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tv   Piers Morgan Tonight  CNN  December 20, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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tonight, a father's anguish. >> my little boy is never going to come back to me. an extraordinary interview with a man whose 6-year-old son died in a massacre at new town. what will it take to stop more of this senseless violence. >> we can do better. we must do something. >> plus, the answer, we should arm teachers, clergy men and nurses? >> there should be an equal amount of firepower the teacher would have. >> can any good come of all of this. one tragedy that occurred 16 yore years ago, that >> also, a man who knows a thing or two about guns talks about his new movie and it's not about what you think. this is "piers morgan tonight."
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good evening. in newtown, there have been an assembly line of wakes and funerals. allison wyatt, benjamin whiler, and catherine and lauren rousseau and anne marie murphy. a private service for family only of nancy lanza. we begin with quite an extraordinary interview. his son jesse lewis died and as he spoke about his loss, there is remarkable words of understanding and hope. >> thank you very much for joining me and please accept my very sincere condolences for this loss to your family. tell me about your son jesse. >> jesse was my son but he was my best friend and my buddy, too, and i'm just really at a
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loss for words. we did everything together. he had so many favorite spots where we'd go, the diner in town here, the grocery store, a bagel or muffin in the morning. the deli where he would go to get his sandwich in the morning also before school and his snack. just -- i -- i'm lost for words. >> the feeling i got from everything i've understood about his last few moments alive were that he showed great courage,
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that he was trying to get out of there, that he was aware something was happening, obviously his favorite teacher, vicki soto was there, she was being heroic. did it surprise you that in that moment, even at his young age, that he was showing such enterprising courage? >> that's what's said happened and that's what's going around, that the kids made or were attempting to make a run or to escape. i'm not sure of the number of survivors in miss soto's class, if there were any. but, yeah, that wouldn't surprise me. that was jesse. he was the type that would take control and he was adventurous. and he -- i always told jesse never to leave anybody hurt
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or -- and all to help them. so if there was somebody that was hurt or injured, he would be the one that was helping them or trying to help them. he loved life so much and loved it to the fullest and the little guy really, really had no fear to anything. and i -- it's just -- the whole thing is such a tragedy. to all the victims, to all their families. my heart goes out to the other families for their loss of their loved ones. and also for adam's father and his family. i just want to extend my sympathy and my condolences to his family.
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they are going through what i'm going through and they are not responsible for what adam did. and so i just want them to know that. and my thoughts are with them, too. >> that's incredibly gracious of you and people will be amazed that you can show such kindness to the family of the person that did this. what are your feelings towards the shooter himself? >> my feelings towards the shooter is, it was a cowardly thing he did. and about one of the lowest things i think somebody could do. those kids and victims, they were women, they were children, he targeted them because they were a target that couldn't defend themselves against him.
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and i don't know what possessed them to go to that school or what the significance was or the connection. but they were helpless towards him, to his actions. and he went in there and it was just a massacre. and just -- i had a lot of anger because of the way he died. i thought it was a coward leeway that he died, and i still do, but i think it's a fitting way. because he'll be remembered for a coward, for the cowardly act that he committed. nothing can bring back our families, our victims. no one will ever bring my son back. you know, when this first
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happened, i was just shocked at how -- how devastating it was and the size of it and -- it was just unbelievable. i was at -- back at the firehouse about a half hour after that occurred and the amount of law enforcement, firemen, ambulances, and s.w.a.t. members, government people, it was incredible. it was -- i was shocked that it could come together that quickly. and so efficiently. the state police have been incredible to work with and supportive and the government agencies and the red cross, you know, i want to thank them
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especially for their compassion and their help. i'd leak to thank governor dan malloy for being here and who i personally spoke with several times. it's just -- the support from everybody and the condolences and the compassion, i'm just at a loss for words. just people want to be part of this in the way that they are trying to be part of it is by helping and reaching out, whether it's a donation, bringing food to these workers and to the victims' families and the memorials over here.
