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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Robert Redford Directs "The Conspirator"
Aired April 11, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, one of the most mementos events in the history of his country. One of the most popular presidents ever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MCAVOY, ACTOR, "THE CONSPIRATOR": Lincoln has been shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One bullet it has killed our beloved president.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And one of the biggest and most political movie stars in Hollywood, and what do you get? The one and only Robert Redford and the mother of all conspiracy theories. With the all-star cast of "The Conspirator."
Tonight what the history book don't tell you about the murder of Abraham Lincoln. Plus, Redford's take on the president and politics today.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Robert Redford, how are you?
ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: Well, so far, so good.
MORGAN: I want to thank you, really, for three life lessons that you gave me. One was "All the Presidents Men" inspired me to be a journalist. So I became a journalist in Britain for 20 years. And that movie exploded just when my head was getting into news. So thank you for that.
REDFORD: Well --
MORGAN: Secondly, thank you for helping me with my wife because the scene --
REDFORD: Wait a minute --
MORGAN: Well, the scene in my second of my favorite Redford move is "The Way We Were" was the boating scene in Central Park where you did the lying down and she did the roaring. REDFORD: Oh, you like that?
MORGAN: Well, I made her do that. And she liked the independence of mind. Never knew it came from, obviously. But I knew where I got it came from so it worked. Thank you.
And thirdly, I just learned if I ever get to the point where I may be cornered in a shack and I know that I'm going to die, I just loved the fact that you've now taught me the way to go is to come out blazing.
MORGAN: Just hit, bang, open the doors.
REDFORD: That's right.
MORGAN: It's the way to go, isn't it.
REDFORD: I think so. I hope they don't go that way but I think it's the way to go.
MORGAN: Do you get hundreds, thousands, possibly in your case, millions of people telling you how they've changed their lives because you've had their lives altered?
REDFORD: That's a good question. I -- yes, I have. I don't know how seriously I was going to take it, but it might have been a form of flattery or something. But I know that I made a film about fishing. And people claim that they either started to fish after that or appreciated somebody was honoring the sport.
I don't know that I was aware of driving anybody into a profession.
MORGAN: Even with "All the President's Men"?
REDFORD: Well, I'm wrong. As a matter of fact there's a double edge to that. When I made that film, that's what, 40 years ago. When I made that film it was at a high point for journalism. It was journalism at its richest point in its own history and I was honored to be able to be a part of that.
What happened afterwards because a film was made about the reporters, it had a kind of a romantic appeal. I found this out afterwards. I wasn't thinking about this when we did it. So afterwards, suddenly the journalism schools were getting overloaded with applicants. And I wondered if they went into journalism for the right reasons or other reasons. Like the glamour of it.
MORGAN: Well, obviously because they wanted to be like you.
REDFORD: You think?
REDFORD: How it did work out? I guess OK with your wife, huh?
MORGAN: And I think it worked out pretty well. Yes, I got the blonde. Got me into shape so it was fine. But it was -- but it was a really compelling movie in the sense of, these two desperate souls thrown into a newsroom which is very like how newspaper officers actually are. There are lots of weird, different people thrown in and they chase a story together.
I like that dynamic. That you were so complete polar opposite as the characters.
REDFORD: Me too, that's what drew me to it. What drew me to that -- I'm always attract to the story underneath the story. You think you know, usually is another story. There's another level there.
And what drew me to that was not Nixon. I had my own issues with Nixon. It would had been very easy to tag that. I didn't want to do that. The country knew what the deal was. The country knew by the time the film came out that the president had resigned and so forth.
When I got involved with the project before they ever wrote their book and it was in 1972 and the film came out in '76, it was a four- year journey, but the thing that interested me, that drew me to it, was there was an article about who are the two guys that caused all this trouble?
When I said the one guy was a Jew, the other guy was a wasp, the other guy -- one guy was a Republican, the other guy was an extreme liberal. One guy was considered a good writer, the other guy not so good. They didn't like each other but they had to work together.
That's what got me. I thought what's the -- what's the chemistry of those two guys and how they had to dig and work harder than anybody else with those contrasts in place? So that's what drew me to the project. Because I figured that people wouldn't know that part of the story.
MORGAN: The other thing -- if things had been d different, you could have been a journalist.
REDFORD: Well, I'm obviously interested in journalism. I'm interested in getting to the truth which is harder and harder these days with the Internet. You don't know where it is but I've always been interested in idea of injustice. I think the way I grew up as a kid. Experiencing it in different ways.
And so I think journalism was a path into that. But I don't think -- I don't know that I would have the discipline to be a good journalist. But I was always attracted to it. Because it seemed like a channel to the truth. And somebody was out there digging in under the propaganda where we were given or whatever the claims were, you know.
MORGAN: I heard that you don't watch your own movies?
REDFORD: Well, not all of them, no. That's a long story. I guess it's weird. No, I'm not comfortable looking back on something. You've done something, then you move on. Some movies I haven't seen simply because I was out of the country when they were shown.
