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Theresa May Working on Contingency Plans in Relation to No Deal; Robbie Margot's New Movie, "Mary Queen of Scots". Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 11, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Nothing according to plan, the British prime minister stakes it all on European Union leaders saving her plan to leave that union. We take you to
the European Parliament.
Plus, some historical perspective. This is hardly the first time we've seen a disunited kingdom, superstar, Margot Robbie, on her portrayal of
And understanding America through the complex story of Thomas Jefferson.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Despite the Brexiteer's boasts, extricating the U.K. from the European Union was never going to be easy. And this week, with the clock ticking
taking dangerously down has proven just what a big mess it all is.
Today was meant to be Prime Minister Theresa May's triumph when parliament would approve the deal that she struck with the E.U. after two-and-a-half
years of negotiating. Instead, she's pulled the vote and is hopscotching around European capitals in a desperate attempt to get something, anything
to avoid it going down to defeat in (INAUDIBLE) unscheduled next vote.
First, she met the Dutch prime minister in the Hague. Then to Berlin, where a sticking car door epitomized the slog, she faces convincing
Chancellor Angela Merkel to budge. And finally, Brussels where she -- where May may get the toughest reception of all.
Two options for the U.K. are looming larger and larger. Staying in the E.U., which would require a second referendum or an act of parliament or
crashing out of the E.U. without a deal, which is what will happen in March unless the British parliament acts one way or another. And that disastrous
scenario is what Europe now seems to be bracing for at an emergency meeting of leaders planned for Thursday.
Just moments ago in Brussels, even May mention the unthinkable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We have already stepped up no deal preparations that has been happening in recent days but cabinet will be
discussing what is the sensible thing for government to do, which is to make sure that those contingency arrangements of no deal preparations are
in place. So, we will be looking at what furthermore more we need to do in relation to those no deal preparations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: She is headed to Dublin tomorrow to work on those contingency plans with the Irish Prime Minister.
Mairead McGuinness is from Ireland and she is vice president of the European Parliament. Of course, the border between Ireland and the U.K. is
the crucial sticking point and she joins me now from Stroudsburg in France.
Mairead McGuinness, welcome to the program.
MAIREAD MCGUINNESS, VICE PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: Thank you. Glad to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you how serious it is for you as an MEP, Member of the European Parliament, hearing that now, the idea of planning and
contingency plans for a no deal are really serious and that your own prime minister, the British prime minister, European leaders are bracing for
precisely that? How much of a chill does that send down yours and collective European spines?
MCGUINNESS: Well, look I've had a chill about Brexit since the vote. Let's be frank, this has been a very difficult time. We had hoped at this
stage to at least have an agreement with the United Kingdom. In fact, we have an agreement with the United Kingdom. But as you know, yesterday, and
your summary was so accurate, the British prime minister facing defeat decided not to put this agreement to the vote.
So, when you say I have more of a chill now because we're facing potentially into a no deal scenario, of course, I'm concerned about it but
it was never off the table. And I think many of us, indeed our own government and the commission, have been looking at all of the possible
Clearly, what we want is an agreement and an orderly Brexit but we have also been mindful to say to our businesses, our universities, anyone who is
impacted by this, which is every sector, that they must look at the possibilities of a no deal while all the time working towards trying to
reach an agreement. So, it may be because we're closer to that moment where perhaps, you know, taking it a little bit more as a possibility than
we had done six months ago.
But frankly, at this stage we're still hoping despite yesterday that we can get to a place where the House of Commons will have a meaningful vote and
support the agreement that's on the table, because it was negotiations in good faith between the European Union and the British prime minister.
AMANPOUR: So, to that end, you're still hoping that Donald Tusk, who's the European Council president, tweeted just now, "Long and frank discussion
with Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of Brexit Summit," and that we said was for Thursday, "Clear that E.U. 27 wants to help. The question is how."
So, let me just put it to you. How can the E.U. help if it so inclined to do as he says it is?
MCGUINNESS: Well, we are inclined to help and have been right from the get-go of this process. If you listened carefully yesterday to the prime
minister's speech in the House of Commons, which was interrupted on many occasions, she was at pains to say she would seek reassurance on issues and
in particular, on the backstop which relates to the border or the invisible border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and I represent all of the
counties along invisible borders. So, it's quite personal and political for me when I speak about this.
So, the reassurances I expect are around suggestions that we'll also want to make sure that the backstop doesn't have to be used, what we want is
that we agree a very strong partnership with the United Kingdom and that we do it in a timely fashion.
Now, I think we can make all of those positive noises and I expect there are people working on the text of those issues like side bar declarations
and reassurances. Where I have some concern is will this be sufficient to persuade very disparate views in the House of Commons who are united
against this agreement to actually support us. And on that question, that's where my concerns are.
But first of all, we have to see how the council responds later this week, what the declaration might be around a reassurance or maybe several
reassurances, one doesn't know at this stage. But I think the other point that must be repeated is that when it comes to the European Union and this
parliament and around Europe, there is nobody willing to reopen the withdrawal agreement for renegotiation.
And indeed, yesterday, there were some in the House of Commons who not only wanted reopened, they wanted cut to pieces and some of it discarded, and
that's not going to wash at the European Union level. So, while we will work absolutely to try and assist the ratification of this agreement
through the House of Commons by way of reassurance, we would perhaps need some reassurance from the British prime minister that what we do will be of
help and that it will, if you like, gather together sufficient numbers who, at the moment, are not there but they come together to support this
We'd like to see the vote happen sooner but it seems to me that a second vote might not happen or indeed a first vote -- the first one has been
pulled from yesterday, but we might not have that vote until perhaps the middle of January, and then time becomes even more price,
AMANPOUR: Then you've only got a couple of months.
