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Interview with "Everything Everywhere All at Once" Actress Michelle Yeoh; Interview with "The Hard Road Out" Co-Author Jihyun Park; Interview with "The Hard Road Out" Co-Author Seh-Lynn Chai; Interview with "Great Expectations" Actress and Stand-Up Comedian Eddie Izzard. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 26, 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 is what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mrs. Wang. Mrs. Wang. Mrs. Wang, are you with us?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Michelle Yeoh is suddenly "Everything Everywhere All at Once." From winning a Golden Globe to an Oscar nomination. And now, she's here,
talking about her extraordinary career renaissance. Then --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEH-LYNN CHAI, CO-AUTHOR, "THE HARD ROAD OUT": You know, we never really talk about ordinary citizens. We only talk about the regime and the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- an insiders' view of life in North Korea. Sara Sidner speaks with the author, Jihyun Park, and her translator, Seh-Lynn Chai, about her
"Hard Road Out" of the hermit kingdom.
And, boy, talk about great expectations. How Eddie Izzard distilled Dickens' massive masterpiece into a one-woman show.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Actress Michelle Yeoh is no fan of glass ceilings. Neither her age, nor her nationality, nor her gender can stop her from taking Hollywood by storm.
Fresh off a Golden Globe award for her virtuoso performance in "Everything Everywhere All at Once", Yeoh leads the list of contenders for this year's
best actress Oscar. Her star vehicle is an idiosyncratic movie about a Chinese laundromat owner thrust into a mission to save all possible
universes. So, no pressure there. Take a look at this clip from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The universe is so much bigger than you realize.
MICHELLE YEOH, ACTRESS, "EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE": Of all the places I could be, I just want to be here with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember our mission. Consider the fate of every single world of our infinite multiverse.
YEOH: There is no way I am the Evelyn you are looking for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Michelle Yeoh is with me here. Welcome to the program.
YEOH: Thank you so much. I'm so happy to be here.
AMANPOUR: Well, it is amazing. And you've got so many accolades for this remarkable role. What I literally just can't believe, and I wonder how you
feel about, it is the first Hollywood movie where you have had top billing in a long and distinguished career. When you saw the script and you saw
your role, what did you think?
YEOH: First of all, I prayed and said, please let these two boys not be certifiably insane.
AMANPOUR: OK. The two boys are?
YEOH: The Daniels.
YEOH: Who wrote -- this is the original screenplay. It's -- came from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. And when I received it, you know, it's
like you receive scripts. And as the years get bigger, the numbers get bigger, the roles seem to shrink with that. As you know, as a woman, as an
Asian woman or whatever it is, somehow, they start putting you in boxes. And it's always the guy who gets to go on the adventure and save the world
and, you know, rescue your daughter. And you, think why can't I do that, too?
So, it was so overwhelming at that point to get a script that said, you know, this is a very ordinary woman, Asian, immigrant woman, who is dealing
with all the problems that we all can relate to -- well, maybe not as a laundromat owner. But you know, the relationship with your husband,
relationship with your father, relationship with your daughter. I mean, there's the generational gap. That miscommunication between mothers and
daughters especially, it's always been more complicated.
And what I loved about it, it was like this is an ordinary woman who is being seen, who's given a role to play as a superhero. And that's what we
are. Women, mothers, daughters, sisters are superheroes because we have a certain superpower, which is kindness, love, compassion. And the core of
this crazy, wacky, messy, you know, frenetic story on the surface, the core is authentic, genuine love for family and never giving up on each other.
AMANPOUR: I am going to play a clip or you don't look all lovey-dovey and compassionate.
YEOH: Oh, no, no, no.
AMANPOUR: Where you're very, very out there. Let's play this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Huh? What happened?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they lost their powers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, in this madcap, sci-fi, multi genre film --
YEOH: Five genres, at least.
AMANPOUR: -- it would -- what are -- OK. List the genres because it is crazy.
YEOH: It is. It's sci-fi, it's horror, it's romance, it's drama, it's comedy. It's like -- maybe I've been in rehearsing for 40 years for this
ultimate role. It is just amazing to be able to have the opportunity to say, I can do this. Please, let me show you.
AMANPOUR: And you have done.
AMANPOUR: What is the compassionate mother there doing --
YEOH: She was protecting her daughter and the husband, because there -- I don't know what you call them. Agents have come from another universe, and
they are trying to destroy each universe systematically. So, what we have to do is to try -- I have to do is to protect my universe, my family.
AMANPOUR: OK. And this is because of --
YEOH: That's the passion.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes, yes. Of course. And this is the multi-universe thing - -
AMANPOUR: -- that is, you know, is --
YEOH: It's --
AMANPOUR: -- is the basis of the film.
YEOH: -- it's amazing because what the Daniels have done is like, you know, how we look at our lives and we look and we say, I wish I had done it
differently? Perhaps the outcome would have been better? And you know how - - especially immigrant parents have a tendency to say to their children, I left a good life for you so you can have a better life. I could have done
things differently, but for you.
So, sometimes, it's that miscommunication and through feeling, and then the younger ones go, like, you don't have to do things for me. I can do it for
myself. So, I think what this movie, when it came out, it appealed. It resonated with different generations.
