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Interview With Russian Journalist And "All The Kremlin's Men" Author Mikhail Zygar; Interview With Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore; Interview With "Playing Under The Piano" Author And Actor Hugh Bonneville. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 17, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKHAIL ZYGAR, RUSSIAN JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR, "ALL THE KREMLIN'S MEN": The Russian society have the obligation to create the new laws for the future
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Standing up to Putin repression machine. Russian journalist and author Mikhail Zygar tells me why marrying his partner was a political act.
And how Moscow's battlefield loses in Ukraine are playing out at home. Then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We must see the so-called dash for gas for what it really is. A dash down a bridge to nowhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Former U.S. President, Al Gore, continue to sound the alarm on the climate crisis. He tells Walter Isaacson if the COP27 Summit can
actually put the breaks on our fossil fuel addition. Plus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PADDINGTON BEAR: You're not using those ear brushes to clean your mouth are you, Mr. Brown? Morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: "Paddington" and "Downton Abbey" star Hugh Bonneville on his quiet ascent and his new memoir, "Playing Under the Piano".
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christian Amanpour in London.
Not Ukraine's fault, that is how the NATO's secretary general described Tuesday's explosion in Poland near the border with Ukraine where a missile
fell and killed two people. NATO's view that this was a misfire by Ukrainian air defenses against Russia's cruise missiles means that Moscow
bears full responsibility. It was the first time a NATO country was directly hit during this conflict. It's a reminder of the potential risks
My first guest tonight is following developments in the war very closely. He is the Russian author and journalist Mikhail Zygar. Now, in exile, he's
also the founding editor of the independent television station TV Rain. Resistance against Putin takes many forms. And we spoke here in the studio
about why going public with his own gay marriage was an act of protest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Mikhail Zygar, welcome back to the program.
MIKHAIL ZYGAR, RUSSIAN JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR, "ALL THE KREMLIN'S MEN": Hello. Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, we're going to start with your own personal story. And of course, you did tweet a while ago, you said, it is been a stressful time --
oh, and I also got married. And you showed a picture of yourself and your husband. So, you are publicly declaring to the world --
AMANPOUR: -- and to your nation -- we'll get into why, that you are gay. Was it a difficult decision to make to do it this way?
ZYGAR: No. And as I wrote it, we need to start liberation from ourselves. Now, for any Russian, especially for those Russians who have left the
country because we are protesting and fighting against the war and against Putin's regime. It is very important to do whatever we can to liberate
ourselves and to liberate Russia of the future. So, for me, that was very large recline (ph).
AMANPOUR: It almost sounds like it was political.
ZYGAR: It was in a way because, you know, after the war -- after Putin declared the full-scale war against Ukraine people and against the world,
we -- I feel that we cannot accept Russia -- the current Russian state. We cannot consider it to be a legitimate state. We cannot accept all those new
crazy laws they are voting for.
So, there is no Russian state for us. So, we, the Russian society have the obligation to create the new laws for the future of Russia. We have to
create the new precedents. And that was my, actually, toast during my wedding that today we declare that same sex marriage is legal in Russia.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let's just --
ZYGAR: We, as Russian society.
AMANPOUR: Yes. We, as Russian society, or you what your husband.
AMANPOUR: And maybe some in a Russian society. So, let's just so that everybody understands. Basically, Putin has outlawed being gay. I mean --
AMANPOUR: You know, he said in his previous times that there mustn't be any -- what is it, propaganda, unduly influencing young people, i.e.
teachers. Nobody is allowed to talk about homosexuality.
ZYGAR: We have so-called (INAUDIBLE) law or law prohibiting gay propaganda since 2014. And now, they are creating the new law that outlaws everything
and it's going to be finalized and signed by Putin by the end of this year.
AMANPOUR: And what does that mean it outlaws everything? What? What does this law actually mean in practice?
ZYGAR: You cannot mention. You -- it says that, you cannot popularize the perspective of being gay, or the perspecting -- the perspective of changing
your sex. So, actually, any example, any positive example, any description of a romantic same-sex relationship is outlawed because that's propaganda.
AMANPOUR: Any picture, any normalization?
ZYGAR: Yes, yes. Normalization. That is the worst thing for them because they -- for them having enemies for that kind of society, that with Russia
is now having enemies you can fight with is very important to them. So, that law is at the same time they are creating the enemy for the very
conservative part of the Russian population.
Also, that's leverage on Russian civil society on cultural figures. They think that that would be popular and that would help them to get rid of the
remaining, sort of, civil society that's -- that is still in Russia and that is still trying to be vocal.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, Putin and his people have blamed the west for importing homosexuality. We'll get into that in a minute. But your parents,
let's just say your parents and your husband's parents. How do your parents feel about you being gay and announcing you're gay publicly and getting
ZYGAR: My parents are fine with it.
AMANPOUR: They live in Russia?
ZYGAR: Yes, they live in Russia.
AMANPOUR: And what about your husband's parents?
ZYGAR: There is a huge problem, a huge tragedy that happened to him right after the beginning of the war because he started protesting against the
war and posted on Facebook and Twitter. He is protecting against the war.
