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Interview with the First Female Chancellor and the Most Powerful Woman in the World; Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, is Interviewed About Europe and America; Ron Howard`s New Documentary About Luciano Pavarotti; Ron Howard, Director, "Pavarotti," is Interviewed About his New Documentary, "Pavarotti.". Aired 1-2p ET
Aired August 26, 2019 - 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." This week, we`re dipping into the
archives and looking back at some of our favorite interviews from this year. So, here`s what`s coming up.
The most powerful woman in the world joins me for her first in-depth and exclusive interview with an American television network. German Chancellor
Angela Merkel warns that the fight to defend democracy, tolerance and human rights is far from over.
And Director Ron Howard tells a story of Luciano Pavarotti, the global rock star of the opera world.
Plus, the things that make white people uncomfortable. Super Bowl champion, Michael Bennett, on the brutal realities of American football.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I`m Christiane Amanpour in London.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been called the de factor leader of Europe, where voters this weekend, especially millennials, turned out in
record numbers to push the Green Party to great success. The far-right did not surge and the centrist traditional parties, including Mrs. Merkel`s,
did not fare that well either, though they appear to have dodged a major bullet.
Chancellor Merkel has spent her career trying to keep the centre alive, but the big question is, how long can that centre continue to hold? She`s
coming to the United States to deliver the commencement address at Harvard on Thursday, where she`ll talk about her extraordinary personal story, her
ascent to the top, and her remarkable staying power.
I had the rare chance to talk to this fierce and female champion of democracy who goes toe to toe with the strong men and authoritarians in
She is the most powerful woman in the world, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has dominated global politics for almost 15 years. As America has
gone from George W. Bush to Barack Obama to Donald Trump. In Germany, it has been just Merkel.
It`s hard to imagine the country or Europe without her, but that time is coming. She stood down as leader of her own party late last year and says
she`ll step down as chancellor when her term ends in 2021. Though some suspect it could come a lot sooner.
Merkel, known for her intellect and her stoicism followed an unusual path to power. The daughter of a pastor and a teacher, she was raised in
communist East Germany where she studied physics and earned a doctorate in quantum chemistry. When the wall fell, she felt compelled to turn to
politics and then began her spectacular rise.
Her legacy will no doubt be shaped by her fierce defense of democracy, freedom, and the current multilateral world order in effect since the end
of World War II. And also, by her response to two major tests. First, the eurozone debt crisis and her polarizing push for austerity. Secondly, the
migrant crisis and her controversial but compassionate decision to open her country to more than a million people.
The German leader now navigates a host of other issues like the E.U.`s future after Brexit and an unpredictable relationship with America in the
age of Donald Trump. Chancellor Merkel is known for keeping a low profile and she rarely gives interviews, especially at length. So, we were eager
to hear from her when we met in Berlin.
Madam Chancellor, welcome to our program. It`s great to be able to talk to you in Berlin.
I just want to get your reaction though first to the European elections, the results. Your party came first here in Germany, but the Greens did
very well and you did do a little worse than usual. In general, how do you think it`s gone?
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): First of all, I was pleased that more people went to the elections than in the last European
elections. That`s been the case in many countries. Secondly, we have become the strongest party and this will, of course, play a role when we
nominate the positions within the European Union. And third, it`s correct that the Greens actually have been very strong and it has to do with issues
that people are interested in the most these days.
For example, climate change and that is also, for my part, of course, a challenge now. We have to give better answers to all these issues and we
have to say very clearly that targets that we have committed to are targets that we remain committed to.
AMANPOUR: And yet, since you brought this up, I might as well talk about the environment because it`s what every young person practically is
interested in, is their existential right. You`ve made targets but you haven`t kept them. Very many countries have not kept them. Germany is
still quite dirty [13:05:00]. You decided to put aside nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster. Do you regret that? Do you think there should be
nuclear power or more commitment to a clean environment?
MERKEL (through translator): Well, I`m of the opinion that it`s correct that the young people of the world rise up and point out to the older
generation what is happening to their future. And we have actually been able to keep within certain limits of the targets. But with the limits of
2020, for example, we have difficulties this year. We are now committed to 2030.
I don`t regret leaving nuclear energy because I feel that was the correct decision. And I`m strongly convinced that generating energy by nuclear is
not sustainable in the long run. We have also decided to phase out power generated by coal plants by 2038. And it`s, of course, a challenge to use
neither coal nor nuclear energy, and we have to find a solution to this. We can do this.
Here in Germany, renewable energies are already an important part of the energy mix and we want them to generate more energy by renewables by 2030.
AMANPOUR: I want to talk a little bit about your relationship with America. You are going to give the commencement speech at Harvard, to the
graduates for this year. You, for the last nearly 15 years, have been a fierce defender of democracy and freedom on this continent and in the
western alliance. I want to know how important America`s role has been, historically, in making Germany such a robust democracy.
MERKEL (through translator): one of the most important decisions that the United States took after the Second World War was to give Germany and
Europe a chance to actually develop themselves, well, economically speaking. That was achieved by the Marshall plan.
America has always defended us, also in the eastern part of Germany under the reign of the Soviet Union and the former Germany Democratic Republic.
