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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  February 25, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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>> rose: welcome to the program. "house of cards" season 4 is back and so is kevin spacey as frank underwood. we talked to kevin about the series and much more. >> we could go back a long ways and say we have been fascinated by political figures, by royalty. i mean, you just think about shakespeare. obviously, frank underwood was born out of shakespeare. michael when he wrote the book based him on shakespeare. >> rose: frank does not hesitate. we conclude with maria konnikova. her new book is about "the confidence game." >> they love talking about themselves. one was practically lethal. didn't feel bad at all. said, yeah, they deserved it. they actually -- so this guy was
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an art forger and he said, you know what, if they think my art is as good as the real thing and, believe me, it is, then, you know what? they don't deserve the real thing. you start listening to them and you say, there is something to your logic. >> rose: spacey and konnikova, when we continue. funding for charlie rose is provided by the following: >> rose: additional funding provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: kevin spacey is here. he is a two-time oscar winning
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actor and star of the ground breaking netflix series "house of cards" that premiers on march 4. here's a look. >> you have no idea what it means to have nothing. you don't value what we have achieved. i have had to fight for everything my entire life! ♪ >> i saw a future. our future. >> we had a future until you started destroying it.
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>> rose: it was announced in january that spacey will become the new chairman of relativity studios. this week he launched an online acting course at master next month cnn will premiere a new mini series race for the white house, executive, provided and narrated by guess who, kevin spacey. i am pleased to have him back at this table. with such a busy schedule, we're lucky to have him. what is it about frank underwood? why do you like him and we find him fascinating? is it evil incarnate? >> it seems to me we could go back a long ways and say we have been fascinated by political figures, by royalty. you just think about shakespeare, and obviously frank underwood was born out of shakespeare. he was based -- when the book was written, he was based on richard iii and to some degree diegoer. not macbeth, because macbeth
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hesitated. >> rose: frank does not hesitate. >> if you ignore the murdering and the conniving, she a politician that gets things done, and i think there is something to that in itself as to why people have really been attracted to the show, not just if the united states but around the world. >> rose: do you think that the image of that is part of reason that donald trump seems attractive to so many people -- he appears to be willing to say anything, do anything and get things done if you buy into his own sense of who he is? >> well, there's no doubt that he seems to have burrowed into an angry public. >> rose: but looking for someone -- >> i guess just looking for someone who does it differently. so i suppose there is an interesting similar later there. apparently, i'm told this is true, that there are a great number of people in china who believe that i actually am the president of the united states. >> rose: i'm told they love
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"house of cards" in china. >> yes, they do. >> rose: and that the leadership there, not a particular person but members of the elite most of all. >> yeah. >> rose: and they of it as this is america. >> yes, and there is also another interesting side bar to that, which is that, apparently, the elites and all that, people in government, you're right, but for the common man, frank underwood is viewed as a man fighting against corruption, and he's become something of an heroic figure as a result of that. >> rose: let's talk more about him and what's going to happen this time. she's out of the house. we get that from the promo. they're split. we meet them -- >> as we left them in season 3, having a little bit of an argument. >> rose: yes. and, look, the thing that we have been loving exploring and continued to do so this now fourth season and we've got some terrific actors that have joined the cast, alan burston, cicely
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tyson. >> rose: campbell. yeah. and we're going to continue to explore what happens when two people are in the middle of a campaign and they have this marital strife and how do they deal with it and, you know, will they ultimately decide they are better off together? are they stronger or are they better off apart? >> rose: is that one of the questions being asked by season 4 of "house of cards," are they better off together or apart? >> sure. >> rose: who's the toughest, her or him? >> i think she is formidable and he would be nothing without her. >> rose: really? what does she give him? >> everything. also, i think she gives him balance in lots of ways that he couldn't find on his own. you know, if you want to call it the classic story behind -- well, i don't know if i want to call him a great man because there are people who think he's
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more moccovillian than that, but this remarkable woman and i think robin's extraordinary portrayal will continue to grow and fascinate and continue to confound people as it goes forward. >> rose: do you want us to think hillary and bill. >> a lot of people say that must be because he's southern, but actually he sounds nothing like clinton. >> rose: how does clinton sound? (speaking like bill clinton... ) >> you know how he sounds, has he ever been here? (laughter) no, the original francis in the british series was based on shakespearean characters. >> rose: richard iii. and bill willimon decided to make his hometown in
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south carolina because that's where beau's father is from and in the first couple of months as we were preparing and he was writing those first two scripts, he called his dad one night and asked his father to read a direct address over the phone to him and then beau called me after that and said i think it's going to with south carolina where he's going to be from. >> rose: but of all the shakespearean characters you've played, which one has influenced you the more? which one did you most find resonance? >> well, the the truth is i haven't played that many. >> rose: is that right? yeah. other than high school and scenes, the only shakespeare plays i've done are richard ii and iii. >> rose: i thought you had done many more. >> no, i haven't. >> rose: how could you be the actor you are and never be tempt bid him? >> fake it till you bake it, baby. (laughter) i mean, it's not that i haven't been tempted, i suppose -- >> rose: fake it till you bake it? >> or make it.