YEOH: It was like shining a light on them to say, sometimes, we just have to step back. The motivation is really from love, it's from care. And what
I really love is sometimes people walk up to the streets and say, I'm -- about my age and say, I didn't really get your movie because, you know, it
gets a little crazy for me. But --
AMANPOUR: Yes, I was confused, too.
YEOH: Yes. But my estranged young daughter that I have not spoken to for - -
AMANPOUR: In the movie.
AMANPOUR: No? In real life?
YEOH: In real life, came to the mother and say, I've watched this movie and I think I understand what you are trying to do for me. So, it's healed
certain relationships. It's opened up conversations. And I think that's what we need to do is have conversations. Because the last few years have
been so difficult on so many levels, right? With the pandemic, with things, with tragedies and things like that. It was nice to have a movie where it's
YEOH: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: How does it -- how does some of this play into or play off your own experience? You also are an immigrant --
YEOH: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
AMANPOUR: -- you know, from Malaysia --
YEOH: Yes, that's right.
AMANPOUR: -- nonetheless.
AMANPOUR: You left in order to have a better life. You came from a very, you know -- I guess, upper-middle class family.
AMANPOUR: Your father was a lawyer.
AMANPOUR: How does that -- does any part of your experience resonate with the film character?
YEOH: I -- it resonated tremendously. I think what it resonated with was the relationship, you know, like with the older generation. Understanding -
- I have, unfortunately, you know, too many conversations -- luckily not from my parents, where my father was very forward thinking, was never told
any of us that, you know, daughters were next -- behind the sun.
YEOH: So, in that way, he empowered me to believe that, you know, if you believe you can do it, you should go for it. And that was how it always has
been with myself, my career in that way. So, I felt it was very important to shine the light of someone who didn't have that kind of privilege, who
didn't have that kind of support.
Like Evelyn Wang, her father in --
AMANPOUR: That's you in the film.
YEOH: That's me in the film. Literally just said to you, you're a complete failure, right? I tell you not to go off with this man. Look where you end
up. In a failing laundromat, bad business, with a daughter that looks like a mess. But I think at the end of the day it was like, I remember -- I
think, at that time, when my dad said to me, I wish you enough. I didn't quite get it. But I think with this movie, what resonated was, she told her
daughter, it doesn't matter what you are. How you think you're not living up to my expectations, you are enough.
AMANPOUR: You and just about everybody to do with this film have been nominated in -- yes -- in all your categories. I was just staggered to read
that actually Jackie Chan might have been chosen for the lead role, that it might have gone to a man, and somebody much older than you, obviously.
YEOH: It was written for a man. When the Daniels set out to do this -- you know, I think whenever filmmakers tells the story, they also have to be
mindful, it is show business.
YEOH: I have to write something that somebody will make it into a film. And so, they wrote it, like, that way, with Jackie, and me as the wife. So,
it was completely, the role was reversed.
YEOH: And I remember Jackie text me and say, congratulations. You know, you realized that your boys came to see me first. And I'm like, thank you,
AMANPOUR: I mean, seriously?
YEOH: You did me a huge favor.
YEOH: So --
AMANPOUR: Did he turn it down, or did the Daniels decide that it should be --
YEOH: No, no. I think it was mutual.
YEOH: Because you know, Jackie is very, very busy. He's got so many things going on. And I think the Daniels also stepped back and said, I think we're
doing something that's already been done before.
YEOH: We should do it some -- differently.
YEOH: And they both have very strong women in their lives. Whether it's their mothers or their wife and their partners. So, they are very inspired.
And they are not afraid of strong women. I think that is the most beautiful thing about these boys. It's like, they celebrate strong women.
AMANPOUR: And you are an exceptionally strong woman, not just on screen, but it's manifested on screen because I did not know that you do your own
stunts, and you have done for a long, long time. So, this is a film with Jackie Chan back in your pre-Hollywood days, I guess.
AMANPOUR: In the Hong Kong film days. And I just want to play a clip from this.
YEOH: Oh, boy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Seriously, I mean, I thought had to be a body double, but it's you.
AMANPOUR: What were you thinking?
YEOH: Not thinking straight, obviously. No, those were the days -- I mean, in Hong Kong, Jackie, Jet Li, all -- Sam, all these, like, great action
actors, they did their own stunts. And I remember saying, I would like to be part of that because I don't want to be a damsel in distress. I believe
that we should be allowed to protect ourselves, protect our families. And sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for.
But these boys -- these guys did not get it handed on a silver platter. They worked and they got hurt, they got injured to be -- and they belonged
in that caliber of great heroes. So, to join that club, I worked very, very hard with them. But I also was very blessed, because the stunt people, the
stunt team, they protected me. They were fascinated that a silly little girl wanted to do something as crazy as that.
AMANPOUR: And you got hurt.
YEOH: I got hurt, yes. You know, there were sometimes almost no way out of it. But in a certain sense, like, "Supercop", I could have been -- I could
have broken my neck.
YEOH: I was very, very lucky, because I rolled off the van on to Jackie's car, and the glass did not shatter as it should. And there was nothing to
hold me and I started sliding off the car. And I did. And if I had slid down the wrong way, I would've landed on my head, on my neck.