ZYGAR: And his mom commented. He's opposed -- writing that, there are no traitors in our family and you are not my son.
AMANPOUR: She did not disown him because he's gay.
AMANPOUR: Because he's opposing.
ZYGAR: Because --
AMANPOUR: What are you hearing from people inside your community there? Are they rushing to leave? I mean, there's already been so many exoduses
against the war, against the mobilization. This law is pretty draconian.
ZYGAR: Yes. You know, Russian LGBT community is very shy, I would say. All those people who have left, they -- and we had two waves of immigration
this year and more than one million people have left because of their protests of the war and the mobilization. So -- and some of them are gays.
But at the same time, I was shocked after the wedding because we received literally thousands of personal messages. All of them were the words of
And, you know, I was really shocked because obviously that was -- our wedding happened to become the first example of the happy marriage -- happy
and normal marriage between two men. There was -- there has never been a marriage between public persons and --
AMANPOUR: And have you heard anything from the authorities? Have they --
ZYGAR: Oh, there was a huge propagandist campaign against us. And like, the biggest fears on state owned TV channels have spent a lot of time
AMANPOUR: Wow. You'd think they had more to worry about than you and your husband. So, let's just quickly, sort of, pivot a little bit to what we are
seeing in terms of Russian media reaction to what can only be described as a string of losses and defeats culminating now with the latest in Kherson.
Which was a very strategic and vital thing for the Russians to hold.
ZYGAR: It's a really funny -- it's really funny to watch because they are -- they have a huge factory of hatred production. They are eating hatred,
drinking hatred, and feeding people with hatred.
AMANPOUR: That's the states TV and you can see a little bit of -- oh, my goodness, how are we going to explain all this?
And I hear the rather famous woman on state TV saying, no matter how we try to spin it, losing Kherson hurts. It hurts us. And there -- on the other
hand, there is some really powerful commentary coming from the battlefield, from the military bloggers, from soldiers --
AMANPOUR: -- who are criticizing their generals, criticizing their leadership. Just saying that the whole, you know, the whole structure of
this war is -- just does not make any sense.
ZYGAR: Yes, sometimes what I read from those people who are in the army worries me a lot because they are criticizing Putin and the generals, they
are so zombified. So, sometimes I read messages look like that. OK. Putin is a traitor. OK. Putin is a loser. But this war is solemn, this war is
The west is waging war against Russian people and they want to destroy us Russians. So, we will fight till the end no matter what Putin wants. If
Putin betrayed us, OK. We'll start fight against Putin. And that worries me a lot. That a lot of people can see the -- that senseless war to be
important -- really the most important thing in their lives.
AMANPOUR: Because they've been, as you said, brainwashed.
AMANPOUR: And because somebody was explaining that Putin's success has been to conflate individuals with collective nationalism. In other, words
each person does not really see themselves. They see themselves as part of the whole.
ZYGAR: Yes, unfortunately, Russian people were missing the feeling of national pride, especially the least successful, the least prosperous
people who have nothing to be proud of in their -- no personal success. No business. They wanted so badly that soviet imperialist feeling that we are
the biggest in the greatest country, army. And they were fed with those lies that the whole world is against you. The whole world wants Russia to
be destroyed. And that was the typical Putin's rhetoric all of these years. So, now he got -- he gets what he was planting all those years.
AMANPOUR: And you have written a lot, you got a new book out and all the rest. You've also written a lot of columns. And you're basically saying
that the propaganda today, everything you are describing is perhaps even more potent than it was during the soviet era propaganda.
ZYGAR: And that is true. Russian propaganda media say that Europe is starving. There was no food in Britain. The Tiergarten in Berlin was cut
down because people have to heat up their houses, and they burned trees.
AMANPOUR: In the special park there.
ZYGAR: Yes, yes, yes.
ZYGAR: That's true. Russian media says that Europe is dying. The whole world is dying without Russian gas, without Russian products. And they
believe it. So, they -- that's really parallel reality.
AMANPOUR: How do you interpret Putin not going to the G20, plus, as of this moment, he has not spoken or really been seen publicly since the fall
of Kherson, liberation as the Ukrainians would say.
ZYGAR: You know, that's a very important question. I do not think that he will ever leave Russia, because now he has obviously closed to the edge. He
is considered to be a loser by most of his inner circle. And so --
AMANPOUR: His inner circle.
ZYGAR: Yes. It's obvious that he has lost. When he was delivering his victorious speech, recognizing all those -- oblast --
AMANPOUR: When he annexed them all.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes, yes.
ZYGAR: Oblast of Ukraine, we saw those faces in the audience, they were not happy. They were really miserable. All the members of the liberal (ph),
all the ministers, all the FSB generals, they were faceless. Like, they already understand that there is no space future for them. There is no
future for Putin's Russia. And he is really close to his defeat. They cannot --
AMANPOUR: You really think that? You really think that because --
ZYGAR: They understand that.
ZYGAR: Definitely. The cannot --
AMANPOUR: And so, how would that look?