MORGAN: Which ones have you never seen?
REDFORD: Well, I hadn't seen "The Sting" for a long, long time until my grandson asked me if he could run that movie, and I said, you mean you haven't seen that movie? And he said, no, have you? And I said, no. He said, so what are you talking about? I realized --
MORGAN: When was that?
REDFORD: -- that it was a good movie.
MORGAN: When did you watch it?
REDFORD: Three years ago.
MORGAN: You first saw "The Sting" three years ago?
REDFORD: I saw it with my family three years ago.
MORGAN: That's crazy.
REDFORD: Well, I guess -- yes, from your point of view it is.
MORGAN: What did you think?
REDFORD: For my mind -- it was a good movie.
MORGAN: It's a great movie.
REDFORD: I looked and I said, this is really a good movie. And well made by George Ray Hill, he was really a terrific storyteller.
MORGAN: Have you seen "Butch Cassidy"?
REDFORD: I did see "Butch Cassidy." When I saw that in (INAUDIBLE), I said what's that song doing in here? I said, you've got to be kidding.
MORGAN: One of the greatest movie stars of all-time.
REDFORD: Was I wrong. I mean I'm wrong an awful lot.
MORGAN: I'll tell you. Let's have a little clip from "Butch Cassidy." It's one of my favorites. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REDFORD: Better get ready.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kid, the next time I say let's go some place like Bolivia let's go some mace like Bolivia.
REDFORD: Next time. Ready?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we'll jump.
REDFORD: Like hell we will.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And then we get to my favorite line ever, which is, I can't swim.
MORGAN: But when you watch these years later --
REDFORD: I've watched that.
MORGAN: -- what goes through your mind?
REDFORD: When I --
MORGAN: When you watch these films decades later?
REDFORD: Well, seeing that of course reminds me of my good friend Paul.
REDFORD: And it reminds me of the sadness I feel about the loss. But other films -- you know I haven't seen all the films. To me it's a part of the past and I don't spend a lot of time in the past. Sometimes I'll look at a film -- most actors look at stuff they've done and they go, oh my god, it could have been so much better. I should have done this, I should have done that. And I'm no different than anybody else.
MORGAN: Do you have a favorite Redford movie?
REDFORD: I think the -- yes. I think "Butch Cassidy" because it was so much fun. In other words, I love to ride. I like doing the stunts, you know? And Paul and I had a great relationship that just evolved into making the film but it was so much fun. It was in the country I love. Getting on a horse. Being an outlaw which I felt like most of my life.
And so -- and it was a wonderful script by Bill Goldman. And beautifully directed by George Ray Hill.
MORGAN: And how did it -- REDFORD: Except that song that was in it.
MORGAN: How good of a shot are you?
REDFORD: I'm a good shot.
MORGAN: Are you? Could you do a little Sundance trick.
MORGAN: I don't have one in here. I couldn't carry firearms at CNN, as you know, Mr. Redford. But do you that kind of stuff? You (INAUDIBLE) shots?
REDFORD: I love -- I love -- I had a gun -- they gave me a gun two weeks before the film and I would strap on a holster and as you walk on, just drawing whenever I could because I want to be able to not have them speed up the camera so it was fun.
MORGAN: It was interesting to me when -- and this is any one of huge stature of Hollywood dies. Elizabeth Taylor recently died as well. How they get remembered in the immediate aftermath, the clips that get played most and that kind of thing.
If you had a choice, if you were to direct your own obituaries, and I'm not predicting this in the short term, obviously. But if you were able to, which -- other than "Butch Cassidy" which parts of your film career would you most like people to focus on?
REDFORD: Well, I've enjoyed a lot of the films that I've made. And it would be very hard to choose. I mean, if you take "All the President's Men," that was such a hard film to get made because of all the circumstances surrounding it. "Butch Cassidy" because it was so much fund to make.
There are other -- "The Candidate" simply because it was one the first films I was able to produce myself to tell a story that I want to tell about how I was thinking we were electing people by cosmetics and not substance, and it was fun to make that. A very low-budget film.
MORGAN: "Ordinary People"?
REDFORD: "Ordinary People" because that was the first directing job. And I decided, look, you've acted -- you've been an actor for hire, you've been in the theater, you've produced films you wanted to make to tell your own story, but now you should do the whole thing. And so that was the first one out.
And it was really a film about a segment of society that I had seen but I hadn't really seen it on film. And particularly -- a particular character that I'd not seen on film that Mary Tyler Moore played so I liked making that film. I had no idea what was going to happen to her, but I liked making it.
MORGAN: Tell me about Paul Newman. What kind of man was he?
REDFORD: He had a very short attention span. And we used to have fun with that. He was -- had a great deal of integrity. He was a realist about his own talents. He was not -- he worked hard to not be taken by it all. And that I appreciated. He -- very generous. Extremely generous guy.
