Return to Transcripts main page
Interview With "Hand-Off" Editor And Former National Security Advisor To President George W. Bush Stephen Hadley; Interview With "The Magic Flute," "Amadeus" And "The White Lotus" Actor And Oscar-Winning Actor F. Murray Abraham; Interview With Neuroscientist And Journalist Stephani Sutherland; Interview With Long COVID Patient Tara Ghormley. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired March 16, 2023 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Welcome to AMANPOUR, here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN HADLEY, EDITOR, "HAND-OFF" AND FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: And America's relative power is not what it was
20 years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Navigating a new world order. My conversation with Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser for President George W. Bush. We
discussed the current threats facing the United States and their roots 20 years after the Iraq War.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
F. MURRAY ABRAHAM, ACTOR, "THE MAGIC FLUTE," "AMADEUS" AND "THE WHITE LOTUS" AND OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR: My works remain with my life, and it's my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: From "Amadeus" to the "White Lotus," the Oscar winning actor F. Murray Abraham tells me about his incredible career and why he's coming
back to Mozart for "The Magic Flute."
Also, ahead, three years since the coronavirus pandemic put the world into lockdown, long COVID continues to impact millions of people. Hari
Sreenivasan talks solutions with neuroscientist Stephani Sutherland, and long COVID patient Tara Ghormley.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
A lightning Russian invasion into a neighboring state sends shockwaves around the world. President Putin blames the west, and particular, the
United States, for triggering this attack. And the White House scrambles to make the right response.
Now, what if I were to tell you, I'm not talking about Ukraine today, but about Georgia in 2008, when then-President George W. Bush was stunned by a
Russian attack on one of its neighbors. The same imperialist forces that emerged then dominate President Biden's foreign policy priorities now.
So, was it a learning moment? And has the W. Bush era shape contemporary American foreign policy? I've been speaking about this with Bush's former
national security adviser, Stephen Hadley. Whose new book, "Hand-Off" digs into the top-secret foreign policy memos that Bush handed to his successor,
President Barack Obama and how they continue to shape U.S. policy to this day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Stephen Hadley, welcome back to our program.
STEPHEN HADLEY, EDITOR, "HAND-OFF" AND FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Nice to be here. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, you've just come out with your book -- really -- people have said it's a really, you know, credible and deep reckoning of what happened
in those years of the Bush administration. It's called "Hand-Off", about the passing of the reins from one administration to the other, Bush to
Obama. So, what are the changes now that you find surprising or not, given how you handed off back in 20007, 2008?
HADLEY: Well, one of the things that's interesting is how is different the world was at the end of the Bush administration, from the beginning of the
administration. And those trends have continued to the present. You know, at the beginning of the administration, the end of the cold war, America
was the pre-eminent power.
Our model of political democracy and market economy -- economic seemed to be the only model that people were interested in following and the
international system, based on our values and principles, was unchallenged. A great power of competition seemed to be a thing of the past.
All of that has changed. The world we face now, of course, is authoritarian state capitalism is offered by China and Russia as an alternative to our
model. They're challenging the international system, great power competition is back, and America's relative power is not what it was 20
years ago. So, the world has really changed. We saw those trends begin under the Bush administration. We were the first administration to try
respond to them, they've only strengthened and deepened up to the present.
AMANPOUR: Are you surprised by how actually in your face challenging China and Russia are right now?
HADLEY: Yes. You know, if you read the book, the Russia and China we face bare little relation to the Russia that I know we're facing now. China
then, under Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao really wanted to be part of the international system, wanted a benign international environment so they
could focus on economic development.
Wanted to cooperate with the United States and we did a lot of cooperation with them. Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2012 has a different agenda.
He abandoned what had, sort of, hide your power or bide your time which was the mantra of the Chinese foreign policy. Much more aggressive foreign
policy. Much more repressive regime at home. And really, becoming a party man, strengthening the Communist Party and asserting its -- inserting its
tentacles, really, throughout Russian society and economy.
AMANPOUR: The United States, today, with its allies, the U.K. and Australia, AUKUS, have just had this meeting in San Diego, designed
specifically to counter, in part, China's assertiveness in that region. Is this going to work?
HADLEY: I think it can work. I think the United States, alone, does not have really the heft to deal with emerging China. But, if you take the
United States, plus our allies in the Indo-Pacific, plus our allies in Europe, in terms of economically, diplomatic, politically, I think that we
have the heft too. In some sense, deter China, and maybe moderate some of its aggressiveness. That's what our hope.
You know, our policy under the Bush administration was to try to integrate China into the international system but to hedge by strengthening our
alliances in South Korea, Japan, Australia. Bringing India into a strategic relationship with the United States. Those investments were very important,
because they're what the Biden administration is building on now to try to manage the challenge of China.
AMANPOUR: And yet, Stephen Hanley, the Biden administration is also hueing quite close to the Trump line. I don't know whether you'd agree, but most
analysts believe that President Trump and his administration took a much more confrontational approach, whether on trade or whatever it might be
with China. And President Biden is pretty much continued that line. And now, there's fears of an actual military, you know, something, head-to-
head, confrontation if Xi Jinping decides that Taiwan is what he's going to get, come what may.