ZYGAR: They still pretend they are loyal. They still know the rules -- they are still afraid of him like the inner circle of Stalin was afraid of
him. But unlike -- but he's not Stalin. He's much more like Hitler now. They know that he is losing.
They know that he used to be considered the lucky bastard. He used -- they thought that no matter what he does he is always more experienced than the
western leaders. He is winning anyway. Now, they know that he is not. His era is over.
So -- and he knows, probably, that if he leaves Russia, there is a possibility he will not return. So, he is staying in his bunker. He is
keeping all of his friends and close ones, close assistants, generals very, very close to him. And he is watching them all. And he is very cautious
about the alliances. About the people -- what people say and what people talk about him
AMANPOUR: I wonder if what you're saying applies to people, you know, the dark faces and, you know, the ashen faces of his politburo generals. So, as
you know Putin deployed his top battlefield commander to announce the Kherson move. And this is a tweet from BBC Russia saying, the announcement
that Russia will retreat from Kherson was a piece of TV theater. General Surovikin reporting to Defense Minister Shoigu, who then gave the order.
The one actor absent from the stage was Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin clearly anxious to distance him from this setback.
ZYGAR: 100 percent. Everyone knows that he is running the game. That no decision can be taken without. It was -- it's him who is having all the
maps and who is drawing all the lines and who's taking all the decisions but he doesn't want to take the responsibility. So, he wants Surovikin and
Shoigu to look like they are to blame. He cannot -- he can't fool the people but he cannot now fool the elite. And the elite --
AMANPOUR: That is really interesting.
ZYGAR: He is close to the moment when the elite understands that tomorrow will be worse.
AMANPOUR: So, one of the things that troubles me and it troubles the world and -- is Putin's, sort of, raising the nuclear threat and then saying no
to the nuclear threat. As you know several times, he's obliquely threatened it. And then he says no, no, no. This is neither militarily nor
politically, you know, useful to us. We would never use a tactical nuke.
And you wrote, though, in a recent column which was titled, "The Russians Already Become Accustomed to the Bomb", which frankly shocks me. You wrote,
Russians Ukrainians, and Europeans have come a long way in their stance on nuclear war. At first the rest panic, then came the denial of danger, and
finally the horror of the idea that it could come to this. Now, there is fatalistic indifference. Do you really think that? That people are
fatalistic about something as appalling and existential as that?
ZYGAR: You know, I had that feeling. I think that it's -- somehow, it's different. Somehow after the beginning of this war, definitely the mood in
Ukraine is very different. The Ukrainians are joking about this. You know very funny jokes about the war that is going to happen if there is a
Russians, I think that Russians are mostly depressed and horrified. And like, you know, when people have not -- when people are so depressed the
way -- when they have nothing to lose, they are counting, OK. The atomic bomb is the answer. But, now, after Kherson, I think that something has
changed. And the -- to my mind, the probability of that disaster is much less.
ZYGAR: Because now Putin cannot be sure that his lieutenants would fulfill --
AMANPOUR: Will support him. Would actually fulfill the order.
ZYGAR: -- fulfill his order, yes. And he knows that. He knows that he cannot order, he cannot press the button because he doesn't know if the
generals want to die --
ZYGAR: -- for him.
AMANPOUR: Mikhail Zygar, thank you so much.
ZYGAR: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Really fascinating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: With so much unknown in Moscow, Putin's war in Ukraine though has forced the western world to wean itself off Russian oil and gas. The
former U.S. Vice President Al Gore is urging world leaders to not use the energy crunch as an excuse. Speaking at the opening of the COP27 Summit,
Gore said that we must, "Choose life over death and not make long-term commitments to fossil fuels."
To discuss developments from the conference and new climate initiatives, Al Gore joins Walter Isaacson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And Vice President Al Gore welcome to the show.
AL GORE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Great to be with you. Thank you, Walter.
ISAACSON: You've just come back from Egypt where you're -- the U.N. Climate Change Summit COP27. One of the big pieces of news was President
Biden sitting down with President Xi and deciding to restart a lot of the talks about climate. We've been in a really challenging situation with
China over Taiwan trade issues. Do you think we need to recalibrate and look at the bigger issues and maybe perhaps recalibrate that relationship
so we can all focus on climate?
GORE: Well, I think climate is an issue that can bring the U.S. and China closer together in their aspirations for the future. You know, China has
been hit very hard by the climate crisis. This past summer, they went for 70 days with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius, 104 Fahrenheit over a
vast swath of the county.
And the climate historians noted that there is nothing even minimally comparable in all of world history to that heat wave. They've also had
these massive downpours or rain bombs and many other impacts. The sea level increases are threatening a huge particularly around Shanghai and around
And so, China has its own self-interest in trying to help the world community solve this crisis. And of course, the U.S. and every other nation
do as well. But the conflicts you mentioned actually can be transcended by the work that the two largest emitters, the two largest economies have to
do together in order to help the world get out of this mess.
