Return to Transcripts main page

Who's Talking to Chris Wallace

Interview With Dr. Anthony Fauci And Singer Dionne Warwick; Tony Hawk and Dionne Warwick Talks To Chris Wallace. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 11, 2022 - 19:00   ET



CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Welcome back to WHO'S TALKING. My guests tonight are legends in their field, from medicine to music to bringing a fringe sport into the mainstream.

Up first, one on one with the nation's top infectious disease expert. Dr. Anthony Fauci shares his prognosis for the country as flu and COVID cases fight.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There is still the unknown in the sense that this virus has fooled us.


WALLACE: Then, iconic singer Dionne Warwick revisits some her greatest hits and explains how it felt to break ground as one of America's first black pop stars.


DIONNE WARWICK, SINGER: I was just being me. And I like me. I don't want to be anybody else.


WALLACE: And later, I ask skateboarding master Tony Hawk about his legacy, the trick that made him famous and why he doesn't plan to slow down any time soon.


WALLACE: You're 54 years old.


WALLACE: What is the matter with you?


WALLACE: You've had a few clunkers in recent year.


WALLACE: That's not perception. That's reality.

SHANIA TWAIN, SINGER: I've been feeling stronger than ever now in my life.

WALLACE: How would you rate yourself as a chef?

TYLER PERRY, COMEDIAN: Wow, I'm not doing that with you, Christopher Wallace.


WALLACE: Dr. Anthony Fauci has been on the frontlines of this nation's battle against AIDS, Ebola, Zika, and COVID. And while his half century of public service is end thing month, the pandemic is far from over. In fact, public health officials are worried about the growing threat of what some call a triple-demic of COVID, RSV and especially the flu where cases are skyrocketing.

I began my conversation asking Dr. Fauci where we are right now in the fight against coronavirus.


FAUCI: We are in a much, much better place than we were a year, year and a half or two years ago. No doubt about that. But there's still the unknown in the sense that this virus has fooled us if I want to use that terminology before because of its ability to develop variants that tend to elude the protection.

I'm not surprised that as we get into the colder months of the late fall, early winter, that we are going to see spikes in infection. What I'm hoping is that, although we're going to see a spike in infections, we may not see and I don't think we will see a commensurate increase in hospitalizations and death.

WALLACE: Well, you'd be very proud of me, Doctor, because I've had the two original shots. I've had the two boosters. I got the Bivalent vaccine.

FAUCI: Good for you.

WALLACE: I am boosted up.

FAUCI: Good. And it will be very, very important both for the health of you and your family.

WALLACE: There was a study that came out recently that said that nine out of 10 people that are dying in this country are over 65. Looking back, and I understand that this has been a dynamic situation that's changed over time, could we have been less restrictive about schools and less restrictive about closing down the economy, and focused if not from the very start earlier on on the elderly?

FAUCI: You know, in the absence of vaccination, that would have been very difficult to do. But right now that you have the ability to vaccinate people, you can actually clearly be much more liberal and open in what we're doing, which is where we are really right now but in the very beginning, when essentially everyone was at risk of infection, you can pass it on to someone else inadvertently, innocently and have that person suffer a dire consequence.

So when you're dealing in the beginning, it was like a tsunami that you needed to shut off quickly and then open up as quickly as you possibly can.

WALLACE: You have spent the last 54 years at the National Institutes of Health in one capacity or another, and in a few days, you're going to be driving off that campus for the last time. Have you thought much about how that's going to feel?

FAUCI: You know, I've tried to put off thinking how that's going to feel because I think it's going to be really quite bittersweet. I've been, as you say, driving on to that campus every day, almost every Saturday and sometimes many Sundays literally for the 54 years. The idea of not officially coming back on the campus is kind of a strange feeling, excitement about what is ahead but, you know, sadness about leaving a part of my life that's, you know, 54 years, a half a century plus. 54.


WALLACE: You turned 82, I saw, on Christmas Eve.


WALLACE: You're still going strong. We're still in a pandemic. Why are you leaving?

