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Interview with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; Interview with International Committee of the Red Cross President Mirjana Spoljaric; Interview with "Ferrari" Actor Adam Driver; Interview with "How to Know a Person" Author and The New York Times Opinion Columnist David Brooks. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 20, 2023 - 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.
Ukraine faces another dark winter as western military aid hangs in the balance. I discuss with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Then, half of Gaza's population is starving. says the U.N.'s World Food Programme. We bring you a report on the grave situation and I'll ask the
president of the International Committee of the Red Cross what needs to be done now to save civilian lives.
Next, Adam Driver takes the wheel. My conversation with a Hollywood star about his new film, "Ferrari."
Plus, "How to Know a Person." New York Times columnist David Brooks joins Walter Isaacson about tackling loneliness.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Ukraine shocked the world in 2022 when it fought off Russia's invasion, defying expectations of its imminent demise. And now, nearly two years
later, Kyiv is still hanging on, but just barely. With world support slipping for this critical fight for democracy, one Ukrainian medic
recently told CNN, without aid, we are finished.
The U.S. Senate won't vote on that aid to Ukraine until 2024. Putin has boasted this month that Ukraine has nothing, and even the staunchest
Ukraine supporters know that their summer counteroffensive failed to achieve its objectives.
So, this is a decisive moment for the war as another dark winter looms, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has worked tirelessly to get
Ukraine what it needs. And he's joining me now from Oslo.
So, Secretary General, welcome to the program at the end of this year. Did you expect that by the end of this year, things would be so dire, and maybe
Putin will be proved right to have said that he can wait out the West?
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: I'm always very careful predicting about wars because wars are by nature unpredictable and most
experts were very wrong at the beginning of the war because then we feared and many experts believed that Russia would take control over Kyiv within
days and that Ukraine would collapse within weeks. That didn't happen. The Ukrainians has been able to push back the Russian invaders in the north, in
the east and in the south.
But of course, now we see that the front lines have not changed in any significant way over the last year. And therefore, it's even more important
that we, very clearly, continue to provide support to Ukraine because they need our support to be able to prevail as a sovereign independent nation in
AMANPOUR: So, what is your reaction then to the U.S. Congress, you know, not voting on this package, to the E.U. not voting on this package, and to,
you know, American policy -- anyway, western policymakers saying that Ukraine's going to lose if it doesn't get this aid? Do you share that
concern that it will lose if it doesn't get the critical aid that it needs very soon?
STOLTENBERG: Of course, it would have been much better if the U.S. Congress could have decided on a new package or a new allocation money to
Ukraine before Christmas. At the same time, I continue to count on the United States and the U.S. Congress to agree a substantial package for
Ukraine because this is not charity, this is not only something we do to support Ukraine, we do it because it is an investment in our own security.
And we have to remember that if President Putin wins, it's not on the challenge for Ukrainians is also dangerous for us. We become more
vulnerable because then the message to President Putin is that when he uses military force, he gets what he wants. And this is also very closely
watched in Beijing. So, this is in our security interest, in the security interest of the United States to invest in the defense of Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: So, to that point, let me play something that President Zelenskyy said while he was, you know, trying to persuade the West that
they needed the aid. He sort of said what you said, if -- you know, if Ukraine loses, who knows what's going to happen next?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: If Russia will kill all of us, they will attack NATO countries, and you will send your sons and daughters,
and it will be -- I'm sorry, but the price will be higher.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, and you said last week, and let me get this straight, if Putin wins in Ukraine, there is a real risk that his aggression will not
end there. And, you know, President Biden has said something similar. Putin says that's nonsense. But what do you say to -- you know, to this fear that
it won't stop in Ukraine?
STOLTENBERG: We don't see any imminent threat against any NATO allied country. But what we see is that if Russia and President Putin wins in
Ukraine then, of course, we see a pattern. They used force against Moldova. They have forces in Moldova. They invaded Georgia. We see the brutality of
the Russian forces in Syria. And then, they annexed Crimea in 2014. They went into Eastern Donbass in 2014.
And then, if they then are able to take the rest of Ukraine, then of course, the lesson for them is that they can violate international law,
they can use military force, they can invade neighbors and they get what they want. And that's a very dangerous lesson.
There are other countries which -- in Europe, which have been under heavy pressure from Russia, Georgia, Moldova and others. So, we don't see any
imminent threat against NATO allies, but it will become a more dangerous world and we will be more vulnerable.
And it is also important to remember this is not only about Europe. South Korea and Japan are very concerned about this because they also know that
Beijing is watching closely. And the more Putin is able to succeed in Ukraine, the more risky it will be for countries also in Asia for any
potential use of military force from another authoritarian regime China.
AMANPOUR: So, then let me ask you, do you think -- because you -- you know, you recently said that China's not an adversary, but at the same
time, we have to be clear eyed about the impact of its coercive policies on our security.
So, given what you just said, are you concerned that there may be a flare up there, that NATO and, you know -- the, you know, the western alliance
may be overstretched? At the same time, it looks like -- I don't know whether you're all overstretched or whether the eye is off the ball in
Ukraine because of what's happening in the Middle East. How did these far- flung wars affect what is happening in Ukraine?