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one of the sayings. >> rose: yes. but i'm serious, here's a guy who left hollywood at the top of his game and went to run the old bick theater, then found out he could run the old bick theater and schedule productions and appear in some of them. >> here's the honest truth, you can't run a theater and take all the good parts. you have to give good parts to other actors. so i took a role or two a year, but i didn't just want to do the classics, i wanted to do more diverse things because i was trying to build an audience. >> rose: do you like checov better than shakespeare? >> i'm not an actor who covets parts. i'm more excited when a director i want to work with says i want you to play this part. >> rose: you care about teaching actors and give them a chance and furthering their careers. >> it happened to me. i'm a product of a school system
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where the arts were very well funded, where the experiences that i got as a young kid at nine, ten, eleven, 12, all the way to 18 years old was engaging and incredible and a chance to see professional actors do their works and do workshops with them and seminars and festivals, and, so, i know what it means, particularly for that shy kid in the corner, because when i'm doing workshops, which is why i was pleased that we were able to film master class because i have been doing these kind of workshops for 20 years but i've never allowed one to be filmed, and tucker carlsen, one of the directors in "house of cards," came and direct it. we had 20 actors, we shot at the arena, and it's really an extraordinary experience to allow an actor to do a monologue, they can do whatever they want. >> rose: how does the master class work? >> essentially, i spent over two days. we shot about eight hours with these 20 actors. we did both individual work with
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their monologues, which i critique and ten give them direction and they try to go in a new way or i try push them in a new way. we then worked with masks, which were these incredible masks you put on your face and they change the way that you see yourself. in fact, you hopefully stop seeing yourself and work in front of a mirror. it loosens actors up. they stop thinking about their own bodies. and that's a technique to rye to get closer to the material, allow yourself to do things that you wouldn't normally feel comfortable doing if you were just looking at yourself in the mirror. we did, as i say, about eight hours of work with these actors, then i sat and did a one-on-one interview, and cut it up into about 25 chapters and they run 10, 15, 20 minutes long and people can buy the whole master class. >> rose: just go online? yeah, go online.
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serena williams did one about tennis, annie leibowitz, usher have done one. the idea is to get a library of people doing a master class about how they do what they do and trying to help others learn how to do it. >> rose: this is you giving notes to a young actor from master class. >> what did it feel like? good lord... (laughter) i mean, you giving me the note to go, 90%, because i always -- i never want to do too much. you know, i never want to go there, but giving me permission to do that just -- it just -- it came, you know. it hurt. it hurt. >> yeah. yeah, and, you know, look, we've got to be willing to do that, you know. we've got to be willing to let it hurt. you know, all this notion that acting is, you know, it's -- yeah, it's pretend and, yes, we enjoy it and, yes, we can have a good time with it, but, you
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know, if you want to land, you want to make an impact, you want them to remember you, then you have to let it hurt sometimes. you've got to get there because that's all an audience ever wants is for you to open up your chest and show them you have a heart. that's all we want. that's all we ever want. and whether that heart is in comedy or whether that heart is in something quite powerful, whether that heart is in poetry, whether that heart is in shakespeare, a heart, a human being, not an affecttation, wonderful work. who's next? >> rose: see, i think that's great. >> yeah. >> rose: i don't think you could do that without a passion about your own profession. >> yeah, and also, look, these
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kids were fantastic. they prepared. they were open, they were willing to shift things and change things, and the most funny aspect of it to me was there i found myself over these two days giving direction to someone, saying something, and as it came out of my mouth, whatever i was saying -- there were at least 12 times this happened in the course of these two days, where i thought to myself, wow, that is a note that i really need to hear myself. that is something that i have not been doing. that is something that i have forsaken for a while. boy, that's an important note. and i just say that to illustrate that. >> rose: i do, too. we are always in the process of learning and growing. i'll just tell you a story about a workshop i did in the middle east. i was encouraged to come to dohar and do a workshop in dohar. as i got closer and closer to going to the workshop, and i've done a whole number of these in the middle east, it's a
