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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
From the U.S. Government shutdown to the U.K.’s Brexit chaos. Why Best- Selling Author Anand Giridharadas thinks winners take all society is to blame. I speak to him about the way forward.
Also, ahead, stranded in the Arctic, my interview with the Danish actor, Mads Mikkelsen, about his new survival movie in the icy wilderness.
And ending the stigma around a woman’s right to choose, York Times Columnist, Lindy West, joins our Alicia Menendez.
To the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London, where the weekend’s and continued government paralysis and disruption, both in the
United States and here in the United Kingdom.
The British prime minister lurch from a historic defeat of her Brexit deal to surviving yet another vote of no confidence. But now, she has to
present another Brexit deal to end the impasse. Except, Opposition Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, says that he’ll boycott talks until the prime minister rules
out the option of a cliff edge exit.
Meanwhile, across the pond, there seems to be no end inside to another self-made crisis. The longest government shutdown ever, nearly a month
now, over President Trump’s demand for Congress to pay for his war.
The Journalist and Social Commentator Anand Giridharadas says that these crises can be traced to our winners take all society, which is also the
title of his bestselling book. It argues that the global elite have created rigged systems that favor the very few getting to and staying at
His analysis and trenchant observations have made his book fly off the shelves. And he’s here in London this week.
So, how do we move to a more just society?
Anand Giridharadas, welcome back to our program.
ANAND GIRIDHARADAS, AUTHOR, “WINNERS TAKE ALL”: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, now, here you are in London, you are on a book tour, but it coincides with one of the most dysfunctional moments of British politics
that anybody can remember. What was your introduction to London? I mean, you arrived right in the middle of this vote this week.
GIRIDHARADAS: I arrived on Monday night. And on Tuesday was this quite a sort of cataclysmic vote that many were saying is the important vote in
decades in this country’s Parliament.
AMANPOUR: Which it is.
GIRIDHARADAS: And I had a very extraordinary privilege because of a former journalist friend of mine who’s now a member of Parliament here snuck me in
to the gallery of the House of Commons, they the “Mother of Parliaments,” to watch the proceedings. I watched a few hours of the debate. And I’m
not an expert in British politics by any means, but watched it sort of as an American in Parliament.
And it was really an extraordinary moment because for a couple hours before the big vote that Theresa May lost, there were kind of testimonies from
various members about not just how they were going to vote, of what was going on in their constituencies, the factory that went away, the health
system that actually didn’t work the way it was promised, the kind of dreams of social mobility that people had been promised that hadn’t quite
And some of those people then swerved towards, “I’m therefore voting to leave the E.U.,” some of the people sort towards, “That’s why I want to
stay in the E.U.” The conclusions were varied. But I felt this strange kinship with these tales of pain, because they reminded me so much, of
course, of the pain in my country, the United States.
AMANPOUR: Right. And, of course, your book, “Winners Takes All,” is about the United States. You are not really writing about the rest of the world.
AMANPOUR: But here you are seeing it firsthand. And you talk about the poignant testimonies of the MP’s. But also, I think you mentioned, you
know, the less stellar reactions from the political leaders, right. I mean, you were not too impressed by Theresa May and her counterpart, the
leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn.
GIRIDHARADAS: And to be clear, I’m not very impressed by the current leadership the United States either personally. But it was fascinating.
You first — so, first have these tales of woe and this real suffering people’s lives and you feel moved by that and then you hear the two kind of
closing speeches, first, the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and then the prime minister. And I have to say with all respect, that it felt like a
competition between two people each trying to be the more uninspiring avatar of the 1970s.
And you feel like the — and it’s the same in the United States, where you really do have, and my heart goes out to it and I’ve done a lot of
reporting in these worlds, people who feel afraid of the future, who feel mocked by the future, who feel they don’t know who they can be in the world
that is coming, how to make choices that would have foreseeable outcomes, how to plan their lives for their children.
And your heart goes out to those people, whichever way they vote. But that kind of moment, that kind of pain, that kind of fear requires leadership to
speak to those people, to connect to those people and then, lead their anger, channel their anger and pain in directions to lead to the kinds of
policies that will actually fix that.
Instead, what is offered by Donald Trump in the United States, and I fear what is offered here by the Brexiteers, is a dream of punching out at
Polish people and Mexicans. And it struck me watching the debate in the Commons, that while the Government of the United States is currently
shutdown because of a fantasy of a wall to keep out an outside world that is, in my view, falsely blamed for creating the miseries of people in the
United States, here there is a dream of turning the English Channel into a sea wall that will keep out something else.
AMANPOUR: and I have actually quoted you on that because I think it is very, very visual and very relatable to people here and in the United
States watching this program.
But you’ve also said that you feel governments have been captured in a way, that we have to get back to real, as you said, leadership and real
politics, which is the only way to actually change the system. To that end, after you saw that vote, her plan was overwhelmingly defeated, but she
herself, in the last 48 hours, has survived a vote of no confidence in the government.
And yet, still this unedifying back and forth between the two big leaders, the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. I want to play a
snippet of what their latest chat to each other looks like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I have just held constructive meetings with the leader of the Liberal Democrats and of the Westminster
leaders of the SNP and Plaid Cymru. I am disappointed that the leader of the Labor Party has not so far chosen to take part, but our door remains
JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: Last night, offer of talks with party leaders turned out to be simply a stunt, not a serious attempt
to engage with the new reality that is needed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, they still have not, either one of them, managed to convince me and many others that they are putting country above personal politics or
party politics. And I think you agree, despite your condemnation of so many aspects of the political system and the elite system, that it will
only be a government that can structurally change people’s lives and the lives of those people who are hurting.