And I remember, because Stanley Tong, the director, was -- he worked with me from -- when he was a stuntman. And so, when he graduated to being the
director, and he said, one day, when I have a good film, please promise that you will be in it. And I said, yes. And this was the movie.
So, we trained together. He understands my capabilities. And he -- and I remember sitting there and Jackie, poor Jackie, he was like running out of
his car going like, OK. That's it. That's it. No more, no more. This is crazy. And I was thinking -- I was going through -- your head going, why
did it go wrong? How did I not do it right? Because a lot of the times, we don't rehearse.
YEOH: We shoot the rehearsal, because you're going to do it anyway, right?
AMANPOUR: You might as well.
YEOH: You might as well do it.
AMANPOUR: And then in your breakout role -- I think you would agree, right? Your breakout film was, I always get it wrong --
YEOH: "Crouching Tiger -- "
AMANPOUR: "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon."
YEOH: "-- Hidden Dragon."
AMANPOUR: I always want to say, hidden tiger. But anyway, phenomenal, phenomenal film.
YEOH: Ang Lee.
AMANPOUR: I want to play a clip, because here you are again, expressing yourself in this incredibly physical way. A little reminiscent to that clip
that we did from the latest film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, you've had no formal training like that.
AMANPOUR: No martial arts training. That is a -- you have to be seriously precise there, otherwise, you are going to get something wrong. And some --
many say, is one of the best fight scenes ever filmed.
YEOH: It was. It really was. But you know, I did that after having ACL surgery, knee surgery. And -- I know. It was the first action sequence
where I was running on the rooftop, coming down, and having that big, very -- I think one of the most interesting fight sequences that I've done on
YEOH: And on the last night of the shot, and it was just an overhead shot, where I was literally doing the kicks and jumps by myself, and this -- the
masked double was doing it by himself, and we were not supposed to touch. And somehow, when I landed, it felt like someone had taken a baseball bat
and whacked me on my leg, and I just, like, --
YEOH: -- fell.
YEOH: And I looked up at him and go like, why did you kick me? I felt so bad. I'm like, sorry, sorry. You didn't kick me. Nobody kicked anyone. So,
master Yuen Woo Ping -- I mean, the director is Ang Lee, but master Yuen Woo Ping is the sun (ph) coordinator. He was so frustrated. He was like,
nothing should have happened. You know -- you too, this is like, easy- peasy, piece of cake for the two of you.
So, he went back and he went frame for frame to try to understand. And he saw that as he was -- the -- was doing his side split jump, I was doing my
front jump, on landing, I brushed on his, and it just --
AMANPOUR: So, it's literally millimeters or centimeters --
AMANPOUR: -- of precision.
YEOH: Yes. And --
AMANPOUR: It's incredible. I read that you were not allowed to do your own stunts in the "Bond" movie with Pierce Brosnan, right? Do you think that
would be because he would've been better at your own stunts?
YEOH: To be fair. You know the insurance is so --
AMANPOUR: Oh, right.
YEOH: And they have to be so strict --
YEOH: -- because it's not just about you, it's about the whole production and these productions are big.
YEOH: I mean, in Hong Kong, our productions are much more -- you know, much tinier. And we can make adjustments like Ang, he could've replaced me,
because I had only done this action sequence at the beginning. Then I had to go away from surgery and come back later, and he rearranged his whole
schedule so that I, fortunately, there were only two major fight sequences. The one that you just saw right at the end.
YEOH: So, in the interim of filming, I literally had this brace, and I was fine, and Ang would be like, you have to walk without a limp, Michelle. And
I'm like, I'm trying, I'm trying. So, but with the "Bond" movie, there was no way --
YEOH: -- any risks would be taken.
YEOH: But what they did do what they brought my entire team from Hong Kong. So, when we had the fight sequence and, you know, it was all with my
own team. And I was very grateful for that, that they had a chance.
AMANPOUR: Well, I didn't expect this interview to be so much about action, because you are an action hero. And it is rare to have a woman action hero
like you. Especially, as you say, you know, with a certain age and stage of our life.
AMANPOUR: Let's get back to this film, "Everything." It's about also visibility, right? It's about bringing a whole culture --
AMANPOUR: -- into prime space --
AMANPOUR: -- for visibility and acceptance.
YEOH: Yes, it is. You know, in the last few years, we have been talking about diversity, inclusivity, representation. But you know, you get to a
point where it's like, it's not lip service. When you do it, you have to do it right. You have to tell the story, where it's authentic, where you
really represent the culture, and you go in-depth into how you tell the story and what you embrace.
And I think times have really changed where it's not just about not only the audience, but the studio heads, the producers --
YEOH: -- are championing storytellers, writers, directors who come from a different ethnicity.
YEOH: You know, who have understanding of a different culture. And if you look at globally, if you look at America, or even Europe, we are also
YEOH: And, you know, when I first went to Hollywood, I must say, the first thing when I arrived, and to be suddenly told, oh, you're a minority. That
word almost didn't -- I couldn't --
AMANPOUR: What does it mean?
AMANPOUR: Who were they talking to?