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fascinating experience, as i got closer and closer to doing it, the organizers are saying, the registrations are going very well but just don't expect any women. i go, why? well, it's really not expected of women and it's not what they -- you know, medicine and lawyer, these are the professions women are really expected to go into so just don't expect women. so i arrive in dohar and walk into the room and out of 28, there is 13 women. so i did that workshop and it was very engaging and very interesting. i was then asked would i do a workshop in abu dhabi and i said under one condition, the entire workshop has to be women. so we had two groups in abu dhabi. people prepared shakespeare, they were doing it in arabic and english. it was this fascinating experience. i spotted this one young girl in the corner who i could tell, you know, i recognized the shy one
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because that was me when i was a kid, and she was sort of looking down and occasionally wanted to look up. erfriend had gotten up next to her and performed. we took a break, came back and i said, who wants to get up now, how about you? she went -- and i said, why not? she said, i don't know any shakespeare. i said, wel well, it could be anything. she went, well, i was told it had to be shakespeare. i said, no. do you know something else? do you know anything? she said, well, i might know something from fried green tomatoes. and i thought. >> i'm in abu dhabi of all places and this young girl knows something from fried green tomatoes. so i said, of course. she gets up and performs this piece for us. and it was pe she was quite sels
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but i was listening to the content and it was very powerful. and i sat her down and i said, can you tell all of us what is the central problem this woman is going through? what is she experiencing? she began to describe a woman in an abusive relationship with a man and she was afraid he was going to begin to beat their child. i said, okay, i want you to do it again. don't worry about us and don't worry about performing it. just sit where you are, do it very simply. connect to the emotions as best you can and share with us your feelings, share your feelings. so we all sat back and she started it again. then about midway through, you can see when this thing happens to people, when the nickel drops, when something connects them to the material. and she had a line of dialogue she had only said once the first time she did it, but this time she hit her fist and said, and when he beat he, i thought of
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god, and when he beat me, i thought of god, and tears flew out of her eyes. i felt the whole room go like this... and she was suddenly connected, remarkable, and in a kind of effortless way, and she finished. and i stayed where i was and i said, now, that was beautiful work. we could all tell you why that was different for us. can you tell us why it was different for you? and she said something that just illume -- illuminated the whole problem. she said, when you asked me to share my feelings, this is not something i'm ever asked. and i have been trying, and we did a big event in charza last
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year where we brought together 25 young middle eastern actors to do a play, and i'm trying to encourage the leaders there that what's frustrating about seeing them spend all this money eaters and these showcases and these fabulous, beautiful buildings to their arts is that, when all they do is cirque du soleil, they don't do workshops teaching the young people who want to be actors and tell stories about their own culture. so we've created something called "homegrown" which is a project we did in sharza last year and i want to continue to do more of that because i got a letter about six months after that workshop and that young girl is now trying to move to london to study to be an actress. >> rose: wow. and that's one of the reasons, no matter what happens to me in my life and all the sort of outward success that happens, i don't want ever to be too far away from that feeling
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because i'm one of those kids and i know, you know, what it meant to me when i was 13 years old and jack lemmon put his hand on my shoulder and said, you know, you're a born actor, you should go to new york and do this. >> rose: how influential was he? >> huge. >> rose: is that the friendship? >> well, later on having met him and being able to work with him professionally a number of ways. >> rose: but he put his hand on your shoulder and said -- >> you're a natural actor, you should go to new york and study, you were born to do this. i was 13 years old and i did go to new york and study and it has become my career. and whenever i find myself in these extraordinary circumstances where i see somebody who so clearly has talent and so clearly, if they're nurtured, if they're encouraged, if they're guided in some way, they will have a remarkable career ahead of them. >> rose: does this ever occur
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to you, this thought, you do so many things, you do the master class and the classes you do in abu dhabi and everywhere else, you ran the old bick, you're getting ready to run a studio, you have so many interests, does that in any way limit the possibility of kevin's growth as a great actor? >> it's a great question. i can only tell you that i believe, i think that when i left america in 2003 to go run the old vick, part of what was driving me to do it was that i wanted to be a better actor. you know, as much as one tries to keep sort of all the craziness, you know, and get pulled in all directions when success happens, and one of the reasons i left was because i didn't want to end up doing a lot of movies i probably shouldn't do for money and