HADLEY: This is a challenged. You know, Christiane, one of the little secrets about foreign policy is there is a lot more continuity between
administrations than many times we recognize, given all the rhetoric. I think the Trump administration gets a lot of credit for waking up the
American people to the China challenge. I think that it helped to build a bipartisan consensus behind the notion that we need to be more aggressive
in terms of dealing with the China challenge. And the Biden administration now has continued that line has actually developed a policy that has
bipartisan support for how to deal with China.
The trick, of course, is a more competitive relationship. And we need to manage that competition in a way that it does not result in confrontation
and military conflict, because that would be a loss for everybody. And particularly over Taiwan, it would be a loss for Taiwan, for China, and the
So, I think we have had a framework. We've had this Taiwan issue since really, the opening of -- to China under President Nixon. We've had this
issue. We've been able to manage it between the two of us. I think we have a framework for doing so and the two countries need to continue to engage
on that issue.
AMANPOUR: So, let's go back a little bit in order to continue going forward. Next week will be the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of
Iraq, along with certain other allies. Now, in your book, in your deep reckoning, your colleague, Meghan O'Sullivan, describes that invasion as,
"A faithful decision that haunted the Bush administration for its entire tenure".
Are you ready to admit -- do you admit, can you expand on whether that was a now, in retrospect, an actually sane and sound policy?
HADLEY: You know, that's a -- it's a wonderful question. It comes up a lot. I think one of the answers is had we known at the time that Iraq had
actually gotten rid of all of its weapons of mass destruction, and discontinued its nuclear program, I don't think the president could've gone
to war, even if he'd wanted to. I don't think he would have had the support from the Congress of the United States to go to war. And in which case, the
war would not have happened.
The war did happen. Looking back, was it a good thing, was it a bad thing? It's very hard to say. You know, this is a regime that was we thought had
pursued -- had pursued WMD in the past. And many people say that if Saddam had gotten out of sanctions and out from under sanctions, he would have
done it again. He supported terror. He invaded his neighbors and terrorized his people.
We don't really know the counterfactual. If we had stood down and basically ignored 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions and given Saddam Hussein a get
out of free -- jail free card, what his behavior would've been? Would he have resumed the nuclear program? If so, would we have had a nuclear arms
race between Iraq and Iran in the Middle East? Not exactly a prescription for civility. So, it's really hard to know the counterfactual of what would
have happened --
AMANPOUR: Well, here's a counterfactual.
HADLEY: -- if he had not done what we did.
AMANPOUR: Here's one that I can give you, and we're not going to go into the WMD thing again because it's been roundly discredited, as you know.
AMANPOUR: And also what the Bush administration claimed which was that Saddam Hussein had some kind of link, an empowerment with Al Qaeda, that is
not the case. But here's what I know, on the eve of the invasion, I interviewed the French president, Jacques Chirac, who was roundly dismissed
by your administration, and the Brits, and everybody else.
Who said to me, we do not need to go to war now. If they give me, and I believe he said, it's either 30 or 60 more days, he was talking about you
all, for more inspections, for more investigation, and if Saddam Hussein is still obstructing, then I will help with the U.N. resolution, which you
never got. Do you think, in retrospect, given how Russia now and Putin is using this against the United States, that Chirac was right? The French
HADLEY: You know, I see the history a little bit differently. We buildup troops in order to give some weight behind that coercive diplomacy. I think
President Bush believes it actually would've worked, but in February of 2003, one month before we went into Iraq, President Chirac, President
Putin, and Chancellor Schroeder went public and said, under no circumstances would they support the use of force against Iraq.
And once that statement was made, Saddam Hussein thought he had to get out of jail free card. He thought President Bush would not go to war without an
18th resolution, and that the French and the Russians would veto that resolution.
So, at that point, the president was faced with his face -- faithful choice of either to use the troops that he had built up in the region or basically
to say to Saddam Hussein, 12 years of diplomacy, economic sanctions, military action, forget it. You know, your home free. And the president
decided that that latter choice was just unacceptable for the credibility of the United Nations and the credibility of the United States.
AMANPOUR: Again, as you know, the draconian, all-encompassing sanctions by the United States, the U.N., the world, had pretty much crippled any
ability of Saddam Hussein in that direction. But let's move on because what I'm really interested in is the lessons of history. Given what you're
reflecting on and the handovers.
So, Vladimir Putin points to Iraqi, he points to Libya, he points to all of this, when we're saying, or the west is saying, you've got to respect the
rules of the road, the international laws, sovereignty, territorial integrity, of Ukraine. H's saying, seriously? You do that in Iraq? So, how
does one deal --
HADLEY: Well, it's --
AMANPOUR: -- with Putin now given that kind of -- and by the way --
AMANPOUR: -- even worse, Stephen Hadley, the rest of the world, the global south believes his narrative.
HADLEY: The global south does believe the narrative. And Russia and China have done a lot better job than we have and can -- in reaching out to the
global south on this issue. But remember, I think one of the things you do, is you really point to the differences. We went into Iraq because it was
judged that Iraq was a national security threat to us, our friend, our allies at the region and the like.
Putin went into Ukraine not because Ukraine threatened Russia, quite the contrary. Our war was to remove a dictator who threatened the region, and
then help build democratic Iraqi society in the hands of the Iraqi people. Putin's agenda is to liquidate the Ukrainians as a sovereign independent
state and incorporate it within Russia as part of an effort to re-establish a Russian empire.
HADLEY: These are completely different situations. And it's very important that you and others insist on those distinctions.