And an actor that improved over the years. He just took his craft and he just worked on it and worked on it and improved. Obviously, a man who was an activist in the best sense of the word.
MORGAN: Like you. I mean appealed to you to the fact that he was --
REDFORD: Well, yes, we shared that but in different ways. But his -- the invention of that whole grocery -- you know, the salad oil, I was at a table in Napa Valley, and we were eating dinner and the table next door was making all of this fuss. And I could tell they were looking at me, they were going to come over and say something and, oh god.
And finally this guy comes over to the table and he says, hey, I've just got to tell you something. I've seen every one of your movies and I am really, really a fan. I mean I feel embarrassed. I don't want to disrupt you and I said, it's OK, and he said, and your salad dressing, it's fabulous.
REDFORD: And so I -- and anyway, I think -- he just, good man, that's it.
MORGAN: And you turned that salad dressing into a phenomenal business.
REDFORD: Oh, yes. And very fun doing it, yes.
MORGAN: And an amazing charitable thing as well.
REDFORD: Yes. Had fun doing it, too.
MORGAN: We're going to take a short break. When we return, bring on two of your stars from your new movie which I watched last night.
MORGAN: And it raises some fascinating issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCAVOY: Where is his (INAUDIBLE)?
ROBIN WRIGHT, ACTRESS, "THE CONSPIRATOR": I don't know.
MCAVOY: I'm done. I'm done defending your lies.
WRIGHT: You're so blind with hatred, Mr. Aiken, you can't even see the truth. Yes, my son hated the North. We all did. How can a son don't feel anything that have been (INAUDIBLE) towards your side? But my son did not conspire to kill your president. He conspired to kidnap him.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And joining me now from the cast of "The Conspirator," the beautiful Robin Wright, who plays Mary Surratt, the woman accused of conspiring to kill President Abraham Lincoln. Also joining us, extremely talented young James McAvoy, from "My Home Country," who plays a lawyer who struggles to defend her.
Gentlemen, lady, I watched the movie on the plane last night. Riveted. I watched it straightforward. And it raises some fascinating ethical issues, doesn't it? Because it reminded me -- in a certain way it reminded me of what happened in America after 9/11.
In the sense that when a country comes under attack or is in chaos, as America was when your film is set, I think you said it, Robert, in a previous interview that it creates chaos, chaos creates fear, and people take advantage of the fear in government to try to resolve it in a way they want to. And
the question then becomes is, what is the greater cause, I guess? Did you see a parallel between actions taken by the Bush administration, for example, after 9/11, and what you saw in your movie?
REDFORD: I don't think it was exclusive. Those kind of actions weren't necessarily exclusive to the Bush administration. I think they'd been going on since the last 150 years. There's always been -- depending on some crisis, there's always been some attempt to mess around with the Constitution. I mean it's just an ongoing thing. It still happens.
MORGAN: I mean here's the weird thing, Robin, let me come to you, because fascinating character that you play. Because even at the end, I didn't know if she was guilty or not, which I guess is brilliant directing by Mr. Redford, but as you were playing the role, did you have any real sense of innocence or guilt? That it mattered to you?
WRIGHT: Yes, I think -- it's a twofold. You know the question and the answer. Because it's guilt possibly for justice, for others. But it's innocence for her as a mother. The protection of a child. I mean it's unwavering, the will of it you have. And I think it's separate in a part of what society say the definition is. MORGAN: You had the perfect face for it, I thought. Didn't give anything away. I couldn't work it out. I kept looking at you thinking it's like -- you know, like a thriller. Work out if you are guilty or not. And even when you stood there with the noose ring and everything, I don't want to give too much away. But it's a gripping thriller in many ways. I mean it is -- apart from your commendable American accent, by the way.
MORGAN: Extremely well done. Bordering an authentic.
MCAVOY: Excellent. Excellent.
MORGAN: How was it for you to immerse yourself in the American civil war like this?
MCAVOY: It was quite -- I suppose it wasn't that difficult of a thing. I've grown up with it. America (INAUDIBLE) seems to -- I mean America has been such an important country over the last 100 years or so the development and evolution than the rest of the world.
Their culture and their history, it feels like part of it a little bit. Why do -- why should I know who Lincoln was and who John Wilkes Booth was? In my place, I couldn't tell you who the prime minister was back then. You know what I mean? But yes, I do. I did know that.
So to find there was story that went -- that was sort of eclipsed by the glamour of Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth, the two most photographed men of their day in the entire world. In fact there was this other interesting story behind it, that was hugely interesting to me and also to play a guy who loved his country so much that he was willing to die for it and proved that by fighting for years.
MORGAN: Because your character, just to tell the viewers who haven't seen the movie yet, your character is diametrically opposed politically to the woman that he is defending.