MCGUINNESS: Right up against us.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, listen, I want to just go step by step because it is --
MCGUINNESS: A couple of weeks really at that stage.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Incredibly tense and very complicated. So, the backstop. I mean, obviously, it's something designed to -- you know, to protect, as
you say, that border, to keep it an invisible border. But the Northern Ireland, DUP don't like it and the Brexiteers don't like it because they
think it hooks the U.K. into the E.U. for way too long.
They are seeking reassurance, I believe, that the British could unilaterally or at will, you know, discard or withdraw from the backstop.
Is that how you understand it?
MCGUINNESS: Well, I mentioned that some people wanted to cut off and discard parts of the withdrawal agreement, which has been agreed between
the United Kingdom and the European Union. And certainly, the DUP and others who favor a hard Brexit in the House of Commons are speaking to
And clearly, I want to repeat that that is not on the table. Europe is united around the cause of Ireland and indeed, president of the commission,
Juncker, made that statement here in this parliament this morning. I was chairing the debate. So, on that issue, it will not happen.
The question then arises, is there an understanding of what the backstop means? And I don't think there is because frankly, this --
AMANPOUR: But tell us, tell us. Because this is so complex and for our audience, it's complex.
MCGUINNESS: It's a man --
AMANPOUR: I just want you to explain in layman's language what the backstop is.
MCGUINNESS: OK. OK. So, at the -- when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union at the end of March, we won't have established the details
of our future partnership, that is set out in a political declaration but the details will not be worked out.
The concern -- the -- in the aftermath of the referendum and the Brexit vote was that nobody thought about the consequences for this invisible
border with Northern Ireland and Ireland, which becomes the external border, the only external -- a land border between the European Union,
which my member state Ireland is, and the United Kingdom, which Northern Ireland is part thereof.
So, in -- without the political concerns around the peace process which I will speak to, one would say, "Well, there will be a border because one is
a third country with the European Union. So, in essence, there has to be a border because that's how it is with border countries of Europe with
However, we now have a situation in Ireland, in Northern Ireland, where we have the Good Friday Agreement. We have 20 years of peace built on North-
South cooperation, European support, declarations that we never want to go back to the days of the past. 20 years is not that long ago.
So, all of us are working very hard to make sure that the peace that has been built on the basis of the Good Friday Agreement is not interfered with
by b Brexit, and even the details of people's lives. And I think people don't understand that, for example, I live in a County of (INAUDIBLE) but
when I'm driving to my constituents in Donegal, which is one of the border counties, I go through Northern Ireland. There are no barriers, there's
nothing to stop me and there shouldn't be. But potentially, there could be. And what we're trying to say is, look, the people who live in that
region, the businesses, those who get education and health care, they do it on a on a cross border basis, they don't even think any more about it, it's
just a natural flow of communities and we want to protect that.
Of course, peace is fundamental and we want to make sure that nothing sounders that. And I would say already that between the communities there
is more tension. It's important to say that Northern Ireland actually voted to remain in the European Union. And the fact that there are
polarized positions in Northern Ireland around Brexit is not helping.
So, I hope I can explain to the wider viewers that the sensitivity towards Northern Ireland is absolutely there and the British prime minister herself
has recommitted to having no hard border on the island of Ireland. But the only way we will achieve that is to make sure that when we talk about the
future we work towards that objective.
MCGUINNESS: We want the backstop to be there so that if we fail that we will not fail Northern Ireland and we will not fail on this question of the
border, this invisible border, on the island of Ireland. It is complex and sometimes trying to simplify complex issues does an injustice to them. But
it's also important to say we don't want to have to use it. We would much rather have a good agreement with the United Kingdom where we can trade
closely together and do our business, not quite the same as today because the United Kingdom cannot have all of the benefits of European Union
membership and leave, and I think that's a key point as well.
AMANPOUR: Well, clearly, it's not a point that the Brexiteers are prepared to tolerate. They believe that the United Kingdom can have just as greater
relationship out of the E.U. and perhaps that's where, as Lord Peter Hain said, the whole idea of trying to jam a square peg into a round hole is
What would you say to the doubters and to the people who are going to vote against Theresa May's deal with the E.U. 27.00, what would you say to them
about how good a deal it is? And conversely, what would you say, from where you're sitting now, would be the result of crashing out without a
MCGUINNESS: Well, look, this is the only deal there is. I mean, I -- my view is that the best deal is for the United Kingdom to remain but we
respect that they are leaving. So, in the absence of them remaining, this deal is the only deal. It sets out very clearly the divorce settlement on
citizens' rights, on financial commitments and on the backstop towards Ireland and it details a future partnership in the political declaration.
So, I would ask people to read the details, try and understand it in its broadest sense. But also, if you're not prepared to support it, look and
come forward very clearly and honestly about what the options are if this deal goes down, what are you saying to your citizens in the United Kingdom.
And when you ask what -- the scenarios here, we started out having a conversation about planning for a no deal but hoping that we don't have to
go there. I think that a no deal is bad for everybody. I don't think we will be immune. I think even with a soft Brexit there are negative
consequences for the European Union and the United Kingdom.