AMANPOUR: As we watch the terrible torture and crimes against humanity, according to the United States, and war crimes that Putin's forces are
carrying out in Ukraine, you know, I know the United States opposes that but we saw the terrible torture inflicted on Iraqis, Abu Ghraib, other such
stuff during your administration and during the occupation by American forces of Iraq.
You know, America likes to stand on its high horse. And then, these things happen, and they say, see? You did it. Why shouldn't we? You're just
HADLEY: There were terrible mistakes made. And I think, you know, Abu Graib was a stain on our administration, stain on the country and it was
inexcusable. And it really cost us enormously in terms of credibility within the Arab and the Muslim world, there's no doubt about that.
And I think we do what we do, as Americans, when we make a mistake. We investigate. We try to change the rules and procedures so it doesn't have -
- happen again and we try to hold people to account. It would be good if Russia was trying to do the same thing.
AMANPOUR: So, you've been in the room where it's happened for many, many years. And I wonder what you gives you nightmares now when you look around
the world. Is it Iran? That the U.S. has pulled out of the JCPOA, the nuclear deal? Is it, the fact that China, out of the blue, has engineered a
rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia? What worries you, I guess, the most right now?
HADLEY: I think we can handle these challenges. My main worry is, in some sense, here at home. The division within our politics, the problems within
our economy not able to have sustained and inclusive economic growth. Having a lot of social issues about entitlement reform, immigration, where
we've really known the solutions for over a decade, but our politics somehow can't pull together to deal and come to a bipartisan and
sustainable solutions. Our failure to invest in our infrastructure here at home.
If we fix our platform here at home, our economy, our politics, get American people to have some confidence in their democratic institutions
again. If we fix our platform at home, we can deal with these challenges with our friends and allies overseas.
AMANPOUR: Stephen Hadley, one year plus then, there is a new set of articles about the desperation, not of Russia, as we've heard, but of
Ukraine right now, on the east. They're saying they're not getting enough weapons, not enough of anything to be able to defend Donetsk, and losing
all of their good people. What do you think, will America stand firm in backing Ukraine, as they say, to victory?
HADLEY: I'm less worried about the willingness of the United States and Europe to stand behind Ukraine, and the ability to Ukraine to withstand the
enormous onslaught that it is suffering right now. You know, they're fighting against Russia, which is a country with three times its
population, and 10 times its GDP. So, I worry more about the ability of the Ukrainians to withstand the onslaught. Which is why I think we're late in
getting the ammunition and the weaponry they need to both defend themselves and to mount a successful counteroffensive this year, which they need to
do, to put some of Russians gains, at this point, at risk, and to give Putin an incentive to find a way to wind this down.
AMANPOUR: Stephen Hadley, thank you so much.
HADLEY: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And next to culture, with Oscar's 2023 behind us, we take a look back with my next guest. The award-winning actor, F. Murray Abraham. A
breakup star of the 1980s, who won the Academy Award for best actor for his role as the diabolical composer Salieri in the hit "Amadeus."
Now, in his 80s, he's breaking out all over again, in the satire, the "White Lotus" which has become a cult favorite. But he's also returning to
Mozart for his new film, "The Magic Flute" which follows a boy transported into the world of the legendary opera. Here's a clip from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UUNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did you go last night?
JACK WOLFE, ACTOR, "THE MAGIC FLUTE": Do you believe me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I believe that a clock in the school has a portal into Mozart's bloody masterpiece? No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: We met up recently in New York to talk about film, fun, and grief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: F. Murray Abraham, welcome to the program.
F. MURRAY ABRAHAM, ACTOR, "THE MAGIC FLUTE," "AMADEUS" AND "THE WHITE LOTUS" AND OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR: Hi.
AMANPOUR: So, Mozart, again, "The Magic Flute". What keeps drawing you back or is it more the film?
ABRAHAM: The music.
AMANPOUR: It is the music.
ABRAHAM: You know when I worked on that movie a long time ago, I had to listen to so much of his staff over and over and over again. And it never
ABRAHAM: That's when I realize, that was -- this is genius. So, whenever it's presented again, of course, all take part.
AMANPOUR: So, of course, you're talking about Amadeus, we're going to get to it because that was basically not just your breakout role, but your
cementing role, right? You got your Oscar for that and it was an amazing thing that people to this day remember. So, what I'm interested about in
"The Magic Flute", it's obviously for kids, it's for young people.
AMANPOUR: I thought of it as, sort of, like a "Harry Potter" for classical music nerds.
ABRAHAM: Well, I think that's the best part of doing it, isn't it? It's an introduction --
ABRAHAM: -- to a whole new fresh generation of this great music. And it's -- it is magical. We talk about magic flute, but it is magic.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to play a clip about when you are the teacher, the professor, and the young prodigy is coming in, and you're basically running
through his paces. Here it is.
ABRAHAM: I had the occasion to hear your father sing several times. Right here, in these hallowed halls, where we both got our start. He was a few
years behind me but I remember his powerful yet nuanced figaro. Your father was quite the singer. But in order to achieve greatness, one must have
discipline. And one must have rules as well.
AMANPOUR: Discipline and rules. It sounds obvious, was it something that you also have had in your life in your profession? Is it all about
discipline and rules?