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prestige and stay on these lists and be that guy and all that stuff you see happen when people reach a certain level, but i'm absolutely convinced that -- i did a play or two plays every year for the last 12 years, and working with trevor nun or working with howard davies or matthew and doing the parts i took on and doing runs that were 12 weeks, 14 weeks, 16 weeks, 8 weeks, 7 weeks, night after night after night in performance with richard iii and sam mendes around the world for ten months, i know -- >> rose: you were stretching. well, and i'm absolutely convinced that if i had not done all of that work, i would never have been ready to play frank underwood. there is no way that, 12 years ago, i would have known what to do. >> rose: what did that give
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you, do you know? other than simply a sense of your own power... >> no, it's more like this -- >> rose: i mean power in terms of understanding your talents. >> no, well, i'll explain it to you this way -- if you're a sports -- if you're an athlete -- you know, in workshops, i ask this question often and it's amazing the answer, i say, how many times in the last two months have you d sometimes the answer will be, well, i had three auditions. and i said, that's not the question i asked. how many in the last two months have you acted? sometimes they will go, i had three auditions. i go, let's break that down a second. you're saying to me this craft that you have dedicated your life to, that you've sat her and told me has meant more to you than anything you've ever been a part of since you were in junior high school, that this craft you only practice when you have an audition? how many times do you think andy
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murray plays tennis? when he only has a championship to play? no, he practices every sing day -- single day, that is what doing plays is. it's not saying i did that performance last night. it's getting up every night and you're working on your game and your partners are changing and growing and i absolutely believe the act of being watched changes the game, and that's true for sports stars as it is -- you know, sports stars will talk about game day versus practice, and that's very different. that's very true with actors. rehearsal is nothing like the first or third preview. >> rose: yeah, but i would argue, too, and i'm not sure you're saying anything that's different than this, it is that -- what practice is about is giving you the capacity to be on that field and act primarily by instinct so that what you do
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is practice, practice, practice, so that you can meet as a tennis player does for practice any occurrence that happens in that game. >> that's right. >> rose: the practice gives you a chance to let all of the things that you have poured into yourself in terms of skills and out -- >> and sometimes as we see with sports, we don't know the depth that somebody has until they're challenged in a game and, suddenly, they dig deeper than we with -- >> rose: to a place they didn't know was there. >> and that happens with actors on stage. >> rose: and it happens in the military, too. i mean, the military and the people who act so courageously, they will say, i trained to do that. tats what i do. i learned how to do that. ben hogan, one of the greatest golfers ever, somebody went out and watched him. he was trying a crazy shot behind a tree. he was going one after the other after the other, and he was a
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very mechanical guy, and somebody walked up and said, ben, why are you doing this? you spent two hours hitting the shot mind the tree, how often are you going to do that? he said, one day i will have to do that and i will be ready. so true. >> yes. the thing about doing plays is you get to try it and attack it in a different way. you start to go, oh, wow, now i think i understand thousand to attack that scene because of what i learned last night in this other scene. so there is this constantly shifting thing, whereas in movies and television, you know, look, no matter how good you might be, you will never be any better. it's frozen, never changes. >> rose: that's a genius of stage or the joy of stage. >> yeah. >> rose: talking about other things you're doing here. the race for the white house, on cnn. you're looking at presidential
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campaigns. lincoln-douglas. kennedy-nixon, dukakis-bush. >> i was jealous of tom hanks and that seventy series he did. i thought, let's get in the came, a six-part series, let's do it. i narrated and produced it. >> rose: why do you do this? i'm thrilled you're doing it. i'm a political junky. that's the reason i watch underwood and this and the reason i participate, but why you? was it because you loved politics? was it because you were jealous of what hanks had done? >> yeah, i love politics. i think it's fascinating in the middle of a presidential election to look back at other elections, to look at what did candidates do? what'd -- what did they say? what impressions were left? were there defining moments where something happened in the middle of the campaign that
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sealed someone's fate and it seems so arbitrarily unimportant and yet -- >> rose: one of the things that happened in dukakis is a commercial by bush, and the other thing was the tank. >> and howard dean. >> rose: and people thought that moment might define marco rubio's campaign, the moment in which he kept saying the same thing. >> yeah. >> rose: how could he do that? he rebounded from that and that image is no longer there and he's finishing in second place. >> i understood that anyone who's done a junket is you sit there all day and say the same thing. i understand. you try to change the up when you're doing a press job so you don't bore yourself. i can only imagine. >> rose: back to net flex, beau williams is leaving, right? >> yeah, he's tired. i mean, i gotta tell ya, my