MCAVOY: He's disgusted by the idea of defending her. Absolutely disgusted. And that's why it's an interesting character to play. That's why it's an interesting story to tell because he loves his country so much and that fuels his disgust and his hatred of this woman but ultimately his love for his country fuels his need to see that she receives a fair trial because he believes in the country and the constitution.
MORGAN: Be honest. I mean the moment you walked out for the first time and you see your director, hopefully, sitting in some intimidating chair, and you realize, oh my god, it's Robert Redford.
MORGAN: What happens then for a young actor?
MCAVOY: Well, he's very good. Because I think -- I think Robert has got this wonderful gift to get along with most people, anybody in my experience. And he's very good at forcing you to call him Bob, which just feels wrong because you feel --
MORGAN: You did not call him Bob, I hope? Did you?
MCAVOY: You feel like you should be calling him Sir Robert, but anyway --
MORGAN: Can we just rewind it? Did you call Robert Redford Bob?
REDFORD: Yes, please rewind it.
MCAVOY: Many, many times. Can't rewind Bob. It's just Bob. And --
MORGAN: I would have called you sir. I'll never (INAUDIBLE) in one of your movies.
REDFORD: I'm getting pretty nervous here. Can I just say one thing about James?
REDFORD: I wanted James right from the get-go. There was no other consideration. When I called him in England, I was amazed. I knew he was a good actor. I knew he had a lot of wonderful energy, but I was amazed at how smart he was about this script. And how much he already knew and that he zeroed in on the very essence of not only his character, but what the tension was in the film. It was great.
MORGAN: Well, it's interesting is your character going through his own terrible ethical dilemma and in fact social osterterization from his club and all that kind of stuff and I find that really interesting that, you know, you were really thrown to the walls by your own society to do this.
And yet as the movie goes on and you get more engrossed in your character, the woman you're defending, you become simply -- you know you ignore all that. You just say right, justice must be done. It's a powerful theme of movie.
MORGAN: That justice overcomes everything else.
MCAVOY: The reason that I was so interested in doing the film is because it's on the story about a time when America, a young country who -- a country which is on purpose. You know the rest of the world devolves thousands of years. This country started on purpose and this country at this moment is going to decide who going to be.
It's deciding upon its character and in a way he sort of represents America, both sides, South and North. And you know, somebody said to me, you know, it's easy to stick by the Constitution when it's easy, when times are good. It's harder to stick by the Constitution when the going gets tough. And that's the time when the going gets tough and is America going to stick with it? And he did. But it took a year for them to swing (INAUDIBLE) because oh no, we would never do that.
MORGAN: Robin, I mean, is this one of those roles for you that when you see the script, you just ring your agent and say, if you don't get me this role I'm going to hang (INAUDIBLE). You just knew. Your own instinct. Robert Redford directing, you see the script, I have got to do this.
REDFORD: Well, she -- go ahead.
REDFORD: She didn't need to because I wanted her -- I wanted James and Robin Wright off the bat. So I don't know what happened --
MORGAN: Has anyone ever said --
REDFORD: -- on her end but on my end it was a done deal and I just hoped she'd do it.
WRIGHT: I didn't read the script. I met with you.
REDFORD: She can't read.
WRIGHT: I met with you for maybe five minutes. He pitched. A relationship story. There was nothing political about it. He said, you know, we can talk about the parallels later. He said it's about a devout Catholic, mother, who has a surrogate son come into her life. Basically the opposition fall in love as a people. It's a humanity story and I want him in.
MORGAN: You never read the script?
WRIGHT: I read it after I met with you.
MORGAN: You have just proven that basically no woman can actually say (INAUDIBLE).
WRIGHT: Of course not.
MORGAN: Of course. You just proved it. You didn't even look at the script. Your power knows -- it just has no bounds, is it?
REDFORD: You don't mind if I'm not here for -- (LAUGHTER)
MORGAN: Well, actually we're going to have a short break anyway so everyone can calm down and we're going to bring out more of your co-stars from the movie.
REDFORD: You know you hit the -- the real --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN KLINE, ACTOR, "THE CONSPIRATOR": You're a very handsome man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.
KLINE: I will be coming here more. Down the hatch. Delicious. Merriment, experiment and you'll see good night.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was another member of the talented "Conspirator" cast, Oscar-winner Kevin Kline and he appeared his greatest roles, "Sophie's Choice", "A Fish Called Wanda", "Dave" and (INAUDIBLE), he's clearly an actor who can do just about anything.
The question, Kevin, for you is what do you prefer? Because I have loved all the comedic stuff you've done but watching the film last night, I sense you really enjoyed this role. And it's good old meaty, political serious role.
KLINE: Yes. And one of the things that Mr. Redford, Sir Bob, Sir Robert --
REDFORD: Buddy --
MORGAN: I said --
KLINE: But he called Bob, baby.
KLINE: I'd love for you to play this role, it is something you've never done. It's different than anything you've done before and it's true and it was great fun.