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it's like nothing that's ever happened before. my little boy said something the night before to me. and he said, dad, this is going to be the best christmas ever. and he was going on about it and i said, jesse, you know, we'll make it the best we can and i -- i don't have much family. so it's kind of a quiet time for me. and he makes -- made christmas happy for me and joyful and he made it what it was. and i said to him, jesse, we'll make it the best we can. and the next day this tragedy happened, it occurred, and i thought to myself, boy was he wrong about that and as the day
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went on and condolences came in, the help was available, the people came to offer and help and support and from all over the world, just not connecticut, just not the united states, it hit me. you know, he was right in a way. it is going to be a good christmas because it brings back the true meaning of christmas where -- him and i had this talk, what it was about, it's about giving and not receiving and it's about helping, be reaching out to others and that's what everybody in the world has done this year with this tragedy and they've come together and they are looking to
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help and provide support and they've done that for me and i just want to thank everybody. it just doesn't change my loss or my -- my little boy is going to come back to me and i'm never going to have him again and -- but at least i can look at it that way and see the real meaning of christmas this year. >> neil, i'm at a bit of a loss of what to say to you. you've shown such extraordinary dignity and compassion in this interview and i've got three sons. i can't even imagine the hell of what you're going through and the way that you've spoken about it all shows such dignity on your part and i just want to
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thank you for that and to wish you all the very best as you try and rebuild your life from what's happened and jesse sounds like a remarkable young man. >> it's going to be a big change and a big adjustment next year. but i hope we can all focus on making it a positive one and making sandy hook a happy place like it was. the way i could describe that school, it was like mayberry, going there in the morning and dropping your children off and seeing the other parents. it was just happy. everybody was happy. the teachers, the staff, the children. and it's not that anymore. and i hope some day that could be the case again, that it is a happy place where children can gather and play.
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i don't know where to start. >> neil, i thank you for your time. i really do. and i can only offer you my deepest condolences, my prayers and hope that you and the other families can somehow make it a happy place again. just know that your son and the other children will never be forgotten. they will never be forgotten. >> thanks. i'm certain of that, too. i thank you very much and i thank you for the opportunity to speak to you and put my voice out there to the other victims and my condolences and my thank yous to everybody. >> neil heslin, thank you very much indeed.
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>> thank you. when we come back, connecticut senator richard blumenthal, what he's doing to prevent more tragedies. [ male announcer ] red lobster's crabfest ends soon.
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the president is absolutely committed to keeping his promise that we will act and we'll act in a way that is designed, even if he says we could only save one life, we have to take action. >> vice president biden today vowing to take the steps to prevent tragedies like the one in newtown from happening again. senator blumenthal of connecticut says that it calls for a seismic change in gun policy. senator, thank you for joining me. it's been a horrendous week. >> a week that i don't want to relive again. >> that is the key here, isn't it? i had a town hall debate in which the common thread of everybody is that these things keep happening. how do we stop them from happening again?
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this has been happening in your state. you've lived the terrible trauma of these families. what is the most constructive, definitive thing that america's lawmakers can now do? >> you know, there is no single, simple solution. it has to be a multifaceted approach beginning with a ban on assault weapons, stopping high capacity magazines, better background checks. right now 40% of all sales of guns in the united states involve no background check and better, more comprehensive checks as well as mental health prevention and outreach programs and, of course, better enforcement of all of these laws. not just existing laws but more supporting resources for the atf and local and state police that have the responsibility to protect our children. >> i have been stunned by the sheer political cowardness of so
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many politicians in america who seem just terrified of saying anything that the nra may object to. the nra has four million members. american has 10 billion people living here. i just don't understand why everybody is so coward about publicly debating this and trying to get the measures in place that you've just suggested. >> i think there really has been a seismic change, the political landscape is changing, almost as people react to the horror of beautiful children, babies, really, slaughtered and the teachers and other professionals who came to their aid, putting themselves literally between the bullets and those children. i think that a nerve has been touched and i think that newtown will never be the same but neither will america. and so i think that kind of nerve hitting will be reflected in what happens here in washington.