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admiration, my praise for his craft, his dedication to -- you know, he's a playwright. >> rose: i know. he's been such an incredible person to work with, an amazing collaborator. i mean, we've had such a great time arguing and discussing and tearing things apart and finding solutions and never in any way, shape or form other than being motivated by wanting to make the show the best show as possible, and i adore him and i'm going to miss him and it is my intention to make sure that we honor the show that he created. rose: you've already signed for a fifth season. >> i am -- it is in discussion, yes. >> rose: is that it? or they've announced there will be a fifth season? they can't announce unless they've signed you, can they? >> have they announced another
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season for you here? >> rose: no. (laughter) what was it jack lemmon said to you once about elevators, he said you've always got to send the elevator back down. >> that was his philosophy. >> rose: because it's about what we're talking about. >> it's about workshops, it's about all the things that jack passed down to me is he believed, and he didn't just say it about actors, he said, if you've been successful in the business you've wanted to be me terrific success, then it's your obligation to spend a good portion of your time sending the elevator back down and to pull yourself together, people are talking. >> rose: it's so good. you can shift from one to the other. you could go to carson, you could go to clinton, you could go to jack. >> i love doing them. i have to start working on new impressions. i have been doing them too often and now i have to start working on new ones. >> rose: we anticipate talking --
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>> i i'm going to work on charlie rose, involving a lot of hands, cups, computers. (laughter) >> rose: i want to take a look at this. this is a scene from "claire," number three, boys and girls, in which claire is offering frank an interesting proposition. here it is. >> and do you remember when my mother almost left daddy because he funded your campaign? that's how much she hated you. but i didn't care because i saw something. i saw a future, our future. >> we had a future until you started destroying it. >> oh, you wouldn't have listened otherwise. >> well, all right, claire... i'm listening now. what is it you so desperately needed to say? >> we've never lost a race in 30 years. we started here, and we've always won, you and i together. you don't have a viable runningmate. we both know it can't be donald blithe. >> well, of course not, but i
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have to win the god damn nomination before i start running. >> even if i hadn't done what i did, your race is in real trouble. you need me, francis. >> rose: what does francis need? >> oh, so, so much. (laughter) so much. right there he needs a whiskey is what he needs right there. >> rose: he needs her to do what? >> and by the way, she directed this. >> rose: oh, she did? she's in full flight, isn't she? >> she's fantastic. i love working with her as a director. you've known her a long time. i've known her a very, very long time, and the trust and the real true, genuine enthusiasm and joy we have coming to work every day, we just make each other laugh all day long. people would be shocked because the show is so serious that we literally giggle all day long. it's very hard for us to get a serious take at all. >> rose: you know what i mean by this question, you simply love performing, you love
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audiences, you love applause, you love doing it right. >> yeah, yeah. i mean, look, it's all i've ever known. i made my mother laugh when i did impressions, and it's not much has changed in terms of what motivates me since. i love -- it's always so funny to me and my mother used to laugh about the fact that, you know, people always think of you so dark and, yet, i love making people laugh more than anything. >> rose: i'm going to the race for the white house one clip here. this is a clip discussing kennedy's secret illness, for kennedy versus nixon. here it is. >> kennedy had a major foe trying to bring him down at every opportunity. his name was linden b. johnson, the senate majority leader from texas. >> johnson wants the nomination for himself, and he's prepared to play dirty.
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>> lyndon johnson's allies in france at the convention began to talk about kennedy's health problems. >> kennedy had serious health problems -- addison's disease. he had a hormonal deficiency that could have killed him. in fact, his father put medicine in safe deposit vaults all over the united states so that kennedy would never run short. >> so what johnson does is makes it a campaign issue. the kennedy forms denied it vor sigh rousely and had doctors come out and say he was above average in health and energy and vitality and he never had so-called addison's disease and they lied through their teeth. >> kennedy's illness is never mentioned again. it's a victory for j.f.k.'s team, if not for truth. >> had the american public known just how sick jack kennedy was,
