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Making the Biggest Global Climate Protest; New York City Department of Education Permits Children to Leave School and Demonstrate; Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast; Jonathan Safran Foer, Author, "We are the Weather," is Interviewed About Climate Change; Interview With Director Orlando von Einsiedel; Interview with Writer/Producer Julian Fellowes. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 25, 2019 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." This Holiday Season, we are dipping into the
archives, looking back at some of our favorite interviews from the year, and here's what's coming up.
As the fight for climate justice marches on, author, Jonathan Safran Foer, tells us what we can do to protect the planet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your majesties, welcome to "Downton Abbey."
AMANPOUR: A blast from the past as "Downton Abbey" returns to the big screen. Writer and producer, Julian Fellowes, tells me why we're all
riveted by the upstairs downstairs blockbuster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
I found making this home probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Documentarian and director of the Oscar-winning "White Helmet" tells us about his most challenging project yet, confronting his own
brother's suicide on camera.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
They want to make it the biggest global climate protest ever, as young people all over the world take to the streets to save the planet. The New
York City Department of Education has permitted more than a million and a half school children to leave class today and demonstrate.
This all started with one girl, of course, the Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg. She's in the United States right now to confront world leaders
who are coming to the annual U.N. meeting, and that kicks off on Monday with a climate summit. And she's already been to Congress telling them to
get serious and try harder.
The climate activist has met with former President Barack Obama who signed the United States onto the Paris Climate accord, the very one President
Trump has now pulled out of. But halting an environmental catastrophe will require government and corporations to make big changes, so there's a world
for our kids to live in.
Fighting the climate crisis is a personal and moral decision for the acclaimed author, Jonathan Safran Foer, who's gone from writing best-
selling fiction to penning impassion books against climate inaction. His new one, "We Are the Weather," explains how saving the planet begins at
breakfast. And he joined me to talk about it.
Jonathan Safran Foer, welcome to the program.
JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER, AUTHOR, "WE ARE THE WEATHER": Hi, thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, I mentioned the name of the book but just again, "We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast." I mean look, you are a
novelist. You're not necessarily a climate scientist, what brought you to write this particular book?
SAFRAN FOER: So, I'm a novelist and also a father, I'm also a New Yorker and American, an earthling, and I had found myself saying over the last
couple of years, over and over and over the same sentence, which is we have to do something. Sometimes that referred to issues that weren't climate
change like separation of families at the border or gun control, but really most often it referred to climate change. And it was something I heard my
friends saying all the time that I would say to my kids and hear from my kids all the time.
And at a certain moment, about a year ago, it just became intolerable to think of myself or to witness myself being somebody who was all of the time
saying we have to do something and yet never doing anything.
AMANPOUR: So, what is the do something that this book calls for? I mean, the title is obviously "Begins at Breakfast." But for new readers, explain
exactly what you're asking people to do.
SAFRAN FOER: So, I should say, it's not something that I'm asking anybody to do and it's not an opinion. It's very well-established and
uncontroversial science at this point that there are four things that we can do as individuals to participate in the saving of the planet. And
these four actions matter significantly more than anything else.
They are flying less, living car-free which is not the same as having a hybrid but living car-free, having fewer babies, and eating a plant-based
diet. So, 85 percent of Americans drive to work and most of our cities, like most cities around the world, are designed to require cars. More than
half of the flights we take are either for business or for what are called non-leisure personal purposes like visiting a sick relative.
And most people, most people watching this, are probably not in the process of deciding whether or not to have a kid now, but eating is a decision we
make three times a day. And according to the IPCC, we have no hope of achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Accord even if we do everything
else if we don't really dramatically reduce our meat and dairy consumption.
The most comprehensive analysis of this was published at the end of last year in Nature Magazine which said that while people who live in
undernourished parts of the world could actually afford to eat a little bit more meat and dairy, people who live in the cities of Europe, UK, the
United States have to reduce meat consumption by about 90 percent and reduce dairy consumption by about 60 percent.
So that's complicated. You know, how does one -- you don't want to become an eating calculator. You don't want to ask for 90 percent of-- a 10
percent, you know, what it is that you're ordering at a restaurant or we want to find ways to make these habits as easy as possible --
SAFRAN FOER: -- knowing that they are not going to be effortless. So, what I suggest in the book is thinking of breakfast and lunch as sort of
distinct from dinner. So, we could not eat animal products at breakfast and lunch, and then eat whatever you're going eat at dinner. That's a good
way to participate.