The fact that the iron curtain fell, that the wall fell, this we all owe mainly to the behavior of the Americans. The staunch attitude standing by
us over time. And when we had this double-track debate, Europe in those days, which was a polarizing debate, but it helped us in the end to gain
We are, of course, grateful to America and in my commencement speech, this will be my main focus, these sort of boy biographical issues. So, this
won`t be a classic political speech about a speech also about my own life, and I will try to explain to students the lesson I draw from my own life.
AMANPOUR: The students will be very aware that you have taken a very principled stance. You are the only world leader who greeted President
Trump`s election with welcome but based on a commitment to mutual values, freedom, democracy, human rights, tolerance, free press, et cetera. So,
they`re very well aware of where you stand in relation to President Trump. The first question is, is it difficult to keep Germans liking America,
liking this president at this time? Is it difficult to keep them on side?
MERKEL (through translator): In the history of the United States, there were again and again solutions where, for example, in the double-track
debate big parts of the German population did not agree with the Americans, but we have this obligation to forge a good relationship and we have the
duty to grapple with those issues and debate them.
Also, in order to seek solutions, sometimes this is done easily, sometimes this is more complicated. But if you say you stand for a multilateral
world, and that is what I do stand for, and say only together we can resolve problems, then you have to always work together to find a common
solution. And this is what we do and this is also a characteristic of my relationship with the current President Trump and I believe this also works
in a respectful manner, even if we don`t always agree.
AMANPOUR: I want to show you a few pictures, because these are -- you`ve seen three American presidents, four British prime ministers, I think it`s
two or three French presidents, and many, many leaders have come and gone.
You`ve been a bit of a punching bag for President Trump. He`s said some quite strong things, including, you know, your relationship with Russia and
all the rest of it. I just wanted to show you this picture because that went viral around the world. I wonder what you can tell me about your
personal relationship and your political relationship because his own White House says he`s only strong with the people he considers friends. Do you
consider him a friend?
MERKEL (through translator): I think we have close cooperation, which simply results from problems we have had to resolve together. And this
picture also shows that we are indeed grappling with an issue. In every communique, which we had to declare, I was also the host for the G20
negotiations [13:10:00] in Hamburg, we had contentious debates. But in the end, we also found common ground. It`s certainly always a challenge to
debate but I very happily take on this challenge. The president has his opinions, I have mine, and very often, we also find common ground. If not,
we have to keep on talking and negotiating.
AMANPOUR: So, just quickly, the trade war, the tariffs. The president has said that basically German built cars should be exempted on a national
security basis. What`s your reaction to German cars being considered a national security threat to the United States?
MERKEL (through translator): Well, I take note of this. Then, of course, we build our case. I think it`s right and good that we have a mandate from
the European Union for trade talks with the American government. Germany will hold these talks very seriously. And my argument, of course, is that
German cars are not built only in Germany.
That, for example, with the BMW, their biggest plant is in South Carolina. This means Germany has much more direct investments taken out by German
companies in America than the reverse, American companies investing here. So, I think we should look at these issues together that namely American
jobs, American places of training have to be secured as well. And then, goods can be transported from there to the rest of the world.
Further, I think we should underline that also from the German side, we are open to all American companies. Maybe many SMEs don`t know that you can
trade with us as well. So, I invite all American businesses to take a closer look at German markets. We are open and welcoming everyone with
AMANPOUR: Chancellor, you have won a remarkable four elections. It`s said that President Obama suggested that you should run again in 2017 after he
came to visit you after the election of President Trump. The speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, said to me in her typical fashion, she said, "As
long as he`s there, I`m here."
Do you feel that? Did you feel that pressure? And again, I`d like to show you a picture because you tended to have a pretty friendly relationship,
eventually, with President Obama. Do you miss him?
MERKEL (through translator): America has very clear rules. There, after eight years at the very latest, the presidency comes to an end. I was
aware of this, of course, in the very first day of Barack Obama`s presidency. Our relationship did not start very smoothly. I had been
criticized a lot when he wanted to speak in Berlin in front of the Brandenburg Gate. But I said he`s not the president yet and only
presidents can speak there.
It was not that easy in the beginning. I never revealed what was discussed in private talks. And therefore, I will also not reveal anything from my
talks with the previous American president. But I say, it`s the obligation of every chancellor to build good relations with any American president and
to seek solutions. This is Germany`s interest. This is America`s interest. And so, you have to make an effort to find solutions.
AMANPOUR: So, you won`t tell us whether he urged you to run again?
MERKEL (through translator): No. This is one of my long-standing principles, that I don`t reveal anything from private talks. And that`s
important for the political culture we have because we should be able to discuss certain things together.
AMANPOUR: Do you remember this moment? It went viral around the world when you got a back rub from President George W. Bush, who basically said
very nice things about you, you`ve got a great spirit, he said, you have -- you love freedom, you`re a great woman. Do you remember this?
MERKEL (through translator): Yes, of course I remember this. I thought it was a kind gesture at the time, a friendship. The fact that it caused such
excitement and it went viral, to be honest, I could not imagine that at all at the time. It was a friendly gesture.
AMANPOUR: I want to talk now about Germany and what you have done for Germany in your chancellorship. So, it`s going to be D-Day next week, the
75th anniversary of the end of the war. I remembered being there are five years ago. And President Orland (ph) gave a very strong speech as one can
imagine against the horrendous past of Nazism. And I remember looking at you, watching him, because I was there covering it. And I wondered how you
felt as he was really railing hard on the past.