So, in the scenario of a hard Brexit, I don't think we can imagine how damaging that would be and how dangerous it would be. Because I think,
first of all, it would signal a huge breakdown in the relationship between the European Union and one of its member states today, a large member
state, the United Kingdom, it would signal a failure of diplomacy and of politics. And I don't think either of us would want to see that happen
because it would perhaps be part of a more global trend, which we are all concerned about, about this difficulty with political discourse and
But also, it would have a great sundering effect on supply chains, for example, in the auto industry in the United Kingdom, on drug supplies, on
food supplies. So, all of the things we take for granted today and in the United Kingdom that are taken for granted are governed by things we've
developed over the decades by being together in the European Union.
If a member state decides to opt out with no parachute, no safety net, then I'm afraid that all of those things fall apart and it's hard to see where
they would land. And I don't say that to scare any of us because it is quite a frightening prospect, but it might be to really wake us all up to
the reality that, you know, hard Brexit or a sharp cliff edge Brexit can happen by design or by accident. and whatever way it happens, there is no
So, in the coming days before Christmas and indeed afterwards, we will have to focus long and hard on making sure that doesn't happen.
AMANPOUR: And you say either by design or default as we know, unless parliament takes some action, the default option is the crash out by -- you
know, by the end of March. To that end, I wonder whether you put any stock or whether you think people are seriously talking about the possibility of
a second referendum. Let me just play a little bit about from what Theresa May told parliament on this issue yesterday and then we can discuss it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAY: Many of the most controversial aspects of this stealing truth including the backstop are simply inescapable facts of having a negotiated
Brexit. Those members who continue to disagree need to shoulder the responsibility of advocating an alternative solution that can be delivered
and do so without ducking its implications.
So, if you want a second referendum to overturn the results of the first, be hones that this risk dividing the country again --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Do you see her point or do you think -- I mean, I realize you're not going to get involved in British politics. But you must all be talking
about a second referendum. you see this vote -- you know, the new vote, the people's vote is gaining sort of momentum, protests on the street both pro
and con. How are you viewing it from over there?
MCGUINNESS: Well, we're aware of all of this conversation. I suppose let's take it in a step by step basis because at the moment, the idea of a
second referendum is further down the line, if at all, in the sense that it cannot be called tomorrow or indeed next week. So, we still have to deal
with the mess that we're in today.
So, I think we have to actually deal with the here and now. On the question of what the United Kingdom will do should this fall, I imagine
that the House of Commons will have to take its responsibility and decide what the options are. And if there is to be a question, a different
question put to the people, then the prime minister will have to lead that and that takes time to put in place.
Frankly, I don't see the same question being put to the British people as they voted on previously. I would imagine it may be a question of do they
support this deal or no Brett whatever. But these are discussions that you have, you know, three or four together. In terms of a political
responsibility, we have to hope that it is the House of Commons, the British government and the prime minister that will lead their country in a
direction which is positive and progressive rather than negative.
And I have to say, when I watched the House of Commons' debate yesterday, I did so with great trepidation because it seemed to me that the House of
Commons is divided between parties within parties, between regions and that we are perhaps in a situation where the House of Commons cannot decide on
one option because there are people who see so many different options.
So, the idea of a referendum while some people in this House embrace it and think it will happen, I'm a little bit more circumspect about that
happening in the short to medium-term.
MCGUINNESS: It may well be something for the future.
AMANPOUR: One very last question and very quick because we're running out of time. There's all sorts of rumblings now, it's not confirmed but that
maybe the trigger number for the leadership challenge has been reached, you know, that's an ongoing issue here. How would the European leaders deal
with the fall of this government and the fall of this prime minister who they have been negotiating with?
MCGUINNESS: I think the biggest question is how would the United Kingdom deal with the fall of this government and with the fall of the prime
minister. To the great credit of Prime Minister Theresa May, she has stood steadfast in her defense of this deal, she has faced quite torid debates in
the House of Commons and yet she is still standing.
I would say to those who might wish to remove her or indeed become the leader, what will you offer? What are you going to say to the British
people and can it be any different than the deal that's on the table? I think not.
AMANPOUR: All right, Mairead McGuinness, thank you very much for joining us from the European Parliament.
So, Brexit obviously has opened a deep divide in Britain. But this now, United Kingdom has seen plenty of division in its long history. It was no
until 1707 that England and Scotland were united as separate nations under one kingdom. So, cross your mind even further back to the 1500s. Mary
Stuart rule Scotland and Elizabeth I rules England, they are cousins, one is protestant the other Catholic. One has the other beheaded. This
endlessly fascinating history has been made into a movie again, this one starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. Here's a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your cousin, Mary, has returned to take up her throne in Scotland.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The queen.
SAOIRSE RONAN, ACTRESS, "MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS": My dead cousin Elizabeth, I hope we might meet in person that I might embrace you. But ruling side by
side, we must do so in harmony not through a treaty drafted by men lesser than ourselves.
MARGOT ROBBIE, ACTRESS, "MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS": My dear cousin, let our nations cherish each other as we were two kingdoms united.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did the world come to this? Why is men (ph) servicing the whims of women?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The whims of women huh. That is the new movie "Mary Queen of Scots"
Margot Robbie is Elizabeth I, the English monarch. You'll recognize the 28-year-old from the "Wolf of Wall Street," "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" and "I
Tonya," for which she won an Oscar nomination.
Now, "Mary Queen of Scots" has just premiered here in London and Robbie joined me in the studio to discuss a daunting role in a story that harks
back to the real historical archives for the movie.
Margot Robbie, welcome to the program.