STOLTENBERG: So, first of all, NATO is a regional alliance, North America and Europe, and our core task is to protect 31 -- soon 32 NATO allies, 1
billion people living in North America and Europe. And that's also the reason why we increased our military presence in the eastern part of the
alliance after the full-fledged invasion of Ukraine last year.
Because we have two tasks. One is to support Ukraine, as we do, and the other is to prevent this war from escalating into full-fledged war between
Russia and NATO, and that's the reason why we have increased our military presence.
Then, of course, what happens in Asia matters for NATO. We see how China is violent against national law, how they behave in the South China Sea, how
they're cracking down on fundamental rights, which are important for NATO in Hong Kong and also against their own minorities. And then, we see how
China's coming closer to us in cyberspace in Africa, in Arctic, but also trying to control critical infrastructure in Europe.
So, security is not regional. Security is global. What happens in Europe matters for Asia. What happens in Asia matters for Europe. And of course,
Gaza also matters for NATO, even though NATO is not directly involved in the Israel Palestine conflict.
AMANPOUR: So, you know, I've asked you many times and I've asked many other leaders many times in the two years of this war, you know, why hasn't
more that's been promised got to Ukraine in the right time when it could have actually used it, when it could have actually taken advantage of its
strength on the ground.
And there's a major new article in "Time Magazine" that is now asking the very same question. In fact, saying that President Biden's and the Biden
administration's slow yes and NATO's slow yes to Ukrainian requests for weapons systems and especially ammunition is -- has led to this point,
where Russia has been able to capitalize and to dig in and this state of attrition right now.
STOLTENBERG: There's only one who is responsible for the suffering and the damage we see in Ukraine, and that is President Putin and the leadership in
Moscow because they invaded, they used military force against a neighbor, which have in no way been a threat to them.
We can always discuss if it was possible to do even more from our side earlier in providing support to Ukraine. But what is clear is that United
States and NATO allies have provided unprecedented support to Ukraine in the beginning with, yes, light weapons like the anti-tank weapons, the
Javelins, and all the types of anti-tank weapons that made a huge difference the first weeks. Then with heavy artillery, then with advanced
air defense systems. And now, also with cruise missiles, long range cruise missiles. And we have started the training of F-16 pilots, and F-16 planes
will soon be delivered.
So, this is the reason why actually the Ukrainians have achieved a lot, they have been able to liberate 50 percent of the territory that the
Russians occupied at the beginning of the war.
AMANPOUR: But nothing in the last year. And I guess my question is, what is your plan B? Does NATO have a plan B? We understand there's some plan
B's being worked on. You know, would you like to see European, American aid sped up now? What's the alternative for next year?
STOLTENBERG: Well, the plan is to continue to support Ukraine, because we know that the only way to end this war in a way that ensures that Ukraine
prevails is that we convince President Putin that he will not win on the battlefield. And the only way of convincing him is to ensure that Ukraine
has the weapons, has ammunition, has the forces they need to continue to push back Russian forces.
And yes, you are right that the front lines have not changed significantly over the last year, but Ukrainians have been able to inflict heavy losses
on the Russian forces. So, Russia is paying a price on the battlefield, and they have been able to take control over parts of the Black Sea and push
back the Black Sea Russian Navy.
STOLTENBERG: So, they are now able to export goods and grain out of Sevastopol and out of Ukraine. These are big achievements, big victories
for Ukraine and they have prevailed as a sovereign independent nation.
So, I think we need to remember that, yes, there are problems. Yes, we should have seen more progress on the battlefield, but Ukrainians have
actually achieved big victories also over the last year.
AMANPOUR: So, next year is going to be really challenging then. Jens Stoltenberg, thank you so much for joining us.
And now to Gaza where words can barely describe the level of misery that is everyday life there. The physical danger, the psychological terror, and of
course the lack of the most basic supplies, for instance food and water.
The U.N.'s World Food Programme says half the population is now starving. Jomana Karadsheh brings us this report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For weeks, this is what we've seen of the war in Gaza. Israel's brutal military might pounding
neighborhoods into dust.
In central Gaza and Sderot, whole blocks reduced to rubble, seemingly deserted, unlivable.
But there's also this. The near surreal scenes this week in Sderot. The hustle and bustle of the street market. It's the story of every war, where
life doesn't stop, it goes on for those trying to survive.
But Gaza is like no other place. It's where more than 2 million are crammed into this tiny strip of land that now looks like it's been bombed back into
ages past, where those who've lost everything have nowhere left but the streets.
That's where Mutnas (ph) is building a clay oven, hoping people would pay him a shekel or two to use it, he says. Maybe then he'll have enough to buy
his children cheese or tomatoes.
Our lives are a million years behind. We live in sewage, Mutnas (ph) says. Every time it rains, the sewage overflows. It's cold, there's no food, no
water, no warm clothes.
Most here have escaped the bombs only to be trapped in this misery. Diseases and starvation, the U.N.'s warned, may soon kill more than those
bombs. Half the population it says are now starving. People going entire days without eating.
Om Ahmed (ph) says she collects a bit of flour from here and there to bake bread for her children.