FAUCI: Well, I wanted to have at least a few years where I still feel very energetic, passionate about public health. I want to be able to do things that are contributing to society, particularly to my field of public health and perhaps use what I have accumulated over the years which is experience, the fact that I've had the privilege of advising seven presidents. I've directed the institute for 38 years.

Hopefully, I can translate that with writing, with lecturing, with advising to perhaps inspire the younger generation of people who are either in science or considering going into science to maybe get them excited about doing something that I feel strongly about.

WALLACE: I wanted to -- honestly, and it's a tough question, but did the security threats against you and your family, did all the political attacks, did that play any role in your feeling enough?

FAUCI: Quite frankly, Chris, no. It did not. It's a bit bizarre. I think in our day and age to have health officials who are doing nothing more than trying to get people to be safe and save their health and their lives and their family to get attacked in a way, not only me but my family, my children and my wife, that is really bizarre but in a frank answer to your question, that did not influence my leaving. WALLACE: You may be done with political life but political life is not

going to be done with you. Congressman James Comer, Republican, the incoming chair of the House Oversight Committee, says that he has lots of questions for you.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): He's done everything he can to obstruct any type of investigation even from the intelligence community early on and from the Trump administration to try to determine the origination of COVID-19.


WALLACE: What are you going to do if in your view you've become a punching bag for Republican critics?

FAUCI: Well, if I become a punching bag, I'm a punching bag but I am very happy to testify before any congressional oversight committee. I have nothing to hide. I can explain and validate everything that I've done. So, you know, it's going to be inconvenient if they actually are out there essentially threatening to make my life miserable but it's -- I mean, I'm going to do what I need to do and that is cooperate fully because we have nothing to hide at all.

WALLACE: You have also taken some hits about some comments you made last year. Here.


FAUCI: If they get up and criticize science, nobody is going to know what they're talking about but if they get up and really aim their bullets at Tony Fauci, well, people could recognize there's a person there, there's a face, there's a voice you can recognize, you see him on television, so it's easy to criticize. But they're really criticizing science because I represent science. That's dangerous. To me, that's more dangerous than the slings and the arrows that get thrown at me.


WALLACE: Your critics accuse you of hubris.

FAUCI: Right.

WALLACE: They say that you express a certainty and a disregard for the views of others. Can you understand when you say I represent science?

FAUCI: Yes. Sure. I understand how that could have been taken out of context and if I probably had to do it over again, I would have changed the wording a little bit of that. What I was trying to say, Chris, is that what I was doing was saying here are the data of why vaccines are safe and effective. So we should be getting people vaccinated. So when you're criticizing me, you're actually criticizing the scientific facts because I'm just the vocal and visible vehicle of the scientific facts. That's what I meant when I was saying you're criticizing science. I wasn't meaning to be that, oh, holy me, I'm science. That's not what I was talking about.

WALLACE: What do you think of Donald Trump?

FAUCI: Well, I don't want to get into the politics of it. So it's irrelevant what I think of Donald Trump.

WALLACE: Well, what do you think of him from a public health standpoint?

FAUCI: Well, you know, I had difficulty in that administration because what was happening is that it became very clear that things were being said by the president, those around him, which were just not based on any scientific fact and data. In fact, it was contrary to what the data was showing and I, you know, I felt very uncomfortable about having to publicly get up at the White House press room and being put on the spot to directly disagree with the president.

I have such a great deal of respect for the Office of Presidency, that it just made me very uncomfortable but I had to do it, Chris, because I couldn't stand there and be complicit in saying hydroxychloroquine works when it doesn't.


You know bleach works. It doesn't. And that's how I evolved, essentially end up, you know public enemy number one of the far right, which I did not desire to be put in that position but in order to maintain my own scientific and personal integrity and most importantly, fulfill my responsibility to the American public, I had to do that.


WALLACE: While Dr. Fauci and his team were instrumental in the quick development of a COVID vaccine, he tells me next about his proudest achievement, tackling another disease.