YEOH: Yes, exactly. How did I become a minority? It didn't quite make sense. But it's taken us a long time to, you know, like "Crazy Rich Asians"
was probably the first --
YEOH: -- it lit the fire to say, we have stories to tell that you will be interested in. And you will be fascinated with because, you know, they
could be your neighbors. They could be your -- people that you go to school with or work with and things like that. And it is -- it's so wonderful and
it's so generous by nature when people embrace each like other in this way and hear the stories of how it should be told.
AMANPOUR: Well, you are telling them how they should be told. And we wish you all the best. It's an amazing role, and you are a great actress. Thank
you so much.
YEOH: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thank. You.
YEOH: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And it seems Michelle Yeoh will be everywhere for the foreseeable future, as she's also filming the new "Wicked" movie.
And now, to another story of persistence and determination. Coming from one of the most isolated countries in the world, North Korea. Where for
generations, people have lived under the thumb of the ruthless Kim Dynasty. Jiyhun Park was a teacher in her twenties when she decided to defect from
the hermit kingdom after watching family members die of starvation. Her escape became an epic story of rape, slavery, and imprisonment.
When Park finally found refuge here in Britain, she met a South Korean translator Seh-Lynn Chai. Despite initial reservations fueled by prejudices
these neighbors had learned about each other, they came together to document Jiyhun's astonishing story in a book called, "The Hard Road Out",
which they spoke about with my colleague, Sara Sidner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Jiyhun Park and Seh-Lynn Chai, thank you so much for joining the problem.
SEH-LYNN CHAI, CO-AUTHOR, "THE HARD ROAD OUT": Thank you.
JIYHUN PARK, CO-AUTHOR, "THE HARD ROAD OUT": Thank you.
CHAI: We're delighted to be here.
SIDNER: Let me start with you, Jiyhun, you were born in 1968, and that is at a time in North Korea when Kim Il-sung was the ruler. Can you describe
what you experienced there as a child and then as you got older? Can you describe what it was like every day as a regular citizen living in North
PARK: Every day, we -- life is kind of a timetable. You know, in the morning, it's 5:00 a.m., we wake up all citizens at the same time. And, you
know, the mother go outside, they cleaning in road areas or apartment and then after 7:00 a.m., it's fathers start to work and the children go to
school. And in school, society, apartment, everywhere, we teaching the -- about the Kim family educations. And also, it's the Worker's Party rules.
So, life is modern slavery life. And that we don't know the -- what is human meanings. And we don't know the freedom times. We never heard about
the -- this word when I lived in North Korea.
SIDNER: I read that, you know, there were things like children would be taken to places to see executions. What were some of the things you saw or
that you experienced that is so abnormal in -- for a child's life?
PARK: You know, I still -- this is traumatic issues and I still memorize that when I saw this execution. So, in North Korea, usually there's public
executions. And then in the -- school student and the citizens, all over sit down in front there. So, this is kind of another -- it's a punishment
of the citizens. So, I was scared, but I couldn't say about my emotions to my parents or my friends because I was really afraid if I say to something
-- wrong word, it could be -- my whole family sent to political prison camp.
SIDNER: I want to talk to you about having to live through the 1990s famine. It began at that time -- the state called this the March of
Suffering. And the deaths and estimation varies because, obviously, we don't know what the numbers really are, because getting information like
this out of North Korea is very difficult. But anywhere between 240,000 people and 3.5 million people died during that famine. You were, I think, a
teacher at that time.
And I want to read to you what you tell of that experience, and walking down the street and seeing one of your pupils, you say, in your book, eyes
wide in in despair, I covered my mouth with both hands and held my breath. It was my pupil, Lee Seung-chul. The little boy who wanted to care for the
children in the streets. The boy who would never become a doctor, because his life had come to an end at the age of 13 as he huddled against a wall.
The little barefoot boy who still haunts me to this day.
Can you tell me about the haunting that you -- do you still experience that? Thinking about what happened during the famine?
PARK: Yes. yes. That stilled my vivid memories and it's still traumatic. So, you know, the North Korea government teaching to us, North Korea is
nothing to envy. And the socialism country is better than all of the capitalism countries. And they mentioned that North Korea is top of
priorities country in the world. So, you know -- when the 1990s, North Korea government has stopped our food, but the government told us socialism
country, nobody died of starvations. They died off illness.
So, you know, I saw many bodies in the streets, especially my uncle and my students. But we didn't say that they died of starvation because it's a
socialism country and it's never allowed this word.
SIDNER: You weren't allowed to tell the truth. And I'm so sorry to hear that you had to witness your own uncle's death as well as the student.
Seh-lynn, can you tell me how you met?
CHAI: Well, we met completely by accident. And it was back in 2014, Amnesty International wanted to shoot a documentary on Jiyhun's life, and I
was asked to help with the interview, and I translated English into Korean and vice versa.
So, I could see the horrors on your face, Sara, while listening to Jiyhun. You can imagine that state of mind when I was listening to her all day,
telling me about her stories in North Korea. On one hand, I was completely shocked by what I was hearing, the horrors about North Korea, but on the
other hand, I had great amount of empathy for this woman sitting in front of me, somebody of my age.
And I was -- you know, my head was saying something, my heart was saying something else. I was clearly in a very confused state of mind. And I'm
bringing this up because the narrative of this book, "The Hard Road Out", of course, the content is about a North Korean refugee. But it is also
about the trauma that South Koreans and North Koreans live today. As ordinary citizens, you know, we never really talk about ordinary citizens.