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he probably could not have been a presidential candidate. >> rose: it's interesting. that's history. >> it also sort of says there was a period of time where people knew things -- >> rose: and you could hide things. >> yeah, you could hide things. >> rose: didn't know about the affairs, any of that stuff. you are playing in a movie called elvis nixon? >> elvis nixon. >> rose: the story of elvis going to the white house to see nixon and he wanted a sheriff's badge? >> he wanted more than that. he was deeply concerned about america and wanted to be made a federal agent undercover. >> rose: meaning nobody would recognize him? >> yeah, he could infiltrate the black panthers and any communist organizations. >> rose: not serious. absolutely serious. >> rose: what about the the drug czar. >> well, he was concerned about the vietnam protests, he was concerned people were not respecting law enforcement or the presidency, so he flew to washington, wrote a six-page letter to richard nixon and
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wanted to be made an undercover federal agent at large. nixon didn't want to meet him. haroldenman didn't want nixon to meet him. >> rose: who convinced him? nixon's daughter. she called her father and said she could not believe he was not going to meet elvis pressley who was in town just to meet him so nixon agreed reluctantly and our tag line, i think, illustrates the kind of tone of movie we made. it says december 20, 1970, two of america's greatest recording artists met for the first time. (laughter) >> rose: this is a comedy. it is. we play it quite seriously but it is just crazy. >> rose: recording artists (laughter) >> and it was fascinating playing nixon unencumbered with water gate. this is years before he was taping in the white house and before water gate and he's a
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fascinating character to get your head around. >> rose: how did you do that? i listened to hours and hours of the tapes and particularly the phone conversations just to try towns his grumpiness. you know, he was old, you know, everything was -- and he used such bad language in the oval office. i think that may have shot americans more than the 18-minute gap was his use of language. trying to get a sense of his physical, because you couldn't do an imitation of him and have it sustained for more then a sketch. and michael shannon who's a fantastic chicago actor, about to do long-day's journey here on broadway, is playing elvis presley and he was terrific. >> rose: did you look at any performances of hopkins and the other performances? >> i looked at my own performance when i screen tested for frost nixon. >> rose: did you really? yeah, because ron howard feed to see if the actors could really do it. so i went back and found a film i completely thought was gone,
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and it was really interesting for me to watch it because i did it too much, i talked too slowly, there were a number of things i actually learned from watching that screen test that i had done, so i had had another whack at it, but this time around, i'm pleased that it feels like both michael and i found a way to embrace the essence of these two characters, who at the end of the day, you would think wouldn't necessarily have anything in common but really liked and respected each other by the end of this meeting. >> frank got the role didn't he. that's right which he'd done on stage. >> rose: how could you get turn down for a big role like that and how often do you addition for a big role like that, the screen test, and it doesn't bother you because the direct wants to see anything. >> the director wants to see you, not sure you can do it, and if you like the part, i feel actors should be willing to do anything. >> rose: you don't feel rejected at all?
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>> no, you live with rejection. there are also parts i have gotten other actors turned down, and i'm enormously grateful that they turned them down because they wouldn't ever have come to me. >> rose: yeah, but you would never play a talking cat. >> oh, oh, oh... mmeow, meow, he's going to bring up meow, meow. it's a kids' movie and it's called "nine lives." >> rose: you are the voice of a cat. >> i am a man who's turned into a cat. so fletcher comes to life. >> rose: what kind of cat are you? >> i'm not a cat person, i'm a dog person, and as much as i tried to convince them to make me into an adorable dog, it was a cat film, but one hopes this will be a family film and kids
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will enjoy it. >> rose: we have been talking about a range of things not studio head. what's that about? why are you doing that? do you have a secret desire to be a mogul? >> well, you know, i really am hoping for a big yacht. >> rose: (laughter) you've earned it, for god's sakes. >> i can't talk about it. a lot of stuff going on, the lawyers are doi old vick, to find filmmakers who have stories that are character-driven dramas that are interesting who have great characters that are important particularly in a time when the studios have probably for all intents and purposes abandoned those kinds of films
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within a certain budget. to there's always been an appeal and an attraction to me about trying to help people make their dreams come true. >> rose: well said. it's great to have you here. >> thank you so much. >> rose: it really is. get some rest. >> rose: thank you, sir. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: maria konnikova is here, she is a contributor to new where she writes about psychology and culture. adam grant of pennsylvania called her one to have the gifted social science writers of our time. her new back is called "the confidence game," why we fall for it every time. it explores the minds and methods of con artists and the sign of gullibility. pleased to have you. >> thank you. >> rose: we should tell them. we should. >> rose: this brilliant young woman worked at this television program as a producer for me and made the program better.