FAUCI: If I pass on tomorrow, I mean, that's one of the things that I think I could feel good about.


WALLACE: Tony Fauci has been the leading scientific voice during the coronavirus pandemic. But he spent most of his career battling the AIDS epidemic.


Now more than 40 years after that fight started, Fauci looks back at the progress that's been made.


WALLACE: As you look back over this extraordinary career, is that what you're proudest of?

FAUCI: Very much so. The one thing that's most recognizable that I feel good about when I walk away from this is that I had the opportunity and the privilege and the honor of having George W. Bush task me with being a major architect of the PEPFAR program, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, that has brought treatment, care and prevention to the developing world particularly Africa.

That program has saved between 20 million and 25 million lives. So to me, if I look back on my life, if I pass on tomorrow, I mean, that's one of the things that I think I could feel good about.

WALLACE: I think some people might say today that the AIDS crisis is over, that we know how to deal with it, that, as you say, it's not an automatic death sentence that it was. Do you consider the AIDS crisis to be over?

FAUCI: No. No, it's not. It's not. If you look at the number of infections we still have worldwide over a million a year. We still have 35,000 new infections in the United States. We still have lack of access to life-saving drugs and prevention to so many people throughout the world. You kind of get used to something that you've been dealing with for 41 years and even though we are doing incredibly better now than we were back then, it is still a challenge and we still -- we can end the epidemic.

We can end it in the United States and we can end it globally if we just keep doing the things we're doing, getting better drugs. Right now, if you remember, we had a conversation you and I a very long time ago where when we first had the drugs that we were giving to people, 28 pills given multiple times a day. Now you can take once pill once a day and the latest is, Chris, you can get an injection of a long- acting antiviral and get it every couple of months and I think when we get it fine-tuned, it could be maybe every six months.

And you keep the level of virus to below detectable. Those are the kind of things we're aiming at. So it isn't over and we can do much better.

WALLACE: Let's go back to 1958 at St. Regis High School, and 5'7", here you are, Tony Fauci was the point guard on your high school basketball team. Should we have known that? That you were going to have to run the show?


FAUCI: I've always felt comfortable in a leadership role and I think that, you know, leadership has a lot of different qualities that I've hopefully honed over the years. You know, leading by example, and I think that's one of the things that maybe being the captain of a New York City high school basketball team is that you've got to perform yourself but you've got to set an example for the team.

Being unselfish, that's what a point guard does, passing the ball off but also when the time comes having to score a critical point every once in a while.

WALLACE: A few years ago, you said this about why you got into infectious disease. I'm going to put it up on the screen. You said, I wanted something that could make you very sick and kill you unless I intervened and if I intervene, you're essentially cured. Is that what it's about for you?

FAUCI: Yes, I'm -- you have to play into what your personality profile is. I like to be able to have things that are really important and have impact when you look at the great plagues and the epidemics of measles and polio and smallpox. There is something very exciting about that because the implications of it are rather profound and if you as a physician and a scientist can do something about it, there is a great deal of excitement and gratification and also challenge. I mean, if you go to the early years of HIV, those were very dark years.

WALLACE: They were.

FAUCI: Because I was taking care of young, previously healthy mostly gay men who were all dying. That was very, very painful. Painful for the patients and their family but painful for the physicians who were taking care of them and then you get successes like polio and measles and now vaccination for COVID. It's a very exciting field, Chris.

WALLACE: Finally, when people look back over your extraordinary, and yes, controversial half century in public health, what do you hope that they remember about you? What do you hope that when they say Tony Fauci they think?

FAUCI: I want people to remember about me one thing is that I really gave it all I had. I did.


I was very, very committed to public health, to the public health of an individual patient and to the country as a whole and I gave it everything I had. As I say, I just let it all out and didn't walk away from any challenge. If you remember me for that, fine. The individual accomplishments other people are going to judge that but in general I want to be known as somebody who gave all of his effort.


WALLACE: Up next, legendary singer Dionne Warwick on her remarkable life and career, and she gives me a master class on her singing style.