We only talk about the regime and their leaders.
So, when you think about, you know, 70 years of division and the trauma that goes with that history, the fact that we're able to sit in front of
each other, talk, discuss, and manage to get out of that brainwashing mode, to be able to talk on a more neutral ground as if we had to get out of our,
sort of, emotional stage to be able to see each other face to face and realize that maybe we were wrong about each other's perception, and only
then we managed to have a truthful discussion. And that's how we wrote the book.
SIDNER: It really stood out to me that you had to unpack your own fear of her because of what you learned from, you know, from your education about
how North Koreans are while she is also thinking she is not sure, you know, what you are all about because the leaders' hatred that has been taught
there. And you say this, she looks normal, upon meeting her, not evil. But I am terrified. What if she calls me a capitalist pig, or worse, what if I
am the one who says something terrible? My years of being raised to distrust North Korean's have left me with ingrained beliefs that I haven't
ever really questioned.
How did you undo some of that? Was it literally just the conversation seeing that she is another human being just like you who has suffered so
greatly and you also have the capacity to love and suffer at the same time?
CHAI: It was not like that at all. It took a long time for me to process all this information. Because how do you, all of a sudden, out of the blue,
change your mind about pre-conceptions that you've had your entire life? It took us real confrontation, but soft confrontation, to realize that what I
had believed was wrong, and what she had believed was wrong.
For example, Jiyhun was taught that the Korean War was a result of South Korea attacking North Korea. Where we talked about it and we said, OK, now
do you agree that that was wrong information that you had? And she said, yes, I realize that. And then same in my -- on my side. You know, I was
always convinced that South Korea was a richer country than North Korea for the whole history. Well, no. In the '70s, North Korea was more prosper and
richer than South Korea, fact that I didn't know.
SIDNER: You decided to leave, which takes an incredible amount of courage, considering what could happen to you and your family if you do so. Can you
describe what happened once you've left and were able to get into China?
PARK: Yes, in my illness (ph) father, last wish was to save my younger brother. So, that is my -- I decided to leave North Korea. But once in
China, I was in human trafficking and sold to Chinese men. Because I never talked about that is my life was the same as slavery in China, and they
separated by younger brother. But six years after, you know, I was sent back to North Korea for reasons that Chinese government said to us because
they never accepted us refugees.
SIDNER: I mean, my, God. I'm wondering what you thought, because North Korea, you know, has always had things to say about, you know, other
countries. And that North Korea will tell its citizens, brainwash its citizens that it's the best place. And here you are, being trafficked in
China, did you start thinking the North Korean regime was correct?
PARK: No, it's the first time when I arrived in China, you know, there is -- the Chinese person gave to me was white rice and eggs and meat. So,
first time, I was surprised because in North Korea, when we eat white rice and eggs, it's only Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il's birthday. But in China,
it's -- everyday people eat nice meals.
But that time, I didn't change my mind. And then, you know, the -- after that, many Chinese people told us is that Kim Il-sung history was fake and
he never fight this Japanese era and, you know. But I was brainwashed that Kim Il-sung, everything. But after -- years after, you know, the -- a
little bit changed that North Korea is a government said a totally different to us and fake histories telling to us.
SIDNER: So, you tell me that you, you know -- you, sort of, broke free of the idea that had been pumped into your mind, and all North Koreans minds,
by the government teaching. You leave the country, you get to China, but then you are trafficked, and then you are picked up and sent back to
detention in North Korea, and forced to leave, at the time, your son behind. Where did you find the courage and how did you possibly escape
North Korea again and go back?
PARK: Yes, you know, the first thought when I arrived in China, separated with my younger brother, and my life was a slavery. So, first time I
thought that I want to give up my life.
But after I found that I was pregnant, and then I changed my mind because this child is my last family, and it could be -- give me more opportunity
and happiness. So, my strength was only my son. You know, the -- when I stayed in North Korea prison is -- I only talked about my son. One day, I
wanted to be reunited with my son, and then responsibility for his future. That is what I talked about in prison. And I survived in prison, and then I
escaped again in North Korea.
SIDNER: It is such an incredibly painful trip back and forth, the journey. But you had that mother's courage, that strength and love for your son.
Jiyhun, I want to know what you have learned after you've gone through so much about the west, and whether or not you feel that it has offered you
what -- a better life.
PARK: It's -- you know that now I live in the U.K. so my life is heaven, you know, and is the freedom person is the happiness life. So, I usually
say that I came from hell and now I stay in heaven. So -- you know, the -- but many western people, they don't know the -- about North Korea
totalitarian regime. And many western people don't understand what is a socialism and communism meanings.
So, that is sometimes I really angry. But, you know, the -- my survival and witness, so that is my duty now. I want to tell it to them. And what is
freedom is exactly, and what is a socialism and a communism country is. And so, that is nowadays my work and my duty.
SIDNER: Thank you both so much for coming on the show. And I look forward to reading this book.
CHAI: Thank you very much.
PARK: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: An incredible and important story.