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having said that, nothing she achieved surprises me. the first book was called "mastermind: how to think about sherlockholm ms" and was a best seller. what was the point of that book? >> using sherlock holmes as a model for how the mind works and how to improve it so we can optimize -- >> rose: the way we look at things. >> exactly, being in the present moment, seeing how many steps leading up to 221b baker street, 17, right? so that you actually learn to look at the world fully, rather than partially. >> rose: you went to columbia and got a ph.d. in psychology? >> yes. >> rose: why did you do that? because i'm fascinated about thousand mind works and why we do what we do, the motivations behind it. i think a lot of the motivations that make you so good at what you do, why do people -- what are their motivations? what thanks them tick and what
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is inside the human mind and one to have the things that made he realize how much i wanted to go deeper is the science and brain series. >> rose: which you worked on and set up. >> yes. >> rose: the interesting thing about that, too, did you always want to be a writer and you just wanted to learn something about psychology and that was the easiest way to do it? >> that's exactly right. i always wanted to be a writer and i think writing and psychology have so much in common because to write well you have to understand human motivation and people, that's the only way to craft characters and narratives that make sense, and to me that was a natural fit, a natural combination. >> rose: sherlock holmes is one thing. confidence, men and women, is something else. what was it about the confidence game that attracted you? >> you know, i am just blown awy by the fact that we -- all of us, no matter how smart or skeptical we are, how disel
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gent, scientists, physicists, journalists, how incredibly vulnerable we are in the right circumstance to being fooled, even though we think we aren't. and i wanted to explore that. you know, why do incredibly smart people become victims of confidence artists? how do they do it and what is it about? >> rose: why do incredibly smart people become victims of confidence games? >> well, i think it's two things. the first is just the nature of humanity. we are a hopeful people. we are optimistic. we want to know that tomorrow is going to be better than today. we want to believe there is meaning and why do people turn to religion? we don't like to be in a world that doesn't make any sense and that's what con artists feed on. they give us stories and give us hope and tell us the story of the version of the world that we want to see. >> rose: how do they come to know all of that? >> they are incredibly good psychologists, intuitive psychologists, so they look at you and they can read all of the signs you're giving off. they do their homework. they can figure out what
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motivates you. there is an entire confidence game called the put-up and all of that entails basically learning about the person. so what are your weak points? what are your motivations? what are your hopes, dreams, what makes you tick? and they're so good at doing that that they can then push your buttons. >> rose: it's not just confidence people that do that. >> no. >> rose: i don't want to say confidence men and women at every turn, it's not only people who are able to engage in that. a lot of people do that who are not out in the pursuit of power. lyndon johnson, they said, was a master at understanding what made people tick and understanding what your strengths were but also your weaknesses and understanding how to play to both. >> yes, yes, and it's a thin line. you know what? there's no black and white divide. a lot of the same skills that make a good con artist make a good politician, good leader, businessman, make a good lawyer, make a good writer. >> rose: to understand what motivates other people is incredible. think how good it would be if you were a negotiator and you
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understood everything about where your opponent was coming from. >> absolutely. absolutely. victor lustig is one of the most famous con artists in the 20t 20th century. he sold the eiffel tower twice and conned al capone. >> rose: how did he con al capone? a lot of good stories in this book, by the way. >> he comes up to al capone and said, i know exactly who you are. he had a reputation at this point, called count lustig. he said, i have a business proposition for you. he said, if you give me $20,000, i am going to double it for you within the next two months. >> rose: lustig said that to capone? >> yes. so he gave him that proposition and capone said, all right, fine. do it. here's the money. because no one messes with al capone. if you mess with al capone, you're not going to be alive for very long. so what happens is lustig goes and puts that money in a safety
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deposit box and goes back to new york which is where he's from and goes about his business. two months later comes back with the cash at hand and says, you know what? i'm sorry. i failed. i thought i had a really good deal and i needed the cash myself but i wasn't able to do it and here's your money back. capone said, oh, my god, i was expecting nothing or double my cash because of your shady dealings but, by god, you're honest and i'm going to reward you for your honesty $5,000 and that's what lustig wanted all along. he wrote the ten commandments of con artists. >> rose: what are they? a con artist is a good listener. i think that that really explains it. someone who truly listens when people talk because -- >> rose: because that's how they read you. >> exactly. most people don't listen. most people ask questions and don't listen to the answer
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because they're too busy being in their own mind. >> rose: their viewed as the aristocrats of crime. >> yes, that's a term coined by david moyer, a brilliant writer in 1940 of "the big con." con artists, they're artists and aristocrats because what they do is soft craft. they don't break into your house and steal smrks they convince you to give them your trust, your confidence. that's the origin. >> rose: when we see movies like oceans 11 and all that, these are people who have con artist qualities. >> yes. >> rose: but do we call that a con game if, in fact, it's a caper? >> it is a caper but i think oceans 11 is about con artists as well because they deceive and use soft skills when they're committing the crime and taking people down, at that point it stops being a con. but when you're convincing people to give you their money and trust you, it's a con. so think of the sting. that's based on the wire which
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was the gondorf brothers game. that was a beautiful con. they got so much money from it and people didn't believe it was a con. when they were caught, the people said, no, these guys are totally legit. that's how good they are at convincing people. >> rose: people are most vulnerable when they're lonely and feel despondent. >> yes, emotional vulnerability is key. they troll the obituaries so they can approach relatives and use that as an entry. they can look at divorces, who's lost their jobs. social media by the way made this so easy. we post this stuff on twitter and facebook. you know, i'm feeling really down going through this and conn artists can use that because those are the moments when we really want hope and something to believe? >> rose: that's somebody who's lory, despondent, who wants to latch on to anything. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: on the other hand,
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vanity is often a signal of someone who will accept a con game. >> flattery gets you everywhere. well, one of the bibles of the con artists is dale carnegie's how to win friends and influence people. they love that book. what are the techniques. >> rose: it's also for warren buffet. one of the books that most influenced him as a young man. >> it's a thin line because those things can be used for good and ill. they're all about getting people to like you, trust you and to realize how you guys can bond and that can be a really wonderful skill for someone like warren buffett. you can exploit fit you're a con artist. >> rose: what about bernie madoff? >> i think bernie madoff was using some of the toossments not everyone could invest with him. he made you big for it. they don't take things from you, you give it to him.
