're born, you -- when you're being raised, you
want to make the most of your life. And I guess that's what I decided.
I want to make the most of what I've been given. And you keep pushing yourself forward; you try new things and that's invigorating. And I guess
I found out that rather than retiring, that just feels better. Just keep moving as long as you can keep moving, you know.
AMANPOUR: Well, you're still moving. Robert Redford, always a pleasure.
REDFORD: And for me, too. Yes, thank you.
AMANPOUR: When we come back in this Hollywood edition, we have more from Tom Hanks and yet another string to his bow, his foray into America's
late-night political comedy scene, after this break.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where two famous entertainers act like 3rd graders to make a point, sometimes a political
point. Biting satire on the U.S. comedy shows was on trend this year. And my guest, Tom Hanks, played his part in his own "aw, shucks" kind of way
when he appeared with Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Tom?
COLBERT: What would you do with a time machine?
HANKS: What would anyone do with a time machine?
Go back in time and hold myself as a baby.
COLBERT: And kill Hitler, right?
HANKS: Oh, kill Hitler, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANKS: Oh, yes, the kill Hitler thing, did somebody say in a debate that he'd go back in time and kill Hitler?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: I'd say that if you could go back in time and kill baby Hitler, would you? I need to know.
Hell, yes, I would.
(END VIDEO CLIP) HANKS: OK. Let's understand there's no such thing as a time machine. But if there was, I think -- would you not have to go back in a little bit
farther ad kill the guy who wrote all those anti-Semitic tracts that Hitler read in Vienna or something like that?
No one's going to disagree with the idea of going back in time and killing Hitler.
Good idea. Good idea.
As a matter of fact, let's make that a practicality. Let's make it happen now. I am going to vote pro-going back in time killing Hitler
ticket between now and next November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can now also listen to our show as a podcast, see it online at amanpour.com and
follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.