We're all thrown into the streets, she says. They said go to the south. We came to the south to die slowly.
Human Rights Watch says Israel is using starvation as a weapon of war. It's a war crime Israel denies and calls it a lie. It accuses Hamas of stealing
In the wake of October 7th, Israel's defense minister announced a siege of Gaza, "No electricity, no fuel, everything closed until all hostages were
returned." Some aid and water delivery resumed, but nowhere near enough. Much of the blockade remains in place, what rights groups call collective
Sometimes the lucky ones find more than lentils and bread for the hungry mouths they have to feed. This mother uses a pair of jeans for her fire to
boil some chicken wings and bones.
I'm using clothes and cardboard to make fire and cook, she says. The situation is disastrous, but I need to find a way for my children. We're in
the street because we have nowhere to shelter.
Fleeing the bombs scrounging for food, now the people of Gaza desperately wait for the moment they can try once again to live.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Jomana Karadsheh reporting there.
Israel is back at the negotiating table, a source tells CNN, with proposals for another pause in fighting in exchange for the release of more hostages.
But it doesn't look imminent. The Red Cross would likely be central to any deal. The ICRC facilitates the previous release of hostages, and its
director general, Mirjana Spoljaric recently returned from a visit to Gaza and Israel and calls this ongoing war the world's moral failure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Mirjana Spoljaric, thank you so much for joining us.
MIRJANA SPOLJARIC, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: You have just returned from inside Gaza and there are increasingly desperate scenes and cries for help from the people there for
just about everything. A bite to eat, a sip of water. Can I just ask you specifically, it is said that the biggest risk of death right now, even
beyond the aerial bombardments, could be disease? Also, the World Food Programme says that fully half, one half of Gaza's population is starving.
I mean, that's pretty dramatic, the word starving. Nearly three quarters of hospitals are out of action, according to Reuters.
SPOLJARIC: This is very true. We are reaching a state now where people will start dying from secondary or tertiary impact of the hostilities. What
I saw at the hospitals were many children that required amputation that were there after the surgery. But without parents, because they were
killed, the rest of the family was nowhere, and there was no access to adequate levels of nutrition. And you know, that when you undergo such
surgery, you need nutrition to recover.
Amputations require a series of interventions, and it's not just the first intervention that will save your life. So -- but nowadays, people are being
sent out of the hospital because there's no space, there's no functioning sewage system anymore. This will spread diseases enormously. There's no
functioning vaccination system anymore. Everything is collapsing. And we will see a major humanitarian catastrophe very soon if it's not happening
AMANPOUR: So, you have been there. I wonder how much you saw, people who are contacted, people who we show on our air and also obviously drone
cameras and the like, they show, you know, quite a lot of Gaza flattened. Neighborhoods flattened. And as you said, people who've had to move from
the north to the south to the north and back again.
Where are they getting shelter now? Where are people actually getting food, flour, whatever, to make bread? Even bakeries are closing down.
SPOLJARIC: There are no safe spaces, and there's no adequate humanitarian response possible under current circumstances. What we do is moving, when
we can, with what we have. But there's no adequate supply of material, food, water fuel, most particularly fuel as well.
Our own teams eat once a day, if at all. But what I saw was no safe space. And this is important to know. There's no area where people can find
security because the operations are shifting and there is -- there are hostilities all over Gaza. There was no street that they passed where I
didn't see houses destroyed or parts of neighborhoods destroyed. There's no place in Gaza anymore where there hasn't been shelling, where there hasn't
been operations that directly endangered the lives of civilians.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, because part of your role historically has also been to check up on prisoners of war, in this case hostages. And I just
want to know, because clearly you know, I don't have to tell you're under some pressure from the Israeli government and indeed, hostage families.
What exactly are you telling them? Because they want you to be more adamant with Hamas to release. They want you to carry in medical supplies and other
things for hostages who may be ill. What are you telling them? What are the actual rules that you operate under?
SPOLJARIC: The release of the hostages has been our top priority since day one. We've worked tirelessly, and what you could see was the release of
over 100 hostages. Now, this is not everything, but it is significant.
Now, we are working with all sides to get the agreement on the mechanisms that are necessary and that need to be in place for us to access the
hostages, but also to implement further releases. It means, basically, that they have to return to the negotiation table and agree on where, when we
can access the hostages, but most importantly, what we need is the security guarantees.
Because we saw over the weekend with the killing of the three hostages, how dangerous it has become for everyone. And we certainly do not want to
endanger the hostages while we are trying to save their lives. And it is extremely, extremely difficult to move at all at the moment, and then we
need to know where to go.
AMANPOUR: So, the killing over the weekend was by Israeli forces, but the Israelis say, why don't you go to Hamas and say, give us access, let us see
them, give us sign of life, give -- let us give them letters from their family. The kind of thing that often ICRC does in other POW situations in
I assume -- well, tell me what you can say publicly and what you might be doing behind the scenes.
SPOLJARIC: It was very public that I went to Doha myself to speak with the leadership, the top leadership of Hamas. It is very public that we demand
the unconditional release of the hostages. We demand proof of life. We demand to be able to transmit messages. We have to be able to ascertain the
conditions, bring medical assistance. All this is public.