ABRAHAM: I've discovered that as an actor, it's one of the driving forces for me. It what's -- it's what -- it sustains me. Because there are long
periods of time when an actors' life when he just doesn't work. And the only way to keep an image, a clear image of who you are, is to have
confidence in yourself, and that takes discipline. You have to work out every day. I mean, I do.
AMANPOUR: I find that really interesting because you do talk about it a lot, and this obviously means a lot to you. You're 83 years old, you work
in enormous amount, you're known for very standout roles. I'm going to play a clip from "Amadeus".
ABRAHAM: This was a music I've never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing. It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me.
ABRAHAM: But why? Why would God choose an obscene child to be his instrument?
AMANPOUR: When you look at, that listen to that, what do you immediately think?
ABRAHAM: I loved the old man. I always love to see him. He had a good sense of humor. The younger man didn't have much of a sense of humor. But I
think I'm delighted with how it holds up. I'm proud of it. But for a long time, I couldn't watch it, I mean, I have done it. The problem with me
watching my work is the only thing I see are the mistakes, and that's the truth.
AMANPOUR: How long did it take, every day, to get you to look like that, the old man?
ABRAHAM: Every day, it was four and a half hours in the morning. We had to start working about 3:00 and start principal photography, four and a half
hours later. But when we were first putting on the makeup, creating it, that was 14 hours. and it was obviously worth that.
AMANPOUR: Well, yes. I mean, Salieri was scary. So -- I mean, in this clip, you can see his jealousy. And you couldn't believe it because you
were more talented. I'm talking about Salieri.
ABRAHAM: Yes, in fact he's right. God did give -- shaft him. And he was going to get even with God. That's what I like also about Salieri. It
wasn't that he was against Mozart, he was bringing himself up against God. What a concept. I mean, that's a big man. You see, I'm very defensive about
Salieri. He did a good thing by me.
AMANPOUR: I can see that. But interestingly, do you also find that it is a very common human emotion to be envious, jealous, you know, think that
you've got shafted, as you said often?
ABRAHAM: So, you know it is. You know it is. That's one of the reasons that movie worked. Everybody understands very clearly, very personally. But
I've learned something from the movie, yes.
AMANPOUR: Which was?
ABRAHAM: I learned that I really am envious and jealous. It's a hell of a thing to admit about oneself. You'd like to think you rise above it. But
I'm 83 years old and there are still certain things I envy.
AMANPOUR: Can you name one then?
ABRAHAM: Oh, certain roles that certain actors get. As good as they are, and I admire that. I think, well, why did they give it to me? But I've
always felt that way.
AMANPOUR: So, you got the Oscar, the film won the best film that year, and that was just an incredible moment. How did it change your life?
ABRAHAM: Well, I went from no money at all to about $1,000 a day, that's one thing it did. But also, it was -- it just made life so much easier and
had been pretty hard up till then. And I became, you know, invited to be Sophia Loren's lover, that would not have happened without the Academy
Award. And working with some of the greatest actors in the world. I -- that was the Oscar, the power of the Oscar.
AMANPOUR: What I hadn't realized, and what I think is literally extraordinary, but I guess you guys can compartmentalize that you were
shooting "Amadeus" in Europe and "Scarface" in the United States.
AMANPOUR: How on Earth -- I mean, literally, you were going back and forth, across continental, transatlantic, how did you manage to do that?
ABRAHAM: Well, I had taken -- accepted "Scarface" and while I was working on it, that's when I got Salieri. So, they arrange the schedule where I
could fly back and forth, but it was much different than you would think. For one thing, the characters are so distinct.
AMANPOUR: Exactly, remind us again the character you played in "Scarface".
ABRAHAM: In "Scarface", he was called, el mono, the monkey, Omar. And I used to sound like him, when I grew up, on the border of El Paso. That
wasn't a problem.
I've got no right. Nobody got no right to negotiate --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Omar, why don't you let the man finish, OK. Let him propose a proposition and then we can talk more.
ABRAHAM: Octavio (ph), you got no authority here. OK.
But it was not hard because I had all of that time in traveling to study the different men. And it was like a vacation.
AMANPOUR: Wasn't Al Pacino also considered for Salieri or have I got that wrong?
ABRAHAM: Al was one of -- everybody wanted to do Salieri and Al was one of those actors. And while we were on the set, when I got the award, he said,
Murray, don't carry the whole movie on your shoulders. Just do your work. He's a very generous actor.
AMANPOUR: That was a good piece of advice.
ABRAHAM: And he was right.
AMANPOUR: So, you just called yourself Murry but you're F. Murray Abraham. What is F?
ABRAHAM: Well, I put it in there because it makes Murray Abraham stand out. But it's a tribute to my father.
AMANPOUR: What was his name?
ABRAHAM: Fareed (ph). Frederik. And that's --
AMANPOUR: Well, Fareed (ph), he's -- he was Syrian?
AMANPOUR: Yes, so you come from the Syrian and Italian --
AMANPOUR: -- and you just grew up, as you just said, in El Paso.
AMANPOUR: So, that -- you have a multiculti upbringing.
ABRAHAM: Yes, and it's really a shame that that wall was there because that was a great experience. It's too bad that the people can't share that
AMANPOUR: What did you learn from that? Because I think you crossed it at will. You -- Juarez was your playground.