GIRIDHARADAS: You know, Brexit like Donald Trump and the wall in the shutdown, all these things are downstream problems. They are the end of a
story of problems that we’ve been having in these societies for decades, that too many people, particular winners of our age, ignored until they
became the level of Brexit and Donald Trump, until they became earthquakes that actually cracked their own houses.
These — you know, when he said rebuilding Britain for the many not the few in that slogan, that’s getting closer to the reality of the story. For
decades, the world of globalization, the world you’ve spent so long covering, globalization, trade, this amazing digital revolution that has
transformed so much that the era of extraordinary innovation that we have lived in has actually been working for a tiny minority of people.
And the reality is that the very few have monopolized the fruits of progress. There’s actually a difference between the word innovation the
word progress. Innovation just means new stuff. Progress has to do with most people’s lives getting better. And I think if you walk down the
street in most small towns in Britain or in the United States, most people will tell you that while it has been an age of extraordinary innovation, of
new stuff, their lives haven’t gotten measurably better, their children’s education and health haven’t gotten measurably better, their faith in the
future hasn’t gotten better.
And the unmistakable truth of it that is uncomfortable for many of us to face is that the people who run these companies, the people who are meeting
next week in Davos for the big family reunion of the politically elite (ph) have fought for and built and maintained systems of taxation, labor, the
rules of the game that all but assured that they would be the only people to benefit from this future, that they would be able to build monopolies
and capture most of the gains.
82 percent of new wealth created in 2017 went to the global 1 percent. And so, it’s no accident that people are angry, that’s the upstream problem.
And then downstream, you end up with Brexit, with shutdowns, with Donald Trump.
And so, I think the people who feel most exciting to me, politically, in this time, whether on the left or the right, are people who are trying to
solve the upstream problem, who are inspired by the downstream moment to actually try to solve that upstream problem of opportunity and people’s
faith in the future.
AMANPOUR: So, I’m going to dig in to the new generation of people being elected, particular in the U.S. But first I want to ask you this. You
know, you’ve just sort of given me in a nutshell the thesis of your book, “Winners Takes All, you know, the elite and all the rest of it.
But I wonder — I mean, you are Indian born, your family Indian immigrants to the United States. And globalization did actually work for people in
India and in China and in Asia and in Africa and it changed and lifted hundreds — and in Brazil and elsewhere. I mean, hundreds of millions of
people out of abject poverty.
So, it’s really tough to beat up on globalization because — how do you define or differentiate them between actually the good that it’s done and
this other aspect that we’re seeing mostly in our Western democracies?
GIRIDHARADAS: I mean, this is my third book. My first book was called “India Calling” and it was all about extraordinary period of growth and
progress in India in the 2000s and also, the complications of it.
I think that the truth is most of the positive numbers about people coming out of poverty, et cetera, in the last generation come out of India and
China, as you say, but it’s a more complicated story than just they did capitalism, they did globalization, Tom Friedman columns were written and
good things happened.
You know, those countries let in markets in this period. But the story of India and China is also a lot of government action in that same period.
GIRIDHARADAS: You know, India did the largest affirmative action program in the history of the world in the very same period, you know, through
caste quotas and government jobs and university education in the same period that it opened to markets. So, is the triumph of opportunity in
India the building of this middle class a story of government action or a story of —
AMANPOUR: But does it matter? Couldn’t both work together?
GIRIDHARADAS: Well, I think the stories of India and China, unfortunately, are once a lifetime stories. They both had a lot of policy failures before
the 80s and 90s and they reversed some of those decisions. I just don’t think they indicate some easy thesis of histories inevitably getting better
of the kind that Steven Pinker and others have been spreading.
So, yes, there’s been a lot of good things happening in those places. But unfortunately, it doesn’t redeem the fact that Britain, a country that
matters a lot to the stability of the world, the United States, a country that matters supremely the stability of the world, are in a really bad way.
And that in many Western countries, majorities of people essentially feel mocked by the future.
And I think if you actually live in India and China your world is less stable when that is true in America and Britain.
AMANPOUR: So, what is the solution for the future? How do you make politics sexy again so that you get people to believe in government and
come out and vote and actually put these demands for structural change where it counts, and that’s on the ballot box and victory?
GIRIDHARADAS: I think, you know, the answer to a winners take all world is a world in which winners take less. And the only way to do that is not by
asking Mark Zuckerberg to be a nicer guy, it’s politics. It’s —
AMANPOUR: And Mark Zuckerberg not to be a nicer guy, not to put that money into the schools, which actually didn’t work in New Jersey.
GIRIDHARADAS: Look, let’s talk about Mark Zuckerberg for a second, because he — if you had to pick one person who represents this problem. Mark
Zuckerberg owns arguably the most — the biggest and most dangerous monopoly in our time. I mean, we —
AMANPOUR: I’m just letting you say dangerous actually because it’s a pretty provocative wood and yet, it has been blamed for messing around with
our democracy, perpetrating fake news, lies and also interfering.