MERKEL (through translator): For me, it was a great honor, a privilege that was accorded incidentally also to my predecessor, Chancellor Schroder,
that we, as Germans, were allowed to be there. And I mean, it`s obvious if you consider what the Germans did, the sort of terror wrought during the
national socialist period, including the Holocaust, and that we today can be part of it, sitting there as guests, as partners and as friends, that
was very moving for me.
And therefore, I did [13:15:00] find this speech passionate in that situation where Germany and France setup the Normandy format trying to
bring about something for the Ukraine. I was very moved at the time. The Ukrainian president was there, the Russian president was there. And all of
a sudden, you did have issues related to territorial integrity on the agenda.
So, it was not only a solemn celebration but it was also a reminder of what still seems topical these days. So, it was very moving for me.
AMANPOUR: German president on the 40th anniversary of D-Day gave a very, very profound speech about the horrors of the Holocaust. And he said, "The
day of Germany`s defeat was the day of Germany`s liberation." In other words, the defeat of the Nazis was Germany`s day of liberation. Do you
agree with that?
MERKEL (through translator): Yes, that was on the 40th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. And Federal President Weizsacker gave this
speech at the time. And at the time, I still lived in the GDR. So, Germany was divided, it was not yet united. So, we did take note very much
of this speech and I thought it was a very apt and appropriate description of the situation and I still think so.
AMANPOUR: Because analysts and historians today describe you as the face of good Germans, good Germany. And they also say, though, that under your
nearly 15 years in power, in some cases, those dark old demons have risen again, nationalism, populism, anti-Semitism, I mean, very dark forces that
we can see are winning in elections to an extent. They talk about your austerity programs, they talk about your compassionate, courageous
migration program, allowing a million or more people in.
What do you answer to the people who say that, you know, it was a great Germany under your chancellorship but these dark demons have risen again?
MERKEL (through translator): Germany can and will not uncouple itself from developments we see all over the world. We see this in Germany as well.
But in Germany, obviously, they always have to be seen in a certain context and the context of our past which means we have to be that much more
vigilant than others.
And I also say, yes, there is work to be done here. We have always had a certain number of anti-Semites amongst us. Unfortunately, there is, to
this day, not a single synagogue, not a single day care center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be
guarded by German policemen.
Unfortunately, over the years, we have not been able to deal with this satisfactorily that we can do without this. But we have to face up indeed
to the specters of the past. We have to tell our young people what history has brought over us and others and these horrors. Why we are for
democracy, why we try to bring about solutions, why we always have to put ourselves in the other person`s shoes, why we stand up against intolerance,
why we show no tolerance towards violations of human rights, why Article I of our basic law, human dignity is inviolable, is so fundamental to us. It
has to be thought to every new generation.
And you`re quite right, the task has become harder but it needs to be done.
AMANPOUR: Is that what led you to allow so many refugees into Germany? I mean, people have criticized it. But we notice that it was the environment
that was the first in these elections, not immigration. That was down the list. So, the voters weren`t punishing you in these elections for that.
And you said to one of your key ministers during the migration crisis, "Don`t build walls. I don`t build deadly walls."
MERKEL (through translator): I`m firmly convinced that we have to learn to live in our neighborhood with a certain balance. And part and parcel of
this neighborhood is the African continent and this is why we have to help people there on the ground so people don`t need to leave their home
We have on our doorstep, just imagine Syria. From Cyprus, you can almost see Syria. We have this terrible situation in Iraq and we have not been
sufficiently vigilant to see to it that people on the ground have been sufficiently cared for in the sense that they have sufficient job
opportunities, sufficient education opportunities. And so, they entrusted their lives into the hands of traffickers because they didn`t see any
choice for themselves. And in a humanitarian emergency, we stepped out and helped.
But this obviously cannot endure. This cannot be a satisfactory state of affairs. We, as states, have to manage. We have to guide immigration, but
not in the sense that we shut ourselves off from each other but that we help each other in these humanitarian situations of emergency but
[13:20:00] also open up opportunities on the ground.
I`m firmly convinced of this, and I`m working for this and this is why ever since 2015, we`ve agreed with Turkey, with a certain agreement, to cater
for the needs of refugees on the ground but also work against the traffickers and this together.
AMANPOUR: While you have many supporters, you also have critics. One of the main critic, obviously, was the former finance minister of Greece,
Yanis Varoufakis. And of course, it`s all about the austerity and the tough line that Germany took over the Brexit issue.
You are leaving. You say you`ll stay in the end of your chancellorship in 2021. This is what Mr. Varoufakis says. "She was a catastrophe and she
will be missed because whoever comes next will certainly be worse." Is that a compliment?
MERKEL (through translator): Well, quite clearly what comes out of this is that Mr. Varoufakis and I have quite often and openly disagreed. I do
think that Greece will only become a prosperous country if it carries out certain reforms. I try to stand up for this. At the time, I stood up for
keeping Greece in the Euro area.
We in Germany have a saying, the more enemies you have, the more honor you garner. And in a way, I think this is reflected in this opinion that is
voiced by him. I have always stood up staunchly for keeping the eurozone together. But, of course, not at the price of our giving up on our
principles, lumping everything together and not making reforms.
AMANPOUR: You have said that you don`t want to stay around so long that people are tired, you know, of looking at you, that, you know, you don`t
want to be a wreck of yourself by the time your political career is ended. Are you comfortable? I mean, first of all, do you feel a wreck? Do you
feel tired? Do you understand Merkel fatigue? Are you comfortable with leaving even though you keep winning these elections?