ROBBIE: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, here you are playing Elizabeth I in a film that's entitled "Mary Queen of Scots." Did you feel like you were taking the second
ROBBIE: Yes. It's definitely a supporting role. It really is Mary's story. But, you know, so much of what happens when she lands back in
Scotland after being in France for the last 12 years affects Elizabeth's reign as Mary Stuart a rightful claim to the throne.
So, Elizabeth and her have a very interesting relationship and it is crucial to her, you know, ultimate demise, spoiler alert. So, yes,
definitely a supporting role but that made it a little easier to take on, to be honest, because --
AMANPOUR: Well, I was going to say because it is a role that's being played by some of the great --
ROBBIE: The world's greatest actresses, yes. Including my absolute acting idol, Cate Blanchett, you know, who played Elizabeth in both Elizabeth
films most recently and nailed it, you know. Actually, I haven't watched them and I stayed away from watching them and any other portrayal.
AMANPOUR: Judi Dench.
ROBBIE: So, that I wouldn't freak myself out. Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: What -- I mean, it is of a role that so many actresses have wanted to play. So, did you automatically say yes when they when they
ROBBIE: No. In fact, I automatically said no. I was terrified at the prospect but the script was brilliant. Beau Willimon crafted it in a very,
you know, pacey, political way. You know, he wrote "House of Cards" and, you know, he's brilliant.
And Josie, director, this was her first feature film but she's a very accomplished director in the theatre world and (INAUDIBLE). And I loved
talking to her and I knew Saoirse was on board and I knew Saoirse ready, you know, through, you know, personal avenues and always adored her work
and wanted to work with her. So, there's everything that would make me fill like, yes, I really want to do this project but the role itself
terrified me and initially I said no.
AMANPOUR: OK. Saoirse, who I find it really difficult to get her name pronounced right.
AMANPOUR: Saoirse Ronan.
AMANPOUR: She plays Mary Queen of Scots.
ROBBIE: She does.
AMANPOUR: And it is extraordinary. And I found watching it that it is a slightly different narrative than the one we all grew up in school reading
about. In this one, Mary is portrayed as much more sympathetic and it is based on a historical book by John Guy. He says he went back to the actual
archives and came out with the real facts rather than these sorts of old wives' tales, if you like, that have been passed down throughout the years.
ROBBIE: Yes, exactly. And William says, so he was Elizabeth's right-hand man played by Guy Pearce in this film, worked -- kind of dedicate his life
to this endless smear campaign and rework history to view Mary as this young girl who was in way over her head and just wanted to, you know, marry
this guy and that guy.
And actually, she was incredibly, you know, politically astute and a natural born leader. She came from a long lineage of, you know, the
stewards of fierce leaders and she grew up in the court France and was a very forgiving person. And ultimately, was deceived by a lot of people
that she forgave and maybe that was, you know, part of her demise as well.
But, you know, she definitely -- in this film, you definitely see a version of Mary that you have not read about in history books.
AMANPOUR: And in a way, again, it's something that I guess you had to take on because to sort of buildup Mary you almost have to build down Elizabeth
and Elizabeth is the glorious queen, the golden age and --
AMANPOUR: -- people who have really seen her as the most important British monarch ever. But in this film, it was -- she got -- she was a little bit
-- not vilified, but sort of diminished?
ROBBIE: Yes. It was definitely -- I mean, with any character I generally look at what is that purpose in the film and how does my role in this serve
the biggest story. And in this film, this is a story about Mary Stuart. And in order to support that story line, we explored a different version of
Elizabeth, we explored some sides of Elizabeth that perhaps haven't been explored in other portrayals and that was to find her vulnerability and
find the insecurities and the paranoia and the caution and the restraint that kind of built the image of the version queen and this mask like figure
that she became at the end of her life.
So, yes, it was interesting. It kind of -- she often reacted in a way that -- I'm not used to play -- I keep playing characters who are very outspoken
and in fact, she's very reserved and keeps her judgments to herself and seeks advice from her counsel and --
AMANPOUR: Well, you're leading me right into a clip. You mentioned Guy Pearce who plays her key advisor, her counselor. And here is a scene where
you, Queen Elizabeth I, is basically berating and trying to sort of interrogate her counselors. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBBIE: What have you produced in all our your old troubles between our kingdoms? Discord (ph)? War? Death? And now, you have the boldness to
doubt my judgment. You had better question yours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I regret that you perceive me as a failure.
GUY PEARCE, ACTOR, " MARY QUEEN OF SCOT": We serve you fully, with all our hearts. Any one of us would gladly die for you. But Mary is our foe and a
ROBBIE: She is only your queen if I should not produce an heir.
PEARCE: And will you, madam? For you have given us little hope so far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It is really very dramatic and for people who are really into that shoot a history. I mean, everybody knows she was the Virgin Queen,
she apparently didn't want to have kids. But you say you explored her vulnerability. And there is a scene in the film which is just dramatic.
She's just said, "I am a man." And yet, in this scene, she's turning towards the shadow and there's a profile of her, you, creating a pregnant
like a bump with your coat. Tell me about that and how that came about and what you felt about that because it was so counter-intuitive.
ROBBIE: Yeah. Josie, our director, really wanted to explore what it meant to be a woman in power and what sacrifices she had to make to sustain that
power. And along the way, we kind of see her set the ties with her womanhood and the things she sacrificed along the way I think were her
womanhood, her friendships without women, having a baby, marrying for love, I think that's particularly highlighted since Robert Dudley, in this
portrayal of the film, doesn't have ulterior motives. He isn't trying to usurp crown her crown, he genuinely loves her and yet she still denies it.