AMANPOUR: You referenced the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is sort of under the U.N. umbrella, and is latest report did in
fact come out this August. I guess, after you'd written the book and it had a huge actual, you know, exaltation about agricultural and eating and
totally changing the planet's eating habits.
Can we just read a little bit from that report? Balanced diets featuring plant-based foods such as coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables and
animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation to and limiting climate
Fill in gaps, that's the science who says this. You're talking about it from sort of as you say a citizen, an earthling's point of view. And you
know at the same time that a lot of earthlings especially in the country where you are right now, the United States of America, hold their
cheeseburgers and their steaks very, very dearly.
And they're very worried about this idea that they're going have to change every single lifestyle habit that they've grown to know and love.
SAFRAN FOER: Right. So, nobody is going to pry the burger from anybody's cold dead hands, you know. What we need to do is reduce the amount of meat
that we eat. We don't have to think of this and we shouldn't think of this as a binary or either you do everything or you do nothing, in the same way
that we shouldn't think about climate change as an apocalypse or we're all going to be fine. It's actually a process that we're going through. And
the outcomes are going to be determined by our habits.
Thirty-six percent of meat eaters in the United States say that they want to eat less meat. You may have heard of the "Beyond Burger" which is a
plant-based burger, a veggie burger, substitute that's now sort of all over America and spreading all over Europe, 90 percent of the people who buy
"Beyond Burgers" are meat eaters.
So, I think if we can reorient away from these identities, these binary identities of I'm a vegan, I'm a vegetarian, I'm a pescatarian, and instead
start at the beginning, you know, which is the next meal we're going to eat and recognize that it's an opportunity to do something extremely important,
perhaps the most important thing that we can do as individuals for the environment.
AMANPOUR: I'm fascinated by this eating change that so many individuals have got behind. And it really is becoming a bandwagon. It's not just
about climate, it's about human health as well. And, you know, many months ago, last year, I spoke to the Director James Cameron and his partner, his
wife, the actress Suzy Amis, who wrote the book, "One Meal a Day."
So, it's basically saying, actually, just eat one meal a day plant-based. And this is what they said about how individuals can actually help just by
taking action on their own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CAMERON, FILMMAKER: The quickest and easiest way for an individual to be -- to feel empowered and to make a difference, and to be able to look
at their face in the mirror in the morning and think, I'm making a difference, I'm doing something positive, not just for myself, my own
health and family's health, but for the health of the planet, is change how we eat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I guess the big question is, how do you not convince people because you said the numbers about the "Beyond Burgers" and this and that.
But to empower individuals in an era where individuals feel disempowered, like, oh my god, it's all too big, the corporations, the governments, the
special interests, the lobbyists, you know, whatever we do, it's not going to make a hill of beans.
SAFRAN FOER: And we're at this moment in America where liberals are waiting for corporations to change. We're unwilling to change as
individuals until the system changes top down. And conservatives are unwilling to change because they're afraid of the systems changing.
And -- but I think that we're coming from similar places. You know, climate change is often presented as a divisive issue and it's not.
Ninety-one percent of Americans accept the science of climate change, two times as many Americans believe in the existence of big foot as deny the
existence of climate change, 70 percent of America said they wish we had the country stayed in the Paris Climate Accords that includes the majority
So, I think a great starting point is to simply say what's obvious but is often obscured, which is we all want to save the planet. And at this
moment in history which is maybe not true even two or three years ago, we broadly agree on the science.
So, the question is, what do we do? And if we could somehow see the climate crisis as a war, and it's a little bit different than anywhere
we've ever fought before because this one is us against us. There is nobody to vilify, there's no enemy to point at and becoming a rage at. But
if we could see it as a war and recognize our -- not only responsibility but our privilege to participate, I think it's not going to feel like
martyrdom and it's not going to feel like a tremendous sacrifice. I think it's going to feel thrilling, actually.
If we can imagine ourselves -- you know, if we can imagine future generations looking back at us not, they are not going to say what did they
feel? They are going to say what did they do? So, if we do what's necessary, I think that we'll feel extreme pride.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about a personal device you use throughout your book, and that is you talk about your grandmother who, as a young
girl, Jewish, grew up in a town in Poland. And then she, the family, made the decision to flee knowing about the Nazi advance. And you use that idea
of decision making of calculating risk and sacrifice.