ABRAHAM: It was and it was safe. And it was cheap, or free. And I was -- I grew up near the river. I would walk across to visit some friends who lived
there. I grew up with some kids who didn't have any shoes. I just -- playing soccer without shoes, it's never good, but the point is, it was a
culture that I -- that is in my soul now. And this accent that I'm -- I had to work on to get -- to talk this way. But --
AMANPOUR: What did you used to talk like?
ABRAHAM: Like the guy in "Scarface".
AMANPOUR: That was your --
ABRAHAM: That's pretty close to what I sounded like.
ABRAHAM: Yes, it was Mex-Tex accent. But it's -- it was thrilling because it was two worlds combined at the same time.
AMANPOUR: Suddenly your career has taken off again, again, again with "White Lotus".
AMANPOUR: How does that fit into your greatest hits? Was it a great experience?
ABRAHAM: It was the best job I ever had because of Mike White.
AMANPOUR: The writer.
ABRAHAM: The writer. The writer, creator, director.
AMANPOUR: So, just to remind everybody. So, it's in Sicily.
AMANPOUR: And you are an American-Italian family coming to Sicily to try connect to connect with your ancestral roots.
ABRAHAM: Correct, it was very real to me. And the three of us, men, who played my son, Michael Imperioli --
ABRAHAM: -- and --
AMANPOUR: Famously from "The Sopranos".
ABRAHAM: And Mr. DiMarco, the young man --
AMANPOUR: The young one.
ABRAHAM: --- from Canada.
ABRAHAM: We all bonded. We -- I mean, truly, not just to use that word. We became quite close.
AMANPOUR: You said you understand that life, very traditional. And to be honest with you, I think you say it yourself, you consider yourself a
feminist, but you were playing a male chauvinist pig, correct?
ABRAHAM: Yes, exactly.
AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to play the clip.
ABRAHAM: Oh, God.
MICHAEL IMPERIOLI, ACTOR, "WHITE LOTUS": Dad, you got to knock it off.
ABRAHAM: Oh, what's the problem?
IMPERIOLI: What are you doing? I mean, what's the point?
ABRAHAM: Flirting is one of the pleasures of life.
IMPERIOLI: Do you actually think you have a chance with any of these women?
ABRAHAM: No, don't be rude.
IMPERIOLI: I'm just saying, you're 80 years old.
ABRAHAM: I'm still a man. And I get older and older, but the women I desire remain young. Natural, right? You can relate to that.
Flirting it's a great part of life.
AMANPOUR: It is. But --
ABRAHAM: At 83, I'm not sure.
AMANPOUR: But did you have any -- I don't know, did Michael White, did anybody worry that it was of a different era?
ABRAHAM: I think that you touched on something that's very serious in our profession and our society now. People have become so worried about
anything they say and do, and that puts the brakes on any creativity, it really does. You can't be concerned with that if you are going to do what
you have to do, full out. It's -- I mean, it seems obvious to me.
But also, the big surprise was how many women responded to my character, considering he is a pig. I mean, he is kind of insensitive to, you know,
the ethos, as you say. And it didn't stop them from liking him.
AMANPOUR: What did women say to you? I mean, I assume you get fan mail and stuff.
ABRAHAM: Oh, I get letters. I get comments in the streets, they just adore him. They understand that he's really just simply being very honest, and I
think that inside, they really think he's a sensitive, nice man. I love that coming through. His sense of humanity. And they respond to it.
AMANPOUR: You are 83, as you mentioned. It's pretty amazing to have this galloping career, even now, right? But it's interesting for me how you
started. It wasn't obvious. You went to Hollywood and it was difficult for you, and then you moved back to New York with your wife, who lost a few
months ago. We are sorry. And then, you want to Uta Hagen, the famous instructor.
What did she give you in her instruction? What was the -- you know, the triggering point there?
ABRAHAM: She gave me the foundation to my technique. It was as simple as that. The problem was that she began to take over. I allowed that to
happen. It wasn't her fault, it was mine. I wanted to please her so much that I began to forget who I was. I didn't know that at the time.
But the longer I studied with her, the worse I became. It was the last class I took with her. I was doing a monologue, and she stopped me in the
middle. She never did that to anyone. She's stopped me and said through the class, this act has a great talent, and he pisses all over it. And that was
the last class I took with her. She knew what was happening because she really like me.
AMANPOUR: What was happening? What did she mean pisses all over it?
ABRAHAM: I couldn't function. I don't know why. I just wasn't trusting myself any longer. I was trying to do what I thought she wanted. But
teachers change my life. I mean, when I was in school, I was a hoodlum in El Paso, Texas, in high school. A hoodlum, a bum. And a teacher invited me
to be an actor. Don't ask me why.
AMANPOUR: But why? What did she see in you?
ABRAHAM: That's -- it was -- I took it as a gift from heaven. I mean, I'm sincere. What did she see in me that I didn't know I have? My closest --
the closest I ever came to literature or theater was telling jokes. I loved jokes. That is all I can offer. But I just wanted to get out of high school
and just leave El Paso. But she saw something. I started acting. I knew where I belonged. I quit the gangs. And I won an acting contest in the
State of Texas. I won a scholarship to go to college, $100. Scholarship.
AMANPOUR: A lot then, right?
ABRAHAM: Yes. And that was it. I studied for a year, then I went to L.A.
AMANPOUR: I mean, you're obviously super sharp, right? So, you don't have problems remembering scripts and things like that. I mean, I interviewed
once Judi Dench and she has somewhat failing eyesight, and she has massive font. I mean, it's probably one word per page.