So, depriving herself of that urge to conceive and to have a child, obviously, there's a lot of childhood trauma that helps you understand why
she may have been trepidatious about that.
AMANPOUR: Well, let's just fill in. I mean, her father, Henry VIII, had her mother, Anne Boleyn, executed and beheaded because she only produced a
girl, Elizabeth --
AMANPOUR: -- and no heirs.
ROBBIE: Exactly, exactly. And so, Elizabeth was a disappointment from the minute she was born because she wasn't male. Her mom was killed,
essentially, because she couldn't produce a male heir. The pressure on women, particularly, female monarchs, to produce a male heir, I mean, they
really were -- there were two things, they were a symbol of the nation and the nation's integrity and they were also a vessel for an heir or being
married to bring a king in charge, essentially.
AMANPOUR: How did you prepare for the role? Did you do a deep dive into the history? What about all that makeup and all the wigs? And to be
honest with you, I mean, they made a beautiful woman look pretty ugly in quite a lot of scenes.
ROBBIE: Yes. It was -- I do a lot to prepare for any character, fictional or not. And, you know, because this was -- she's such an historical iconic
character, there was a lot of history I had to brush up on. I really didn't learn any of this stuff in school, skipping class a day or
something, but I got to spend a lot of time with John Guy and walk around Hampton Court Palace and I could obviously read about what happened in 1571
what happened to -- you know, that it was the intricate -- it was the intimate details that he kind of let me in on that, helped me find the
character, and helped me to find the humanity in her. And that was an easier way to access the character. And then beyond that, I always work
with an acting coach, a dialect coach, and a movement coach when I prepare for anything.
AMANPOUR: And what was it like sort of barricading yourself in under those inches, it looked like, a white makeup and this blood-red gash and then
this huge hair.
ROBBIE: Yes, it was really helpful. Actually, the costumes too were very restrictive. You're wearing a corset and layer after layer. I mean there
were incredibly heavy jewels on your head, wigs, and bald caps prosthetics to -- for the pox mark scarring. And then, of course, really pounded heavy
makeup on top which in Elizabeth's case had led in arsenic in it. In that case, not so. But yes, it was a lot and it felt very restrictive and it
was ironic and also helpful to feel trapped ultimately by the facade that she created for herself.
AMANPOUR: Anyway, cut to the chase, we all know the historical record Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded, her son became king of England, and
Queen Elizabeth ruled until she died. She never did marry. She never had a child. It is a fundamental story of history. I mean it's really -- it is
incredible that Elizabeth was the -- one of the best monarchs ever to rule this land.
ROBBIE: Yes, she was. She had one of the most successful and one of the longest reigns for England and brought about years of peace. And her and
Cecil had arguably the most successful political partnership in history. Of course, Mary was kind of caught in the crossfire and was eventually
beheaded after being imprisoned for many many years.
AMANPOUR: Catholics up in Scotland, Protestants in England. How much improvisation did you do here? I mean I know you're a bit of an
improvisational maven. I mean they're pretty funny. We're going to just show a clip from I Tonya about Tonya Harding for which you were nominated
for an Oscar. And it is amazing, this scene where she's putting on her makeup in front of the mirror. Walk us through that. I mean was that
planned? Was it -- what did they say to you?
ROBBIE: It wasn't planned. It wasn't planned at all. It was just kind of -- I don't know. Sometimes, I just -- I think a lot of actors, you just
try and try things on set. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But in this scene, obviously the pressure is enormous by the
point in the movie and it was just a last minute thing. I think our D.P. Nico actually said, "Oh, just -- actually just put on a bit of the makeup
but look into camera."
And then I just kind of went with it in that way and then I just smiled through it. And I remember afterwards when Craig called cut, I was like
sorry if that's too weird, you don't have to use that sort of thing. And he's like, "I think we can use that. That was really" -- he like just
hugged me and I was like OK.
AMANPOUR: That was it though? You just did one and that was it. That was the take.
ROBBIE: Yes, that was just one. It was -- that was just one take and one of those things that just happens on set sometimes.
AMANPOUR: And it's basically said that the Wolf of Wall Street is the major feature film that launched your career. There you were playing with
the most bankable stars, Leonardo DiCaprio. Martin Scorsese was directing you. And you had to do an audition, right? And you have what several
seconds to make an impression?
AMANPOUR: And you decided to do what?
ROBBIE: At the end of the scene, I -- not that it was scripted, I slapped Leo in the face.
AMANPOUR: You do it like this? Was it -- it was a big slap?
ROBBIE: It's a big slap. It was a big slap. It was -- yes, especially since it wasn't -- you know, I think the scene was meant and he says, "Get
over here and kiss me" and that's the end of the scene. And I don't know what took over the moment but it essentially got me the role so.
AMANPOUR: And then you swore at him?
ROBBIE: I did. Yes, yes, there was a lot of improvising, very different to Mary, Queen of Scots. There was a lot of improvising in that film.
Actually, at some point, I kind of stopped looking at my script because it was inhibiting and it made it hard because we improved everything.
AMANPOUR: And that actually got you the role, that slap.
ROBBIE: Yes, that's what him and, yes, Marty said afterwards.
AMANPOUR: What was their reaction as it was happening?
ROBBIE: There was silence for a couple seconds and then they just burst out laughing. And Marty was like, "That was great." And Leo was like, "Do
that again." And I was like, oh, I'm so sorry. He's like, "No, do it again." And I was like we're doing this high. He was like, "Do it as
high, quick. Let's do it again."