WALLACE: You and I just did a duet.

WARWICK: We sure did. We'll put that out next week, how about that?


WALLACE: Welcome back to WHO'S TALKING. She sold more than 100 million records and won six Grammy Awards, and for the last 60 years, she's contributed some of the highlights to the sound track of our lives. Now she's the subject of a new CNN documentary.



WALLACE: As I understand it, you were not too keen on the idea of a documentary at the start. Why not?

WARWICK: You know, I felt people know everything they should know about me already. Enough. And as it turned out, I was talked into writing a book and that -- actually, it will be the genesis of the documentary.

WALLACE: So let's go back, all the way back, 60 years to 1962 you're in college. You go to New York to audition to be a backup singer for the legendary composer Burt Bacharach, and here is a clip from the documentary.



BURT BACHARACH, COMPOSER: These four ladies came in. They were pretty awesome. I mean, the way they sounded. You can tell who was the best singer. So I met Dionne, stood out, she sort of looked like could be a star.

WARWICK: Burt approached me and asked if I would be interested in doing my demonstration record, a song that he'd be writing with Hal David, a new song writing partner. And I said yes, I guess as long as it doesn't interfere with my education because my mother will kill you, and me too.

BACHARACH: Dionne came in to sing for Hal and myself, and we signed her right away.


WALLACE: And they signed you right away. Dionne, did you have a clue that what a big moment that was, signing with -- back then, with Burt Bacharach and Hal David?

WARWICK: Not one clue. I wasn't really interested in recording. My mother was very adamant about you will have your education and, like I said, or she would kill you and me. So we have to work out how we're going to work this around and my daddy decided that he would take the reins, make the arrangements for Septer Records, which is my first label. That got David Warwick became known after the first recording of "Don't Make Me Over" as a triangle marriage that worked.

I was privileged to sing some of the greatest songs ever written. But never had a clue that 60 years later I would be sitting here talking to you about that.

WALLACE: You record a song, which I got to say, is one of my all-time favorites of yours and of anybody's which ends up in the Grammy Hall of Fame.



WALLACE: What do you think when you look back at that girl?

WARWICK: She's sassy, that's for sure.


WALLACE: I was thinking that, too. You were drop dead gorgeous.

WARWICK: Thank you, darling.

WALLACE: You still are but I got to say, back in the day, wow.

WARWICK: Thank you. Thank you very much.

WALLACE: A couple of things from that. Bacharach songs are not easy to sing, are they?

WARWICK: No, they're not. He just marched and still does to his own drummer and if you're going to sing his music and appreciate what he does, you got to kind of get in step with him and march with him. It was almost as if he was saying, he's writing this ahead and get Dionne to sing it, see if she can do this. You know?

WALLACE: Yes, I mean, and put it to her face.

WARWICK: Exactly.

WALLACE: All right. Give me an example. I know I'm going to ask you to sing. Give me an example of a tempo change or something that shows how hard it was.

WARWICK: Oh. "Anyone Who Had a Heart" is one of them but there is a song called "Promises, Promises."


WARWICK: Changes tempo. Changes neither every measure, every.

WALLACE: Well, I'll start and then you go.


WALLACE: Promises, promises --

WARWICK: I'm all through with promises, promises now. I don't know how I got the nerve to walk out. See how the tempo changed?


WARWICK: That's what he does.

WALLACE: So you and I just did a duet.

WARWICK: We sure did. We'll put that out next week. How about that?

WALLACE: I'm going to put that on my resume. And the other I've heard about Bacharach was that he was a perfectionist and it was always come on, Dionne, one more take.

WARWICK: Yes, my very first recording "Don't Make Me Over" 42 complete, from left hand corner to the end takes. We, of course, had the second take we've done but I don't know what it is with him. He's never satisfied. The tempo -- can you slow it down. Let's speed it up. Let's...

You didn't write the song, Mister. You know, aren't you satisfied? Because I am. Everybody in the room is.