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>> are you really sensing, from your colleagues, that this is a tipping point? >> i really am sensing that there is an openness and willingness on the part of a lot of people who never would have considered -- for example, a ban on assault weapons which, as everybody knows, were designed for military use and right now even in the states that have them, like my state of connecticut and i know because i helped write the bill and then i personally defended it in court, in the trial in the argument before state supreme court when it was challenged constitutionally. it has essentially weaknesses or defects that need to be corrected. so on a wide range of issues, we can do better. we must do something. that's the refrain that i've heard throughout newtown, throughout connecticut and
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throughout the country from people who write or call. we must do something and i think it's reflected in very powerful statements that the president and vice president make. >> i had a very harrowing interview, they are all harrowing, with the father of one of the poor boys who lost his life along with one of the young girls in the classroom. and it was really heartbreaking but he was also very extraordinary dignified when you talked about the family of the shooter and the way that the world has reacted and showered its love and support on to connecticut, on to newtown, on to the sandy hook can school and really touched him. have you noticed this? >> there's been an outpouring all across america of people wanting to help and to give. i suggested that the credit card companies and internet processors suspend or eliminate their charges and fees and so forth so that people could donate without anybody taking a part of those contributions. but even more than the money has been the outpouring and caring
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and kindness within the newtown community. newtown is a quintessential new england town. everybody knows everybody else, which means that everybody is there to support each other but, of course, they have all suffered a loss because everybody knows some of the children and the professionals who have been lost. in fact, that's true of all connecticut. the bonds are very, very close among a lot of people all throughout the state and it has been heartbreaking. but here is maybe an even more important point. newtown is coming together and coming back. it is rebuilding and recovering remarkably, resilient,ress lawsuit and strong. people there want to do something and again and again, i have been asked, in fact, besieged, can you do something, what can you do about gun violence? in fact, there's a group that
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citizens have started and it will play a role along with other organizations in seeking a mobilized that community and reach across america. >> final question. let's divert to the fiscal cliff for a moment. are you optimistic that there will be one before we all tumble over this cliff? >> i am hopeful. i hope there is a sensible and common ground here. in fact, one could argue that the two sides, speaker boehner and president obama are really closer than you would believe hearing some of the public vitreal. but i do think that there is the potential for cutting spending, raising revenue in a very balanced way that avoids those drastic consequences of going over that cliff and i am hopeful. i emphasize hopeful that we will get there. >> i hope you're right. senator, thank you for joining
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me and please send our continued condolences to everybody in your state. it's been a harrowing week for them and indeed everybody in america. >> thank you. you really have to see what this texas gun store owner thinks that teachers should be armed and clergymen and nurses. in fact, just about everybody. ♪ why not make lunch more than just lunch? with two times the points on dining in restaurants, you may find yourself asking why not, a lot. chase sapphire preferred. there's more to enjoy. [ male announcer ] with free package pickup
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you go through the process and you have been dually backgrounded and trained and you are a concealed handguns licensed carrying individual, you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state. >> texas governor rick perry. that includes teachers. he thinks he should be armed in school. crockett keller, a gun store owner in texas.
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mr. keller, you agree with rick perry? >> yes, sir, wholeheartedly i've seen where that works. >> and your idea is that all teachers would be armed? >> no, not at all. i don't think that all teachers are capable of being armed. i don't think that they can handle it. it's too serious a situation. i think only volunteer teachers that are willing to go through extra training should be able to carry their weapons in school. >> and you're offering a discount to teachers in school with weapons? >> that's correct, either the weapons or the concealed weapons class that i teach. i try to extend a sympathetic hand, if you will, towards their situation. i want to personally extend my
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sympathy towards all of the victims' families. i know what it's like to lose a child. i've gone through that. i don't wish that on anyone and my sympathy is so much with these people. my heart is with them and i -- that's just nothing that words can say. i do wish that the news media would get out of their neighborhood and allow them to grieve in peace. >> where would these teachers who are armed put the guns when they are in school? >> i've thought about that a lot the last couple of days and i've answered that question. personally, i think on their person. that way they know where the weapon is all the time and it's immediately accessible. this means that a woman is going to have to -- i don't think that they should carry is in their purses nor in a briefcase. >> if the gun was to tumble out
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of a teacher, if they had it in a harness and it fell over and a school child picked it up and then used it, which a child may well do, you then have a very serious situation. >> well, the part -- the thing is that the teachers need to be more responsible than that. we're not talking about -- here again, it is a -- you take extra training, they know where their weapon is. these weapons are not such that you would -- if it fell out of your pocket, you're going to know that it fell out of your pocket. >> do you sell ar-15 rifles? >> when we can get them. they aren't a big item that i sell. i have a few. i have more so .22 caliber ar-type weapons. i don't have a habit of stocking them. >> if the president wants to ban those types of weapons, what is your reaction to that?
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>> i'm against any banning of any weapons that we have today. we have rules and regulations that if the laws are enforced, they are there and they do a certain amount of good. in the united states, you can own machine guns, you can own silencers. these require you to go through an additional background check. there have been little or no crimes committed with those weapons and they are super assault weapons. >> but are you aware, sir, that the last three mass shootings in america, at sandy hook the school, at a shopping mall in oregon and aurora movie theater were all with an ar-15? are you aware of that? >> i'm aware of that. and all it would take is for one person with a concealed handgun to put them out of business.