GIRIDHARADAS: Think about the monopolies that alarmed us 100 years ago, coal, steel, things like that, railroads. I would argue, someone with an
algorithm that reaches into 2 billion people’s brains at the same time and is the platform for political discussion — for most political discussion
people makes the Carnegie’s and Rockefeller’s look impotent by comparison.
This is a power that we’ve actually never seen before in the world. It actually just doesn’t fall under an antitrust law as many people — as
we’ve written them in the past.
AMANPOUR: Should it?
GIRIDHARADAS: Mark — absolutely. One of the most urgent things the United States needs to do — Europe is actually a little ahead on this, is
rewrite antitrust laws to cover these countries.
So, Mark Zuckerberg has this monopoly. As you suggested, Mark Zuckerberg has also been, you know, I think, very credibly, accused of compromising
American democracy in his refusal rejection, resistance of journalist scrutiny and certainly, regulator scrutiny, lawmaker scrutiny. And then
turns around and says, “I’m giving away all my money to charity. I’m — you know, I’m going to get rid of all diseases.” That’s how these people
talk, just rid of all the disease, like as if the entire medical profession before him they were all — they had no idea what they’re doing. But he, a
tech guy, is going to get rid of all the diseases because they’re all idiots.
Well, it turns out that we actually don’t need Mark Zuckerberg to get rid of all diseases or fix education, we actually just need him to not do the
thing that he did. Because I actually doubt —
AMANPOUR: Do which thing?
GIRIDHARADAS: Compromise American democracy and — for the sake of his greed and power lust. I actually doubt —
AMANPOUR: Which means change his business model and the ads and all the clicks and the ads and all of that.
GIRIDHARADAS: Not lobby against the government regulating, not threaten journalists when they investigate you. You know, the reality is, I doubt –
– Mark Zuckerberg may have 50, 60 — if Silicon Valley life elongation happens, 100, 150 years left on this planet, who knows, I doubt there’s any
philanthropy he could ever do in the remainder of his life that would make up for what he might have done to the world —
AMANPOUR: Wow. You are really angry.
GIRIDHARADAS: — by tripping a Federal election. Yes. And I will tell you, there are people who work at that company who speak to me privately
who are just as angry as what he’s done with their work product and in their name.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, now, we’re now in 2018, there’s been a whole new set of elections, including the midterms in the United States. And the people
spoke, the House of Representatives, which more or less represents United States, flipped. And one of the most iconic members of this new wave is
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Twenty-nine years old, very little, if any, experience in politics before and she won. Here’s what she said about why
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: We won because we organize, we won because, I think, we had a very clear winning message and we took
that message to doors that had never been knocked down before, we spoke to communities that typically been, I think, dismissed and they responded.
You know, when people feel like they are being spoken directly to, I do feel like they are willing — they’ll do things like turn out and then
offer your midterm primary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Which, of course, they did. And she, again, out of nowhere, has sort of started to define the political dialogue in the United States. You
know more about it. Can her presence be game changing?
GIRIDHARADAS: I think it is. And I want to — and I think it’s worth talking about why because I think — you know, she has a particular
ideological point of view that some of your viewers will share and that some won’t, and I think that’s part of the package that she represents.
But I think another part of the package she represents is more political style and a way of engaging with people and a kind of attitude to money and
politics and kind of people power versus not, that actually has nothing to do with the ideology necessarily. You could imagine actually the people of
different views still running the kind of different campaign that she ran.
And the kind of campaign she ran was independent of big money, as she said, centered on organizing, kind of represented this hybrid between community
organizing and this kind of new sphere, her organization was just this Democrats, but there’s a bunch of these groups that seek to kind of recruit
candidates, give them resources, connect them to the networks.
But I think part of what she’s done in office, it’s been a few weeks, let’s remember, is change the conversation, which in our social media age, is a
really important skill. People love to minimize her, and she’s 21 — 29- year-old woman of color, people really love to minimize people like that.
But you know what, she has managed to explain to the American public concepts like marginal tax rates, that I’m not sure anybody has actually
tried to explain in my lifetime watching politics. And she’s used Instagram and Twitter to do it. And you want to laugh at her as many
people do, she is changing poll numbers on an issue like that.
Because you know what, people are waking up and saying, “Whoa, so you only actually want to tax the income that I might make one day if I make more
than $10 million and you actually only want to tax that part of my income that is above $10 million. Oh, I’m not threatened by that the way I might
have been led to be threatened by that.”
And so, she is changing the conversation. And what is so — what should be inspiring, regardless of your ideology and regardless of a country you’re
in, is that it hasn’t taken a lot, it was a pretty small movement that helped her run that became a big popular movement but it wasn’t some big
fancy well-funded organization. And she is one member of Congress, she’s been there a couple weeks, she is changing the whole Democratic Party.
GIRIDHARADAS: Because she is creating an attractive standard of ideas that (INAUDIBLE) she’s literally too young to run for president. That now,
people 20 years older than her who are entering the race, who have been at this way longer than her, are actually being forced to say, “OK. She’s
laid out three things, for or against?”
AMANPOUR: So, the Litmus test in other words?
GIRIDHARADAS: And the — it’s not the Litmus test —
AMANPOUR: The AOC Litmus test.