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>> rose: he made you think he had such a high return that you would beg. >> he would say, sorry, all filled up so you would have to beg and beg and he would say, fine, i'll take a little of your money. and the people getting the returns didn't see them as being too good to be true and that they picked the right person to invest with. >> rose: cons are underreported. >> yes, people don't want to admit of being victims. there's a huge part of reputation. you don't want someone to think of you as a sap, a sucker. those words are so negative. you don't want to be a sucker. >> rose: when you went to these con men and women -- and women? >> yes, and women. and i tried to write about women on purpose because i feel like a lot of the most famous ones are men. i think women are better at it. >> rose: why? because they're not caught as often. (laughter) >> rose: when you began to get to know them -- i mean, and you
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came to them, say i'm writing about the con game, were they thrilled and happy? i have been waiting for you, let me tell you how to do it. >> absolutely. they're so narcissistic. they love talking about themselves. one was practically lethal. didn't feel guilty at all. said they deserve it. this guy was an art forger. they said if they think my art sf as good as the real thing and believe me, it is as good as the real thing, then you know what? they don't deserve the real thing. you start listening to them and you say, there's something to your logic. >> rose: have you ever been conned? >> i don't know because the best cons, you don't know they happened. you think that you were just unlucky. so i'm sure i've given money to people and they've misused it or haven't used it. >> rose: or were incompetent, one or the other. >> exactly. but i would like to believe i was being generous and nice and
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they wanted it for the exact reason they asked me for it. so it's almost better to self-deceive. i don't want to know, almost. i think that's true of a lot of people. it's better to believe that it was bad luck then i fell for. >> rose: so what's the reaction to the book, the people who read and understand the story you're talking about. >> a lot of victims have come forward. >> rose: they were embarrassed to tell their friends. >> yes, i've had a number of people say, i haven't told this to anyone but this is what happened to me. i'm so glad that's happening because i want my book to give permission to people to come forward. it doesn't make you stupid, it doesn't make you greedy or dishonest, it makes you human, being a victim. there is nothing negative about it. but in society, in the media, we always think of victims as bad, you can't fool an honest man. that's so wrong. you can. in fact, the more honest you
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are, the easier you are to fool. >> rose: i can't wait to know what your next book is. can you tell me us that or have you decided but don't want to tell us? >> well, i have a few things that i'm thinking. >> rose: in the same genre? yes, the same general genre, but i don't have the exact narrative yet. i wish i did. >> rose: jonathan mahler in the "new york times" said "the confidence game belongs to the genre popular raised by malcolm gladwell, a brilliant speaker and author, social psychology designed for mass communication. is that what it is. >> that is a compliment. i want people to understand this. i want to make it so it seems intuitive, so it seems like you thought of it yourself. i want it to be easy towns because this is important. i want people to understand how they think and what makes them vulnerable and also i think you can use the tools of the con artist for good. it's almost people have said
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you've kind of written a manual for how to con people snowor how to get people to agree with you. >> exactly. >> rose: to believe in you. exactly, and those are good things. >> rose: these are skills. those are good skills. so i think if it's for popular consumption, wonderful, the more the merrier. >> rose: thank you for coming. congratulations. we're thrilled by your success here. >> thank you. it's a wonderful pleasure to be back. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at and captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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- this couch is for people who want to feel better and improve the quality of their lives. asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. you are not stuck with the brain you have. you can make it better, and we can prove it. [cheers and applause] female announcer: "the washington post" wrote that by almost any measure, dr. daniel amen is the most popular psychiatrist in america. he is a double board-certified psychiatrist who's written ten "new york times" best-selling books including the mega best-seller