Now, what we discussed in detail cannot be really revealed because we don't want to compromise, you know, the outcome of these negotiations. Now, the
negotiations are facilitated by third-parties, not by us, but we talk to everyone to ensure that they know what is necessary for the hostages to be
There was an agreement on the release on the hostages between the two sides while they were in Doha negotiating. Now, what we want the parties is to
resume these negotiations and to continue these negotiations until they find another agreement on the modalities so that the remaining hostages can
Hamas has demands. Israel has demands. They have to meet somewhere so that we can start operating.
AMANPOUR: Mariana Spoljaric, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
SPOLJARIC: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And next to 1950s Modena, Italy, a time when motor racing was rising as a sport and was particularly deadly. In his first film in eight
years, director Michael Mann's "Ferrari" follows the travails of the patriarch Enzo Ferrari as he grappled with the death of his son and
struggles to ensure the car giant's survival, even as the bodies pile up.
Driving it all is, well, Adam Driver, and actor Martin Scorsese once called one of the best, if not the best, actor of his generation. Here's a clip
from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enzo, you're going broke.
ADAM DRIVER, ACTOR, "FERRARI": How?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You spend more than you make.
DRIVER: So. what do I do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Win the Mille Miglia, Enzo, or you are out of business.
DRIVER: This is a gunpoint, if ever, Ed (ph). You should assign me control of your stock. I have to have all the cards in my hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: You know Driver from movies like "House of Gucci," "Star Wars," " BlacKkKlansman," "Marriage Story" and many more. I spoke with him about
making "Ferrari" and what he draws on from his own life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Adam Driver, welcome to our program.
DRIVER: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: How difficult was it for you to play Enzo? Well, I mean, I feel the pressure with every job. This one was -- you know, because he was such
an Italian icon, an automotive icon, but largely because it was Michael.
What I liked about the character is that Michael's version of him was that he was a racer first, so he was calm on the surface but had a constant
engine going on underneath. And what I love about Michael and his films is that I feel like they're accessible to everyone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DRIVER: If you get into one of my cars, you get in to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DRIVER: But they're not dumbed down where he insults his audience's intelligence by telling them everything. You have to -- you do have to do
work as an audience member. It's not necessarily a character that's easily accessible or likable, which I think is more true to how things are in
So -- and just these moments in his films that are just, you know, incredible cinema, just beautiful moving images.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's for damn sure. It's a very beautiful look, and Michael Mann, you're talking about the director, just for our audience. I
guess before I get to one of these pieces of beautiful cinema and a clip, I want to ask you what is it about Michael Mann? Just for our audience, tell
us what are the films, what is it about what he does?
You've told us about not dumbing down and, you know, really making the audience work, and you love his genre. Just give us a few that you really
liked and made you want to do this.
DRIVER: Well, I've actually -- after working with him, I've gone -- when I went back while we were shooting and watching his films, I see Michael in
all his films. I see him in "Heat" and "The Insider" and "Last of the Mohicans" and "Thief" and the common thread, I would say largely, you know,
externally, there are a lot about process and obsession and commitment, speaking generally in big things. But as an actor, I was surprised on how
much Michael is interested internal life.
In almost 90 percent of his notes are internal life. He doesn't, you know, waste time with a lot of characters coming on film and explaining
everything that they feel, which I feel is often you kind of get in scripts. You can't guess. There's no ambiguity. You have to, as a
character, say everything that you feel.
And I think that's why his movies are so rich, and he has such a sharp attention to detail and he is relentless in this -- in a quest for
AMANPOUR: Tell me what sort of scenes here match that. I mean, you know, really the authenticity, knowing without actually telling you in terms of
DRIVER: Right. In this film there -- you know, the engine sounds is something that he is very particular about.
So, a lot of -- some of the cars were the real thing. And he would get -- you know, these are like $70 million -- $50 dollar -- you know, $50 million
cars that were shipped there and nine mics were strapped to them and driven down the tunnel because you can't replicate the engine. You kind of have to
have the real thing.
So, even in watching it, you get the -- we can't use the engine sounds of the cars that were crashing in the film, so that kind of specificity, and
not just recording it sitting idle on a tarmac, actually taking it down a tunnel so you can get the sound bouncing off the buildings is a perfect
example in our movie.
AMANPOUR: That's amazing. And you yourself are known to be equally passionate about getting things right, about immersing yourself in roles. I
don't know, are you method? How do you describe what you do and how you get totally into the characters?
DRIVER: You know, for me, it's kind of like -- it's not method, it's -- you know, it's kind of like moving to a new country, and I felt this way
about theater, you move to a new country and you have to adjust to the time. So, if you're in London, I'm here, if I went to London, it's the time
out, the difference is five hours.
For the first couple days, it would feel -- I feel tired. But then after a few days, just naturally by osmosis, you start to adjust to the time and it
becomes natural. The same thing with the character. I load up on as much information as I can, really to just control anxiety as much as possible.
So, I feel like there's not a stone that I haven't overturned.