AMANPOUR: And then, other actors I know put -- they have it piped into their ears. Do you have any tricks?
ABRAHAM: Yes. You study something every single day. That's what I do. For me, it's Shakespeare sonnets or Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I like her
sonnets from the Portuguese also. But it's memorizing. It's insisting on doing a memorizing -- a discipline every day, morning and before you go to
bed. I really do it.
AMANPOUR: So, if I said Shakespeare, sonnet, now, what would you say?
ABRAHAM: Yes. I would give you a sonnet.
AMANPOUR: Feel free.
ABRAHAM: I have one that's on my mind because of my wife passing. Went to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things
past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought. And with old woes new wail my dear times' waste. Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow, for precious
friends hid in death's dateless night. And weep afresh love's long-since cancell'd woe, and moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight. Then can I
grieve at grievance foregone, and heavily from woe to woe tell o'er the sad account of fore-bemoaned moan, which well if not well paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, all losses are restored, and sorrows end.
AMANPOUR: That is just beautiful for many, many reasons. Your wife, you lost her after 62 years being together.
ABRAHAM: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: I mean, that's almost unbelievable. How are you? How are you doing?
ABRAHAM: Not good.
ABRAHAM: Oh, this is acting. I do it because I think I have to get back to work. My works remain is my life and it's my salvation. Otherwise, I would,
you know, sit at home and mope. And I couldn't do that.
AMANPOUR: So, in that case, is there anything professionally that you still want to do? I've read -- I mean, there may be a lot of things, but
I've read, for instance, you say, there's not enough out there for people of your age in terms of love stories and things like that.
ABRAHAM: Yes, I look for original material. I look forward to someone writing something with me in mind at my age, because there's still a lot of
life left in me. The classics are still there, always waiting, and I'm thrilled to do them, and I'm going to be doing Lear again. There are things
to do, but I would prefer something new, like this wonderful piece I just for "White Lotus." So, that's proof enough that it can be.
AMANPOUR: Amazing. What a great life story and what a wonderful, wonderful gift you've given the world with your acting. F. Murray Abraham, thank you
ABRAHAM: Thanks a lot, really.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And meantime, "The Magic Flute" is in theaters now. And it will be available on demand from April 25th.
This month marks the third anniversary since coronavirus became a global pandemic and the world went into lockdown. But still, millions of people
suffer the symptoms of long COVID. A condition that doctors are desperate to understand. Well, in a new piece for the "Scientific American,"
neuroscientist Stephani Sutherland says that long COVID now looks like a neurological disease. And she speaks to Hari Sreenivasan alongside Tara
Ghormley, a woman who's struggling with that condition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Stephani Sutherland, Dr. Tara Ghormley, thanks so much for joining us.
Stephani, I want to start with you. Here we are three years out and we've had multiple conversations about long COVID. What have we learned over the
past couple of years? What are the scientists that you have been talking to think is causing this?
STEPHANI SUTHERLAND, NEUROSCIENTIST AND JOURNALIST: Long COVID only started to become realized by doctors and researchers over the months in
2020 and particularly towards the end of 2020 as millions of people started to complain about symptoms of long COVID.
What we do know now about long COVID is that it seems to be a post viral syndrome. So, unclear exactly what is causing it, but like many other post
viral syndromes, it has many different kinds of manifestations. So, over 200 different symptoms have been described of long COVID. Many of them --
as I write about, in a piece in "Scientific American, many of them being neurological.
SREENIVASAN: Give us an idea of how or why scientists think that this is neurological, because for so many people they are aware of the physical
manifestation. What are the indicators that scientists have looked at that say, this is actually affecting the nervous system and the brain?
SUTHERLAND: The short answer is that we don't have great markers or biomarkers or biological readouts like we would for things like cancer or
lung disease and some of the respiratory effects of COVID-19.
What was -- what did become really clear and obvious, as I mentioned, especially towards the end of 2020, was that millions of people, all at
once, during the pandemic, after having had COVID-19, were complaining of really neurological symptoms. So, things many of which Tara is living with,
things like postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which causes a racing heart and it really keeps you from being upright, and things like
post exertional malaise, where people will have kind of an energy crash after expanding mental or physical energy.
And those seem like physical manifestations, but those two can be rooted in the nervous system. And then, other things like brain fatigue, severe brain
fog, severe fatigue, things like loss of smell and taste and other things like pain, hypersensitivity to sound and other sensations that clearly are
rooted in the nervous system somehow.
SREENIVASAN: So, Tara, let me come to you here. When did you know that this wasn't like the flu, that -- I mean, you are were of the first people
to get it in California in March of 2020, but you're also someone who has a medical background. You are trained as a veterinarian.
So, when did you figure out there was something wrong with me here that's beyond just, you know, what most people are getting as the Symptoms of
TARA GHORMLEY, LONG COVID PATIENT: I remember that I just never got better. I spent a week in the hospital and was discharged, then was told,
oh, in two weeks you will feel better. Two weeks came and went, I didn't feel better. And as the weeks went by, I continued to have symptoms and
asked my doctors, and they were very honest and said, we don't know if this is normal or not. We don't really know what we are dealing with. It's so
very early in this new disease.