In her case, compared to the fact of people's ability to make those judgments, decisions, risks and sacrifices, knowing the impending
cataclysmic, apocalyptic doom that over edge tipping point climate change will do to us. Fill in those gaps a little bit.
SAFRAN FOER: I was really questioning my own indifference to climate change. You know, I am somebody who, I would say, for years has known and
acknowledged the science and for years I would have said to anybody else and said to myself of course I care. You know, I can't imagine caring
And yet, if I were to give an honest look at my own habits, my own lifestyles, I behaved like somebody who didn't care at all. When the
images of the Amazon burning are in front of me, when the images of an ice sheet melting or climate refugees on the move or wildfires in California
are in front of me, I care an awful lot.
And the second those images aren't in front of my face anymore, I stop caring and I go back to my life. And I have So, many incentives to
continue to live as I've always lived because flying is great, seeing the world is great, eating the kind of foods that are delicious is great. And
I wanted to explore with this book how to close the distance between the person that I am and the person I imagined myself being, a person that I
want to be.
And so, it was actually in the year that I was writing this book that my grandmother was dying. So, it was quite natural for me to look at her life
as a model to think about the choices she made both fleeing her village in Eastern Europe when nobody else did, despite the fact she didn't have any
more knowledge than she did. She wasn't any braver than they were, wasn't any more afraid of dying. It's just a very, very difficult thing to do.
AMANPOUR: And survival is at the heart of all of this that you're talking about and writing about. And in fact, this kind of existential angst about
survival and how to, is affecting quite a lot of younger people as well, who look at us and ask what the heck have we done to ensure their futures.
And I know you talk a lot about that in the book. You write about how your children and grandchildren will judge you about, you know, for what you did
in this crisis. That played a lot of your writing and your thinking about this.
SAFRAN FOER: It did. And I think it affects most people. You know, I think Greta Thunberg influence is largely explained by the fact that, by
her age, you know, and the feeling of both shame and responsibility that she inspires. You know, being confronted by a child to face oneself, to
have to confront one's own decisions and the repercussions of one's decisions.
It's amazing and it's in a deeply embarrassing to see children parenting their parents when it comes to climate change, but it's also our best hope.
You know, on American college campuses right now, there are more vegetarians than Catholics. There are more vegetarians than any major of
study. Economics, psychology, English. This is not a marginal identity.
A few years ago, there were more vegetarians than would admit to it because it felt, you know, little maybe statically tacky. Now, more people admit
to it than actual are because there's a recognition that this is who we want to be. And I should say who we want to be is not vegetarian. It's
not a binary identity like that, who we want to be is people who act on our values.
AMANPOUR: You have, in another publication recently, Air Mail, which is an online magazine, I guess. You have reviewed a few books that are out now
on climate change. One of them is called "Merchants of Doubt" how a handful of scientists obscure the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to
global warming, and it's by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.
And in your review, you said, you know, you end up wanted to throw this book across the room or you should, when you finish reading it. Just
describe for us the heart of the matter in this book that makes you So, angry about the public debate.
SAFRAN FOER: I feel angry when very few are obscuring the will and the good of very many. As I said, it is hard to find a denier of the science
of climate change in America anymore. And those who still deny it are denying it willfully rather than on any kind of intellectual basis.
You know, it's pretty easy to wake up somebody who is asleep. You just tap their shoulder or pinch their nose, and it's impossible to wake up somebody
who is pretending to be asleep. And these people are pretending to be asleep and it's a shame that, you know, the leader of the free world is in
that small club, but I think it's time to stop obsessing over them and stop giving them So, much of our attention and energy. And instead focus on
what we can do.
AMANPOUR: On this review, you said, you know, it's infuriating how the public has been misled by a small group of scientists motivated by
corporate and political interests, which leads me to the political action right now.
As you know, because you're there, the Democratic candidates on their debate stages are all very, very firmly behind countering climate change.