And then you move to a country, which is usually a film. And then it's awkward for a couple days. And then, just naturally from wearing the
costumes or being on set or the other actors or a piece of technical thing or direction that Michael has given you, then suddenly just being in that
person's shoes literally for, you know, 14 hours a day, for months on end, naturally you just kind of adjust. Your body adjusts, your mindset adjusts,
and it's my favorite part of acting.
It's, you know, forced empathy for, you know, three or four months, sometimes a year, if you're including prep, in your life, you know. So,
that for me --
DRIVER: It's not -- it's kind of unconscious, in a way.
AMANPOUR: So, let's get back to the actual scenes. You said something a while back about how Enzo is all these complex different characteristics,
including not necessarily likable. And I actually found that to be very true. And I thought that was part of the -- I thought that was part of, you
know, what was compelling as well as other things.
So, I'm going to play a little clip. This is not on the race course. It's actually interaction between you and Penelope Cruz who plays your wife,
Laura, and she is now going at you over the death of your son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENELOPE CRUZ, ACTRESS, "FERRARI": You were supposed to save him.
DRIVER: You blame me for his death?
CRUZ: Yes. Yes, because you promised me he wouldn't die.
DRIVER: Everything. I did everything. Tables showing what calories he could eat, what went in, what came out. I graphed the degrees of
albuminuria, the degrees of azotemia, diuresis. I know more about nephritis and dystrophy than cars.
CRUZ: Yes, I blame you, I blame you. Could you let him die?
DRIVER: The father deluded himself. The great engineer. I will restore my son to health. Swiss doctors, Italian doctors, -- I could not. I did not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's so raw and it's so dramatic and to see him as the -- you know, the race car expert and then getting into this very personal
situation, half the story or maybe the most of the film is about his personal relationship with his wife, who's his business partner, with his
lover, who's the mother of his next son. It's very, very personal.
DRIVER: Yes, which is another thing that I could say about -- what I love about Michael's films. And I'd probably should say just also hedge people's
expectations that it very easily could have been a movie with a loose plot that's an excuse to look at beautiful Ferrari's driving in a beautiful
time, you know, in the world, you know, the late '50s in Italy is beautiful. The costumes are beautiful.
But Michael's films are character driven. He's -- he is committed and obsessed with having three dimensional characters. So, hopefully, by the
time something does happen that you actually care, which seems to be what is honestly hard to find in a lot of scripts. This is a character driven
movie first, where the spectacle is -- I'm avoiding all driving metaphors, but it's easy to say it takes a back seat to what his character study is.
And in a way they all -- they communicate with each other. You know, it -- who cares if anyone crashes? If you don't really -- are -- don't care about
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you, because I always get surprised when I think that you, as a younger man, join the Marines. And I wonder whether that
gives you the intensity, the discipline, the connection with raw reality that you were able to bring with you to Hollywood and this profession.
DRIVER: I don't know. I haven't analyzed it very much other than -- I mean, a part of -- as far as what intensity I bring to perform. I will say
that I'm -- I look at a film set no different than I did, a gun team. Obviously, the stakes are life and death in the Marine Corps, whereas in
the civilian world are acting, you're pretending that they're life and death, but the way -- the process of working on it is almost the exact
same, you know, it's a group of people trying to accomplish a mission that's bigger than any one person, you know, you have a role that is a part
of the whole piece.
It's not about you. And the better that you do your job, it allows someone else to do their job to the best that they can. You're battling -- you
know, it's improvisation. There's a lot of pressure. You're battling the elements. You're battling time.
And when under that kind of intense pressure and scrutiny, you are in the - - you have friendships and dynamics that it's hard to explain to people who are not there. You know, the crossover between the military and acting,
especially as a group of people, you know, doing this thing that's bigger than any one person really made sense to me.
And so, I don't take it for granted. Films being Indiana could not have been more of science fiction that I would be a part of that world. I had no
connection to anyone in the acting industry. I might as well have been an astronaut. So, I don't take it for granted. And have been the beneficiary
of movies that have given me images and moments that will last my entire life.
So, when we're shooting, I don't take it lightly. I think it's an incredible opportunity. It's a document that's going to last forever, that
has the potential of finding someone that is in a culture that has nothing to do with mine and hopefully, would articulate a feeling or give a similar
moment that will live with them for the rest of their life. What an amazing thing to be a part of. I don't want to mess it up.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. And maybe not an astronaut, but some kind of space being "Star Wars," you've done "Marriage Story," you've done so many. I mean,
"Girls," all of that, it's made you mega famous, and I just wanted -- and everybody's talking about how you are, I don't know, the De Niro of your
time and you have nothing but great stuff ahead of you, but you're very, very private, apparently. I wonder how this fame affects you, because it
can affect people in very deep and difficult ways.
DRIVER: Well, as I kind of get older, I adjust to it. So, in a way, biology has taken care of some of it, you know. And I try to live my life
where I -- you know, I have kids, I have a wife, I have a -- you know, a family that you want to try to protect, you know, it's -- I see the
artifice and how you can get caught up in it, maybe because I was exposed to this later on in life, I just have a different perspective of it.
