|Q Had you ever met any of the Human Rights Defenders-? What is your take on what happened tonight?
When Kerry asked me to do this I was dubious because I felt that
these were real stories and real people who have done extraordinary,
courageous work. Why should, how could we actors put on these borrowed
robes? We can't impersonate these people. We should hear their own
voices. But Kerry convinced me that really, anything we could do
to dramatize or, more to the point, to bring their stories to a
larger public was a good thing. I overcame my own misgivings about
the sort of spurious aspect of impersonating. And all of that hesitation
disappeared when we met the defenders. So that we who were the messengers,
delivering the message of their stories. When they all came out
at the end, it was an extraordinary moment because these are voices
that are crying out in the wilderness. These are really solitary
voices. And to have them all amassed under one roof, is powerful.
It makes the ripples into a big wave. And you know it's easy to
be cynical, like the character that Alec plays. The worst possible
thing is that you've created an event and people will just go on
about their business unmoved. But one can't give into that kind
of cynicism if you hear their stories. You have to believe that
some good is going come out of it.
there anything that surprised in terms of the demeanor and the character
of some of the defenders?
In a way, what you get from the book, and what you get from Ariel
Dorfman's play, is a sense of humanitythat they are people.
And that they are stubborn and that they are tough and that they
do not think of themselves as heroes. They're not mythological.
They did what they had to do. There's a wonderful, inspiring fearlessness
to them that is just what they had to do. I think we all have that
within us. And when you see these people, when you meet them and
hear their stories, and of course we had the privilege of spending
time with them, I was struck by how they're like you and me. I hope.
If you met these guys, if you sat next to them on an airplane or
something they really are just like you and me. They're people.
And then you hear their stories and it's just amazing the courage,
the fortitude, the stubbornness...
you meet either of the children brought to the event by Bruce Harris
or Kailash Satyarthi? .
Yes, I met them both.
It was great to see. The whole event gave something palpable to
what in the book, is words on the page. I think anything you can
do--whether it's the web site or dramatizing it in a play or getting
everyone in the room and just throwing a light on it and saying,
"You know, look, we are so complacent." And it doesn't
make the headlines. It doesn't make the front page and if it does,
it slips back into the recesses, immediately of our consciousness.
But the fact is, improbable as it is to believe in our world that
these kind of human rights atrocities are still prevalent and still
allowed to happen, it's an affront to what we've evolved to.
said Kerry first asked you. You've been friends with Kerry for a
No, I met her through Nan Richardson and Andy Karsh, her husband.
But Nan didn't didn't beat me up the way Kerry did.
you had any feedback from the defenders?
Yeah, three or four of them came up to me and thanked me. Some of
the men to whose stories I gave my voice, as it were, thanked me.
They said you read it very well; it was a good thing. And if they
thought it was a good thing, then I'm absolved of any hesitations
or misgivings. I feel, I feel terrific. I feel very proud to have
been part of it.
Interview by OFFLINE ENTERTAINMENT GROUP