WALLACE: And if he said, one more take, was there any pushback or was it --

WARWICK: It got to the point at about the 15th take, yes, it was. It was like okay, enough, enough. Come out and sing it yourself.

WALLACE: You became a crossover star -- a crossover from R&B to pop, and a crossover from Black audiences to White audiences.

In the documentary you say that at some points there, you weren't sure where you fit in.

WARWICK: I never quite understood what it was or what crossover or bridge the gap meant. It was explained to me. Quincy Jones, in fact, told me what it was, being that they were two sets of music. There is Black music and there was White music, and I didn't fit into either.

I was kind of in the center part of that all. Both sides of the fence enjoyed listening to whatever I had to give them.

I am very proud of being able to satisfy everybody's ears, and I always say, music is music. That's all there is to it. It is music.

WALLACE: I mean, I am sure it was good for your career in the sense that you appealed to a bigger audience, but just personally, was it hard that you weren't firmly --

WARWICK: No. Not at all. I was just being me, and I like me, I don't want to be anybody else.

WALLACE: In 1968, you record another song for Bachrach and Hal David, and in the process you win your first Grammy.

[Clip from "Do You Know the Way to San Jose."]

WALLACE: So I heard a story.

WARWICK: It's all true.

WALLACE: When you heard that song, you hated it and you didn't want to record it.

WARWICK: No, I did not want to record that song. In fact, I accused Hal David as not writing that song, and he looked at me like I had three heads. He said, "Of course, I wrote that song." I said, "Hal, the songs you've written for me to sing, the words you've given to me to sing, and you're going to write a song with whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, no, I don't think so. Did you really write that song." He said, "Yes."

I said, well, okay, for you, I will record it.

And I just cried all the way to the bank.


WALLACE: When we come back, Dionne opens up about how she used music to raise millions to save lives, and her tense private faceoff with some powerful rappers.


WARWICK: 7:00 AM in the morning, not a minute before, not a minute after. Ring that doorbell.

WALLACE: So did it work out at all?

WARWICK: They all showed up.




WALLACE: Dionne Warwick is best known for her remarkable singing career, but she has also been a committed activist.

We continue our conversation focusing on how she has used her voice to break down racial barriers and bring attention to important causes.


WALLACE: There is another song I want to play for one reason because it's just so great.

(Clip from "I Say a Little Prayer.")

WALLACE: You say that song had special resonance because it came out right at the height of the Vietnam War.

WARWICK: Yes, it did.

I believe Hal wrote that song for that reason, letting -- those babies because that's what they were young, young, young, young men and women who were over there defending and keeping us alive here, letting their knowledge we love and miss them and cared about them and come on home. We're going to pray for you hard. I mean, the song says it all. WALLACE: Say a little prayer.

WARWICK: That's what we did.

WALLACE: In 1985, you had kind of a good backup group -- Elton John. Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder -- you record a song and you donate all the proceeds to AIDS research.


(Clip from "That's What Friends Are For.")

WALLACE: You know, literally this was billed as Dionne Warwick and Friends.

WARWICK: I know. I don't understand that. Okay --

WALLACE: You were the lead there.

WARWICK: And they are my friends.

WALLACE: I understand that, but usually they get billing.

WARWICK: But I mean -- yes. They did --

WALLACE: Anyway, why did you take that cause up?


WARWICK: You know, we were losing so many people within our industry, especially mine, the music industry has been decimated.

We have producers, songwriters, dancers, cameramen, light people, hairdressers, makeup people, I had to find out what was going on with all of these -- to find the reasons for death within our industry, and I started doing a little investigating, and I found out who to call, and that was Dr. Fauci at CDC.

WALLACE: Really?


WALLACE: Dr. Fauci.

WARWICK: I call Tony.

WALLACE: All the way back down.

WARWICK: And I said, "Hi, I'm Dionne Warwick and I need some information." And he said, "Okay," and we started talking about the situation.

WALLACE: Any idea how much money that song, "That's What Friends Are For," how much money that has raised over the years?