And now, turning to the theater and reimagining an old classic. Emmy Award winner and Tony nominee, Eddie Izzard, is a standup comedian and actor
who's performed across the world in four different languages. Now, she has developed Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" into a solo show. Playing
all 19 characters in an epic performance. Here she is with Hari Sreenivasan discussing her off-Broadway show and future projects.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Eddie Izzard, thanks so much for joining us. First of, I was fortunate
enough to see the play. And why this play? Why now?
EDDIE IZZARD, ACTRESS, "GREAT EXPECTATIONS" AND STAND-UP COMEDIAN: Why now? I -- there is no particular thing on the now, except for I am of a
certain age -- I'm 22. And at this very ripe old age of 32, I -- it hit -- well, it hit me about four or five years ago but I've never read the work
of literature. I am severely, expertly (ph) dyslexic distressed. I got tested. So, I got half of the dyslexic traits and half I haven't.
I seem to be like a high functioning dyslexic. Spelling is all over the place. Cat with a K. Ceiling with and F and all that kind of stuff. Writing
is not very good. Thank, God, though -- you know, typing came in and stuff.
But, anyway, so reading is very slow, particularly, reading is very slow. So, great work of literature, you know, tend to be larger books and smaller
ones. I'm not going to read that, I watched the film, but I thought I had never read one. So, I had this kind of brilliant -- I think it's a
brilliant which I -- I know -- and you may not know this but audiobooks are on the rise. So, I said to my agents, would anyone (ph) come help me up
there in the U.K. like to commission me to read an audiobook?
So, this is the way I was going to get paid to read the book.
IZZARD: You have to do it, you know. It's three months in the studio, it's 20 hours a book, including quotations. And to add to this, why Dickens, a
success one? Because I'm exactly 150 years younger than Dickens. He's 7th of February 1812, I'm 7th of February 1962. And exactly 150 years, what
does that mean? That means nothing in particular.
But I decided to run with it. Go with Dickens. I did the audiobook. And then I realized, using Richard Pryor's technique, which I use in my stand-
up, which probably have developed this -- well, he had this guy. I mean, I didn't have it all the time but sometimes you don't have guys and he'd go,
what are you doing over there?
I don't what I'm doing.
Just change -- just back up a bit.
Well, I will back up a bit.
And he would just turn about a quarter of a turn and play these two characters together. And I thought, ah, I'll do that in my stand-up,
because I used to be a sketch comedian before I was a stand-up.
IZZARD: So, it's all through my stand-up that multiple characters talking. And I realized I could take that technique and put it into drama as well.
And that is how we get to this day.
Haven't thought about how frank and easy way about him, that I found rather taking.
My father tells me that you were acquainted with Miss Havisham. She sent it to me once.
SREENIVASAN: When you talk about this quarter turn, you make it sound relatively simple, but on-stage, how many characters are you cycling
through in these, what, two hours to 15, 20?
IZZARD: It's 19. It's 19 of it. Some of them, I'd say two characters, you know, (INAUDIBLE) at the end, I wake up and there's two people in the room
who have one line each. So, I'm saying that's one character. But it's 19, 20, something around there.
SREENIVASAN: For people who might not remember what this story was about, summarize, if you can, what you were trying to convey on stage? What is the
IZZARD: "Great Expectations", I think it's almost like -- it might have come from a dream of it's -- it's kind of what Dickens would've wanted to
happen to him. When he was a kid, the idea of -- that someone just turning up and saying, you have an inheritance. You're going to come into money.
And suddenly become the gentlemen.
So, this is a story of Pip -- a kid called Pip, and he helps out this very tough, rough, threatening character in the very first scenes who is a
murderer, a thief, or some sort of villain, and he escapes from prison and he's forced to help him, this guy, by scaring him. And then that
disappears. The person is recaptured. He just brings him of all kinds and food and stuff and that all goes bad for that criminal.
And then life goes on and he meets this -- or he has to go to this strange woman's house, Miss Havisham, and she has a beautiful adopted daughter
called Estella. And it's just a whole relationship with Estella and money, and gentility. He wants to rise and -- as life goes on, he realizes he's
got it all back to front, and then he hates this story. It's him becoming a wiser person. Writes a passage. Learning to be a more mature person, which
before he's just after money and advancement, and having relationships with the most beautiful women, and not being a blacksmith's apprentice and an
orphan as he is.
His life is so tough at the beginning, but only one person who shows him any love. And he dismisses this person who shown him love, and wants to go
off to this flashy life. So, he becomes a wiser person, and it's a bittersweet ending. It's a great classic. "Great Expectations", it's a
great classic from Dickens.
SREENIVASAN: So, I've got to ask -- I mean, two hours on stage is a physical feat in and of itself. How tiring is it? And I don't think most
people in the audience know about your marathon level energy. So, what's harder? Doing something like this where your mentally as tuned in and
focused for two hours, along with what you're doing on stage, or running marathons, which you are actually pretty famous for?
IZZARD: Well, I have. I've ran 130 marathons, but I know a lot of people who run multiple, but I do multiple marathons, as you mentioned, which is,
I guess 43 and 51 days in the U.K. and I did 27, 20 something days in South Africa. So, stuff like. It's for raising money and it's a good thing.