MERKEL (through translator): Well, I set the date of my leaving this office clearly myself. I said, "By the end of this legislative period, I
will then leave." But I promise people I will stay on until the end of this legislative term and would certainly not have declared myself ready
and willing to do this interview if I felt listless and didn`t want to say anything substantive on politics.
I need to be liking and passionate about this job. I need to like meeting new people, fascinating people. And this to me is a great source of
strength in this job.
AMANPOUR: Madam Chancellor, you are the first female chancellor and you are the most powerful woman in the world. I don`t know whether you accept
that, but that`s what everybody calls you. You very rarely talk about being a woman. You haven`t defined your political career as being a woman.
Are you ready to say that you`re a feminist? Are you pleased with the lot of women in the world and in Germany where even gender pay equality doesn`t
MERKEL (through translator): Well, the Dutch queen at one point in time during the Women`s 20 meeting helped me a little bit by saying feminism
means women have the same rights everywhere. And this is parity. What this is all about from politics to the media to the business community.
That must be our objective. We are not there yet. Quite right, and there`s still a gender pay gap. And for many girls, apparently, I have
become indeed a role model during my time of chancellorship. And that has changed. It matters a little bit. But we are not at the end of the road.
I always say, one swallow does not make a summer. So, we need more women in these relevant positions and that means men have to change their way of
life. Because obviously, women cannot do what they`ve always done, plus have the same kind of share in social and political life. There has to be
more of a division of labor between men and women, both in professional life and in their family life. We`re on the right track, and if we look at
young people, it`s going to enrich society as such if this happens.
AMANPOUR: Madam Chancellor, thank you very much indeed.
MERKEL (through translator): Well, it was a pleasure and thank you.
AMANPOUR: That was a really fascinating and important opportunity to hear Angela Merkel`s political views and indeed, a little bit more elaboration
on what feminism means to her. And of course, we`ll hear what she says about her own personal story in much greater detail after her commencement
address at Harvard.
Now, we turn to Director Ron Howard who has created huge commercial and critical hits with films like "Cocoon," "Apollo 13," and the academy award
winning "A Beautiful Mind" to his credit. And as pop culture figure, Howard is what "The New York Times" calls an avatar of Americana.
The well-scrubbed face of the mainstream in classic movies and TV series including "The Andy Griffith Show," "Happy Days" and "American [13:25:00]
Graffiti." Now, Ron Howard`s new documentary looks at the life and work of opera`s legendary divo, Luciano Pavarotti.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARVEY GOLDSMITH, CONCERT PROMOTER: The maestro got to a second aria, people holding up their umbrellas, people behind couldn`t see, they were
shouting and there was this noise going on. I literally rushed on stage, grabbed the microphone, and I just said, "People, could you lower your
umbrellas, everybody. Thank you very much."
The first person to jump up was Princess Diana, who had (INAUDIBLE) with an umbrella. She said, "Take the umbrella down." And there was this ripple
effect all the way back through the audience. Everybody put their umbrellas down and the concert carried on.
LUCIANO PAVAROTTI, ITALIAN OPERATIC TENOR: The next aria is from the same opera that I have sung now, Manun (ph). The title of the aria is "Donna
Non Vidi Mai." It means, I have never seen a woman like that. And with your permission, I would like to dedicate to Lady Diana.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Luciano Pavarotti and, of course, Princess Diana making power and influence so human. Now, I`ve been speaking to Ron Howard about why
Pavarotti, and of course about his own extraordinary show business life.
Ron Howard, welcome to the program.
RON HOWARD, DIRECTOR, "PAVAROTTI": It`s a pleasure.
AMANPOUR: Well, it`s a pleasure for me too, because you have devoted your life to making fabulous films that have entertained us, I guess ever since
you were a kid on "The Andy Griffith Show." But let`s talk about your latest, "Pavarotti." What drew you to Pavarotti? Why a documentary on
HOWARD: Pavarotti became, to me, quite obvious. And because he`s so charismatic, his life`s journey is something that we don`t know very much
about, although, you know, his is a household name, and even, you know, opera. Of course, there are those that love it, understand it passionately
and are fans, but there are so many other people who -- you know, they`ve heard it, they appreciate it, they don`t really know.
I felt that as a filmmaker, that the subject of this man, this great artist, his life would provide an incredible opportunity to actually use
opera to help tell his story. He`s so brilliant in these -- in his performances, these arias.
I`m a director. I`m watching this close-up footage that had been captured of him over the years, and it`s riveting, it`s powerful, and for him, it
rings true. And I felt we could use those arias in a way to help tell his story, say something about opera, create a great sound experience for
audiences. So, I really hope a lot of people see it in the theater. And tell a story that would really surprise people in an emotional way because
his was a very emotional journey.
AMANPOUR: I was stunned, and you`ve just talked about the sound and the music and the arias. How actually it was described how a tenor has to
construct that sound. It`s not a sound that comes out naturally out of somebody`s body.
HOWARD: You know what, it`s almost, you know, it`s almost an Olympic level athletic feat to create those sounds and yet, it`s a form of expression and
a powerful one. I really decided to make the movie as somebody who always admired opera and certainly knew something of Pavarotti and knew he was a
genius. But when I watched those performances that I was talking about and I understood -- began to understand what it took to make those sounds, and
then I had the lyrics translated and I realized that opera is for the people.