ISAACSON: You're very famous, of course, of being one of the early pioneers in warning about this with an inconvenient truth. But I also think
of you as somebody who's been a science geek all around, you know. Space, information, super highway, you know. For years, you've been that. They
seem to tie together with something you announced in Egypt which is climate trace. Tell me what that's about.
GORE: Oh, thank you for asking. I am super excited about this new development. There is a coalition of 10 independent artificial intelligence
groups, data researchers, universities, NGOs, that have come together to use artificial intelligence and machine learning and sensor based on air,
land and sea. And internet data streams to accurately identify all of the point source significant emissions of greenhouse gas pollution all over the
That has not been possible in the past because even though you can use satellites to look down at methane emissions, you can't see the whole Earth
with the kinds of satellites that measure methane but you can't see it. With CO2, you're looking down through a column of air that's so enriched
with CO2 that the so-called signal to noise ratio makes it impossible to just see it chemically. But if you use all the wavelengths and measure the
infrared, heat signature, the smoke plumes, the ripples of water in the cooling pond, how many fan blades in the cooling fans are operating, the
internet data streams, or the off take of electricity, and other sources of information.
You can fit those together into a machine learning algorithm that are incredibly accurate in pinpointing where the pollution is actually coming
from, exactly how much is coming from which, and what the trend is overtime. We get them from all the wavelengths from 300 existing
satellites, from the U.S., Europe, Brazil, China, India, Germany, and Canada. We see the entire surface multiple times every day. And we can use
all of that -- those different sources of information to really identify and track the emissions.
But now, we can apportion it correctly. We found, for example, that the oil and gas industry has under reported their emissions. Their emissions are
actually three times higher than what they have reported to the U.N. And the old saying, you can only manage what you can measure, applies here
because most of the emissions come from countries that have pledged to get to net zero by 2050. Here's how they can do it. We can identify those sites
And for companies that have pledged to get to net zero, we can show them how they can buy the same steel and the same amounts from a supplier that
has one tenth of the global warming pollution of a supplier that they might be using now. And there are hundreds, thousands of similar examples.
ISAACSON: So, you could take this data and can you pinpoint it directly, like, to one steel plant --
ISAACSON: -- or one oil refinery here in Louisiana, or something and say, this particular plant is doing this much pollution?
GORE: Absolutely. And it's very, very exciting. We have started with the largest 72,000 plus, the largest emissions sites around the world. By next
year, we'll have millions. And essentially all of them, we won't have the backyard barbecues. There's a long tale. But we'll have 99 percent of the
emissions identified where they're coming from.
And not only do we have the specific plant, we can show you the different parts of each plant, the so-called metadata or what the technology is and
who owns it. We have ownership data for almost all of them. And we are seeing others send us more information that we're verifying since the
release last week. We've been deluge with incredible amounts of new data.
And in the nature of machine learning, the more data, the more accurate it becomes. One other point, you can't -- they can't cheat with this. There's
no way to cheat because they would have to falsify multiple different data sets from multiple domains. It's absolutely impossible. So, we have
accountability, and identification for the very first time.
ISAACSON: Is your goal with climate trace to shame some of the companies and how would that work?
GORE: We're just providing the facts. We're not the climate cops. We're a little bit similar to the neighborhood watch organization, the -- our
neighborhood is the globe. And if somebody wants to use it to name and shame, we can't prevent them from that, but I think the highest and best
use of this information is to identify the opportunities to easily reduce emissions without hurting productivity or profitability. We can do that
ISAACSON: So, you think you may be able to work with these companies if you're able to identify it, as opposed to just shaming. That can be a
carrot and the stick?
GORE: No question about it. Take steal for example, there are companies that use electric furnaces instead of blast furnaces. If you look at the
full spectrum, you'd -- and it's all available on the climatetrace.org website, by the way. You can find the same amount of steel, same quality,
same kind, from a supplier whose emissions will be less than one tenth of the emissions that come with a supplier that you may now be using.
Most of these manufacturers have excess capacity. They can serve more customers with lower emissions. And the ones that lose customers with high
emissions will be challenged to, not necessarily name and shame, but challenged to change their technology and change their business model?
ISAACSON: I think you've made a deal with one of the government entities in Mexico, for example. Tell me about that.
GORE: Well, there are two -- there are actually two cities in Mexico, one in the western cape region of South Africa, two in Europe. Six overall. And
we have cut it off at six because we were focused on the launch at the United Nations conference in Egypt.
And we decided to sign up six subnational governments as a kind of trial run. They love it. They are basing policy on it. But we are going to open
it up in the new year to any municipal government, state, provincial, regional government, and any nation state that asks for our help. We'll do
it all for free and we will assist them in identifying exactly where they can reduce emissions.
ISAACSON: You spoke of the World Bank as being a part of a fossil fuel colonialism. What does that mean and what do you think the World Bank
GORE: Well, the World Bank and the other multilateral development banks that are part of that system, what it's supposed to do is to open up access
for developing countries to the private capital markets. At present, if you are in Nigeria, and you want to build a new solar farm, it makes imminent
economic sense, it's going to be profitable, the cheapest source of electricity. But you will have to pay an interest rate paid in the
In the U.S., Europe, OECD. Why? Because they have political rifts, rule of law risk, corruption risk, climate risk. Several other layers of risk in
these developing countries that the private markets are leery off.