And as time progressed, I developed new symptoms, and these are symptoms that I didn't have before I got COVID or even when I got COVID. Things like
really bad memory issues, difficulty finding words, like Stephani said, sensitivity to sound. And when I started finding out that other people were
having these symptoms as well, then something clearly was going on.
SREENIVASAN: How did this impact your life at the time? I mean, having all these symptoms seems just physically debilitating.
GHORMLEY: Very much so. I was out of work for several months. And all -- basically, all through the summer of 2020 and into the fall, and even then,
when I started back to work, still took a lot out of me. Still really -- and still do, have to do things to adapt. So, a lot more writing things
down, a lot more taking breaks when I can. A lot more concentration on my sleep.
So, even still to this day it impacts me. But I, like I said, was out for multiple months before I could even think about going back to work.
SREENIVASAN: Stephani, one of the things that Tara is describing, which seems so difficult, is if there are 200 different symptoms, how does a
doctor know that it's the COVID that is behind this?
SUTHERLAND: One of the things that doctors are dealing with that make it very difficult to treat long COVID is exactly what you said. We want to
make sure that something else isn't going on. So, many people, and especially presented with neurological or cardiovascular symptoms, they
have to run all kinds of tests to make sure that something else is not going on or that there wasn't a pre-existing condition that might have led
And really, the only reason that it has become clear that COVID is the trigger for these many symptoms is that so many -- you know, millions and
millions of people are turning up with these symptoms in the wake of having acute COVID kind of in these last couple years.
SNOW: Stephani, is there anything that these patients have in common or are there things that make you more likely to get long COVID?
SUTHERLAND: So, there are some risk factors that seem to be emerging, which are also a comment to some other post viral syndromes. It does not
seem to be the case that the most severe cases necessarily develop long COVID. Many people have a mild case, sometimes even asymptomatic cases.
Hospitalization does seem to slightly increase the risk. But interestingly, among people who were not hospitalized, the risk is greater among younger
adults than elderly people. Women are definitely at greater risk than men. Many more women are developing long COVID. And there are some risks from
pre-existing conditions, such as auto immune disease seems to be a big risk. Also, things like obesity and smoking that might expect. But really,
women and younger people seem to be at greater risk, which is very surprising.
SREENIVASAN: So, Stephani, what are the long-term implications to our health care system if we have this new population that, on the one hand,
isn't healthy, but on the other hand, are also not sort of fully functioning contributors to our society, our economy, our culture, and
SUTHERLAND: Yes, I have to say that I can give credit to the patients lead advocacy groups who are really sounding the alarm about this. Government
officials are maybe kind of slowly coming along to realize what an event this is. Patient groups will call it a mass disabling event.
I will say the National Institutes of Health, the NIH, has now ramped up efforts in funding to study this problem. But in terms of caring for these
tens -- or what will that about being tens of millions of Americans, again, this is just in the U.S. alone, yes, it's a massive gap and we need to
address it because we will have many, many people disabled.
And some people, like Tara, has been living and suffering with this disease now for three years, since March of 2020. Some people do get better after a
few months, some people maybe get better and then, will have a flare-up. But there is a smaller number of people who seem to be really dealing with
this in a long-term way for years.
SREENIVASAN: Tara, what was the breakthrough? I mean, when did you feel like, OK, this doctor or group of doctors gets it and something is starting
to work? And what is working?
GHORMLEY: The breakthrough that we first had was when we discovered the pots, the postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, that Stephani
mentioned, as the cause of the persistent difficulty breathing. My heart rate would shoot up really quickly and we actually caught that on a heart
monitor. And that was never caught any place else.
My heart ultrasounds were always normal. My EKGs in the clinic were always normal. But the moment I would stand up, get up from sitting or lying down,
my heart rate would spike. And that was the first time that we actually found something that was really abnormal and my cardiologist actually
recognize this very early in the kind of long COVID before for a lot before a lot of people were being diagnosed with this syndrome.
So, she put me on some medications that happened to help quite a bit. So, the heart medications have worked a lot, really controlling my heart rate.
Some of the symptoms that I get with that. I also have -- I am also on low dose Naltrexone, which is a medication that can help fatigue, sometimes
pain, sometimes brain fog. That seems to help. And then, I also developed some mast cell disease from this, from COVID. And started some medications
for that, that also have been very helpful.
SREENIVASAN: So, what has this kept you from in your life now?
GHORMLEY: Unfortunately, there's a lot of difference and I'm kind of having more trouble remembering pre-COVID than post COVID at this time
because it has been going on three years. Definitely work has been a lot more difficult. I had to leave my clinical job because of it, which I never
thought I was going to have to do. It was something I never imagined. And still have difficulty doing things like going out dancing with my friends,
which I used to do all the time. Things like that will just tire me out.
I am able to do certain things with disability help. So, things like going to theme parks, they actually have the ability for people with conditions
like mine to kind of not have to stand up as much. And so, it does allow me to at least enjoy some things that I did beforehand. But there's definitely
still a big difference from pre-COVID to currently.
SREENIVASAN: Stephani, I also wonder if there's a gender disparity here in how patients are believed and seen by doctors when they present with this,
because even before COVID I would hear complaints from women I know that, I just can't get the doctor to take me seriously about this.
SUTHERLAND: Yes. No, that's definitely another aspect of long COVID, that it does affect many more women than men. And as you say, traditionally,
historically, you know, we are rooted in that old hysteria concept where women are not believed, they may be gaslit, and it is a huge problem.