AMANPOUR: He's a sucker for punishment anyway. So you're also part of what is really -- I don't know what according to try, the gang, you know the
Australian company, record tree company really. I mean you've really taken Hollywood by storm.
AMANPOUR: You, the Hemsworth, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Guy Pearce and on and on and on. We would like to play just a small clip of the
Australian Tourism Board ad --
ROBBIE: Oh, brilliant.
AMANPOUR: -- that we actually debuted at the Super Bowl during halftime in this past year, right, 2018. Just a little bit here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUGH JACKMAN: What do you mean Dundee is lost in the outback? He is the outback.
[13:35:00] ROBBIE: Nobody talks about Mick like that.
CHRIS HEMSWORTH: That knife is pretty sharp.
ROBBIE: A knife? How big?
JACKMAN: What do you mean there's two of them?
ROBBIE: Free beer. Free beer. Free beer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What do you make of that though? I mean suddenly this group of actors from this country down under is so prominent and sweeping up all the
awards and taking all the great parts. What's in the water?
ROBBIE: I don't know. I get asked that all the time. And I really -- I don't know what it is but we grow up watching, you know, American movies
and American T.V. shows and it's -- the industry is limited. And thankfully, it is growing in Australia but it is limited. And so
eventually everyone makes the jump overseas and you don't make it that far unless you're ready to fully commit to it.
AMANPOUR: And are you going to play Barbie next?
ROBBIE: It's -- we're developing it at our production company.
AMANPOUR: Yours and your husband's?
ROBBIE: Not just my husband, our close friends as well. We started it all together.
AMANPOUR: And what is the attraction to playing Barbie who's roundly vilified as just being an objectification of the female form?
ROBBIE: I think it's a good opportunity to have a positive impact on children, not just girls but children in general. There's a certain
element of wish fulfillment and stuff that you get with any sort of play and imagination scenario. But I really appreciated that in the last couple
of years, they rebranded and really paid attention to the effect they can have and the positive effect that they can have. And now they have all
sorts of Barbie's in one particular thing and I really appreciate the message they're now putting out there.
AMANPOUR: What about Quentin Tarantino? You are either shooting now or you are going to be shooting?
ROBBIE: I've wrapped now.
AMANPOUR: You've wrapped that film. Yes. It's called Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. What's it about?
ROBBIE: 1969 in Hollywood. It's mainly -- gosh, I shouldn't really say too much but it's mainly about -- Leo again, we got to work together again.
AMANPOUR: He agreed even though you know?
ROBBIE: Yes, despite the -- yes, the slap in the face.
AMANPOUR: The assaulting.
ROBBIE: Yes. No, you really -- in this film, Quentin is really going to show the world Hollywood in 1969. It was a time of change. It was the end
of an era and a lot of things were changing at the time but it's really had to talk about it without giving anything away. It's going to be a really
AMANPOUR: So what was the attraction of Quentin Tarantino? He is a remarkable director but he's also very controversial and there's a lot
being, you know, swirling around the sort of media sphere about him, his tactics on set, the kinds of roles he puts women in. What is it about him
because you've said that you always dreamed of working with him?
ROBBIE: Yes, he's one of my -- kind of working on a Tarantino film is a bucket list thing for me and I've -- you know, I adore his films. And I
know a lot of people have issue with the violence and I don't like gruesome films myself and I like horror films. But I think his genre of filmmaking
is sensationalized violence and in that way, I can kind of disassociated with anything that's real.
And now I'm watching a movie and that way I can appreciate the entire thing is as genre and art forms. I love his movies. I always have and it
definitely was a bucket list thing for me to work with him and see him work on set. And now that I have, you know --
AMANPOUR: He's lived up to your expectations?
ROBBIE: Above and beyond. He was incredible and so enthusiastic and happy on the set. Even though we spent years on set, he still works on like a
kid in a candy shop and excited about everything in the set and that's how I feel when I go on a set. So it's just so nice to be a part of that.
AMANPOUR: So when you joined the exodus, the artistic exodus from Australia -- I don't know, did you have the same issues that -- you say
you're doing a film about 1969 Hollywood. I mean obviously, we live in the Me Too plus one era. Do you suffer those kinds of things in Hollywood?
When you got to the west so to speak, did you have to go through your own Me Too assault, well, harassment, that kind of stuff?
ROBBIE: You know, I definitely felt the lack of female characters that really attracted me in the way that I'm seeing a big shift now since the
conversation and since the conversation is going so loud about having more opportunities for women in film. I'm seeing that shift happen which is
great. As far as the harassment, that's not something I experienced in Hollywood. But as a woman in the world, yes, of course, of course. I
don't know many women who haven't experienced sexual harassment on some level in their life.
AMANPOUR: Margot Robbie, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
ROBBIE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: A very bright star indeed. We turn now to American [13:40:00] politics. It is hard to imagine that the country today is what the
founding fathers envisioned, whether the toxic rhetoric in politics, the racial tensions or the systemic abuse of women who are finally saying
enough. As the nation still searches for a path towards unity, our Walter Isaacson sat down with Pulitzer-Prize winning historian and the renowned
legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed. She argues turning to history's great leaders is the best way to understand what she calls the American dilemma.
WALTER ISAACSON, CONTRIBUTOR: Professor, thank you for joining us.
ANNETTE GORDON-REED: Very happy to be here.