The role of the World Bank is supposed to be to take those top layers of risk off the top so that these countries can compete for interest rates
that are competitive. So, that they can move forward in their economies. But instead, the World Bank has not been doing its job. They've actually
been supporting more fossil fuels. And it's nuts. The person who -- the previous presidents appointed to run the World Bank is a climate denier. He
ran for Congress as a climate denier. He has a long history of statements. He is now saying oh, no, I'm not. Well, OK. But we need new leadership.
ISAACSON: Is Biden able to change the president of the World Bank and push it, and should he? And who should he appoint?
GORE: Yes. He should push it. The World Bank -- the head of the World Bank is a position that has traditionally been filled by the U.S. That is an
informal agreement, since World War II, and every administration has been reluctant to lose that privilege. And so, they are reluctant to change
course -- to change heads in the middle of a term, but nothing could jeopardize the U.S. hold on that position more than having climate denial
policies in the World Bank.
The votes of the shareholders are necessary, and the U.S. can't do it unilaterally, but Germany has come out in favor of changing the World Bank
head, the Australia has as well, several other countries. We have the votes, and I'm hopeful that they will get rid of this current head of the
World Bank, put a new person in. And more important than the head of the World Bank is to broaden the mandate, to give them more leverage, that is
to come up with terms that allow them to loan money in a way that brings them lots more private capital along with it. That's, again, what it should
And the problem is -- well, look at this way. If you look -- I mention all of those electricity plants installed worldwide, 90 percent of them are
renewable last year. But if you look where they went? Mostly to the rich countries. And if you look at the ones in the U.S. and Canada, 96 percent
of the money to build them came from the private sector.
In Africa, only 14 percent of the money comes from the private sector, because they don't have access to these markets. And when they depend on
government money, it makes them more vulnerable to these state-owned enterprises that are in the pockets of the fossil fuel companies and there
are sometimes corrupt relationships, and they can keep going forward with fossil fuels and there is a so-called Dash for Gas in Africa now, and its
fossil fuel colonialism because the resources that are developed are intended to go straight to Europe and straight to Asia. They don't benefit.
The people of Africa, they leave them with what will become stranded assets, because the fossil fuel facilities are no longer competitive now,
and as years go by, they are going to be less and less competitive. And it leaves them with climate chaos. So, yes, it's fossil fuel colonialism.
One LNG export terminal in Africa would cost about $25 billion. You could pretty well put renewable energy all across the continent for that.
ISAACSON: One of the topics at the COP27 that you just came back from, that Climate Change Summit, was, I think, it's called loss and damage,
which in some ways, is like a reparation to the countries that were hurts by climate change. Is that something that, I don't know, is possible
politically? And I think Senator Kerry even was not too enthusiastic about it. Tell me about what you think.
GORE: Well, I sympathize with John Kerry's response on this, because he has to bridge the gap between the just aspirations of these developing
countries and the very difficult political situation in the wealthy countries. They don't want to hear -- those -- the developing country don't
want to hear us talking about how difficult our politics are, but it's reality.
ISAACSON: And isn't there some validity to that?
GORE: If you're asking me my opinion, I am in favor of payments for loss and damage. I think it's morally justified. Some European countries have
already signed up to it. But it's justified to point to the realistic political obstacles? Sure, it is.
Again, that doesn't help us, you know, make the countries that are suffering understand any better, but loss and damage is layered on top of a
justifiable demands for adaptation funding. You may remember that for the last 10 or 15 years, there has been a $100 billion pledge by the wealthy
countries to help poor countries with adaptation to climate. Those pledges haven't been kept either. And so, it kind of widens the divide between the
way developing countries are looking at this and the way the wealthy countries are looking at it.
The way to fill that gap is to say, look, the amounts that will ever come, government to government, as justified as they are -- and again, I'm for it
-- but they're going to be dwarfed by the amounts that should be flowing from private sources, because we are in the early stages of a global,
sustainability revolution, empowered by artificial intelligence and machine learning and distributing supercomputing and the biology revolution, this
revolution has the scale of the industrial revolution, coupled with the speed of the digital revolution.
And Africa and the other developing parts of our world will benefit enormously from this. You know, they leapfrog the landline telephone
networks that we rely on and went straight to mobile. It's a similar situation. They can leapfrog the old, dirty, poisonous sources of energy in
the past and go straight to the cheapest energy in the history of the world, according to the International Energy Agency and others. But they
need access to capital in order to enter the marketplace and involve themselves in this revolution.
ISAACSON: Vice President Al Gore, thank you so much for joining us.
GORE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And next, to an actor who has become truly beloved by audiences worldwide. Powered by his best-known roles in "Downton Abbey," "Notting
Hill," and "Paddington." Hugh Bonneville has starred alongside the likes of Julia Roberts and Judi Dench, and as Mr. Brown in "Paddington."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUGH BONNEVILLE, AUTHOR, "PLAYING UNDER THE PIANO" AND ACTOR: Paddington. What is going on in them?