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and that happenses quite a bit and i think it happens more so -- >> so your suggest at sandy hook would be for one of the female teachers to pull a gun and would shoot somebody with limited training, would shoot somebody carrying an ar-15 that could fire up to 100 bullets in a minute? that would be your solution? >> no, that's not the solution, sir. >> what do you mean, then? i misunderstood you. >> i think that probably there should be an equal amount of firepower that a teacher should have. a principal should possibly have an ar in her office. and -- >> let me get this straight. you're suggesting that a female teacher at an elementary school would have her own ar-15 assault weapon and would start firing 100 bullets at another guy with school children everywhere? that is your solution, is it?
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>> why are we beating up on the women here, whether it be a women teacher or a man teacher, it's insignificant. the fact is they are going to have training, they are going to have good training and hopefully instead of spraying 100 rounds down a hallway, they will shoot once and kill the guy or kill whoever the perpetrator is. we're not talking about just free fire. we don't do those types of things. when you're shooting a weapon to protect yourself, you always know what's behind it. and this business of shooting hundreds and hundreds of rounds, that's hollywood stuff. >> actually, it's not, sir, because as you may be aware, that's exactly what happened in the movie theater in aurora with an ar-15 and exactly what happened at sandy hook school. you are aware that 26 people were killed at sandy hook and that 17 were shot in aurora and died. you are aware that these weapons did unleash many, many, many
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bullets, are you, and killed many, many people? >> my comment was that the person who is defending his place, whether it be a school or a theater, if they are trained properly, they can shoot one time and they take out the person who is spraying bullets. >> right. >> and hopefully take him out before he sprays a lot of bullets. the name of the game is to have equal power that the criminals have. >> right. >> i think that anyone in any profession that wants to be armed should be allowed to be armed. i agree with governor perry that when you've gone through these classes, when you've gone through the background check, when you've proven that you're capable of handling a weapon safely, i think you ought to be able to carry it anywhere and if you're a nurse, that's a good place. if you're a clergyman, that's a good place, also. >> arming the clergymen, teachers, and nurses. crockett keller, thank you for joining me.
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police spokesman say that at 9:30 a gunman burst into the school gymnasium with four handguns. when the shooting stopped, 16 youngsters ages 4 to 6 were dead as was one of their teachers. among the people done wrong, the question remains why their town, their children? >> the same question is being asked in newtown were raised in 1996 in scotland. the school massacre there led to sweeping gun control changes in the uk. those changes were fueled by petitions signed by 750,000 people. that petition was created by dr. mick whose daughter died. welcome, mr. north. this must have brought back particularly painful memories
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back to you? >> yes, it certainly did. when i heard the age of the victims and the place in which it happened, it was inevitable that all sorts of memories were going to come back and most of those were likely to be painful ones. >> you became a symbol for new gun control in britain. you were very forceful about it. you got this extraordinary petition going and led to an almost complete ban on handguns. the difference here, it seems to me, and i want to you explore this if you can, it's very political, the debate about handguns in america. it wasn't the same way back in britain, was it? >> no, it wasn't. there were politicians who stood by the gun lobby but i would say the majority of our mps have had an open mind on the subject or were very much in favor of doing
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something to tighten up on gun control. >> what impact did the ban on handguns have in britain? >> well, the level of gun crime in britain is very low compared with the u.s. gun crime has been falling in england every year for the last eight years. in scotland, it's at the lowest level for well over 20 years and as you probably know, a lot of people in america don't know, gun deaths in great britain, gun homicides are running at about 30 to 35 per year. now, i understand that's a similar number to the number per day in the usa. >> there is a theory put out by the pro gun lobby theorists as in newtown here is to arm the
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teachers. what is your reaction to that? >> i just do not understand the logic of that. if they arm the teachers, does that mean they also have to provide the teachers with body armor? i understand that he had body armor on to protect himself being shot at. do the children have to have body armor? how far do we have to go? the idea that because the problem is guns the answer is guns is simply ridiculous and i think it reflects more that some people take every opportunity to expand the gun trade. >> there are obviously many families grieving, appalling, appalling grief that they are going through at the moment. you've been in their very position, dr. north. is there any advice that you can give them, any words of comfort from somebody who's, quite literally, lived through what
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they've gone through in. >> i think one of the main strengths that those of us who lost children in dunblane found was being brought together and when we were in our own company, we were able to talk about what had happened, talk about our children. i would hope that in newtown, perhaps if the families could -- are able to come together, they might draw some comfort in being able to talk with one another. >> the if not now when campaign launches tomorrow it's the goal is to end gun violence by 2015 and create it harder to get guns. doctor, i appreciate your success with your ongoing campaign. just a safer world is what it boils down to.