And, you know, I think that one thing about long COVID is that because so many millions of people got sick with COVID-19 at the same time, and people
all started to develop this long COVID in 2020, it was really hard to ignore the length. It was very clear that this was a post viral illness.
And I just want to mention, this is similar. There's a lot of overlap between long COVID and the condition called myalgic
encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS, which also affects many more women than men and also really was treated as something that,
even very recently, that doctors maybe didn't believe existed and many women have really suffered with it.
Because it's also a post viral illness, but it didn't arise during a global pandemic, it's really hard to pin down when people might have developed it
or when the viral infection may have happened. So, in that condition, it had very little attention or research, and the hope is that all this
intense research onto long COVID will also kind of pay some dividends, pay some benefits to help better understand chronic fatigue and other post
viral illnesses that are still really quite mysterious.
SREENIVASAN: Tara, can you tell me a little bit about how you think your brain is doing, so to speak? I mean, I know that when you -- early on in
this process, you had sort of a cognitive tests that you were given and you took them again. Can you see an improvement and -- or what's still lacking?
GHORMLEY: I actually do have a slight improvement now. When you take cognitive tests they -- it's not just you fail or you pass, it is really
something that they kind of compare against your age group and your education. So, normal for one person is not necessarily normal for somebody
else. But the deficits where I was abnormal for me, some of those have improved a little bit, but I definitely still have problems, things like
memory, learning. So, word processing speed. So, it just takes me a little bit longer than it used to. Especially auditory cues. So, we just went over
Certainly, something that I'm still able to be high functioning in veterinary medicine, but I just have to do a couple of other things just to
make sure that I'm able to remember things better than I used to be able to.
SREENIVASAN: Stephani, has there been ran any kind of treatment that has been working for a large subset of the population? I know that so many of
these folks have different symptoms. But are there any treatments or therapies that scientists are interested in or excited about, even if it's
kind of off label, something that's developed for a different syndrome?
SUTHERLAND: The only way that doctors can treat long COVID right now is kind of symptom by symptom. And so, whether it's a cardiovascular symptoms,
and as she mentioned, also some people are receiving medications that are typically used for attention deficit disorder, for example, that might help
them get through their brain fog a little bit better and other things like low dose Naltrexone for pain or fatigue.
But there really is no treatment right now for long COVID, as a whole. Researchers still are trying to figure out what is the underlying cause?
What is still going on? How is the virus still affecting the brain and the body and the whole nervous system?
I will say, their -- our clinical trials ongoing for Paxlovid, the antiviral treatment, with one of the thoughts is that there may be small
pockets or even just pieces of the virus persisting in the body and that antiviral treatments might help clear that out. So, those trials are
ongoing. But in terms of a treatment or a cure, we still are in the early days, unfortunately.
SREENIVASAN: So, having done all this research, Stephani, what is the thing that you would tell patients of this disease that might not yet be
diagnose that they have long COVID and what should they do? What kind of doctors should they seek?
SUTHERLAND: Yes. As we've been talking about, the gap is really large in terms of the care that is available for these patients. What I would say to
patients is, this is real and I hope that everyone can find a doctor. What I really would say to physicians is, please, believe your patients, because
this is a neuro immune disorder. It is not a psychological disorder, it's not psychosomatic, it's not something that people are unsure about.
You know, this is a very real physical disease that, for many people with neurological symptoms, is rooted in the nervous system but can affect many
other systems of the body as well. And just to -- you know, don't give up and know that this is a real thing.
SREENIVASAN: Tara Ghormley, same question to you, what would you say to other people out there who might find themselves in your medical shoes, so
to speak, or at least in the types of symptoms that they are having?
GHORMLEY: Like Stephani said, these symptoms are real and if you don't have a doctor that believes you, you need to find a new doctor. And I know
sometimes that's easier said than done, but there are doctors that will help you, I promise. Just be hard to find, unfortunately.
And other things that have really helped me, the main thing, I would say, is to find a support group. And there are online support groups. There is
also Facebook support groups. And you will find other people who really have the same symptoms and you read everything about people getting better
in six months, and you're wondering why you're still sick, there's a lot of us out there that are, unfortunately, still battling these symptoms.
And so, finding other patients that have the same symptoms or are battling the same thing is actually very, very helpful, and did help me quite a bit,
kind of normalize what I was going through.
SREENIVASAN: Tara Ghormley, veterinarian and long COVID patient, and Stephani Sutherland, neuroscientist and journalist, thank you both so much
for your time.
SUTHERLAND: Thank you.
GHORMLEY: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Still so much to discover there. And finally, tonight, a superhuman feat that will leave you breathless. 40-year-old Czech free-
diver David Vencl has made a record-breaking plunge into the icy depths of Switzerland's Lake Sils. Braving the freezing cold waters and traveling
more than 50 meters deep without a wet suit. He lasted a minute and 54 seconds.
Celebrating when he resurfaced. How else, but with a bottle of champagne of course. He deserves it.
That's it for now. And if you ever missed our show, you can find the latest episodes shortly after it airs on our podcast. On your screen now is a QR
code and all you need to do is pick up your phone and scan it with your camera. You can also find it at cnn.com/podcast and on all major platforms,
just search AMANPOUR. Remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Thank you for watching. Good-bye from London.