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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  November 22, 2011 2:00pm-2:30pm PST

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tavis: good evening from los angeles i'm tavis smiley. a conversation with oscar winner christopher waltz. he teamed up with a director for his latest film, "carnage" and features kate winslet and jodey foster and the "csi:ny" star is here offering fin nanchal advice. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard, it's the cornerstone we know, not just a street or boulevard but where wal-mart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to provide
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financial literacy and remove obstacles one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: we have an oscar-winning actor for his role in "inglorious basterds" and see him in the new film "carnage" which is based on the very successful play "gods of "carnage" and stars kate winslet and jodey foster. and now here are some scenes from "carnage." >> i'm thinking we might have had a knee-jerk reaction.
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>> i'm not sure we see the big picture. >> sure, we do. >> let him taste it. >> very good. >> excuse me. >> yeah. >> undesirable side effects. looks like you are drunk. >> you know what they were arguing about? >> wouldn't let him be a part of the game. >> no. i'm thrilled to hear it. >> yeah. >> zachary is not a maniac. >> yes, he is. he is a maniac. tavis: you have that and academy award winners, this had better be good. [laughter] tavis: this better be good. >> no pressure. i'm relieved now. tavis: what did you make of the filming of the project? >> i must admit, i didn't count the oscars and nominations
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before we started, otherwise i would have been intimidated. the first day or two, spent in awe. and then thankfully everybody was kind of agreeing to get on with the job. it was the level of professionalism, the best meaning and best sense of the word was wonderful. tavis: i suspect if i ask this question of ms. winslet or ms. foster or mr. riley, i would get a different answer, when you say the first day was spent in awe, what was you in awe of? >> roman po lmp arch nmp ski. >> he has been making movies before i was born, since then. roman polanski.
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>> and i followed him and aware of his status as a film maker and his importance in film history. from you know, the moment i got interested in movies as a kid, fearless vampire hunters was the first thing that i saw. so to then be after 40 years be asked, would you like to work with him? what? [laughter] tavis: let me ask you, i want to get the question out the right way. i get your fascination with polanski as a film maker. how much then does the script play in making a decision to work with a director who you have been in awe of your entire life? >> well, technically speaking, a lot, because the script is really what it's supposed to be. tavis: polanski could have asked
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you to be in a piece of crap and you would have still said yes? how much did the script have to do with it? [laughter] >> with the decision, i have a differentiate, a little. with the decision, it didn't have that much to do, you know. but, with my enthusiasm to play this part in this play, everything was like piled on, you know. it was like one bonus after another. i felt like a wall street banker. tavis: uh-huh >> bonus after bonus after bonus and i questioned why me. [laughter] tavis: great analogy. they think the bonus. nobody is asking on wall street why me. >> why him. tavis: yeah, exactly. i saw the play. and i saw that it was being turned into a film and nothing amazed me in terms of what
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hollywood can do, but i was really interested to know how well this was going to come off on screen, because it's not a whole lot of scenery to work with, you are stuck in an apartment. but you think it got off pretty well. >> it needed a master like polanski, but i don't think the confined space contradicts the idea of film, that on the contrary, you know. if someone like polanski really knows the cinematic implications, he derive drama from a confined space than, you know, like a panarama. tavis: you really do have to have great actors to make you forget about the fact that this movie hasn't moved out of this
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room, but i'm getting this. >> i'm sure you're right, but my angle is you do need to have great actors any way, period, in anything. tavis: that's a good point. we jumped into this so quick and we do this, for those who have not seen the play and don't know what the story line is, i'll let you do justice about what the story is all about. >> the story is about two civilized couples -- [laughter] tavis: i'm laughing at that word. you know what i'm laughing at? >> -- approaching the limits of their life in terms of civilized behavior. it's about -- they have -- each couple has a son and they play together and one hits the other
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with a stick and breaks two teeth. and now the two civilized couples, one couple -- he is like a wholesaler in plumbing and household ware and she's a writer and the other couple, she's an investment broker and he is a corporate lawyer. and they want to do the right thing and come to an agreement and sort of settle the matter. and yet little kinks and cracks appear in their communicational intercourse, so to say, and it ends in disaster. tavis: i assume in this conversation with you, give me some sense of why polanski
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wanted to bring this particular play to film. >> i'm sure it's the drama and the clash of characters and then he saw -- he saw possibilities for himself. and he saw that he can actually lift this from the stage to the screen. and i'm sure -- and he's known the author for a long time and i think they tried to work together on several occasions, but on the stage, which polanski also directs for the stage. and so this kind of -- i think it was an organic development between the two of them and they found the topic in the play. tavis: i'm going to put you on
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the spot here, i have had the experience a few times in my life, more than a few times, where there was somebody i was just dying, i'm a huge fan of person x and dying to spend time with them, interview with them. sometimes it lives up and sometimes it doesn't live up to my expectations but even then i try to take something from the experience and try to learn something from the person, even if it doesn't go the way i felt it should go. one, did it live up to your expectations and number two, what did you take from the experience? >> one, i just noticed you said one with your thumb. tavis: am i go go to win an academy award, too? >> possibly. [laughter] >> so, one, one.