PADDING BEAR: Nothing? I'm just having a spot (INAUDIBLE) with the facilities.
Nice weather for the ducks?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And now, Hugh Bonneville has put pen to paper with "Playing Under the Piano." It's a memoir reflecting on how he went from a quiet, shy
child to the big screen to the deep pain of witnessing his father's battle with dementia.
Hugh Bonneville, welcome to the program.
BONNEVILLE: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: So, everybody knows you for, obviously, "Downton Abbey," which is just the most ginormous success, and "Paddington," you know, the bear
and Mr. Brown. First of all, did you ever think when you were cast in "Downton Abbey," that it would be such a massive hit? Because I understand
people thought, well, yes, it's nice. It might be another, you know, fun period drama, but not much more than that.
BONNEVILLE: Well, to be honest, that's pretty much what our producers said to me when we signed up. Of course, you know, we are optioned for three
seasons, but he said, let's face, shows like this never run more than, you know, the seven or eight episodes that we did in that first season. And so,
we were all, you know, really wonderfully surprised when it took off in the way that it did.
AMANPOUR: And have you -- has it followed you around? I mean, when people see you, do they identify you as Lord Grantham or any of your other roles?
How big a role, in other words, does it play in your life?
BONNEVILLE: Well, I often play a little game with myself while walking down the street and you get that sort of little twinge of recognition from
someone and you think, well, is this going to be about "Paddington" or is it -- you know is it about "Downton Abbey?" And often, there is references
to laboratories or indeed, bears, you know, who love marmalade. But at least they're approaching me with -- you know, in the spirit of warmth and
AMANPOUR: And how wonderful was it to actually play that amazing character in "Paddington," which again, is every child's comfort blankets? It's just
so part of every child upbringing around the world.
BONNEVILLE: Well, absolutely. And I grew up with Paddington Bear. I mean, these were the first stories I could read for myself and to myself. So, he
was very much part of my childhood, and I was nervous when I heard there was going to be a film adaptation. That it was -- it could get ruined by
the big screen. But in fact, the adaptation by our director writer and by, you know, David Heyman, who obviously produced all the "Harry Potter" films
as well, he knows a thing or two about adapting successful pieces of written -- you know, written literature.
And really, we were in safe hands with such an amazing production team. But, of course, it was the animation that really lifted it above into a new
realm, and I think the -- what Framestore and all digital team created was something unique.
AMANPOUR: And what was unique and so surprising and unexpected was when the queen, on her jubilee, opened the celebrations in a scene with
Paddington. Did you know anything about it? Were you surprised when you saw that?
BONNEVILLE: Well, put it this way. One of the producers, you know, was so overexcited that she e-mailed me a couple of weeks before, and said, I
can't put everything in an e-mail and I can't tell. So, I can't say anything. I said, what are you talking about? So, I rang her. I said, look,
you can't do this to me. She said, well, all I can say is just watch the beginning of the jubilee because it's quite special. And sure enough, there
was the bear. And I have to say, her majesty was phenomenal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEEN ELIZABETH II: Never mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BONNEVILLE: And that sketch actually really resounded across the nation, A, at the jubilee. And then, B, of course, it became a symbol of something
very special. It is only a matter of months later when she passed away. And the outpouring of love were symbolized with the placing of so many little
Paddington Bears outside a number of the palaces around the country. So, it was very touching.
AMANPOUR: It was. And I think you, if I might just say so myself, are symbolized a lot of that kind of feeling, that kind of comfort, that kind
of love to many people through your roles. And I'm wondering, what made you write this book now?
BONNEVILLE: Well, funnily enough, it's partly because I've been battered by a publisher for a long, long time, and I've been a big procrastinator.
And it was my son who started writing a book of his own last year, and he said one day, how many words have you written today, Dad? So, I actually
just thought, I better get on with this. So, I sat down and started writing.
But as I did so, I began to -- as the subconscious takes over when you write, and I found myself writing about my father and his journey into
dementia. He passed away just before the pandemic. And I realized, I think now, as I filter the book in my mind's eye, that it's really a love letter
to him and my mother for the gratitude that they -- you know, they exposed us three children to the arts and the way that they did and encourage me,
subtly, on the path that I took.
AMANPOUR: So, "Playing Under the Piano" then, if they were so encouraging and so much believing in you, "Playing Under the Piano" suggests wanting to
hide, a little bit of fear, a little bit of shyness?
BONNEVILLE: Well, that's very true. It actually refers to a memory I have of my preschool nursery. Literally, being under the piano with, I don't
know, an action -- James Bond action figure or something or some toy, and being -- you know, quite happy playing in the shadows. And then, the
teacher is saying, it's your turn to come out in front of the class and do something. And, you know, being coy about that but at the same time knowing
that I enjoyed it. So, I think that sort of tension has been around me, within me, ever since, that there's something a bit daft about stepping out
into the spotlight, but also, something that I am compelled to do.