GIRIDHARADAS: — in the Senate. There’s still OK answers on both sides. But she is driving the agenda. And I think part of what we learn from
Donald Trump, although he, in my view, has only used that to hurt people and demean institutions, is that in this age of Twitter and social media,
there is a tremendous power in the ability to connect with people directly the way radio was a very powerful way to connect with people in FDR’s time
and T.V. really gave Kennedy an edge over Nixon.
Social media is the tool of the time and there’s a recurring lesson throughout history, that powerful political leaders are people who master
whatever the particular new tools of their age are. And she is showing that you can actually speak to some of that same anger and angst that
Donald Trump spoke to, that Corbyn is speaking to, that the Brexit people spoke to that is happening in many countries. You can —
AMANPOUR: And I saw a writer speaking to you —
AMANPOUR: — all over Europe, by the way.
GIRIDHARADAS: You can speak to it but you can lead it to the kinds of policies that might actually make lives better. You can actually lead it
to help people punch up at the people who actually stole the future from them instead of punch out at imaginary enemies from foreign countries.
AMANPOUR: You just use the word movement and I wonder where you come down on sort of creating momentums, because you do — you are quite critical
about philanthropists and the rest because you think the whole game is rigged and that it’s just a sort of a drop in the ocean what they do, which
actually it is because, as I said before, it’s only government and big structural change that will change the playing field and level it.
But tell me about movements. How do you force governments, in other words, to respond?
GIRIDHARADAS: I mean, having spent the last few months spending a lot of time with people talking about the book and talking about the biggest
question on everybody’s mind, which is how do we actually make change, if Mark Zuckerberg is not going to lead us to the promised land, if Donald
Trump is not going to lead us to the promised land, if Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t inspire us the way we might hope, how do we make change?
And I think movement is probably the most important word in that vocabulary. And I think one of the things I write about in the book is the
story that a lot of young people have been told about how you make change in this age kind of defined by the entrepreneur hero. And the story young
people been told is if you see a problem, start an ice cream company that gives back, start Toms Shoes, start a social enterprise, start a double
bottom line fund at the bank.
And at a lot of my book events, a lot of older people, a lot of — particularly women in the 70s and 80s will come up to me and say, “What
happened to my children and grandchildren’s generations understanding of change? Why do they think the Toms Shoes is change? In my generation,
when we saw a problem, we got on a bus and registered people to vote in Mississippi. Why did these people think shoes are going to work, right?”
I think we sometimes don’t realize in our age how much the idea of change itself has been hijacked and watered down. You know —
AMANPOUR: And the idea of politics and voting and getting out —
AMANPOUR: — and doing what this 78-year-olds are telling you that they did.
GIRIDHARADAS: And I think what they’re telling us, is movements. When they saw problems, they built movement. How did women get the right to
vote? Movements. They founded organizations with official names that were registered in places, they organize people, they got people on mailing
lists. The history of any important change in most of our countries.
And in almost no case, I would assure you, was the engine of that change some very privileged person throwing scraps from the top of the mountain.
It was people organizing and being more powerful than the people in the castle.
AMANPOUR: Talking about very powerful people and the elite, the people who are probably the target of your book, it’s Davos next week.
AMANPOUR: And the good and the great and the very rich and the well healed —
AMANPOUR: — will all be there. Are you going?
GIRIDHARADAS: I am not.
AMANPOUR: Is that a surprise? You don’t want to peddle your book there?
GIRIDHARADAS: As your viewers may understand, I am not. I think Davos should end. I think it should be canceled this year and should end going
forward. It is a family reunion for the people who, in my view, broke the modern world. It is a family reunion of the people who monopolize the
future, who designed a world that would only work for them, of the tech sector that built all these amazing tools and promise they would emancipate
the world, and in fact, built monopolies that compromised democracy and created, you know, new spaces for women to be harassed because there
weren’t enough already, apparently.
You know, it’s the reunion of financial companies that caused the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression 11 years ago and have actually
been the only people really and their rich friends to recover fully from the financial crisis.
It is the reunion of a kind of plutocratic elite that has sold us on the story, that win-win social change, social change pursued through markets
and through capitalism and through, you know, buying more stuff is the way we make change.
And I think what many of the folks who will be in Davos probably, if they don’t heed my call to cancel it, need to understand is that I think the
world is shifting fairly rapidly, although it may not seem obvious now, to a new paradigm in which the aspirations of regular people are put back at
the center of our political life.
AMANPOUR: But — and I’m not an economist, but people might look at and listen to this and say, “You know what, are you trashing capitalism? Are
you trashing the market? And if so, didn’t — don’t you remember there was a massive fight between communism, Soviet Union and capitalism, and
capitalism won.” The people have chosen, the people have spoken.
GIRIDHARADAS: I don’t think this is a conversation about communism versus capitalism. You know, the reality is, which I think people in the United
States, in particular, love to deny, is that there are as many capitalisms out there as there are Baskin Robbins flavors.
Germany has capitalism. Norway has capitalism. Britain has capitalism. India has capitalism. China has capitalism. Singapore has capitalism.
Mexico has capitalism. The United States has capitalism. No one is perfect. You know, that you can — like the Norwegians but, you know, they
have relatively homogeneous countries that are pretty small, easier to manage. Everybody can be learned from, and everybody gets better outcomes
from different things.