MORGAN: On the politics of it, it's interesting to me, we're talking earlier about any parallels here. I suppose the most obvious parallel is what's been going on at Guantanamo Bay, where you know it comes down to military tribunals, the -- you know a civil law case and so on. What is your view of that? I mean do you believe looking what happened in your movie, that what's going on now with Guantanamo is fundamentally wrong, that it's unjust?
KLINE: Well, I wouldn't -- I mean the parallel is there --
MORGAN: And you play the bad guy in the movie. So -- I'm not asking your character, I'm asking you --
KLINE: What I think. Well, you're asking me to defend my performance or the man I played.
MORGAN: Well, you played a Dick Cheney role, don't you really?
KLINE: Or Rumsfeld or a combination thereof. Listen, people -- nobody sees the same movie. Everyone is going to draw different parallels but I think, yes, there will be a resonance that people will see the relevance of post-9/11 and the tribunal versus the civil trial.
But our military tribunals today are very different than they were then. There is more -- I mean there was no burden of proof in those days. There are -- it has changed. So I wouldn't -- I think the movie is about more than that. But I think that's -- comes popping right now.
REDFORD: And let me see if I can give my take. I think that the parallels in the film were obvious. There are several. And I think it's for the filmgoers -- critics and the filmgoers to find because they're there and they're there by historical document. They weren't -- they're not anything that I invented.
My interest was in the characters that were tied to that story, tied to those events. That's what interested me was the emotional core that sat underneath all that, but the parallels, and when I start talking about the parallels, it'll suddenly be a leftist film and they're probably going to have already predisposition about the film.
MORGAN: You think that you're a liberal, are you?
REDFORD: No, I'm a right -- you didn't know that I was a member of the Tea Party?
REDFORD: It comes out when you are doing publicity.
MORGAN: Would you say you're a liberal? You categorize yourself as a liberal.
REDFORD: No, I think that I'm for reason. I'm for --
WRIGHT: It's the Bob party.
MORGAN: Bob party?
WRIGHT: Bob party.
MORGAN: I'll vote for that.
REDFORD: The two -- if they would just debate the ideas they have, I think it's legitimate you have different ideas. If they just debate them instead of -- it's a war zone. I mean they don't debate. They just trash each other and that's a -- that's a discredit and a dishonor to the American people, I think. They deserve better.
MORGAN: And how would you view a country ran by Sarah Palin?
REDFORD: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't even view it.
MORGAN: Would you be out of the country or --
REDFORD: Probably Switzerland. I --
REDFORD: Or other places. You know? I have more faith in the American people.
MORGAN: James, you've been in America quite a lot recently. What's your take on America?
MORGAN: It's a big country.
MCAVOY: Wonderful junk food.
MCAVOY: Of which I'm a fan. I spend a lot of time in the south, great, find food. What's my take on America? Well, I suppose the thing that excites me about America is its youth. It's strange coming from me because, you know, I'm the youngest person sitting here. But it's the youngest country I've been to barring maybe Australia.
And its own purpose, you know, this constitution -- it's not just the fact that there was a war of independence which said, right, we've got to be on our own, so we're going to decide to be our own country. But there's also a Constitution. It was not all -- al colonial then, independent countries. This constitution makes this country on purpose. This country decides its character with meaning.
MORGAN: And do you admire that?
MCAVOY: I do. I don't know if it's always going to -- if it always works, but it makes a really interesting place to be. And it means that in times like in this film -- the time we portray in this film, and like the times that you grow up, like in 9/11 and stuff, your character is really tested because it's very hard to maintain control of your character, of a nation's character, when you're a reactionary race.
We're a reactionary species. We react to things. But this -- this structure that was put in place to define America is rigid. So how do you reconcile those two things? And that's what makes it such an interesting thing.
MORGAN: Kevin, it's interesting, your character -- you play the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton. And it's clear he faces this huge dilemma about how to save his country, as he sees it. He has quite -- an apparently quite a noble calling. And in the end, he decides to override the Constitution. Let's just have a quick look at a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCAVOY: It's not justice you're after, it's revenge.
KLINE: I will never go to such lengths on vengeance. But to ensure the survival of this nation, I would do anything. Mayor Surratt (ph) was a party to the most grievance crime of our history. It is necessary to man that she be given a swift, sure and harsh sentence.
I, too, hold sacred our rights, counselor. But they count not at all if our nation ceases to exist
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Next, I just want to bring in an Oscar nominee who has played a string of American heads of state, Tom Wilkinson, after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM WILKINSON, ACTOR: This is a fragile country, Ed. You don't need to scare anymore.
KLINE: And who is to say none of these things could ever happen? The unspeakable already has. Our president assassinated, 600,000 dead. The world has changed.
WILKINSON: Abandoning the Constitution is not the answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Two-time Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson plays the senator who was a close ally to Abraham Lincoln, who strongly believed that everyone deserves a fair trial, even during wartime.
I believe you're a bit of an expert in these American characters. Benjamin Franklin, Secretary of State James Baker. And you're currently starring in the Kennedy miniseries.