And my parents, as I say, they just -- the culture with a small sea was in the background of my life as a kid. And I'm -- as I got older and I
realized that so many children didn't have that opportunity to go to the theater, concerts, galleries, I realized how much gratitude, you know, and
what a great start they have given me. And I wanted to reflect that in the book, which, you know, is largely a lot of stories about the people I've
worked with and the fun I've had.
AMANPOUR: And still, though, this idea of fear and rejection does punch through. You actually talk about it existing to an extent to this day. I'm
going to quote from one of the paragraphs. Basically, you say, and that's the tension, I suspect, that I have sensed within me ever since. The
instinct to keep it in the shadows, this acting lark, just playing under the piano for fear of looking a fool, yoked to the thrill of stepping into
the spotlight in character as someone other, and something more interesting, than me, and, by doing so, sharing stories with others.
So, is that insecurity a positive fuel or do you have to punch through it?
BONNEVILLE: Oh, it's definitely a positive element, I think, because it keeps you on your toes. You never get complacent. Any actor who thinks he's
cracked is, I think, a bit of a liar. I'm constantly learning. I'm constantly surprised by the work that I get offered or that I engage with.
And it was always a play box delights, really. I'm in a very fortunate position these days that I can pick and choose a bit more than I used to,
but I'm never happier than when I am really, you know, with a gang of people, creating a story, either in the dark room of a theater or on a film
AMANPOUR: I want to ask a little bit more about the nitty-gritty, because you say, and it's really entertaining, you write a lot about the people who
you worked with has your co-stars. So, Maggie Smith, obviously, is the great heroin of so many films and practically steals the limelight every
time she's onset. And you worked, obviously, with her on this.
You write, "Downton Abbey" was always billed at an ensemble show, as a cast we won three Screen Actor Guild Awards for being so. But we all knew that
Highclere Castle was really the lead character. And we all knew that Maggie Smith ran a pretty close second. You also writer, there were good Maggie
days and then, some maybe not so good. So, tell us about this woman who does remain inscrutable.
BONNEVILLE: Well, she is inscrutable. And as I -- again, I say in the book, I was intimidated and intrigued by her on day one of filming, and I
felt the same on the final day. She's mercurial. She is incredibly talented.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGGIE SMITH, ACTRESS, "DOWNTON ABBEY": I'm so sorry. I thought you were a waiter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BONNEVILLE: She's -- it is very hard to describe. She's very tough on herself, which is why I think she can be tough on the environment around
her. You better be on your best game when you come on set with her, because she is determined to give her best game. And, of course, you know, she is
now in her middle 80s, I guess. And we started the show, whatever, just over 10 years ago. So, she was still a senior citizen even then, and most
people -- or most sensible people have probably hung up their boots by then.
But, no. She is a proper workaholic, a proper lady of the industry. And she has this ability to be utterly hilarious and unique, and to take a line and
make it -- give it an extra layer of wit and comedy. And then, to be able to turn on a sixpence and create great emotion and pathos within a scene.
And something like "Downton," that was absolutely perfect.
And, you know, she is wonderful to watch and incredibly talented to be around and to watch the way she works. And, you know, in the final moments
of our last encounter together, I really did reflect on the fact that I was so lucky to call her mom for the last 10 years or so.
AMANPOUR: And you've got another couple of elderly female co-stars who you talk about who are powerhouses in themselves, then and now. You have a
great story, a great anecdote about Shirley MacLaine. Remind us how you met, and this particular anecdote. You know what I'm talking about. It's in
the book. But you say it.
BONNEVILLE: Oh, well, it was -- so Shirley MacLaine came to play for part of a season four, and we were all so excited to meet her, and she met --
you know, she met Maggie in the front hall and it was great to see these great dames, her meeting up. They haven't seen each other for 40 years. I
think the last time was backstage at the Oscars, apparently.
And they told great stories and it was great to listen to Shirley who, of course, is very, you know, comfortable talking about her past and her many
incarnations in life, and a colorful romantic life. And there was a lovely moment where Maggie just leaned across and said, oh, darling, you have been
AMANPOUR: Oh, gosh. There's a great story about Judi Dench. You played with her in "Iris," about Iris Murdoch, and there was another occasion
where she also -- she was also being a bit flirty and busy.
BONNEVILLE: Yes. Well, yes. There was a play we were doing together, a promenade production, which meant that the audience and the actors moved
around with each other, and she noticed in the audience, one night, as she was about to make an entrance, that there was a well-known director, a
friend of hers, sitting on -- in -- within the audience where she was about to move. And so, she got a bit of a pen and paper, and I'm going to diluted
a bit, but she said fancy a snog, a kiss? And scrunched it up. And as she walked past onto the stage, she dropped into his lap and carried on doing
the scene. At the end of the, scene she turned around to glance at him and realized it wasn't this director at all.