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tavis: all right. >> it exceeded my wildest dreams. i have heard these stories about roman polanski and not everybody can take him because he is obsessed with detail and precision and wants your utmost concentration at every given moment. if you miss your mark by half, he says oh, oh! [laughter] >> i love that stuff. not everybody does. and cinematically, as far as i can follow, it was a lesson from a to z, the way he sets up a shot and the way he demands this precision and concentration from
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himself and he is 78 years old. he has been making movies for 60 years. he can't be wrong. it's impossible. you might disagree with him, yeah. sometimes it's not even that difficult. but that's your problem. he's not wrong, never. so i felt like a school boy happy to be in school. that was a unique experience for me, because i hated school. i felt like another piece of wisdom from your mouth to master, please. really. i'm not exaggerating. apart from the fact that he has a fantastic sense of humor and is sarcastic constantly ironic -- he more or less communicates in irony and i love all of that. so that's just to give a vague
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description of why i think it exceeded my hopes. and it kind of answers a little bit the second question as well. tavis: uh-huh. >> it was -- it is because of the fun, i admit if we worked together, you would probably need a while to get use todd that. it's not everybody -- to get used to that. i just happen to be that way, so i had fun. we only shot six weeks. i could have done it another two, three months. and just to be -- to be there in the presence of these great people and with a master who says, now, do it! because all of us weren't exactly born yesterday, we could do it.
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so it was a constant feeling of gratification and satisfaction that what he wanted could be transposed into some sort of reality right away. and you want me to go on, i could go on for another week and a half. [laughter] tavis: i think i get it. anybody who had this much fun working on a project with that many academy awards on the stage is worthy to see their work. the project is called "carnage." i'm honored to have you on this program. we can go shopping together. i love suede shoes. glad to have you on. hill harper is up next. stay with us. tavis: pleased to have hill
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harper, the actor continues his role on chris: and is out on -- "csi:ny" . when i first saw this book come across my desk. hill harper is now suesey ormond and writing books about relationships and wealth. until i actually got in the book and i understood why you were compelled to write this. and as a back story to why you are writing the book. >> it's a combination thing. with my foundation, i deal with a lot of young people, old folks, and we talk about what do you want your life to look like? and most of them come back with an excuse centered around money, i would go to school but i don't have the cash, so i wanted to deal into money and wealth.