WILKINSON: Yes. And your question is?
MORGAN: I don't know what the question is, this is a developing patent that I'm concerned about.
WILKINSON: Yes. I think I get hired because I bring in sort of a wonderful innocence and sort of ignorance to the roles. So no -- no prejudice.
MORGAN: It is interesting, in the Kennedy miniseries, you play Joe Kennedy. And obviously the Kennedys are -- you know, many people here have considered them the royal family, if you like, of American politics. What did you think of that constitutional issue, which is really at the heart of this movie?
I mean, the kennedys, I would imagine from what I have read about them, often flirted with the Constitution in a way that could be seem to be overriding it. It's not first time. Nixon certainly did. Clinton possibly did. I mean, there's a long history of presidents misbehaving.
In this movie, what's fascinating is I could see the point of why they wanted to override it. Could you?
WILKINSON: Yes. Yes, I could see Kevin's character's point, that you know -- what both characters are interested in is the future, forgetting healing the wounds of the past. And the tendency has been, in certain moments of crisis like that, for people to say, well, you can subvert the Constitution for the greater good.
I believe, as my character -- as my character believe, and I do too, that the -- the -- that's when you keep your head and justice, you know, holds the day. Because you then could sort of -- if you can show your opponents, the enemies of the Constitution, saying we're even -- however the great the temptation, we can still stick to the simple, you know, tenets of justice.
That makes us to be -- we, you know -- we're inhabiting the moral high ground, as it's called.
MORGAN: When you see what's going on in Guantanamo Bay, for example, what do you think?
WILKINSON: Well, that's a big question. I don't know that I'm qualified to answer it. But, I mean, if it's illegal, then it should stop. You know, you can't fight illegality by illegality.
MORGAN: A lot of Europeans feel that Guantanamo is a symbol of shame for American justice. I am quite an Obama fan, but I was quite disappointed that he did the big U-turn on Guantanamo, actually. I think that a lot of people were. and I think that given the premise of your movie, Robert, I mean, do you share that discomfort that your president right now has allowed Guantanamo to continue, when he said that he'd shut it down? REDFORD: In terms of the Guantanamo issue, I'm going to now be political and tell you, I don't -- I'm not comfortable because of the film. I would not want to be talking too much about what the parallels are, because I wouldn't want the film to be pushed into that category.
For me, the story is about the characters that are underneath the issues.
MORGAN: Well that's an interesting point. Because for those who haven't seen it -- and many of the viewers won't yet -- it tells the story of John Wilkes Booth, who was the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, and his apparent co-conspirators who joined in. And your character, Robin, is the mother of one of the gang.
And what is left hanging, really, is how implicated she was in it, isn't it? That's really what this film is about. And then the subplot, James, the defense lawyer, trying to work it out probably for himself as much as anything else.
WRIGHT: But it almost becomes irrelevant, her innocence about the act. It's about civil liberties. It's justice for her rights as a human being, not just a mother.
MORGAN: Americans take civil liberties very serious don't they, Kevin? The constitution's vital, to be clear. Civil liberties are taken pretty seriously, too.
MORGAN: And yet, in this film, when you made it, what was going through your mind about the ethical dilemma facing your character at that time? Because he existed. He had to make this decision.
KLINE: Oh yeah.
MORGAN: He had to somehow get America forward again from this horrendous Civil War.
KLINE: Yeah, it was -- the Civil War was a defining moment in our history. It was a time of such fear at the end of the war. The war had ended, but enemy combatants were still on the field. It was a fragile peace, at best. And he saw the big picture. And he felt it. He really was a true believer, and felt this was for the greater good, to squelch any further rumblings of the south will rise again.
To unify the country, we need to take action. And he, as is a human flaw, allowed that emotion to carry over into possibly, yeah --
MORGAN: Was he wrong?
KLINE: Was he wrong?
MORGAN: It's a true story.
KLINE: I'd rather -- I think in retrospect -- he was also, you know, later on -- you know the sequel. In the sequel, he was not very helpful during Reconstruction. He was not for appeasement. He was a tough cookie, and he had a -- I think a somewhat vindictive nature.
But yeah, in retrospect, I would -- I would say it would had been better to have a real proper civil trial. But it's fascinating. I was talking to so many -- I mean, the American Film Company has a group of historians who makes sure that everything is authentic and accurate.
And we were all discussing, you know, these issues. And historians -- it's still -- it's a very compelling story, because while we are historically accurate, it was a very human story.
MORGAN: What's amazing is nobody knew about this.
KLINE: No exactly.
MORGAN: You've unearthed this gem of a human interest story about the most famous assassination in the history American politics.
KLINE: That's what I am saying. There is always that other story behind the story. And I think the way Mr. Redford directed the film --
WRIGHT: Sir, sir.
MORGAN: That's the way to do it in public.