WARWICK: Oh, my God. I couldn't even begin. The very first check that they got, I believe was three or four million dollars.

WALLACE: Then there is your campaign against gangster rap.


WALLACE: And here you are testifying before Congress.

WARWICK: Exactly.


WARWICK: In short, I'm tired and I've had enough. When will responsibility be demanded to deny the glorification and promotion of violence, with guns, knives, the use of drugs, denigration and defamation of women. And now the explicit pornographic artwork accompany these recordings.


WALLACE: At one point, you invited the folks from Death Row Records, including Snoop Dogg over to your home to hash this out.

WARWICK: I sure did. 7:00 AM in the morning, not a minute before, not a minute after, ring that doorbell.

WALLACE: So did it work out at all?

WARWICK: They all showed up. And yes, it did work. I think what it was, was they needed to hear me because they said are, "Oh, you're dissing and dissing." I said, "I'm doing what?" "Dissing us."

"What does that mean, dissing?" "Disrespecting us, I will say that."

WALLACE: I can just see the folks at Death Row Records, but you're Dionne Warwick, so they probably listened.

WARWICK: No, not only that. Like I told them, I said, "You know you guys are all going to grow up. You're going to have families. You're going to have children. You're going to have girls. And one day, that little girl is going to look at you and say, 'Daddy, did you really say that? Is that really you?' What are you going to say?" I think I got through to them.

WALLACE: I can just see with that face of yours and those big eyes, that they'd kind of go "Oh, that's..."

WARWICK: Exactly. You know, just come. That's what we need right this minute. We need conversation. We do.

Nobody is talking to each other. It seems like nobody really wants to know how to solve these problems. Can't solve it without talking.

WALLACE: You also say in the documentary that in 2013, you filed for bankruptcy and you owed something like $10 million.

WARWICK: $6 million. WALLACE: $6 million in taxes. I stand corrected.

So here's the question. You're Dionne Warwick, you've had all these hits, how on earth do you end up in that situation?

WARWICK: I had a crocked bookkeeper. You know, my accountant put me in a trick bag. You know, it was a case of, I never really had -- it was stupid, I will say that. I think that was the biggest mistake I ever made -- trusting without keeping a finger on the pulse of things.

But you don't learn that. You don't learn that until way, way, way, way, way later.

WALLACE: So how are you today? Personally, professionally, financially, how are you?

WARWICK: I am wonderful. I really am. Yes, the IRS finally decided, well, maybe it wasn't her fault, you know. I have a payment program that I am practically finished with. I'm living very comfortably.

WALLACE: So at the end of this conversation and I know the answer, but I want to know if you know the answer.



WALLACE: Do you think that your life just maybe is worth the documentary?

WARWICK: No doubt.


WALLACE: Coming up, I sit down with a man who put skateboarding on the map. Tony Hawk reveals his biggest professional highlight, and it doesn't involve a single twist or turn.


WALLACE: If it weren't for my next guest, your kids might never have picked up a skateboard.

Tony Hawk brought the sport mainstream, a 30-year journey he tells me he never even set out to do.


TONY HAWK, PROFESSIONAL SKATEBOARDER: Well, it's a huge honor that people consider me in that light. I never set out to do anything like that, and I wanted to be an advocate for skateboarding because I thought it always was -- it helped me so much when I was younger trying to find my way in trying to understand who I was or where I fit in.

At some point, I realized maybe it is my duty to try to promote skateboarding on a bigger level and that's what I've been doing ever since.

WALLACE: Well, here is an example of you promoting skateboarding. Here you are, talk about iconic, playing yourself on "The Simpsons."

HAWK: Yes.

WALLACE: Take a look.


HAWK: You're going down Homer, then back up, then down and back up again. That's how the game is played.


WALLACE: First of all, was that a kick for you? That's your voice, right?

HAWK: Yes, yes. That is, honestly, that's one of the biggest honors of my career. It's one of my highlights.

I feel like "The Simpsons" is such a -- it's such a milestone of pop culture. And if you're invited to do your own voice, then it's a good thing. If they're doing your voice, it's usually not a good thing.