ISAACSON: We are going to a really divisive period, probably as bad as some parts of the '60s with the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam or
McCarthyism. What role does history tell us about things that ripple to our time and causes divided sensibilities we have?
GORDON-REED: Well, anytime you have a diverse country with lots of different voices, with people having a different understanding about the
direction the country should take it, you're going to have this kind of fighting, the 1790s. In 1790s, Jefferson and Hamilton sort of set the sort
of basic contours of a discussion about what kind of country this is going to be. Very very tough times and we're seeing this kind of thing again.
ISAACSON: But the contours that they set, the creed that they wrote was out of many one, E Pluribus Unum --
ISAACSON: -- the notion that we had a creed, not just one race or one nationality of people. Are we losing that sense now?
GORDON-REED: Well, I would remind you that at the time that they wrote that creed, a good number of people were enslaved, half the population
could not vote. That is to say, women, other people who were not propertied had difficulty as well. So the struggle in America has been
trying to bring everybody together to sort of realize that creed.
So we're not -- we haven't been moving away from it. We've been steadily moving toward it. Right now, we're at a point where we're thinking are we
going to continue in that direction. Is the progress going to continue? And I think that's a real, real point of contention at this point.
ISAACSON: You talk about America's creed and you've mentioned that it wasn't fully there for everybody including Thomas Jefferson who may have
written a lot about -- wrote the creed but didn't walk the walk. You were able to put Sally Hemings, his mistress. Is that a proper word for it in
GORDON-REED: Well, people go back and forth on that question. People use concubines. Some people say rape victims. Some people say mistress.
Whatever it is, it was something that went on for 38 years. This is a person who's a significant part of his life and you can't write about him
without thinking about that certainly.
ISAACSON: And you certainly, you know, written about Jefferson and Hemings in two or three books now. And you say that she was a slave but you're
also saying in your work and just now that she also had some agency. In other words, she was in charge of herself a little bit, not just a pure
slave, it was more complex.
GORDON-REED: It's more complicated when they were in France because when she was in France with him, he was serving as the Minister to France. She
had the opportunity to be a free person. And she, upon Jeff -- after Jefferson's promises, decided to return to Monticello and live with him.
So it wasn't like a situation that most African-American women in the United States faced where they had no law.
The law was on her side. And law made her an enslaved person in Virginia but law gave her an opportunity to be a free person in France. And she
decided to come back to Monticello with Jefferson. And once she gets here, of course, she's in his control and, you know, that's that.
ISAACSON: One of the wonderful things about your book is you talk about what is really a negotiation that they have in Paris where she's strong
enough to say, "OK, I might come back with you but here's what I want." Why did she trust him? And how was that a real negotiation?
GORDON-REED: She was his wife and this is the complicated part of this, wife's half-sister. And he treated her and her siblings in a different
way. And we can see through that, you know, in hindsight--
ISAACSON: The wife had died.
GORDON-REED: His wife had died.
ISAACSON: And she had had a half-sister by her father but a black slave.
ISAACSON: That's become Sally Hemings.
GORDON-REED: Sally Hemings' father was Jefferson's wife's father, a man named John Wales who was an Englishman. And she had seen him treat her
family in a different way. And as I'm writing this and thinking about this, my inclination is to construct a master enemy and so you don't trust
him. But she knew him and she knew him in a particular context and she thought he said he was going to do what he said and eventually he does.
But it was a huge -- I'm sitting here writing this and just thinking about this, this is crazy. This is a [13:45:00] huge risk you're taking.
ISAACSON: Part of the negotiation was to make sure that their children -- her children would be free.
ISAACSON: And that includes Madison.
ISAACSON: I mean she was a really interesting character and you used his writings to help you understand.
GORDON-REED: Yes. Madison Hemings gave his recollections in 1873. He was living in Ohio at the time and he talked about life at Monticello and that
Jefferson was his father and Sally Hemings was his mother. And it's a very matter of fact kind of story. You know you're listening to him talk and
he's talking about I got married and I worked here, there. And you're saying tell us more about your mother and your father but he's just telling
his life story.
So it's -- that's just a part of the whole thing. It's not anything he's trying to prove, no argument he's making and he describes what could only
be considered the way he talks about his mother and father. He calls them mother and father as a form of family. And again, you sort of recoil it
with that because we have an understanding of what family is.
ISAACSON: It involves some equality.
GORDON-REED: Yes, equality, some notions of equality. But you know he talks about father and my mother and mother took care of father's rooms.
It was her duty all of her life to look after his rooms and his wardrobe and look after us children. And that's what she did for the rest of her
life. So it's a strange kind of story and you think about how this is probably what he did play out all across the south, you know, their
This was not -- it's a mistake that people I think historians who looked at this first made was sort of writing about this as if this were some rare
circumstance and it wasn't. It wasn't. You had these kinds of situations and you have in every kind of slave society that's existed. And it's
difficult for us to see how people negotiated that but they did.
ISAACSON: The wonderful thing about history that you do is remind us it's always a bit more complex.
ISAACSON: And in this case, it's complex because Jefferson keeps his promises, treats Madison some ways as a son, although he's a somewhat --
GORDON-REED: A distant father. A distant father.
ISAACSON: Yes. But he doesn't free the other slaves. The other slaves at Monticello just have to remain slaves.
GORDON-REED: Yes, yes. The only people he frees in his lifetime are members of the Hemings family, his own children or their uncles.
ISAACSON: And you've been involved recently in Monticello in helping them tell the story in a more historically complex way.