That was always Pavarotti`s cause, his case, the argument that he would make. It`s not an elite art form. It`s populist. And it`s for people to
love and I felt that understanding what he was singing about at various times in his life when I felt he was coming very close to singing about
himself and his own rather operatic yet very relatable personal journey.
AMANPOUR: I`d like to just play a clip from your film that was historic anyway, it`s not something you produced because they did it, the three
tenors, but you focus on it and this obviously is Pavarotti, it is Carreras and it is Placido Domingo. Here`s the clip from your film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSE CARRERAS, SPANISH TENOR: I think a good way to know a person is sharing the stage with him. You know what kind of determination. You know
what kind of tears he`s bringing to every performance?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the moment of being on the stage, there was a competition. It`s like anything you do, I can do better. That feeling was
in the spirit of the moment, you know? Boy, what a phrase you did. Now let me do this one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Kind of rare when you see all these people at the top, top of their game collaborating rather than competing. So I thought that was
really interesting to show that as well.
HOWARD: It was great. Well, they were collaborating until the performance started. And then as Placido Domingo mentioned, he says, "Well, then the
competition sort of started." But they were having fun with it.
It was, you know, but yes, for them, it was a one-time thing too, you know, just to get Jose back on stage and sort of relaunch his career, which was a
great gesture of friendship, and yet it -- they became the biggest act in the world for a couple of years.
And Pavarotti, without a doubt, was one of the greatest superstars of his generation, and -- but he was not without controversy. And I felt like it
was very, not only supportive, beyond supportive, it was courageous of the family to make this footage available, to offer this interview time and
their honest, honest answers.
But there`s, you know, there`s just powerful love there despite some disappointments and some turbulence in relationships.
AMANPOUR: Oh, some disappointment, some turbulence. I love the way you say that, because I actually think that is remarkable, that you got his
wife, his lovers, his second -- last wife, everybody, including his three daughters, to speak to you so openly.
Remind us of the depth and breadth and, you know, he did betrayals. He betrayed his wife but yet to the last minute, she stood by him as well.
HOWARD: Well, I mean, we did, I think, 53 interviews. Not all of them made it into the final film. Some of them are so remarkable, the family,
you know, Bono, his managers and, you know, it`s -- Placido and Jose Carreras, incredible.
But everyone wanted to participate because, you know, despite, you know, moments in their relationships that were very disappointing, even
heartbreaking, the overarching feeling about their relationship with him was they were grateful for it, they respected him, and he had this sort of
honest -- honesty and a joy for life and a romance for life that seemed to transcend any and all of that turbulence in the end.
And in fact, I think what the family gives us is not only a deep understanding of their character but also a kind of an object lesson in
forgiveness without forgetting and it`s very moving.
AMANPOUR: You have actually done -- if I might just read some of your archives, I mean you`ve done a definitive -- the definitive work on
mermaids which would be Splash, the definitive work on a space flight, which was Apollo 13.
I just wonder how you have sort of stayed kind of normal since you`ve done all that stuff and it`s all been so many accolades but you also started as
a kid, as an actor on The Andy Griffith Show and then Happy Days. What was your sort of north star? What kept you normal?
HOWARD: I think that I simply grew up feeling that that kind of creative problem solving, you know, working on behalf of the audience by sharing a
story that collectively is believed in by the production company and the people involved, is a great way of life.
It`s satisfying. People enjoy it. And for me, I found throughout the decades I continue to grow with it through the collaborations and through
the stories that I get to explore, [13:35:00] whether it`s fact or fiction.
So it`s something I`ve always been grateful for and appreciated but I think because I always grew up in it, I was never a fan first. I was always a
participant first and then I became a fan later so there wasn`t really magic around it. It was just a way of life really.
AMANPOUR: I just want to ask you whether it`s true or not. Obviously, when you started directing, apparently Henry Fonda is the person who
suggested you start directing.
HOWARD: Well, he knew I had an interest. I was on a television show with him for a couple of years and he had known my father from the theater
production of "Mr. Roberts." My father had been in that with Henry Fonda.
But he saw that interest that I had, that passion. I was making a lot of Super 8 movies. I was writing little short scripts when I was about --
this is when I`m 16-years-old or so.
And he was the one who said, well if you really love movies, you should become a director because that`s a director`s medium. And he actually gave
me my first film theory book and his suggestion was, look deeper. Look deeper at this medium. You`ve grown up in it, but you know, it`s a medium
that has a lot to say.
And he also said, if you don`t take risks, really kind of risk your career every couple of years or so, you`re not really giving the medium, the
audience or yourself the -- you`re not doing justice to any of those.
AMANPOUR: Well, those are two very good pieces of advice. I just wonder, you also worked with Bette Davis when you directed her. Apparently, she
was a bit hard on you but when she likes you, what did she do?
HOWARD: She kept calling me Mr. Howard, Mr. Howard, Mr. Howard and I kept saying -- I was 25-years-old. I said, Ms. Davis, please just call me
And she said, "No, I will call you Mr. Howard until I decide whether I like you or not" and then like slammed the phone down.
So now I`m tossing and turning in the night but after our first day of working together where she took some of my direction and she liked it, I
said, well, Ms. Davis, thanks very much, you`re finished, we`ll see you tomorrow.
And she said, "Good day, Ron." And she patted me on the butt. So it was a big win. Big win for young Ron.