WALLACE: All right, you are most identified with a move called the 900, which was for a long time, the Holy Grail of skateboarding.

First of all, for us humans, what is a 900?

HAWK: It's basically a two-and-a-half spin in the air, so like a gymnast, it would be like a two-and-a-half flip, but when you're doing it from a ramp, two-and-a-half means that you go up forward, you spin around twice, two-and-a-half times. And then you come down forward, and a lot of that is sort of upside down and twisting and 900 refers to the degrees of rotation.

WALLACE: But it's not just rotation. You're also flipping, too.

HAWK: Yes, well, it depends on your style of it. But for the most part, it is. It is a rotation of like a flat spin in the air on more of the Y axis.

WALLACE: So in 1999, the ESPN X Games, you're going to try the 900.

HAWK: I did not plan to try it that night.

WALLACE: Really?

HAWK: Yes, because I had come so far with it, and never -- and never succeeded at it. So --

WALLACE: Even in private, even in practice, you would never succeed it.

HAWK: Never, no. WALLACE: So now you're going to be on the X Games on national --

international TV.

HAWK: Right. So...

WALLACE: So what happened?

HAWK: The event was called Best Trick and they give you 20 minutes to do what you consider your best trick. I had a version of a 720 that I'd only done once before, and that was my best trick at the time, and it was a one night only I'd done once for -- I didn't know if I would be able to do it in that 20 minute time span,.


HAWK: I made it very early on in that competition. And so I didn't really have anything else to do. And so I just started trying 900s more to please the crowd because some people were requesting it, but I really didn't think I could land it because I had given it all I had up to that point.

WALLACE: All right, so now let me set the scene. You try it 10 times in a row and 10 times in a row you wipe out and the crowd is getting more excited and they are howling and suddenly this --


WALLACE: And we're going to keep it rolling, but that's it. That is literally the first time you had ever yet landed a 900 in your life.

HAWK: Yes, that was the first one.

WALLACE: And what did you think?

HAWK: I just thought, "Finally." It was more just a relief. We're on live ESPN, and it was this huge deal and I was happy to have done it. But it didn't think it was going to resonate like it did.

WALLACE: And how did it resonate?

HAWK: The next day, I was stopped in the airport like, "Dude, 900." It was crazy. It was immediate.

WALLACE: And having done it, ADRIANA DIAZ: that suddenly make it easier for you to do?

HAWK: Yes. Yes. And it made it easier for people who were trying it.

WALLACE: You say that you were a nightmare as a kid. How bad a nightmare were you?

HAWK: I think I was just very energetic and I wore my parents out. They were older. When I was born. My dad was 45. My mom was 43. And I guess --

WALLACE: And you were kid number what in your family? HAWK: Four.


HAWK: But much later. My older brother is 13 years older than me, so I wasn't surprised. And I would have been deemed hyperactive at the time. It was the late 70s.

And so I was just always going, going, going and --

WALLACE: Was it true that you used to throw babysitters out of the house?

HAWK: I think that I was notorious for throwing stuff at them. I was just always really energetic. And I had -- I think I had great expectation for what I was capable of. So, I would play sports, baseball and basketball, and I would just get endlessly frustrated because I was so small.

And then when I found skateboarding, I found something to harness all of that energy and all that focus.

WALLACE: But I want to ask you about that because you say that things turned around. Your older brother, Steven bought you a skateboard when you were nine years old.

HAWK: Yes. Yes. He gave me his old one.


HAWK: Yes.

WALLACE: He didn't buy you one.

HAWK: Hand me down. Older brothers, hand me downs.

WALLACE: Okay. And what did that do for you?


HAWK: Well, firstly, it provided a mode of transportation to school, which I thought was great. That was pretty much the goal of it, and then I started to see magazines and pictures and television coverage of people flying out of swimming pools, and so, I wanted to try that. Well, I wanted to try some version of that.