But each marathon, it has this physically, massively draining, a certain amount of mental -- it's the tenacity in your head that puts -- what you
have to keep going. But on stage, physically, it's not that much, but mentally, it's huge. And I don't tend to notice it. It's like an ill. If I
ever get ill, get a cold, and I find as you're trying to get better each day to help you get your performance and get through this cold, it just
drains all this energy out of yourself. And I haven't got ill this whole run here in New York, so that's great.
But the mental energy is intense. And you have to do this very off thing which you might have -- which you would have noticed, which is you -- if
Pip -- if you're playing Pip and he's getting really rather, out of a romance situation or trying to get through to Estella, Estella is not there
emotionally. She's just, sort of, blank. Blank.
So, you have to flip to her, flip to him, flip to Miss Havisham, flip to Pip, and jumping to these emotions is rather odd thing. You don't normally
do that in -- if you're acting a single role, because you will probably go through an arc in a scene with one character. You would not have flipped to
the other character.
So, yes. A lot of energy. I don't know how you'd measure it, but I just do know that if you ever ill, it's so something of -- wow, there's so much
energy going to this. So, I have to be match fit every time. And I have to look forward to gigs, because you know, I do gigs in German, in French, and
Spanish as well. My stand-up.
So, (speaking in a foreign language). So, if you do those things, and then you go back to doing something in English, it makes English, like, that's
easy. So, I just developed my own ninja training for acting and performing, which is making it as hard as you possibly can. And then, something else
you'll do will be easier. Ending in English, has got to be easier that doing it in German.
SREENIVASAN: I also wonder about how jokes translate. I mean, you can't literally translate something because it just might --
IZZARD: No, they translate perfectly. But references do not translate.
IZZARD: So, if you're talking about Hershey's bars, if you're talking about Twinkies, we don't have them -- I don't think they exist, I think in
Korea and Canada, but around the world for some reason.
SREENIVASAN: Right. Right.
IZZARD: Kit Kats, yes. Kit Kat, I hit him with a Kit Kat. OK. So, that's great. Hit him with a Twinkie. No, that doesn't work. So, talk about human
sacrifice. You go to France, you go to the (speaking in a foreign language). Why don't we do a human sacrifice? Crazy. You think about human
sacrifices, it -- back in the day they used to go, the weather is bad, the crops have failed, the Gods obviously hate us.
So, we're going to kill Steve. And then that'll be a lot better. We all agree? And then Steve go, whoa. What do you mean? Well, Steve, it was a
lottery and I didn't like you anyway.
You know, so, with that, its references that muck (ph) you up. And the rest of it, humor is human. Humor is human. And then, you know, America is
famous. Immigrants are coming all around the world. Immigrants are coming. And you know you can sit and get attacked when you sit with someone. And
even though they have an accent, they can make you laugh.
IZZARD: And you got -- well, how did that translate? And we don't analyze that. We just go, oh, well, you know, in America you're making someone
laugh and therefore you've got American sense of humor. There is no American sense of humor. There is no British sense of humor. There is no
Chinese sense of humor. There's only a mainstream sense of humor in every country.
SREENIVASAN: You have casually referenced to how many marathons you do and how many you have done in the day, et cetera. But what is it, in your mind,
that allows your body to complete such a task or, frankly, even start to take on these other mental challenges like doing comedy in different
languages. Like doing, you know, one person interpretation of Dickens on stage. You know, what's the -- sort of, the -- how does the clock tick?
IZZARD: I seem to have the determination gene. I think it might be genetic. I've had it since I was very young. So, one could say, oh, I'm
determined and please, please, give me a big thumbs up or a pat on the back for that. But I think it might be built -- baked into me.
I -- my mom died when I was six. I think I started performing and acting because I (INAUDIBLE) love of an audience going to someone who's doing a
very good. So, I thought, I need that kind of love injection. And so, that's what it came from which is not a bad thing to do. I don't think
because it's a conditional love from an audience. If you do bad work on the stage, they will not get up. They'll just go, that wasn't very good, and
walk out. So, that's where it all started.
And I think if you have a certain look, if you're a good-looking young man or young woman, you will get into a green lighting position and stay in
until (ph). And so, yes, you're doing right, if you're a good actor and they think, OK, we'll let you green light that.
If you're not in that kind of standard character -- I'm a gender trans (ph) as well, you know, then you'd better do some good work. You know, you'd
better do some work that bounces out of the thing.
So, I -- there's a human political element to my running marathons. That was me saying, you know, let's reach out, let's see if we can do good. And
then -- and if I -- 27 marathons at 27 days, that was a salute to Nelson Mandela's. What a great person he was. What he did. He was 27 years in
prison, surely, I can give him 27 days and that might resonate with someone else. And they'd say, oh, good for you. I mean, it's also healthy.
And I look to do one thing that does multiple things. The language is because I don't agree that Brexit is a good one. I think the pulling back
and going back into smaller and smaller tribal groups, that's humanity walking backwards. So, I go out and I look to make connections. You know, I
want to go to politics. You probably know this. I stood to be a candidate as Labour member, I didn't get in that time but I will keep going back
until I get in. But I look to make connections in this world rather than break connections. I think everyone in the world has the right to have a
fair chance in life.
And I came out as trans 38 years ago now, and that was so hard coming out back in 1985. But it's made me very tough to take on, sort of -- kind of,
impossible things because I had no one to talk to back then. I just thought, I'm doing this. I'm coming out. And I will take whatever is given
to me in the streets. The abuse in the streets now, less abuse in the streets these days. More abuse online.