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i was in atlanta shooting a movie for "colored girls." and i woke up one morning and i couldn't swallow and i called a doctor in atlanta and we did a biopsy and i was diagnosed with a pretty serious form of thyroid cancer and in the midst of writing this book, it made me take a step back and that's what the title relates to, "the wealth cure." i realized that the same methodology that the doctors were using to cure me, we could use to cure our financial issues. i applied the same techniques, treatment plan, compliance, maintenance and hopefully thrive and that's the basis of what makes "the wealth cure" the book. tavis: first if i can, talk about your personal cure, you and i have known each other for a lot of years and i can't imagine what it would be like at
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your young age when you are -- everything is flowing for you in the right way, you are on a big hit tv show. you think you are invince i believe, how do you handle a doctor telling you you have cancer? >> it really got me, i'll be honest. and my father passed from cancer in 2000. my grandfather died before that with cancer. the male line, cancer has gotten us. i knew it was genetic and when i got the diagnosis and i thought am i go go to go the same route? and the thing is, early detection. preventative work is great, but if you feel something that isn't right -- i could have said i have a soar throat and gone on, but i knew something was wrong. if you have an intuition, get it
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checked out. knock on wood -- you have real wood on this set, tavis? [laughter] tavis: you can knock on it. >> and the doctors are right. it was due to my thyroid and cut it out and it is gone. i was worried about my career. your vocal chords are near your thyroid. tavis: i was just reading harry belafonte and i did not know the extent to which the raspiness, the sound he has, has to do with this very thing. he had throat surgery and he was
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a great singer and his voice never came back and that raspy heny sound you hear now is the surgery he had. he talks about it in his book and i raise that now because i can imagine your voice is your career. >> my voice is my career and after the first two weeks of my surgery, i couldn't talk. the doctors did nerve monitoring and said your voice will come back. but it's a blessing. so many people out there are dealing with so many things that are far worse than my condition. number two, i had the best health care available to me. and so i feel so blessed, so fortunate. and i'm good, man. i'm good. in part, i weave that into this book. it is not susie ormond but somewhere in between. tavis: i want people to purchase your book, but take a couple of
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them and draw the parallels from your cure to "the wealth cure," the parallel you made and make the linching for me. >> there was -- the link for me. >> when we see the occupy wall street movement and big banks and debt, we look at personal debt and all these things being pointed at government debt. one of the numbers i came across when i was doing research for the book, back in 19 0 we were carrying $365 billion in personal debt. it has skyrocketed by 2008 to $2.6 trillion. as much as we want to talk about governmental debt, it's the government reflecting our behavior and it is the overvaluation of money, the idea that many of us has assigned money as a result rather than a tool to be used to create the life you want.
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that's where health comes in. health is the exact same thing. health is the foundational tool to help us live the life. if you do certain things and do it correctly and provide the resources it needs to operate in can have that foundation solid and live the life you want to live. if you start to abuse it and do wrong actions, like we are seeing the abuse of money and seeing wrong actions taken around money, people, predatory individuals that have the power and resources to prey on individuals. we are seeing wrong action and seeing bad results. in terms of your health, wrong action, bad result. tavis: you mentioned the country and i would be remiss if i didn't ask you we know how hard you campaigned for barack obama. i know you are going to campaign even harder. what a great time to ask who is on the finance committee for the campaign and written about "the
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wealth cure," your sense of how the president is going to navigate this shaky economy and a lot of people, even african americans are concerned about his handling of the economy, what will you be saying about these issues relative to him on the campaign? >> a lot of the issues we are dealing as far as the economy, they are things -- and people don't like to hear this, but things have been said long before he took office. but folks want results now as well as they should. there is no one else working harder, no one i know that is smarter doing the work, attempting to figure it out. now, the president's main job ultimately is to provide leadership for the country and when things come across his desk, either sign them or veto them, sign them back, it's tough. a congress isn't sending you anything. he can't go into congress and
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write the bill and then send it to himself and sign it. we have to highlight some of the things he has done right and replicate things like the auto industry and saving those jobs. we look at health care, 40 million americans don't have health care. speaking of someone who had cancer, that's very important to me. we start to highlight things that he has done well, that's important. and the economy, part of it is going to be us taking responsibility. when we see movements like occupy wall street and see folks out there demanding change, it's about us, it's about the people making that happen. tavis: it is about us. government has a role to play, no doubt about that. much of what ails us, even though there are jobs, we hope that will be addressed in the not too distant future. what's the advice you offer to every day people who find themselves in the situation right now where they need their money situation to be cured?
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>> the first is, you have to have a diagnosis and all in individual situations where it is specific. i talk about different ways to break out your own diagnosis and biggest crippling factor is our own personal debt that we carry. so many of us are crippled with credit card debt. i talk about the difference between smart money and dumb money. many of us are talking about dollars to dollars but it's not true. it is worth the same or more. dumb money is whatever you bought -- depreciated or worth less. anything with credit card debt, you have to figure out a way to get rid of that debt first because you are going to be stuck. one of my favorite quotes is you can't be free if the cost of you being is too high. for so many of us, debt has saddled us with that cost and we
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aren't free. tavis: wonderful actor and writer. i recommend "the wealth cure" written by hill harper. hill, good to have you back on the program. see you next time on pbs. thanks for watching and as always, keep the faith! >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: join me next time with a conversation with david cronenberg on "a dangerous method." >> every community has martin luther king boulevard and the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street, but a place for wal-mart to stand together with your community to make every day better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley with every question and every answer. we are proud to join tavis to
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improve financial literacy and remove obstacles. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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