And yet people like Elizabeth Warren and others, I guess, are saying as much as we are altruistically or for whatever reason, individually
motivated, it won't matter or it won't make a, you know, a tipping point if governments and corporations, and fossil fuel industry aren't on board as
So, this is what she said about, you know, light bulbs and recycling and the kind of things we try to do individually.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry helps we're all talking about. That's what they want
us to talk about. This is your problem. They want to be able to stir up a lot of controversy around your light bulbs, around your straws, and around
your cheeseburgers. When 70 percent of the pollution of the carbon that we're throwing into the air comes from three industries, and we can set our
targets and save by 2028, 2030 and 2035. No more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that was part of a groundbreaking CNN climate debate among all the Democratic contenders, first of its kind, really important. But
she has a point, right? I mean, it isn't going to fully matter until governments get onboard.
SAFRAN FOER: Well, you know, I hope Elizabeth Warren becomes president but I really disagree with what she said. We have been waiting, like who is
going to bring about this change that she's talking about. We've been waiting for it. She's not going to bring it about. Not in this political
climate, and that's the point. The point is, we have to change the climate in order to change the legislation and in order to change the actions of
So, a good example is cage-free and free-range actions of corporations. So, a very good example is cage-free and free-range eggs, which are the
fastest growing sector in the entire food industry. There was no law that said there had to be cage-free and free-range eggs. The corporations
didn't wake one morning and say, hey, you know, it's wrong after all to keep an egg-laying hen in a cage so small that she can't turn around.
What happened was, people asked for something different. I'd met farmers all over the country who have said, I grow what people want to eat.
Politicians enacted legislation that people want to have passed. The best way to show we want to change is to be the change ourselves. Maybe it's a
shame that we have to lead our leaders, but it's actually always been that way. So, Elizabeth Warren right that we as individuals cannot save the
planet. She's absolutely right.
It's also true that the government alone can't save the planet. There is an interaction of what happens at the grassroots level and what happens at
sort of trickle-down politics. And thus far, we have not been doing our part. So, what I would love Elizabeth Warren to say is, we can't solve
this problem without legislation and we can't solve this problem without individuals taking on responsibilities. So let's do both at once. And
let's do it right this second.
AMANPOUR: Jonathan Safran Foer, thank you very much, indeed. Saving the planet begins at breakfast.
SAFRAN FOER: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: It's not surprising that so, many people are seeking relief from our fraught political scene, which means it's time for Julian Fellowes to
bring on the happiness again. He's the writer producer of the feel-good mega hit "Downton Abbey."
Full of nostalgia for all world British grandeur and dazzling upstairs, downstairs drama, Fellowes who's turned his award-winning TV series into
"Downton Abbey" movie with all the old familiar characters. In this turn, the drama centers around the royal visit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No maid, no valet, no nanny even.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 1927. We're modern, folks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The king and queen are coming to Downton.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Tens of millions of viewers around the world loved the series and Julian Fellowes joins us to talk about what keeps pulling us all back
to this bygone era.
Julian Fellowes, welcome to the program.
JULIAN FELLOWES, WRITER AND PRODUCER, "DOWNTOWN ABBEY": Well, thank you very having me.
AMANPOUR: The obvious question, what is it about this period drama? No explosions, no special effects, no, you know, massive sort of sequel that
has attracted so, many people. I mean, let's just say that it had 120 million viewers on the small screen, the series, 10 million in America
alone for the finale. What is it that appeals so, widely, do you think?
FELLOWES: Well, I mean in the end, the truth is all series are, popular or not, according to the characters in it. People either get interested by
the characters or they don't and that's just true if it's about astronauts or politicians in the White House. None of that really affects it. It's
do you care about these people? Do you want to see them again next week? And I think somehow, we must have got the kind of list of characters right
and the right actors to play them, and other important, very, very important part of it. And we did have a terrific cast.
But I mean, in the end, it's that sort of artificial pretend relationship between you and these fictional people that is the reason that you watch
AMANPOUR: Obviously, you have written a fictional series but it's very much based on sort of, you know, gilded age. I know that's an American
term but nonetheless, it's sort of the British empire when it was so, powerful but also the whole class system. In other words, I see what
you've done is made the class system palatable, the upstairs downstairs, which is a little counterintuitive in these days.
Why do you think that's working?
FELLOWES: Well, I have also attempted to trace its decline that these are the years when the aristocracy was losing their control, really, from sort
of 1880s onwards and the rise of the middle class. So, I hope we have made that clear.
But I do think there's a sense in the show, which actually, to a certain extent, it's illusory, that this was a very settled period. And we are all
living in a rather unsettled period. And it seems perhaps attractive that there was a time when everyone knew what they were doing and when dinner
was and what they were supposed to wear and all that kind of thing.