But you know, I don't know. To me, I really think it's about preserving your -- it's kind of like, I don't really want to hear from actors -- I
wouldn't trust a lot of actors on real estate advice, let alone -- there are opinions on it, you know. So, I try to, you know, try to keep it to the
things we're working on and not take away from -- not mess up this thing by saying something stupid, but I also just -- it's just not -- it's not
It kind of takes away from your job, which is to be a spy and look at other people. And when they're looking at you, it's an adjustment. It's a weird
way to be in the world.
AMANPOUR: I love that, to be a spy and look at people. That's very cool. Adam Driver, thank you very much indeed.
DRIVER: All right. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the movie "Ferrari" is out on Christmas Day. As the year draws to a close, time to reassess how to foster stronger connections, at
home, at work, and throughout our lives. David Brooks is an opinion columnist at "The New York Times." And that is the focus of his latest
book, "How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen." He joins Walter Isaacson to explore what it means to practice
empathy in an increasingly lonely world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CO-HOST, AMANPOUR AND CO.: Thank you, Christiane. And, David Brooks, welcome to the show.
DAVID BROOKS, AUTHOR, "HOW TO KNOW A PERSON" AND OPINION COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Oh, it's good to be back.
ISAACSON: Yes. This book, "How to Know a Person," is philosophical and a great narrative in it, but it also has some useful tips. And one of them is
like, if you really want to know a person, start by saying, tell me about growing up. So, I'm going to start there and ask you about growing up and
how it made you a detached observer at first?
BROOKS: Yes. The story I tell in the book is if anybody remembers that movie "Fiddler on the Roof," you know how warm and huggy and emotional
Jewish families can be. They're always singing and dancing. And so, I come from the other kind of Jewish family.
So, we were pretty cerebral. The culture in our family was think Yiddish, act British. And so, we were all up in our heads. So, if you went to our
Thanksgiving dinner table, you could have a nice conversation about the evolutionary roots of lactose intolerance or the history of Victorian
And so, I emerged not surprisingly as maybe the most -- not the most intimate person on the face of the earth, maybe the most -- not the most
emotionally available. And so, I've been on a journey really over 15 years, and you've known me for a long time, Walter, to try to become a more -- a
person better at recognizing my own emotions, recognizing other people's emotions, better intimacy and better connecting with people.
And so, the book is partly, you know, we writers work out our stuff in public. And so, I just wanted to become a much better person at
understanding the people around me and making them feel respected, heard, listened to, and lit up.
ISAACSON: You know, one of the oldest pieces of wisdom I think we have in humanity is from the Temple of the Oracle of Delphi, that's, know thyself.
So, before you went on a journey to know other people, how did you know thyself?
BROOKS: Well, I -- you know, I actually found myself knowing myself by knowing others. I'm a little suspicious of just sitting in a room and
staring at your navel. That's just not my style. But I find by inter -- by having conversations with other people, you say, how do you see this? And
then you think, oh, I see a little differently.
And so, to me, the art of conversation is really the art of being a human being. And so, you know, I learned, like most of us, I was not as good as I
thought I was at being a good conversationalist, at taking a mediocre conversation and turning it into a memorable conversation.
And one of the things I focused on -- in the book and in life is just asking really good questions. Most find -- I sometimes go to a party and I
leave and I think, you know, that whole time nobody asked me a question. And I found that only about 30 or 40 percent of humanity are question
So, after I get to know somebody, I try to ask them big questions, and these are questions like, if this next five years is a chapter in your
life, what would the chapter be about? Or what would you do if you weren't afraid? What role does fear play in your life? If we met a year from now,
what would we be celebrating? And these are questions that really, you know, people don't have easy answers to these questions, that they have to
think about it. And then, we have a great conversation about some of the deeper aspects of life, and we get to know each other. And in that way, we
get to know ourselves.
ISAACSON: Has social media helped or hurt us in building these skills?
BROOKS: It's been massively terrible. You know, if you look at the social statistics of suicide, depression, mental health problems, the number of
Americans who say they have no close personal friends has gone up by fourfold since 2000, the amount of time we spend with our friends has gone
down 60 percent. And social media has just been -- had this corroding effect on our ability to have relationships.
And part of the problem is that in social media, there's judgment everywhere and understanding nowhere. People are performing themselves, but
they're not really vulnerable with each other. They're not really having the kind of communication that human beings require.
And so, part of the book is just like an antidote to an age of shallow performative relationships and to get us back to having, like, real
conversations, to talk to people who are depressed, to talk to people who are suffering from grief, how to talk to people across difference. I think
social media, the accumulating effect on our culture, has been surprisingly terrible.
ISAACSON: You know, you talk about this epidemic of loneliness. That people say now that they don't have real close friends. But it's got to be
more than social media. I mean -- we've ever since Robert Putnam did bowling alone, we've had this problem on our radar screen. What are the
BROOKS: Yes. So, I could tell a technological story, which is the social media story. But as you say, Walter, you know, social media is everywhere,
but Ghana is not having the loneliness crisis we're having. Denmark is not having a loneliness crisis. Japan is not. There's something unique about
the culture of social media as it interacts with a bunch of other causes.
Some of them are, like you said, Robert Putnam, we're just less active in civic life. Some of it is we have a very individualistic culture, which
makes -- it gives us a lot of personal freedom, but makes us pretty bad at social convention. But the piece of the story I sort of focus on is skills.