AMANPOUR: I guess lastly, and quite seriously, and somewhat politically, you are doing "Hill Billy Elegy," shooting it in Georgia. And you have
said that you will not do the production there because of the latest very draconian anti-abortion rule.
And so just tell me about that and would you also not participate not film in other states which have recently passed very strict and restrictive
legislation? Because certainly Glenn Close has said she won`t even film there.
HOWARD: We`ve made the decision to stay and film there because we`ll be complete long before this is either signed or not signed in January. And
we didn`t want to pull the production and all it means to all the people who are already committed to the movie who live there, work there, and make
their living there.
However, we did let it be known, my partner, Brian Grazer and I, through our companies, Imagine Entertainment, we did let it be known that if it
were to be signed, we would boycott Georgia as a state. We have too many collaborators in front of and behind the camera, women who feel very
passionately about it, as do we.
And you know, we hope that production companies and artists standing up and letting it be known that if this actually becomes the law of the state, it
is going to influence the state`s viability as a production destination. And so, I suppose we hope it`s influential. It`s the way we feel.
AMANPOUR: And for other states as well, Alabama, the others who just enacted very restrictive laws?
HOWARD: It`s a kind of a rollback and it`s --
AMANPOUR: Would you boycott them as well?
AMANPOUR: Yes. Ron Howard, thank you very much indeed for being with us.
HOWARD: Pleasure. Good to talk to you.
AMANPOUR: We turn now to Michael Bennett, the N.F.L star and Super Bowl champion.
In the wake of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Bennett decided that he would no longer stand during the national anthem.
He joined the protest made famous by black players like Colin Kaepernick who started a national conversation by taking the knee during the pre-game
Michael Bennett joined our Michel Martin to discuss that and his new book, "Things That Make White People Uncomfortable."
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Obviously, the take a knee protest are the thing that makes some people deeply uncomfortable. And so I wanted to ask
you a sort of start by talking about how you decided to take a knee.
MICHAEL BENNETT, NFL PLAYER: I think a lot of times when you make a stance or you make a protest about certain things, [13:40:00] there are going to
be certain people who are going to -- you`re going to have backlash. but you got to be able to withstand the criticism.
I think the criticism, a lot of people can`t deal with it. when you play sports, you get criticized every single day. Everything you do is about
criticism. And when you`re taking a stance, people are going to criticize because they don`t want to see change.
And I think taking a knee was really about changing the trajectory of life and changing the trajectory for our kids and changing it for everybody that
we saw an issue with. It wasn`t just about the police brutality. Maybe for some people but overall, it was about humanity, it was about how can we
change humanity and create a better place for our kids.
It was about being -- living ancestors and trying to find something that we can -- that our kids could look on and see that the people before them were
really courageous and they wanted something different.
MARTIN: OK. But talk to me about you, the you part of it because I think a lot of people are familiar with Colin Kaepernick and they`re familiar
with Eric Reid and they`re familiar with how it started with them. What made you, Michael Bennett, decide that you were going to participate?
BENNETT: I think it was a reaction to society. Reaction to what was happening around me. The reaction to, you know, police brutality. The
reaction to women`s rights. The reactions to the border, reactions to equality and with water, just pure equality for people.
And I think for me, there`s a lot of different issues but the one that probably was more publicized was Charlottesville. Seeing all that and
you`re like, where do I play a place in that? What can I do with my platform? How can I inspire young kids?
Just like we all look at things that happened in the past, we look at, you know, Jim Crow, we look at Holocaust, we look at slavery, look at all these
different things and we`re like, well, I would do that if I was there, this is what I would do.
But this is that time where we`re supposed to be doing things that we said we would do because then you will look back and be like, I have a lot of
regrets because I saw something happening but I didn`t have the courage to speak.
MARTIN: What`s your understanding of the people who are vehemently opposed to the protests that the players were involved in? What do you -- where do
you think they`re coming from?
BENNETT: I think they`re coming from a place where they see things as good as it can be for society. I think it`s good for them. I think it`s good
the way that America is.
They don`t really understand what it`s like to be something other than themselves, like they haven`t taken the time to really dig deep down inside
their spirit and spend time with somebody in the opposite position. I really don`t want to make it like, oh, they don`t know, this, that.
But I just want to take this time to, if they read the book or they get a chance to spend time with other people, really take that time and break
down that barrier of, like, I already know what`s happening.
Allow yourself to build that bridge to somebody else who`s the opposite of you. And that`s what I really want the people who I think don`t really
understand what`s happening with the protests. They just need to be able to build a bridge and then they`ll have a better understanding of what it`s
MARTIN: You were never afraid that you would get fired per the suggestion of the president?
BENNETT: There are things that you have to be able to stand upon and what you believe on because, at the end of the day, it`s not just for me or just
the community. It`s also for my children because my children are going to judge me on not how many touchdowns I score, not what I do on the football
They`re going to judge me on what kind of man I was and did I stand up for what I believe in and I can never tell them to do things that I wasn`t
willing to stand upon. And I think that`s really what it is, it`s really the children.
So if I lost my job for something that I believed in before them and society, I think my kids would understand that. And I think that`s what`s
the most important thing because you can`t really take your trophies with you. You can`t really take that. All you can take is your legacy, the
legacy, what you leave behind is the only thing that really matters.