I mean, in fact, although those people did go on with the manners of their parents and their own youth, in truth, their society was changing
radically. I mean the role of women, organized labor, and simple transport, you know, the movies, cars, everything was changing.
But nevertheless, because they went on living in an audit and I think attractively polite way, we see it as a kind of warm blanket to curl up in
on a Sunday night.
AMANPOUR: You said it. I was going say comfort blanket but yes, a warm blanket on a Sunday night. And as I say, tens of millions of people have
snuggled up to it. Nonetheless, the FT called it a story essentially about consenting feudalism. I wonder what you make of that?
FELLOWES: We are all now disposed to believe that the world only really began with Woodstock and the late 1960s. That's not true. And every
period had certain things that we would now find difficult to accept but they accepted them. And we will later, our grandchildren will look back at
our own time and not understand why we accepted certain elements of our own living. I really believe that.
I think it's rather feeble to point at all earlier periods of history and say they were terrible but ours is marvelous. The fact is all areas have
their weakness, their strengths, that their moral blindness, if you like, as certain areas of their culture. I don't think we're any different.
But certainly, they weren't in the late 19th and early 20th Century.
AMANPOUR: Perhaps some people think, in fact, ours is not very marvelous at all. It's the opposite of marvelous right now with this populism, with
this uncertain politics, with the inability to get along at all.
So, I want to ask you, what did you use as a kind of dramatic device to make the film somewhat different than the sceneries? You have a royal
FELLOWES: I use the royal visit because I wanted an event that would tie them all together, the family, the servants, the people living locally, all
of it and pull them all together in one central storyline. We didn't do that in the series. You know, we have upstairs, Mary's heart would be
breaking as she was trying out some new boyfriend. And downstairs, Daisy would be going out, buying a suitcase. They didn't really connect.
But I felt it was important to give the film a kind of unity and so, that all the sub-clouts of which as is the Downton way, there are plenty, would
all come off the central theme. And it seemed me that the royal visit would do that.
I got the idea from reading a book about another Yorkshire house and it touched on the fact that the king and the queen made a visit to the country
of Yorkshire in 1912. And as I was reading, I go, oh this is it because even for those who are oppose to the monarchy and the Republican,
nevertheless, it will still put them on their toes. It will still all excite them, even if it only angers them so, that everyone will be invested
in this visit. And that's why I went with it.
AMANPOUR: And so, we're talking late 1920s and it's the visit to Downton of King George V and Queen Mary. And as such, you talked about characters
a moment ago and beloved characters. Well, Lady Mary is one of them but also is the Lord of downstairs, and that is Carson, the chief butler who is
now retired and Lady Mary goes in desperation to seek his help for this visit. We're going to play this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARSON: Lady, please come in. This is an honor.
LADY: I didn't want to be a nuisance but I need your help, Carson. Barrow just isn't up to the task.
CARSON: My Lady?
LADY: He won't clean the silver or he won't under clean it.
LADY: He says the page (inaudible) will choose which pieces to use.
CARSON: I see.
LADY: The truth is, he's in a sort of trance. Wouldn't you help me? I feel I'm pushing a rock uphill.
CARSON: I'll be there in the morning, my Lady. Don't you worry.
LADY: You're a treasure, Carson. That's all there is to say. I'll see myself out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never refuse her anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: so, Carson to the rescue again.
FELLOWES: Carson comes bang to save the day.
AMANPOUR: And save it well. Tell me about your cast of characters, including the animals and what you draw from real life.
FELLOWES: The royal visit is based on various royal visits. And it gave us a very filmmaker opportunity for a tremendous parade with the kings' own
guns and horses and so, on. but also, a ball and great banquet and everything else.
So, all of that was kind of scream filling, which is what I wanted. But in fact, it's a tradition of Downton. But all the way through, we always
referred to events that were going on. We've always tried to kind of capture reality with these little markets, just to kind of make the point
that all of this was really happening.
AMANPOUR: One of the characters who is also beloved by all Downton fans and fans of her work whenever she appears is the great Dame Maggie Smith.
She's been the backbone of Downton for those who just cannot get enough of her ascorbic wit.
How did she agree? What did you have to tell her? Or was it knocking on an open door to get her to play in the film?