MORGAN: OK. We're going to take another short break. And we're going to bring in another star member of this stellar cast, which is Evan Rachel Wood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- should not be here. You promised Mason and you promise mead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one ever promised you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you did!
Come on, you're cooking. You're cooking again. Quick, over here. Over here.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: Naughty language. That was a clip from "13," a the film that put a young Evan Rachel Wood on the map. Robert, what do you look for, now that you've moved mainly into the director -- although I am going to come to the acting before we finish. When you're looking to cast, it seems like you've handpicked everybody at this desk right now.
What do you look for in a great actor or actress?
REDFORD: It starts with craft. To me that's very important, because you have -- if you have an actor that understands craft and is good at their craft, you can work with them. You can play with them. You can do different things, as opposed to somebody who is hired because of just a personality.
And the second thing is some kind of -- it's a personality thing. I think deep down there's some spark that makes them more individual. But it's all incorporated into the craft so it doesn't just jump out and stand out. I was really fortunate with this cast. I just had a wonderful, wonderful time.
MORGAN: Did you read the script? Or were you like, Robin, the moment his lordship rang, that was it, all over. Where do I sign?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD, ACTRESS: It was where do I sign, actually. Yeah, yeah. It was -- I got a call. I got on a plane in the next day. And I was in Savannah, Georgia.
MORGAN: In looking at this stellar gathering, what did you learn? When you work with a cast as talented and varied as this?
WOOD: Oh, wow, I'm just very humbled by everyone sitting at this table right now, and just honored to be a part of it. Including you, especially you.
MORGAN: Include this part of the table?
WOOD: Especially you.
MORGAN: Put myself in there.
WOOD: And you know, I think with what Bob said, just remembering to play and not to take it too seriously all of the time.
MORGAN: Did you ever imagine when you were young, you would call Robert Redford Bob?
WOOD: No, no. When he asked me to, I blushed.
REDFORD: Let me say something about her, OK, so we can get off of that horse. She -- you didn't have to say anything to her. I mean, she's so good that -- what I love, I didn't have to say hardly anything to her. She understood it. OK, I got it. She did have it. Just as if a few words here and there, and she would jump right on it. It was a joy.
MORGAN: You have another ethical dilemma in the movie which is really fascinating, where you have to basically choose, your character, between your mother and your brother.
MORGAN: Could you relate to that? Have you ever had anything in your life where you had to make a decision of that kind of magnitude?
WOOD: Fortunately, no. But I think family is really at the core of most people's beliefs. And I think that's what is so incredible. The dilemma that these two characters face is having to choose between devotion between their country and devotion between their family.
And I think at the end of the day, family is always going to prevail in that way.
MORGAN: I'm curious. When you have the sort of behind-the- scenes banter, do the women gang up on the guys? The feeling I get from most of the movies I watch is women tend to rule the roost a bit. Is that --
WOOD: We did have bigger skirts.
MCAVOY: I had a bigger beard, though.
WOOD: That's very true.
MORGAN: It was quite a strident beard you had. Did it make you feel --
MCAVOY: Yeah. I did do a lot of playing with it.
MCAVOY: A little bit. A little bit. I was very proud of my beard. I am very proud of my orange beard. It's a dying gene --
MORGAN: Looking at it --
MCAVOY: -- really celebrate the ginger.
MORGAN: That is a hell of a beard.
MCAVOY: Thank you, man.
MORGAN: When you've got Kevin Kline in the ranks --
MCAVOY: bearding off against --
MORGAN: Not bearding off, but on the humor level, I mean, is he as mischievous as I would hope he'd be on a movie set? MCAVOY: He is. But he's like -- I'm mischievous in the way that I would like bend over and make funny gestures. He's mischievous in the way that he's intellectual, really clever and articulate and verbose. So you kind of go wee, and he's very clever and funny.
MORGAN: Was it good fun to make this film?
WRIGHT: I think I have about 60 new crow's feet thanks to the -- we laughed so much.
WRIGHT: We needed levity. It's a serious film we were making.
MORGAN: Yeah, yeah.
WRIGHT: We laughed the whole time.
MCAVOY: Those scenes --
WRIGHT: We also couldn't breathe, remember. Corsets, 150 degrees on the set, smoke.
MCAVOY: Lots of smoke. Lots of smoke. Lots of people smoking cigars.
MORGAN: Kevin Kline in the corset or --
WOOD: Only when the camera wasn't rolling.
MORGAN: We're going to take a final break. When we come back, I want to ask each of you, purely to embarrass Bob in the corner, what your favorite Redford movie is.
MORGAN: Back now with the cast of "The Conspirator." And I left them with this huge cliff-hanger of what their favorite Robert Redford movie is. James, I'll start with you.
MCAVOY: It's a tossup between "Butch and Sundance" and "Barefoot in the Park."
MORGAN: Good call.
MCAVOY: I love that film.
WRIGHT: "The Way We Were," "Sundance." God, that's tough. I wanted him.