MARTIN: And you know which is interesting too because you have a whole menu of involvements in things that don`t get as much attention. I mean
you`re involved in S.T.E.M. education, particularly for girls. You`ve been involved in a lot of international, you know, relief and educational
efforts. Does that frustrate you, that those kinds of activities don`t get the same level of attention?
BENNETT: No, that`s -- to me, that`s what I was saying. Like I`m not doing things so I can get, like, a clap. I`ve been in the stadium. I`ve
been in the big games. I`ve been in things.
And I understand that at the end of the day, it`s not really about how people perceive it. It`s really how you are willing to help people and
what you really feel. Like when you are somewhere and you`re helping somebody and you`re doing stuff for people, you`re not really doing it for
yourself, you`re doing it for them.
And I think that`s really ultimately the goal. And I think for me, that`s always been that. So I understand that there are certain things that
people are not going to want to talk about because people don`t like my politics, they think I`m pro-black, they think I`m this, they think I`m
So automatically there`s not going to be companies who want to work with somebody who has a voice like mine, who has an opinion like mine because
for me, I hold a certain amount of integrity on things that I believe in and so that they know when you talk to me, I`m not going to sway all of a
sudden because you want to share a certain message.
I`m going to say what I said before and I`m still going to stay with it. And if you want to work, we can work. If not, then move on because it`s
about the people. It`s not about -- it`s about the individual person, it`s about the group, it`s about the collective.
MARTIN: But one of the other interesting things about this book is how you [13:45:00] talk about women and how important it is to you to not just
stand up for and support women but to be understood to be standing up and supporting women and their aspirations, women, and girls in their
aspirations. And I, you know, I think there are people who will find that surprising.
BENNETT: I think a lot of people find that surprising. I think they don`t really get it. They don`t get it. Like I think they will never get it
because they`re only going to see me for one thing and they`re going to see me just playing football and not anything else.
They won`t see me as a father. They won`t see me as all the other stuff. But to me, it goes back to my daughters, just, like, there`s a time in your
life when I say being uncomfortable, for me, to be -- I`ve been comfortable with the way things are happening to women or this and that.
It wasn`t until I had my daughters and really started to, like, really understand, like, oh, this is what -- OK, this is different. If I had a
son, I think it wouldn`t have allowed me to have the growth that I have had because it opens up another side of your brain to being able to listen,
like, OK, let me listen because I really don`t listen.
And I think that helps you grow and I think my daughters have done a great job and also my wife. My wife is a powerful being on her own and it`s
incredible to be around that much girl power all the time.
So it`s like important that men speak up for women and show that women have value just as much value as us. And I think that`s something that a lot of
people aren`t willing to do because they want to keep it a certain way.
MARTIN: You are very candid about a lot of the things that players feel but don`t often express. And I want to go through a couple of those
One is where you say in the book, particularly being a college player, you talk about being half God, half property. But whichever half they were
dealing with, I was never fully human.
Is my being nerdy of interest? Do they celebrate things like that have happened in the life of my Community? You come to find out painfully that
the answer is less no. Then, why should we care?
I found that sort of fascinating being like half God, half property. Tell me about. Like how did you come to that understanding?
BENNETT: It`s funny. I was really -- it came -- I was writing a poem one day and I was writing this poem about the great athletes and I was like
half God. And I started thinking, and as I was starting the book, and it`s just half God, half property because you are -- to some people, you are a
God because the things that you do, the things that you could do with your body.
But to other people, they see a sense of ownership in you. And I think in college, that happens a lot. They see you but they also say, well, we pay
for your scholarship, we do this for you.
They don`t see you as a human. They never can connect to the humanity in you, whether you have a child, whether you have a family. They just want
you to perform.
There`s a sense of people feel that they own you. And you evenly worry when you talk about football and teams, they say the owner. It`s like that
word holds a lot of weight, you know, it`s like, the capacity to think that you`re -- somebody owns you, it just makes you feel less than. You know
what I`m saying?
MARTIN: So on the one hand like the waters part when you walk in, right?
MARTIN: But then still, you`re told what to think, you`re told what to study, right? You`re told how to express yourself.
When did you start to think, this is not right? Like how did you start to think, wait a minute, this is not right? Because some people will think,
well, so what? I mean that`s the price you get for being famous. You get to be famous, you get to have the big show, and you get to --
BENNETT: But that`s what they`re forgetting is that that`s really not fame. It`s you in your adolescence. You`re an amateur and you`re really
trying to figure out who you are in life and what you want to be and how you want to get there.
And all of a sudden, people don`t see the value in your growth. They don`t see the value in you. So they stunt your growth as a person because nobody
sees the value in what you can be and how you can be that.
So it`s like, yes, they part the doors open, they part the sea for you when it`s game time but when the season`s over and everything goes down to, all
you have is you and the way that you look, people are going to judge you on that. And when college people get injured, they just kind of get washed
And if you`ve ever been a part of a tribe and human beings are a tribal people. And all of a sudden, you`re part of a tribe and then once you
become injured, you get isolated, it starts to wear on you and there`s a lot of people that happens to.
MARTIN: You also talked about how suiting up every week, really not even every week, even at practice, you honestly consider death.
MARTIN: That death is a possibility.
MARTIN: Would you talk about that? I don`t know that a lot of fans really think about that.
BENNETT: I don`t think people -- it`s that, you know, and I talk about that. It`s like you love something and there`s a deal with the devil
almost. Because one wrong hit can leave you paralyzed so it`s a lot of things that you have to deal with.