FELLOWES: Oh, no, I don't think it was knocking on an open door. I think she was in two minds about whether to do it or not. But happily, in the
end, Gareth Neame, our producer, persuaded her.
I mean, it's hard to think of Downton without Maggie. And as you say, she's marvelous to write for, actually because she always hits the button.
You know, you never waste a line on her and she never needs to be -- have to explain as to why it's funny. She gets straight in there and I love it.
I mean, I've done quite a lot with her now over the years. I started writing this 10 years ago. Extraordinary really.
AMANPOUR: But, you know, since you say that, do you never get tired of it?
JULIAN FELLOWES, WRITER/PRODUCER, "DOWNTON ABBEY": No, I don't think so really.
I mean, I do other stuff, you know, in between, and I have got two other series coming out at the moment. And I'm in pre-production for a third.
So it's not as if I'm only doing Downton. I did "School of Rock." I did "Mary Poppins." All of those things were in the middle of Downton.
AMANPOUR: And what are your other series coming out?
FELLOWES: One is a novel I wrote called "Belgravia," which is now a six- part series for ITV in England and Epix in America.
And the other is about football, English football, in the 1870s. It's called "The English Game," and it will be on Netflix.
AMANPOUR: Let's get back to Maggie Smith, because, as I say, everybody is always on the edge of their seats to see what she's going to say, because
we have a little clip, and we'll play, and Maggie Smith is at the center of this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "DOWNTON ABBEY")
IMELDA STAUNTON, ACTRESS: Why did you not say this long ago? It seems too great a leap for you.
MAGGIE SMITH, ACTRESS: Well, who do you think I am? Some maiden aunt who's never left the village?
STAUNTON: Obviously not.
SMITH: Or do you think I approve? Because I don't. But at least I understand.
Does Ms. Smith know the truth?
STAUNTON: Yes, she does.
When I get home, I will hire another maid. And Lucy can be my companion.
SMITH: Well, that's much more suitable.
STAUNTON: And I'm afraid you'll dislike it, but she says that she and Tom Branson have agree to correspond.
SMITH: Dislike it? I will lick the stamps myself.
STAUNTON: You are amazing, Violet. You haven't won, you know.
SMITH: I don't believe in defeat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Maggie Smith talking to the -- Imelda Staunton's character, and she's the lady in waiting...
FELLOWES: And her cousin Lady Bagshaw.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And the lady in waiting of the queen.
Let's get back to her being in other of your films, most notably "Gosford Park," right?
FELLOWES: "Gosford" is when we first worked together.
And it was rather an extreme beginning for me, because I was very starting out as a screenwriter in those days. And the very first room they could
get ready at Wrotham was the room that would be Maggie's bedroom.
So, the first week was shooting all the scenes in her bedroom, while they made the rest of the house ready for the filming. So it was an
extraordinary kind of baptism by fire, you know, of just scene after scene of Maggie Smith saying my lines, which is a very strange sensation, rather
extraordinary -- an extraordinary memory, actually.
AMANPOUR: You got the Oscar for "Gosford Park."
FELLOWES: I did.
AMANPOUR: And it was a huge, you know, turning point and cementing of your Hollywood status.
What draws you to this era? I mean, you are Lord Julian Fellowes. You sit in the House of Lords. Your wife has been and continues to be a lady in
waiting for the British royal family.
What is it about this era that you, you know, consider so rich for your creative instincts?
FELLOWES: Well, it's an era of great change and adjustment. It's really when the 19th century turned into the modern world.
When you think only 50 years divides 1890 and 1940, that's not even a lifetime. And yet, really, the old world turned into the new during these
decades. And that does interest me, always, periods of great change.
AMANPOUR: Let's roll on a little bit to the politics of this, you know, moment, when the film is out in the cinemas.
Some might say that this kind of nostalgia is exactly what Brexit and Trump are all about, this yearning for a great era past, the idea of sovereignty,
the idea of the great nation with no troubles, although you say, you know, this is about a point of transition.
FELLOWES: Yes, I think this is a great period of transition for Britain, if Brexit goes ahead. I don't agree with you about that being nostalgic,
although there may be elements of nostalgia in it. But there's a great dislike of being a member of the European Union.
And, in fact, the European Union, which is an absolutist arrangement, harks back to the 18th century. I mean the non-ability to control, select, or
elect the commission is rather like being governed by the Empress Maria Theresa. It's nothing to do with the modern world.