And then I end up going to the skate park in San Diego, the one that was nearest to us. And when I got there and saw people flying, that's when I had my epiphany. It was like, "I'm going to do this. I'm quitting everything for this."

WALLACE: So we have a clip of you as part of something called The Bones Brigade, when you were about 15 years old. Let's take a look at that.


WALLACE: You were a skinny little thing. You were all knees and elbows, and --

HAWK: Yes. When I first started skating, I would wear elbow pads on my knees.

WALLACE: Because you were so skinny.

HAWK: Yes, because no knee pads fit me.

WALLACE: And so how did you get so good so quickly?

HAWK: That was it. I don't know if it was so quickly, but it was just that I was incessantly practicing. I was obsessed with it.

And so I would be at the skate park for hours and hours trying the same things over and over and finally figured them out. That park -- that skate park right there was Del Mar Skate Ranch. That was my home away from home.

WALLACE: I mean, you turned professional at age 14.

HAWK: Yes.

WALLACE: Before you graduated from high school, you bought your own house.

HAWK: Yes.

WALLACE: Why the rush?

HAWK: For the house or being professional?

WALLACE: Just the whole thing. I mean, it seemed like you were moving fast.

HAWK: Yes, I think it was more that at that time, skateboarding was very small when I turned pro and I had reached the top of the amateur ranks. So, if I had gone through the whole NSA series as an amateur again, having reached the top, it would be like, "What are you doing here? You should be in the pro category."

And a lot of my peers were going pro at the time. So -- but it's funny, because when you speak of it, it sounds very fantastical, you're great. You're turning professional, you're 14. All it meant was that I checked the box for pro in the entry form to the competition. And then I was competing for $100.00 first prize.

WALLACE: Now in 2022, it is March, and you decide you're going to go skateboarding again.

HAWK: Yes.

WALLACE: And -- HAWK: It was a typical day.

WALLACE: And let's take a look at what happened.

This is you on crutches, you had broken your femur, your thigh bone, the biggest bone in your body and look at this, and I'm not a surgeon. I don't even play one on TV. That is a displaced fracture.

HAWK: Yes.

WALLACE: I mean, the femur is like --

HAWK: That was a bad day. Yes. What can I say? I was I was getting a little too careless with my skills and I took a chance that I shouldn't have.

WALLACE: What was it you did that ended up --

HAWK: I was actually doing -- I was doing a 540, but my lead up into the 540, I didn't have enough speed to do it the way I usually do it. And I just said, I can figure it out. I can fix it. And then found myself coming down the wall. I kind of landed on the wall sooner than expected. So my body wasn't prepared to be riding down.

Next thing I know, I'm sliding across the bottom and I could feel my leg dangling behind me.

WALLACE: That's not a good feeling.

HAWK: Yes, that was a bad day, and it has been really hard ever since. I mean, that was March, months into my recovery. I'm able to skate a little bit. Not nearly the level that I was, but I thought that -- I thought it'd be a lot faster because I had -- I've always been able to overcome pretty severe injuries in record time, but I'm old.

WALLACE: I was about to say this.

HAWK: And this was a big break.

WALLACE: Tony, you're 54 years old. What is the matter with you?

HAWK: I found something I love and I'm able to do it into my old age and I want to do it at any level.

WALLACE: You're also giving back. You have something called the Skate Park Project. What's that?

HAWK: That is our foundation. It started off as the Tony Hawk Foundation 20 years ago. We changed the name of it because it's more than just my projects, and it is basically to develop skate parks, public skate parks in underserved areas.

And so I felt like the skate park was my -- that was my salvation when I was a kid and this is where I found my sense of identity, my sense of community, and I wanted to provide that same place for kids who choose to skate.


WALLACE: Tony also tells me his foundation has helped fund more than 900 skate parks across the US, mostly in underserved communities.

There's so much more of our conversation with Tony as well as our sit downs with Dionne Warwick and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

You can catch the full interviews anytime you want on HBO Max.

Thank you for watching, and please join us here on CNN every Sunday night to find out who's talking next.