The United States does a great job of having entrepreneurs, right? So, other countries can learn from whatever we do to create a situation in
which people start businesses a lot, right? Great. Germany does a great job of having corporate boards that actually factor in other stakeholders,
like labor in the community and the environment, and actually putting them on the board, so we actually hear the concerns of the community upstream
instead of when they vote for horrible things 10 years later. That’s an interesting idea. We could borrow that.
And all — even people like Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, Jeremy Corbyn and others, none of them are pushing for a world in which there are no
companies, none of them are pushing for a world in which our iPhone is made by the government, none of them are pushing for a world in which people can
start enterprises and follow it, none of them.
I’m not sure who in the political world today in any serious capacity is calling for that. All they are calling for is a world actually in which
regular people can have a dream, study something, get into the job market, get a job, have a house, make a life for their children and maybe realize
some of what they hoped for in their youth. And that is not anti- capitalist, it’s actually a humanist.
AMANPOUR: Anand Giridharadas, thank you very much indeed.
GIRIDHARADAS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Clearly, this is one of the most important issues for government and people to figure out.
And turning now to one of Hollywood’s most recognizable villains. You might remember the Danish actor, Mads Mikkelsen, from James Bond’s “Casino
Royale,” “Hannibal,” “Dr. Strange.” But his latest movie “Arctic” sees him all alone as one of the few survivors of a plane crash, trying to make it
I spoke to Mikkelsen about what it took to shoot in the harshest of conditions, whether he feels he’s being typecast and coming late to his
Mads Mikkelsen, Welcome to the program.
MADS MIKKELSEN, ACTOR, “ARCTIC”: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, this film, “Arctic,” is really grueling. I mean, you look like you went through a really grueling process, either in preparation or
during the shooting. Tell you what it took to actually play that role.
MIKKELSEN: Well, a lot of pain killers, for starters. It was as brutal as it looks. We were nominated to shoot for 30 days and we had a lot of prep
as well, but we ended up shooting for 19 days because a lot of the days to the weather conditions. So, on long days, grueling cold and quite brutal.
AMANPOUR: And it was in Iceland, correct?
MIKKELSEN: It was in Iceland. And you know what they say there, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes. And so, that’s what we
we’re struck in with.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I’m going to play just a little clip, because it shows, sort of, the length of time it took you to do anything, whether it was
walking, whether it it was digging. Just play a little clip and then we’ll have you talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, there you were, you know, making this massive S.O.S., hoping to be rescued and it is obviously about a lone survivor, trying to survive
in this artic condition.
You lost weight, right? I mean, how did your physical self change during those 19 days of shooting?
MIKKELSEN: Well, it wasn’t planned. It wasn’t like a method thing. I mean the character I play was not prepared to crash land on the ice and
neither was I. So we kind of just dumped me there and we went scouting. But throughout the scouting and the first week of shooting, I think I lost
about 14 pounds. And I never gained them again so it’s just something that happened.
AMANPOUR: And what about the idea of your character never being named in the in the film. You see the name in the credits but it’s almost kind of
not developed in that particular way.
And yet, it’s you and the Arctic and the tundra. I mean your co-star are the elements. Describe what it’s like actually playing that kind of a role
with no co-stars practically.
MIKKELSEN: Well, one of the things I fell in love with was the fact that we didn’t know anything about his background and his past. I was a little
afraid that it will fall into the trap of you’re going down memory lane and have some flashbacks.
And we really wanted it to be you and me, anyone stranded on the ice did know nothing about the guy. So I wanted to identify with this character.
AMANPOUR: But is it weird to — or intimidating or in any way sort of massively stretching just to be an actor with nature as your co-star?
MIKKELSEN: Yes, it’s brutal. One of the biggest tools as an actor is obviously words, language and then we took that away from me. And — but
eventually, there is a second person popping up in the film and that was like the — that was the happiest day in my career. Finally, I had someone
to bounce the ball up against.
AMANPOUR: Of course, one of the articles says, “Yet there was a sense of rapt desperation which consumes the viewer.” Your face and your gestures
had to do everything because you basically utter very few words.
MIKKELSEN: Yes. That’s what we’re dealing with. I mean I’m a huge fan of the old silent movies. I’m a huge fan of Buster Keaton. I think it’s
amazing what he can do with an expression, with the tiniest little smile in his face. It’s just opening up the sky. And I think that goes with the
tools we were dealing with and we had to stick with them.
AMANPOUR: The director Joe Penna, I mean he — this is his first major film, right? I mean he was before a bit of a YouTube star. And you can
see how he’s filmed in a really gritty, realistic, no-frills way? What was it like working with him?
MIKKELSEN: It was a blast. I mean it’s not the first time I worked with first time directors. I think there is some virgin snow about it. They
seem to be extremely radical and this is their film, their dream. And they’re ready to go all the way to fulfill what they want.
So I think the script was very radical and the way that he insisted on making it this way was also very radical. And I’m a big fan of that.
AMANPOUR: You’re Danish and you’ve done a lot of films —
MIKKELSEN: I’m Danish.
AMANPOUR: Yes. But I guess I’m bringing it up because you said that you’re still looking for your sort of English language identity. What do
you mean by that?