AMANPOUR: And you did dilute it a bit. You know, what she actually said was, fancy a shag? I can say that. And it's up to the audience to figure
out what exactly that means. But I want to ask you, because write also, quite poignantly, about the -- kind of horror of the audition. The
difficulty of that in any actor's life, I suppose, and really having to go through this. And I resume reviews also are difficult.
I've heard actors talked about how wounding it is to get negative reviews. And then, being personal, as opposed to being about a role or whatever.
Talk to me about the difficulty of auditions, and I assume you don't have to do that anymore.
BONNEVILLE: Oh, I do. From time to time. As I said, I'm very lucky that I can pick and choose a bit. But, you know, there was a role or two last year
that I said, oh, I really want to go for this when the casting director had said that I wasn't right for it. And so, I said, look, I'd like to read for
this. I would like to go to the audition. And it was someone that I had worked very closely in the past.
And it turned out he didn't want me. So, it doesn't get any easier. You do have to build up this thick skinned, really. I always talk about the thick
skin of rejection, because most of the time, it's the work no. I always think of the opening of "Tootsie" with Dustin Hoffman doing all these
auditions and saying, I can be taller or I could be shorter or I can -- you know. And this voice from the darkness of the auditorium saying, we just
want someone else. And it's very hard to -- not take that. There's always an arrow that gets through the armor somehow and makes it feel personal.
But, of course, it isn't. It it's about chemistry. It's about the right project. So, you do have to prepare yourself. And it doesn't get any
easier, no, as you get older.
AMANPOUR: So, I'm just going to read another paragraph that you've written about how you dealt with rejection, after writing hundreds of letters --
after writing letters to hundreds of people to get a job and mostly not getting a reply. However, you write, about 150 others did reply, informing
me by photocopy that they would keep details on file and I would be invited to addition when they were next casting or when helped froze over,
whichever was the later. For years, I kept these rejection letters on a bit of string tied to the toilet roll dispenser all in my bathroom, a gesture
that combined two fingered defiance with a nod to recycling before it became The Done Thing. That's pretty good.
BONNEVILLE: Yes. Yes, I know. I remember there was a repertory theater in the South of London, I think was the last to go down the pan. But, you
know, it was a useful -- it was a bit of a mental armory for me.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of the reviews which have called your book sort of a masterpiece of delightful self-deprecation, that they really like the
way you have taken yourself on as well -- you know, as well as the stories of your life?
BONNEVILLE: Well, actually, going back to reviews, I genuinely haven't read any. So, it's delightful to hear one because I always think that if
you suck in the good reviews, you have to accept the bad ones, too. And, of course, it's only the bad ones that really stay with you.
So, I haven't read reviews. I will in time, when I finish publicizing the book and I can relax at Christmas time perhaps. But I like to reflect after
the event. So, well, I'm very flattered that there's been a reaction like that. I found it a really fun experience. I don't take myself too
seriously. I take the work seriously, but I don't take myself too seriously. And I think that's important characteristic to have as an actor,
because otherwise, you could end up in the drink.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And I wanted, actually, sort of wrap this up by something very serious, because you started the interview by talking about how this
is really a love letter to your father throughout his decline and his dementia. You talk about how you had to break the news of your own
brother's death to him. And in the last chapter, you say that, it's as if he's in a glider, high up there, silently, elegantly, effortlessly
circling, peeking out of cottonwool clouds for a moment before disappearing out of view. Calm, content, I like to think. But always at the back of my
mind is the inevitability of descent.
It's a very sensitive way of writing about what must be just sheer pain for you.
BONNEVILLE: Well, that's the interesting thing about -- you know, for anyone who's been on the dementia journey with a loved one is the fact that
it's -- really, it's the people who are left behind who are, I think, suffering -- at the time, suffering more than the person themselves. My
father -- I'm very fortunate, he was in a benign place throughout. I know so many people don't have that good fortune. And he remained the twinkly
kind man right to very, very end.
And, you know -- and so, that's why I felt like he was like a glider up there. He was circling gently. But there was -- you know, it was only going
in one direction, ultimately. And, of course, you know, the pain is for those who are left behind or who are struggling to care. And I know, you
know, there aren't many -- you know, many -- hundreds of thousands of people who would go through a terrible pain, trying to cope. But it's a
shared experience. It's part of the human condition, and I was blessed to know him and blessed to have him as a benevolent father.
AMANPOUR: And what are your plans for next year? What can you -- what can -- what scoop can you give us? What's your next role, Hugh Bonneville?
BONNEVILLE: Well, I don't know. Well, I've read that there is a production called "Paddington 3." Paddington in Peru. So, that gives you a bit of a
clue. Whether the Brown family either, you know, go with the bear to visit the home for retired bears in Lima, I don't know. But fingers crossed.
We've had a couple of stop starts, you know, obviously, pandemic and other issues have got in the way, but there's hope that "Paddington" is going to
get on the runway very soon.
AMANPOUR: Excellent. Well, we'll all look for to that. Hugh Bonneville, thank you very much for being with us.
BONNEVILLE: Thank you so much. Cheers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And it is good to have something like that to look forward to. Which is, the end of our program for tonight. Remember, you can always
catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and on our podcast. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.