GORDON-REED: Yes, yes. To tell the story at all actually. I mean the first time I went to Monticello, 1994 when I was working on my first book.
I don't recall any discussion about Sally Hemings. There were some discussions about slavery but since that time, the place has really opened
up and making it a place where you discuss not only Jefferson.
Jefferson was a great man and a person who contributed a lot to the United States. And so you have to talk about him, it's his home. But you also
have to talk about the other people who lived there. Jefferson, when he's on the mountain, would be there with 200 African-American people who were
enslaved and a tiny number of white working men. So the story of Monticello is him definitely but it's all these other people as well.
ISAACSON: You say Jefferson was a great man. If we were to look outside and there was a monument to Jefferson, would you be in favor of taking them
GORDON-REED: Of Jefferson? No, because I think Jefferson is too much an integral part of the United States. I understand the idea of taking down
the monuments of other people. I think this has to be done on a case by case basis. But you begin to lie to yourself in some way if you take out
people who were integral to the nation's founding and who also have ideas or had ideas that we still revere.
The declaration -- the words of the declaration are important and we've used that to be a part as we've said before as an American creed. I don't
see how you remove him from that. What you do is you talk about his life in a real way.
You talk about the good points, the bad points, and the contention we have. And he's perfect in a lot of ways because he embodies the American dilemma.
You can talk about race, slavery, politics, gender, all of those things through this man, good things and bad things. And I can't think of anybody
else that fits that bill.
ISAACSON: You were someone who connected to Charlottesville in some ways throughout your career. The white supremacists in Charlottesville, they
marched towards George Jefferson statue. What was the significance of that?
GORDON-REED: Well, the significance is that in the only book he ever wrote notes in the State of Virginia, Jefferson talks about the possibility or
the impossibility [13:50:00] of blacks and whites living together without turmoil, without fighting. And his solution was separation. Slaves should
be emancipated but blacks should have their own country.
And at first, he thought maybe it was out west, he thought maybe it was in Africa. But he did not think that blacks and whites could live together in
harmony because whites would never give up their prejudices and black people would never forgive white people for what they had done. He said,
"How could you love a country that had treated you the way blacks have been treated in the United States?"
So we typically think of Jefferson as optimistic but in that area, he was not optimistic. He didn't see how we could live together. And the people
marching towards the statue, I think, were doing so as a way of claiming him for that kind of idea, that there were people surrounding the statue
who whether they like Jefferson or not were standing for the other ideals of Jefferson. The ideals of the declaration actually, the notion of all
men are created equal pursuit of happiness, the American creed. So you had this clash, the American clash, that we've had from the very very
beginning, are we one people embodied in that particular moment?
ISAACSON: How do we think through now the resonance of what happened in Charlottesville?
GORDON-REED: Well, it's really tough. I mean I wrote something about this afterwards. And trying to think of how we can come together on this
question, on the question of the values of say a Jefferson, the values of the declaration and how we keep those things alive in the face of people
who want a country of blood and soil which we have not been and we can't have been.
You're kidding ourselves if we think that that's the case. We're not old enough for that. We don't have an ancient religion or an established
religion. There are people of all different creeds and colors here. And the only thing I think we can do is to talk about these kinds of issues and
to confront them and realize that if you don't talk about or confront, well, evil, the people who were trying to divide us, you can easily slide
into something that we don't -- where we don't want to go.
I mean we can't take for granted that American exceptionalism is going to save us if we don't really stand up to a lot of the values or against
values that we, you know, that are anathema to what the country has stood for.
ISAACSON: You're talking about blood and soil. Explain the historic resonance of that phrase and how that sort of --
GORDON-REED: Well, the notion that there's the people. I mean the certainly the Nazis and people in other countries have sort of used the
idea of the country and genetics and blood and your attachment to land as a claim that you've been in the place for a thousand years. And so all of
this mythical in a lot of ways because people have been moving over all along.
And the United States is supposed to be a country that's based upon ideals. If you come here and you accept the values of the American Constitution, of
the declaration that is sort of the spirit of all of that, then you can be an American. You pay your taxes and you do, you know, good to your
neighbors, and you do those kinds of things that that's what makes you an American, not your genetics, not your blood, not attachment to a thousand-
year attachment to a particular parcel of land or a place.
And that's what makes us different and that's the thing that we sort of celebrated all of these years and the thing that right now people are
questioning. People may have -- maybe envy places that attach themselves or have some notion of blood and soil but that's never who we've been.
ISAACSON: Thank you for being with us.
GORDON-REED: Glad to be here.
AMANPOUR: So we got a double dose of history on tonight's program. But still so relevant to what's going on in so many parts of our world.
And before we go, we want to take a moment to recognize the guardians. That is what "Time Magazine" has decided to call its People of the Year,
the Guardians of the Truth. Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was murdered and dismembered by his own government for daring to speak truth to
power. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Reuters reporters in Myanmar who were sentenced to seven years in prison after writing the truth about the
government's massacre of Rohingya Muslims. And Maria Ressa, formerly of CNN who was targeted by the Philippine government trying to silence her
truth-telling independent news site.
And finally, because press freedom is not only under threat in dictatorships, the staff of Maryland's Capital Gazette, five of their
colleagues were shot and killed in their own news room in June. We honor all of their memory and all of their work. And we recommit ourselves to
guarding the truth, [13:55:00] no matter the stakes or the consequences because we are all Jamaal Khashoggi and we are all the guardians.
That's it for now. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast. See us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.