MIKKELSEN: Well, I guess I’m fine just sitting here and having an identity. That’s like you play two characters when you play a character in
English. I mean I play the character and then I play me masked speaking English. And they kind of have to morph together before you’re completely
And so I guess — I think I will always be looking for that. I mean I feel free in the language but then there’s an identity that’s not the same as my
Danish identity. And then I’ll probably be searching for that until I’m 90.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean you have obviously been in one of the biggest English language blockbusters. That’s, of course, James Bond. You were
the villain in Casino Royale. I’m just going to play a little clip of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LE CHIFFRE: I’m all in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it’s $14,500,000. It’s up to you, Monsieur Bond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bond will have to go all in to call his bluff.
JAMES BOND: Call.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentleman, showdown, please. Full house. Kings and aces. Monsieur Le Chiffre. It’s four Jacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: You know it’s been said and you can see it clearly in that clip that your facial gestures, your asides like oops are, you know, beautifully
sort of villainous. You like playing villains.
For instance, the series Hannibal. I know it’s been discontinued but it was very very critically acclaimed and, you know, people loved it. And
who knows, it may come back. It may be made into a movie. But what is it about the villain that attracts you?
MIKKELSEN: I don’t know. I don’t think it’s only attracting me. I think it attracts the audience. I mean there’s a reason why we have so many
fantastic villains throughout the movie history.
I always say that you know, five minutes after we invented gods, we invented Satan. We somehow needed that balance and we’ve always been
curious what’s on the other side of the moon, right.
It’s fascinating. It’s a part of our — or in a life that we don’t deal with every day. And then when we see it on the big screen, we kind of get
AMANPOUR: And I guess I want to ask you also because I’ve asked quite a lot of people who I’m interviewing these days about — well, if they’re
men, about masculinity and, of course, you know, about the MeToo Movement and femininity when we talk to feminism when I talk to women.
MIKKELSEN: You’re going down that path.
AMANPOUR: I am. I am. I am. I am.
MIKKELSEN: Let’s do it.
AMANPOUR: So I guess masculinity, do you feel because you do play these very masculine roles, these very sort of — whether they’re villains,
whether they’re hunks, whether they endurance travelers like in Arctic, what would you say about masculinity today and how men are expressing
themselves and in roles that are coming up for men?
MIKKELSEN: Well, this is a long discussion. First of all, I like that you say masculinity and you don’t start out saying toxic masculinity because
those are two very different things, right.
I mean I’m a man and I tend to lean up against things I recognize. So I guess it becomes masculine into a degree. And a lot of women tend to be
feminine. So I think that we’re having a healthy debate about these things these days. But we also have to realize we are different and we should
AMANPOUR: So describe — well, fill in those blanks in a little bit because I can see you’re glad that I didn’t use the word toxic. And, of
course, that’s one of the phrases that a lot of people are using right now. Do you feel boxed in or do you feel burdened by the momentum for the MeToo
Movement TimesUp and all the rest of it?
MIKKELSEN: No, no, no, no, no, no. Not at all. I mean let’s get one thing straight here. Obviously, people who are doing something illegal has
to be caught and people are really just behaving like idiots. They have to get somewhere lash back on that. That’s what we’re dealing with obviously.
I don’t feel that’s a big wave and then work pushing any gender. We feel free as we’ve always done. It’s a healthy discussion but we have to know –
– we have to weigh it. We can’t just scream guilty before we’ve seen any proof.
AMANPOUR: Which, of course, leads me to the next work that I want to discuss which was called The Hunt. You won the best actor at Cannes.
MIKKELSEN: Oh, yes.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And your character was wrongly accused of child abuse. So you’re on the opposite side of this issue. I guess how did it feel
particularly — well, how did it feel to adopt that mindset?
I mean I think you’ve been quoted as saying, “It was Kafkaesque”, you know, in this film. If you screamed out loud, you’re guilty. If you shut up,
MIKKELSEN: Exactly. And obviously, we’re dealing with children which is a very very emotional thing. They mean everything to us. If this guy was
accused of being a bank robber, that might have been a couple of high fives when he was acquitted, right. But here, the claim will always stick to
him, just a fraction. And that’s enough to not have a life.
AMANPOUR: And how did you feel playing that role?
MIKKELSEN: It was brutal. It was a lonely part just like Arctic. I felt really lonely. I had — I mean I had my fellow friends, my fellow
colleagues to do battles with. But when we shot the film, he was a lost man. He was a very lonely person.
AMANPOUR: So your next project is called Polar. I mean, you know, it’s got a similar name to Arctic but it’s nothing like that, is it? I mean how
do you move from these blockbusters that we’ve talked about to these more indie things?
MIKKELSEN: Kind of easy. I take a plane and I start working. It’s — I’ve been really fortunate my whole life that I have done my small budget
films in Europe. And then I’ve been invited over here to America and done some bigger things. I love going back and forth. And hopefully, I can
continue doing that.
AMANPOUR: And just quickly a little bit about your own sort of career and coming to acting. I think you were 30 when you came into actual acting.
You’ve already been in the performing arts. Tell me what you were doing before. And some people say it’s late to come to acting. I don’t know
whether you think it is but what was the transition all about?
MIKKELSEN: It was perfect for me. I was a gymnast as a kid. And then they needed some acrobats in the back room of a musical and we did a couple
of dance moves as well and a corker for asked me if I wanted to learn the craft. And I had nothing else to do so I said yes.
So I was a professional dancer for 10 years. And through that, I got more and more in love with the drama of dancing. And eventually, I applied for
a drama school and I got in. And there, I became an actor.