WRIGHT: I wanted him in -- how old was I?
MORGAN: In which movie?
REDFORD: Why am I just finding that out now?
WRIGHT: Oh, that was the dream man.
MORGAN: Kevin? Favorite Redford movie.
KLINE: What movies have you done, Bob?
REDFORD: Somehow it's gone out of my mind.
KLINE: I think "The Chase." I loved you in "The Chase" with Brando. That was you, wasn't it?
REDFORD: Yeah. No, that was Brando.
KLINE: With you. Brando with you.
REDFORD: I liked that part.
KLINE: Yeah. And I liked "The Conspirator." Because he finally had, you know --
MORGAN: Proper actor.
KLINE: He had a proper actor or two to work with.
WILKINSON: I like al of them. "Sting's" good. "Sundance" is good. I'm going to go with "Jeremiah Johnson."
WILKINSON: I like that film.
REDFORD: Thank you.
MORGAN: Interesting. Ellen?
WOOD: Well, I'm going to have to say "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." I grew up with westerns and riding horses. It actually inspired me to write a song based on the film. I never told you that. Yes, I have a song based on it.
MORGAN: You do? That you wrote?
MORGAN: You want to sing it?
WOOD: No. Maybe later.
MORGAN: Bended knee?
WOOD: Maybe later.
REDFORD: She's multi-talented. MORGAN: Robert, I suppose the big question is when you consider the vast array of movies you have made as an actor -- and you've had superb success as a director. This I'm sure will be a big hit, because I love this film.
I do wonder, like a lot of people, when's your next movie as a big actor going to come? You must be ready for one, aren't you?
REDFORD: Yeah, I am. Next. I hope next.
MORGAN: Have you got one in the pipeline?
MORGAN: Can you give us little --
MORGAN: -- clues?
MORGAN: Any co-stars?
REDFORD: No. I'm superstitious. I really am. I don't believe in talking about a film until you've done it.
MORGAN: You're not going to succumb to the sequel to "The Way We Were" with Barbra.
REDFORD: No, I don't think -- no.
MORGAN: She said she quite liked it.
REDFORD: I liked -- yeah, and I like her. But I think certain things should be left alone.
MORGAN: There's always rumors you might do a sequel to "Butch Cassidy" as well.
REDFORD: They were started by her.
MORGAN: Does she start all the sequel rumors?
REDFORD: I think she has all the rights.
MORGAN: Evan, what are you up to next?
WOOD: I actually just finished another political film called "The Ides of March." George Clooney directed it. And Ryan Gosling is starring in.
MORGAN: Wow. Getting all the hot roles, aren't you. Clooney or Redford?
WOOD: Oh, don't make me choose. What is, this Sophie's Choice? Come on.
REDFORD: I'm leaving.
MORGAN: Tom, what are you up to?
WILKINSON: Don't know.
MORGAN: Not sure yet?
WILKINSON: I'm not sure yet.
MORGAN: Will you be an American politician again? Round off the --
WILKINSON: Actually, there is --
MORGAN: -- quintet?
WILKINSON: There is a Ulysses S. Grant role that's coming up, which is quite good. So great character.
MORGAN: And isn't there a movie with Judi Dench?
WILKINSON: Oh, yeah. We shot that in India last year.
MORGAN: When is that coming out?
WILKINSON: Don't know. Toward the end of this year, I would have thought. It's shot in India. What a place.
MORGAN: Kevin, what are you going to be up to next?
KLINE: I've shot a film that some -- with Lawrence Kasdan directing, with Diane Keaton and Diane Wiest, a wonderful cast. It's probably coming out in the fall called "Darling Companion."
KLINE: Yes. But it will wrench your heart, while you're laughing.
MORGAN: You kind of wrenched it a bit in this movie. I want to see you do these dramatic roles. I think you're very suited to them. You do a very good sinister sort of Dick Cheney-ish face.
KLINE: Thank you.
MORGAN: I'm not sure who you're going to kill next.
KLINE: Good. I like to keep you guessing.
MORGAN: Robin, next project?
WRIGHT: Still shooting "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."
MORGAN: And any truth you're never going to work with McAvoy again?
WRIGHT: We thought there would be a sequel to "the Conspirator." A zombie film? No.
MORGAN: James, what's in the pipeline for you?
MCAVOY: I'm going to do a film called "Welcome to the Punch" in London. And yeah, that's that.
MORGAN: Thank you all very much. It's never that easy to get everyone engaged in that way. But it was a compelling debate. I think it's a fascinating movie. I think it is very relevant. I think the parallels are there.
And I understand why you don't want to draw too much attention to it. But I think it will spark a lot of debate about civil liberties and the pressures perhaps of running a country like America in times of crisis. So thank you and good luck with the film.
REDFORD: Thank you.
WILKINSON: Thank you.
MCAVOY: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: And that's all tonight. Here's my colleague Anderson Cooper with "AC 360."