But I just, you know, I just pushed through that and say, I exist. I'm here. This is my own body. I'm in my authentic self, so just keep moving
forward. But the tenacity that I got or the training I got from coming out back in 1985 has stooped (ph) me to do, like I said, to do multiple
languages, multiple marathons, and coming up with unusual ideas.
My dad, always, said -- well, you know, once he said to me, he said, you've always had crazy ideas. The difference is now, some of them have worked.
And that is kind of true. Not all my crazy ideas worked, but some of them are kind of beautiful.
SREENIVASAN: Given that you have been trans for so long. What do you notice -- how do you notice the changes, I guess, between when you came out
and the kind of abuses then to now, when you were running for parliament? There were, still, pretty horrible things being said about you that were
incredibly personal or it was not at all about your policy, it wasn't about your plan for, you know, your campaign or your candidacy?
IZZARD: I didn't read them. So, I don't know what they said.
IZZARD: But people would say, God, it was horrible, wasn't it?
Oh, yes. Glad I didn't read it.
So, yes, you know, I've been truthful and honest and open. I'm -- I don't have all the answers. You know, trans people have existed since the dawn of
time. As we know, LGBTQ people have existed since the dawn of time and they've been pushed back on. I just exist.
But I'm not going into politics to be a trans candidate. I'm just going out to be a human being who's a candidate who happens to be trans. Some other
people who are candidates, they play piano. Some of them, you know, do that. I just -- I'm trying to, you know, like Barack Obama. He was an
African American man but he wasn't going to be the president of America and just deal with African American issues. He was going to be someone who is a
president for the country.
And that's my attitude too, going forward. Just -- I want to do things that will help people in the country. Help people in our continent in the world.
Everyone has the right to have a fair chance in life and I want to fight for that.
So, when I came out, there were no arguments about being trans because, you know, we weren't even people. We weren't even considered as citizens. That
was -- I felt that when I came out. That we were real outliers and I had to -- part of my job was just to exist, carry on doing -- I had no career, at
this point. Try and get my career and just say, I happen to be trans, but this is currently what I'm doing. I happen to be trans, this is the drama
I'm doing. This is the (INAUDIBLE) my sexuality, really got nothing to do with this. It's just I'm being honest about it.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. There's a line that you have that on stage. I think Pip says, I cried myself to sleep thinking that my great expectations might
have made good on someone else. And I wonder if that line resonates with you, Eddie Izzard, considering the conversation we are having now?
IZZARD: That's what I always hoped. I had this idea that -- it's kind of - - a friend just said to me, it's kind of like a Peloton in the Tour de France, the very tough cycle race and all this race. They have these things
with Pelotons, it's now a bicycle. But if you're head of the Peloton, you are taking all the wind pressure. But people can slip stream behind.
So, I thought, well, I'll go and take whatever pressure is coming in. And if anyone says, I'm a bit like that person. That's, kind of, roughly where
I'm going. Then, hopefully I can try to be a positive example to myself. I was trying to be my own world. This is my, kind of, technique. I will do so
So, I get, oh, that's great. I would do -- run marathons to check that. That's nice. And if you're trying to help out and if you're trying to be a,
hopefully, a decent person. Anyways, you just try and do that. And then people might say, well, I'm kind of like that. And then people are saying,
if he sounds OK, then that's kind of where I'm going.
So, I did I did want that to happen. But I -- there are other people who have been, actually, straight up activists. And I haven't done this. And I
kind of apologize for not doing that. But I've decided to do it this way where I would be, like, an unconscious -- or subconscious activist when I
would -- my activism was just standing there, going forward, and trying to overachieve in my career. That's it.
SREENIVASAN: Now, you mentioned earlier that you got this bug to perform after your mom passed when you were at such a young age. Do you think she'd
be proud of you now?
IZZARD: I hope so. When I came out, my dad was a very decent man. He passed away. But when I came out, he -- I was ready to never talk to my dad
again. I knew that that was the deal I had to make. I was ready for it. I told him. And he sent me back a letter, saying, I'm OK with this. And if
your mom was alive, should be OK with it too. Which is a pretty great thing for your dad to write.
But with regards to performing, she was an apt (ph) performer. She loved to sing comedy songs, kind of, light comedy songs. She sang in choirs. She
sang to -- at the Albert Hall as part of the choir. So, we know that she did that. My dad talked about it. I never saw it. But dad was a real
comedian. So, comedy comes from him. A sense of crazy, kind of, comedy comes from him. But the performance comes from mom.
And my brother -- my older brother, Mark, he did the adaptation of the book. Now, the book is over 20 hours a book and he cut it down to two
hours. He had to cut out 90 percent. But then hopefully you still get the essence of the show. And I think I said this on -- I think it was opening
night, but I think mom would be very happy that both of her kids were doing this, and particularly in New York. It's -- so if something is happening in
New York. And New Yorkers are going, yes. Come and see the show. Then we go well, this is pretty good. And I think mom would have been very happy.
SREENIVASAN: Eddie Izzard, thanks so much joining us.
IZZARD: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That's it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thank you for watching and goodbye from