AMANPOUR: And that’s it?
MIKKELSEN: That was it. That’s the short version.
AMANPOUR: All right. Mads Mikkelsen, thank you so much indeed for joining me.
MIKKELSEN: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So as Mikkelsen reflects on his characters’ loneliness, our next guest tackles those issues head-on. Issues often silenced and that can
lead women to feel socially isolated. Lindy West confronts sexual assault with her blog “I Believe You, It is Not Your Fault.” And she tackles other
issues as well including a woman’s right to choose as “New York Times'” feminism op-ed writer.
To add another notch in her belt, her memoir turned T.V. series Shrill is hitting screens this March on Hulu. And she tells our Alicia Menendez why
so many women’s issues are still considered taboo.
ALICIA MENENDEZ, CONTRIBUTOR: Lindy, thank you so much for joining us.
LINDY WEST: Thank you so much for having me.
MENENDEZ: Tell me what is #ShoutYourAbortion?
WEST: #ShoutYourAbortion is a movement that I co-founded in 2015 with a friend of mine named Amelia Bonow. We were just sitting around talking
about what can we do to counteract this — the Planned Parenthood sells baby parts craze that was going on at the time.
And this sort of calls to defund Planned Parenthood and all of the propaganda and these really malicious false narratives that were out there
about what Planned Parenthood does and about what abortion is and what people who have abortions are like.
And we were just like what could we do? Should we have a, I don’t know, a storytelling night or some event where we all get together and talk about
abortion. What we ended up doing was just putting our abortion stories on social media and it actually was like an instant reaction all over the
Like — so Amelia started by writing on Facebook, “I had an abortion of the Planned Parenthood on Madison Street in Seattle and it’s an experience that
I remember with nothing but gratitude basically.” And she says, “We’re supposed to believe that people who have abortions are to some degree bad
people and I’m a good person and my abortion made me happy in a totally unqualified way because why would I not be happy that I was not forced to
become a mother.”
And I was like that is amazing. And so I screamed out Amelia’s story. I put it on Twitter. I added #ShoutYourAbortion and then I tweeted my own
MENENDEZ: Is that liberating?
WEST: Absolutely. Yes. I mean I haven’t talked about it in public. It was a significant moment in my life but also not, you know. It was like
not traumatic. It was just sort of I was in a bad relationship. I was young, not having a child with this person.
And I didn’t think about it that much but that kind of made it more significant almost. Why am I feeling like I can’t talk about this thing
that’s not even a big deal to me?
MENENDEZ: There will be many people who watch this interview and are deeply uncomfortable.
MENENDEZ: The fact that you were speaking about abortion in such a casual way. Is that part of the point?
WEST: I mean kind of. It’s not supposed to be flippant. It’s — you know, I just said — I said it’s not a big — it wasn’t a big deal. It was
a big deal in certain ways and in certain ways, it wasn’t.
It’s just a part of my life and it’s a part of a lot of people’s lives. One in four people who get pregnant will have an abortion at some point and
that’s a huge number. And so people — a lot of people find it jarring that people assume that Shout means that we’re bragging I hear a lot, that
people are bragging about our abortions or we’re celebrating our abortions, having abortion parties, whatever that means.
And Shout just means the opposite of a whisper. You know, we’ve been sort of conditioned to believe in this anti-abortion stigma but it’s really a
construct of the evangelical right.
MENENDEZ: And now, #ShoutYourAbortion is a book.
WEST: Yes. So my dear friend Amelia Bonow who co-founded the movement with me, she since 2015 has really picked it up and turned it into like a
full-fledged organization. And their latest project is this book “ShoutYourAbortion which is an anthology of people’s stories and people’s
artwork and photographs and comics just talking about people’s experiences with abortion.
We have pre-row abortion stories. You know, stories from religious people, stories from people who have children and chose to have
an abortion, people who had to terminate wanted pregnancies. It’s a really like beautiful nuanced, you know, portrait of how complex and how important
this issue is.
MENENDEZ: Do you think any part of it comes from the fact that the constitutional logic behind a woman’s right to choose ends up coming down
to privacy and at the same time you’re using the word “Shout”?
WEST: The fact is that we do have the right to medical privacy and it’s not being respected. And so if being quiet and not talking about this
thing and caving to this stigma which sort of tacitly endorses and validates the stigma if I’m afraid to talk about it, then maybe there must
be a good reason.
You know, that’s not necessarily been politically effective. You can’t really advocate for something that you can’t say out loud and when it —
and that’s fine if it’s not under attack. But if the right — if the constitutional right is under attack, we have to be able to talk about the
reality of abortion.
And the reality of abortion is that people are having abortions all the time. They always have and they always will. And all we can control is
whether or not people have access to abortion and have access to safe abortion.
You know I wish that I got to exercise my right to privacy and I didn’t have to open up my personal life to the world. I would love that. You
know, I would love for when we talk about sexual assault that victims didn’t have to come forward and give the world every lurid detail of the
worst thing that ever happened to them in order to be believed which is what we demand that people do.
You know, if you don’t give enough details, then you’re probably lying. Even if you do give enough details, people don’t believe you.