To get to know another person, to cure loneliness, you've got to be open hearted, and that's part of it, but it's not enough.
You've got to be able to practice certain practical social skills. Some of it, like we've been talking about, having -- being great at conversation.
Some of it is like, how do you critique somebody in your workplace with care so they feel supported while you're critiquing them? How do you break
up with someone without crushing their heart? How do you host a dinner party so everybody feels included?
You know, I saw a study just a couple weeks ago, the number of young men who've never asked anybody out on a date is super high these days. And why?
It's because they stink at flirting, and they don't know how to ask people out. And so, it's a basic loss of social skills that we somehow have failed
to teach succeeding generations.
ISAACSON: It's a basic loss of social skills, but you also talk about a loss of moral knowledge, and that seemed pretty profound when I was reading
that. How does that connect to the loss of social skills?
BROOKS: Yes. Well, what is morality? Like, we have these -- sometimes we think morality is obeying the Ten Commandments, and I agree, it is sort of
that. But mostly, morality is being considerate to people in the complex circumstances of life. In other words, morality is something that happens
every second of every day as we treat each other.
And the first moral act is the act of paying attention to someone, is casting a gaze on them that is warm and compassionate as understanding. If
you cast a gaze that's cold, you'll find people are untrustworthy. If you cast a gaze with your eyes that is scared, you'll find threat everywhere.
But if you cast a gaze that's generous and tender, you'll find people involved in the struggles of life doing the best they can.
So, to me, what we have failed to do is to teach -- to do this thing called moral formation. And moral formation is this pompous word, but it really
means three things. The first is helping people restrain their natural selfishness. The second is helping people find an ideal, some cause or
truth they can serve. And third, it's just these concrete social skills of treating people with consideration in the complex circumstances of life.
And people used to teach this. Schools felt it was their job. This is what we do. We teach people to be considerate to each other. And now, the
schools are about getting a job, getting kids into Harvard. But they're not about character formation anymore. And I think there's been a terrible cost
ISAACSON: You talk about the importance of having real conversations and you made a distinction about two types of conversation that struck me so
much that every time I listen to a conversation, I apply your metric, which is a conversation in which people are comment making, in other words, they
want to make a comment, they want top somebody's last comment and say, oh, you know, I can top that. And a conversation in which people are
storytelling. They're telling a narrative.
You even mentioned our mutual friend Michael Lewis, and you said, why is he so popular? For me, the reason he's so popular is he's from New Orleans and
he just tells stories. Every time you ask him something, it's a storytelling conversation.
BROOKS: Yes. I mean, one of the things -- first, the negative, how not to do conversation, as you refer to it, and it's really -- I found it really
resonated with people in a way I didn't anticipate, is don't be a topper. And so, if you tell me, oh, I just had this terrible flight. I was on the
tarmac for two hours. I'm going to say, I know exactly what you're going through. I was -- had a terrible flight three weeks ago. I was on the
tarmac for four hours.
And it sounds like I'm trying to relate to you, but really what I'm doing is trying to say, let's stop talking about you. Let's start talking about
me and my superior experiences. And so, one conversational rule is don't be a topper.
But then, on the plus side, as you said, it's -- just make it storytelling conversations. So, even in politics, when I'm interviewing people for my
job, I no longer ask them, what do you believe? I ask them, how did you come to believe that? And that gets them telling me a story about their
values, their family, and suddenly, we're in storytelling mode and you just get a much richer version.
ISAACSON: Part of theme in this book is the need to have empathy to really deeply feel the person around you, and I'm wondering, are there people who
are hardwired in some ways that they're not very good at empathy and how would they overcome that?
BROOKS: You know, in my view, empathy is like athletic ability. Some of us are born with more and some of us are born less, but we can all get better
with practice. And to me, empathy is three things. We think of it as just like a gush of emotion, but empathy is three separate skills.
The first is the skill of mirroring. If I want to catch the emotion you're feeling, and that's just like instinctive. You're angry, I feel that.
You're sad, I feel that. So, I'm mirroring. The second is mentalizing. And that's where I use my cognitive abilities to imagine what you're going
through. So, if it's your first day on the job, well, I've been on first day on a job. I know the mix of emotions that happen on that. You're
excited to be there. You're anxious. You're not going to live up. You're meeting all these new people. And so, I can mentalize what you're going
And then the third is caring. So, con artists are really good at understanding what other people are thinking, but they don't care. And so,
we don't say they're empathetic. So, you've got to be effectively caring. And effective care is doing the thing the other person needs, not the thing
you feel most comfortable with.
And so, I read about a case by a guy named Rabbi Irwin Kukla (ph), and he had a woman in his congregation that had suffered a brain injury, and
sometimes she fell to the floor. She just fell. And she's told Kukla (ph), you know, when people see me fall to the floor, they rush to pick me up
because they're so uncomfortable seeing an adult lying on the ground. But what I really need at that moment is for somebody to just get down on the
ground with me. And I think that's like the definition of empathy. Some -- just the ability to get down on the ground metaphorically or literally with
another human being and offer them what they need at a time of stress.