We don`t like to think about those things because then the reality of what can happen to us won`t allow us to play anymore. It`s like you have to
think that it won`t happen to you.
But every once in a while, you see that you are human when it happens to somebody and you think like, man, that could have been me. You try to put
that in the back of your mind because you want to be able to progress but sometimes you think about that and you think about when you get injured and
somebody gets a concussion and you see how hard they got hit you worry, like, damn, that could have been me.
MARTIN: I was fascinated to read in the book how young people can be [13:55:00] and show symptoms of CTE. And I just wonder when you were
starting your career as a, say, as a high school player, did you think about brain injury?
BENNETT: I don`t think we ever thought about that. I don`t think -- nobody really thought about it at the time because it wasn`t at the
forefront of it. I don`t think there was a language for it.
It wasn`t like that -- now it`s that coded language, they say concussion instead of saying bruising of the brain, all these different issues that
are happening that are traumatic to your head. And I think before there wasn`t really -- couldn`t really explain it or maybe they didn`t know and
nobody really said anything.
MARTIN: But what about now? Is that something that you all talk about? Or do you not even allow yourselves to talk about it?
BENNETT: I think there`s definitely that line between where people don`t want to talk about it because they want to live in a fantasy that things
can happen to them but because of fear, because every player has a fear of what can happen to their body after they play sports, every player has that
fear that they don`t -- that they can be the person who has that injury.
So because of that fear, I wouldn`t say it`s not lack of courage. I just think it`s a fear of the people who are depending on them to think that
after all the work that they`ve done, there`s still a possibility that they can let their family down.
So that`s a lot to weigh on your brain when you think about it. So I think a lot of times guys don`t really want to really talk about it because of
MARTIN: What about you? Are you ever afraid?
BENNETT: I`m always afraid. I don`t think anybody can look in your eyes and tell you that they are fearful, they would be lying to the young and to
I think everybody should have a small bit of fear if you do something like this. Because then it keeps the reality and you can weigh in the options
of it. And you can really feel the pain when you have it because when you have that, when you don`t have that fear, you just think you start to
believe in the own -- your own mystic and your own fables and you start to become your own fairy tale.
And it`s not until you realize that when the doctor`s there and you`re like, this is reality and I think it`s important to keep that fear and to
keep the humanity in your own self.
MARTIN: I take it you would not let your own son, if you had a son, play football.
BENNETT: Probably not.
MARTIN: Probably not?
BENNETT: Probably not. and I think also, too, I think football and a lot of times it`s the way to get out of your situation. And I think right now
when you are in a certain place, you can put your kids in a space where they can compete and have the opportunity to do something else outside.
And I think that`s the greatest thing about being able to be with my daughters is that I don`t feel that force need to force them to be
something that they don`t have to. They can be equal and better than me through just their own genre or whatever they want to do.
And I think that`s important for a parent to understand that, that just because you`re great at something, doesn`t mean you have to force your kids
to be great at it. And you have to be able to support them with what they want to do. And I think that for me has been a whole full circle.
MARTIN: Wow. That`s really deep. I mean to realize that you created this opportunity for your family through the sacrifice of your body.
MARTIN: That`s a --
BENNETT: It`s poetry.
MARTIN: It`s a hard thing.
BENNETT: It`s like -- it`s a lot of poetry. And like I said, I feel like sometimes -- like I feel it`s like Romeo and Juliet. Like you love
something so much but it could still cause death or it could cause harm. They loved each other so much but at the end, they both died. And they
left the world, the world still kept going.
And I think that`s something that we don`t really talk about a lot and I think when you talk about a lot of great people and you talk about a lot of
great things that a lot of people have done, we love to glorify and honor the things that we see fit. We love to honor, like, seeing Giancarlo take
a fist. We love all these people when Michael Sam took his stance.
But then you look at the other part of it, the sorrow part of it and that`s where the poetry and the love comes in because nobody ever really talks
about that side of it. We all just glorify the part that we see, that we can give people hope.
But I think when you give somebody hope, you`ve got to give them the whole spectrum of a person`s life. And I think a lot of times we don`t really
dig that deep. And I think when you look at the whole spectrum of it, sometimes it`s really sad.
MARTIN: So why do it?
BENNETT: Why do it?
MARTIN: Why keep playing?
BENNETT: That`s the contradiction. That`s the imperfect of me, the imbalance of it. That`s the thing about it. It`s like, you love being
And I also think, for me, I just always love the group of guys that I play with. It`s getting to that point where someone said, it`s like you love it
and you`re living it but at the same time, you don`t really know why you love this thing so much when it`s -- you know the pain of it.
But I think it`s kind of like -- I think love is like that sometimes. Love is like ups and downs, the pain.
MARTIN: It`s irrational.
BENNETT: It`s irrational. And it`s irrational when it comes to playing something like this.
MARTIN: Well, it`s nice to meet you.
BENNETT: It`s nice to meet you too.
MARTIN: Thank you so much for talking to us.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: That`s it for now. But join us again tomorrow night where we`ll be looking back at the 75th Anniversary of D-Day of Normandy with a
Veteran, a [13:55:00] highschooler, a historian, and then U.S. Army Secretary Mark Esper.
Thanks for watching this special edition of Amanpour. And remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at amanpour.com. And
you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
Goodbye from London.