MENENDEZ: Do you think — one of the things we’ve seen in the last year is the takedown of various men. I can think of one woman who has been alleged
of sexual assault and then a very quick conversation about rehabilitation – –
MENENDEZ: — follows. How soon can it get back? I do wonder though at one point there is room for a conversation about restorative justice and if
sort of justice applies in this framework?
WEST: I mean absolutely, of course. I mean I just think that, obviously, that’s a really important conversation to have. It just doesn’t feel like
we ever really finish the first conversation about people who are actively being harmed, who are not being believed, whose lives are being ruined.
And lives are being ruined in really subtle ways where especially workplace harassment cases, it’s not necessarily that like, “Oh my boss sexually
assaulted me and then I was fired.” It’s often like a lot subtler than that.
It’s like I was uncomfortable if the situation. I was made uncomfortable for a long period of time. And eventually, I left the industry and I never
grew to my full potential and we will never know what happened.
I mean we will never know how many of those people there are. And like there’s this massive wealth of talent and power that’s being lost. And
what that does is consolidate power among men, you know, disproportionately. And so —
MENENDEZ: Do you think American society has the language to unpack that distinction?
WEST: I mean American society is very big and complicated. Some people have the language to unpack that distinction and a lot of people don’t.
And it’s it’s hard. Like it’s painful. It’s a painful thing to delve into because as — I mean when MeToo was like really going, you start to
discover that people you really love have done really horrible things. And you — I understand the sort of instinct to bury it and be like — and make
it OK. Honestly, I understand.
I mean I — and you have to push through that and you have to do what’s right and you have to let go of people that you love. Or at least, you
know, enforce consequences against those people if you want to really live your values and you want to build a safer world for your kids. So —
MENENDEZ: Because that’s — that has been another point of contention which is when accusations are made against a man very often when the first
things we see is a letter or a public statement of support from all of the women in his life, professional, personal. And it has put women in this
precarious situation of saying this is not the person as I understand them to be.
WEST: Yes. Just like don’t sign one of those letters. I mean just — even if — I don’t know. It seems like a mad idea to send one of those
letters. You know, like has he really — I don’t mean this as an excuse or as an apology but this kind of gender dynamics are really deeply
built into our culture.
And it really, you know, has been normal for men to chase and bother women until they finally relent, you know what I mean, and consent to sex or
whatever. Like that was the model for a long time.
And so there are a lot of men who I think, I mean to be really charitable, didn’t know that they were violating someone’s boundaries necessarily. I
don’t know if I really want to say that or if I really believe that. But to be charitable, maybe there are people who didn’t realize.
But that’s still a problem that we have to deal with. And I think trying to excuse those behaviors that might be just kind of being creepy or being
too forward or being too persistent, things that aren’t maybe outright assault but are still a boundary violation. We still have to deal with
And I think, you know, wanting to jump out and say this is a good man, this man would never do this is hindering that progress. I don’t know.
MENENDEZ: Tarana Burke, founder of the MeToo Movement recently said that the movement has become unrecognizable to her. She said suddenly a
movement to center survivors of sexual violence is being talked about as a vindictive plot against men.
WEST: Sure. Yes. I mean people are desperate to squirm out of accountability. It’s not even a new part of the sexual assault discourse
model. You know, I mean even just for forever.
When — just anyone accuses someone of rape, discrediting the accuser is like part of the trial. It’s like the lawyer’s job. So, of course, that
happens on a large scale. And when we have this massive reckoning, we have this sort of institutional voice framing it that way and saying, “No, no,
no, no, no. This is just women being vindictive and trying to ruin men.”
And, of course, you know, the system wants to perpetuate itself. And men hold a disproportionate amount of power. And we’ve seen, you know, some
powerful men fall to this sort of groundswell of energy that MeToo has brought into the discourse and that’s scary for powerful men. Because like
I said, a lot of this stuff was normal for a long time and it was the way that people operated.
MENENDEZ: So you just wrapped your new show.
MENENDEZ: Filmed a movie.
MENENDEZ: And somehow, you have a new book that you’re also working on. What is it about?
WEST: So it’s a collection of essays about our current cultural and political moment sort of looking at how we got here. Specifically, I’m
trying to delve into the way that Americans especially love to believe lies about ourselves.
And we live in this sort of cocoon of fantasy. You know, even to the really — the real fundamentals of this country, the fact that we live on
stolen land, the fact that we live in a nation built by slaves that white generational wealth comes from slavery, there are these like really dark
realities just in the DNA of this country that we don’t look at because it’s more comfortable to believe that we did it. You know, like that we’re
the land of the free and we’re like plucky adventurers.
And, you know, the reality is much more complicated and much scarier to reckon with. And so it’s called The Witches Are Coming which is sort of a
MeToo reference because I think things like MeToo, things like #ShoutYourAbortion, these are outbursts of truth.
These are people telling the truth about what’s happened to them that they’ve been told to keep quiet and they’ve been told to participate in
this sort of fictional counter-narrative where we’re all happy, we’re all working together, we’re all equal, we’re all being taken care of which is
just not true.
So it’s sort of about delving into those fantasies and also delving like taking a look at these movements that are trying to counter them and how —
and what happens in that friction.
MENENDEZ: Lindy, thank you so much.
WEST: Thank you so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: Outbursts of truth. Author Lindy West on how to advance the MeToo conversation.
That’s it for our program tonight.
Thanks for watching Amanpour and Company on PBS and join us again tomorrow.