ISAACSON: You've been writing a lot about artificial intelligence. I know you went out to see some of OpenAI. I'm wondering, can artificial
intelligence, can A.I. ever feel empathy, ever know a person?
BROOKS: No, no. You know, I talked to a lot of A.I. people and they say, oh, we're going to achieve this thing called artificial general
intelligence, which is the machines will think the way humans do. And then, I call neuroscientists and I say, do you think they're close to having
machines to think like humans? And the neurosciences would say, well, that would be a nice trick because we don't know how humans think.
And so, I think -- one of the reasons I'm less worried than other people about A.I., is I don't think it's going to have anything close to human
capabilities for a long, long time and maybe ever.
And so, it can't do basic things like understanding, like, understand what it's doing. Human beings have a mental model of the world and A.I. doesn't,
it just predicts language. Human beings have the ability to think with our bodies.
And one of the things that's really struck me researching the book is that I've always interviewed neuroscientists for various books I've been
writing, but now they're much more into the body. They're much more thinking that the brain is not just some isolated thing up in the skull,
it's in constant communication through the vagus nerve and other things with the body, and there's neurons in the body. And the neurons in the
body, to simplify things, are feeling, they're producing emotions.
And those emotions are telling us what we should value and what we should not value, who we like and who we don't like. And A.I. can mimic that. It
can copy that because humans express their emotions and language, but A.I. can't have emotions.
So, I don't worry about A.I. taking over the world because I don't think it's anywhere close to what we have.
ISAACSON: The first half of your book is mainly about personal interactions. And then, the second half you apply that more to the social
strife, the things we're facing today. And there's a sentence, if I can read it to you, it says, "Many of our big national problems arise from the
fraying of our social fabric. If we want to begin repairing big national ruptures, we have to learn to do the small things well."
So, how does your book apply to this awful period we're in, in terms of our social fabric?
BROOKS: Yes. Well, you just look at the -- and we're living in such a brutalizing times. You look at the big dates that define our century.
September 11th, January 6th, October 7, 2023, there's just brutalizing.
And so, we've living with this time of where it's -- we're under assault, where there's violence, where there's rhetorical violence, where there's
canceling. And my view is the only really effective and practical response to that kind of climate is a kind of defiant humanism, that is saying, the
world around me is brutal, but I'm still going to leave with curiosity. I'm going to still lead with trust. I'm going to leave with vulnerability.
And sometimes, I'll be betrayed, but I'm still going to lead with trust because I think most of the time if I lead with trust, the person I'm
encountering will lead with trust. And if I lead with curiosity, most of the time, we're going to get to know each other. We're going to have a good
And so, in a brutalizing age, it's important to know how to have conversations across difference, across racial difference, ethnic
difference, political difference. And one of the tips I've learned when people come to me with critique, because they disagree with me from the
left or the right, is -- my first instinct is get all defensive. But I think what I really want to do in those circumstances is try to stand in
their standpoint. It's to ask them three or four or five times, tell me more about what you think. How did you come to believe that? Tell me more.
What am I missing here?
And if I ask them three or four questions about their point of view, I may not agree with them, or I may not persuade them, but at least I'm showing
them respect. And in any conversation, respect is like air. When it's present, nobody notices, but when it's absent, it's all anybody can think
So, when we're having conversations across difference, we have to ask them again and again, what am I missing here? We have to show respect those type
ISAACSON: Those of type of conversations, you just described something Benjamin Franklin wrote about in a piece called "On Conversation," and he
said it was a key to the democracy we're trying to create.
Democracy is so threatened around the world. Is what you're talking about one of the keys to saving democracy?
BROOKS: Yes. I mean, we think of democracy as this thing that happens in the voting booth, or maybe in a legislature somewhere. But democracy is
basically about human encounter. It's about people with different points of view coming together and trying to understand each other, coming together
and trying to compromise, coming together and trying to solve problems, and maybe add to each other's viewpoints. And so, to me, democracy is
elementally about the kind of social skills that I'm talking about here.
And the other thing about the book, and as you mentioned Benjamin Franklin, I think we've both been affected by Franklin, you know, the idea of self-
improvement is such an American emphasis that we're just going to get better and better. And Franklin was like the poster child for self-
improvement. He was constantly self-improved, through his whole life. Just could not stop trying to learn more, be more. Obviously, the virtues -- the
list of virtues he concocted when he was a kid.
And I think we all -- at least I follow in that. Like, I think I'm not an exceptional person, but I am kind of a grower. And in being a grower, I am
definitely following Benjamin Franklin.
ISAACSON: David Brooks, thank you so much for joining us.
BROOKS: Oh, thank you, Walter. It's always a pleasure to be with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Such an important roadmap to hearing and seeing the other.
And finally, tonight, a look of pure concentration. This is eight-year-old Bodhana Sivanandan from London, who made chess history by beating a master
30 years her senior. Crowned best female player at an international competition in Croatia over the weekend, Bodhana was described as a
When asked in an interview this morning if she expected to win, she humbly replied, I always try my best to win all the tournaments, all the games.
Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. Wise words from such a young talent.
And that's it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online on our podcast and all-over social media.
Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.