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>> yes. it's putting the right to life at the top before any rights of ownership of guns. >> thank you for joining me, sir. i appreciate it. >> thank you. designed for women's health concerns as we age. it has 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day 50+. trust duracell to power their donated toys? duralock power preserve. it locks in power for up to 10 years in storage. guaranteed. duracell with duralock. trusted everywhere. advil pm® or tylenol pm. the advil pm® guy is spending less time lying awake with annoying aches and pains and more time asleep. advil pm®. the difference is a better night's sleep.
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right on. >> what i like, it's got the barrel. >> you see that back there in. >> i wouldn't use a firearm like this on a deer. it's unsportsman-like. >> one of the scenes from "the sopranos." welcome, david. we chose that scene. as a kind of illustration, i guess of one of the violent scenes from the "sopranos" though it wasn't by any means one of the most violent shows on television. people are trying to say part of the blame has to resign with tv, hollywood, as well as everything else. guns, mental health and so on. what do you say to that? >> well, i think when a thing
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like this happens, all questions are on the table and deserve an answer if you can get one. but i think the answer about what hollywood's role in all this is -- the question is likely to be a digression delaying tactic. >> quintin tarantino said it was a ridiculous argument that movies influence real life. >> i don't know the answer to that. i look at it differently. i wonder if -- people talk about, these depictions of violence have made the world a worse place. i just ask myself the question, has mary poppins made the world a better place? where's the data on that? i'm not being glib when i say that, i mean it. have all the happy movies made this a better planet? how do we quantify this stuff. >> "the sopranos" when it came
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to an end, what were your honest feelings? >> i was very happy, i was relieved, i was really tired of it. i was having a good time, but i was tired and tired of it. it took a while, but i began to miss it. py began to miss the social aspect of it. going to work every day. what used to annoy me about it, what i started to miss. why do we have the same meetings every week why do we have to talk about the same problems every week? >> did you hope to have a legacy? >> here's all i remember coherently, is that there's this elvis costello song "radio, radio," the lyrics are i want to bite the hand that feets me.
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i never felt like that about network tv. >> why? >> i worked with four talented people, learned a lot. worked on good shows. but the network system just tries to boil the vitamins out of everything. the beans always come out really limp and soggy. they're never crisp and they have this instinct to take out the thing that makes it interesting or ambiguous, they know right where to go for it, i towned it unhuman like. when i would watch tv, i would say, this doesn't seem like life. >> despite that, you pursued your directing career. your first movie -- why now to plunge into the big screen? >> i tried very hard. when i went to film school, i wanted to be a film director. i couldn't get arrested. i wrote scripts for 20, 30 years.
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none of them got made or sold. and after the sopranos, you know, that's the way hollywood is, they're willing to make a movie with me. >> let's watch a clip from the film. >> i pay that college $2,000 a year for this? >> there's people with longer hair than me. >> look at the coat. it looks like he just got off the boat at ellis island. >> what? >> not fade away. a familiar face james gandolfini. why did you want him? >> i didn't -- i wasn't thinking about jim originally for this, for the role of the father. i don't write with an actor in mind usually. in fact never. but i was having trouble with the script. i wrote a draft. i didn't know what it was. i pictured him -- or my wife suggested he would make a good dad for the kid.
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i pictured him in the role -- when the whole movie clicked into place, in terms of what tone it would have. >> they're suggesting an auto buy graphical view, you wanted to be a rock star? >> i wanted to be a rock 'n' roll musician, i don't know if i wanted to be a star. >> doesn't everyone go out to be a rock 'n' roll star? maybe they're lying about it. do you see yourself on stage strutting a guitar with long hair? >> yes. >> it's a compelling film. james gandolfini is terrific in it. were you happy in the end? were you ever happy with your work? >> i am happy. i always look at work as a learning experience. i'm really happy with what i learned from doing this. i think i made some personal and artistic or artisan like progressions in my work. >> thoroughly enjoyed the movie. good to meet you.
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you should have been in the sopranos. you have a perfect face for it. >> i was for about 15 milliseconds. i was an italian guy sipping espresso. >> you have a great head for a gangster. is that a compliment? >> yes, absolutely. >> good to see you. we'll be right back. >> commander, bon jour. ♪
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