So I don't really see that in terms of Brexit. But, of course, it is a turbulent period. And I think, when people are going through a turbulent
period, they rather enjoy watching what they think, even if wrongly, was a calm one.
AMANPOUR: These characters who you have are really popular. And as -- you know, as kind of upper-class as they are, for -- weirdly, they're kind of
relatable as well. I think that's why viewers really like it.
But I want to ask you this, because, as you no doubt know, and being sort of in the middle of all of this, you know, there's a lot of criticism in
Great Britain of the kind of politicians who are empowered right now, who are the sort of upper-crust, private-school-educated, Eton, Oxbridge, and
then prime minister.
And a lot of people are saying, look, they just don't get it. They don't get what ordinary people need and want.
Do you feel sometimes that these kinds of period hagiographies, I don't know, play into that praise of that class particularly?
FELLOWES: I suppose you could see it like that. I don't want to sort of indignantly reject the notion.
But, in fact, I think the reality is that some politicians have an instinct for the public and for the public's needs and desires and ambitions or --
and the things they dislike, and some don't.
And I don't think that has very much to do with their background. You know, I won't name some prime ministers that we've had in my time who came
from perfectly modest backgrounds, and yet seemed to be completely clueless when it came to reading the public mood.
You know, Queen Victoria was very good at it. And how was that, when she ha grown up essentially sitting on a satin cushion? But she had an
extraordinary instinct for finding out what her people minded about.
I don't think it has much to do with your upbringing. I think it has to do with your powers of observation and whether or not you listen. And some
AMANPOUR: On that note, Lord Julian Fellowes, thank you very much, indeed, "Downton Abbey," the movie.
FELLOWES: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Our next guest made his career confronting dangerous situations.
British director Orlando von Einsiedel is best known for "White Helmet," his Oscar- winning documentary about the rescue workers who put their lives
on the line to save civilians amid the war in Syria.
But in his latest Netflix film, he turns the camera on himself. "Evelyn" is named after his brother who took his own life 14 years ago. It's a
moving portrait that looks at a family dealing with loss and grief.
Here is a clip from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "EVELYN")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was saying that I'm going to kill myself like all the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe I could have said something that would have meant he didn't do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the legacy of what happened and how all of our relationships have been fractured.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm sorry. I'm not chilling out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't open up completely, how are you going to feel later on?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, suicide and mental health are real issues for our time.
And Orlando told our Hari Sreenivasan why, despite the perilous locations of his previous films, this was his most challenging yet.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Orlando, you have faced armed militias in the Congo. You've run into the rubble with the White
Helmets in Syria.
And then your producing partner says, how about a film about your family? What is the story that hadn't been discussed?
ORLANDO VON EINSIEDEL, DIRECTOR, "EVELYN": So when Joanna Natasegara, my producing partner, she said that, it was like a punch to my stomach.
We've known each other for seven-odd years. And, in that entire time, I just -- I had never a conversation with her about what happened to my
brother. And she knew that something had happened. She probably knew he took his own life, but we had just never spoke about it.
So for her to suggest one day, would I consider making a film about Evelyn and the family, I was almost furious, because, to me, it looked like it had
come out of the blue.
From her perspective, in making all of these really difficult films, she had -- she picked up on something that a lot of the crew would go away and
cry at the end of the day after witnessing something really traumatic. And she had just never seen me really get upset in that way.
And she's very perceptive, and I guess had thought there's some block in me that -- and it's probably to do with my brother.
And so after initially getting really upset with her, I started to interpret, how could I be angry if she's just asked the question, that
there really is something that maybe I should look at.
And the other weird thing is, Hari, the day she said this to me, it was the anniversary of my brother's death. And there's just -- there's no way she
could have known that. It was too -- it was like it was a sign. It was a sign that this was the right time to maybe look at this.
SREENIVASAN: But you didn't even -- you say in the film you didn't even say his name really for almost 10 years.
VON EINSIEDEL: Yes, it's just weird. It just becomes -- that becomes your new normal.
The normal is to not think about him. And I just thought, if I ever really go there, it's so upsetting. It's so tough to do. I don't want to. Life
is -- you know, life is going on, and I'm doing other things, and I'm immersing myself in other people's problems, so I don't have to ever really
address my own.
SREENIVASAN: So, compare these, like the physical threat and danger that you put yourself into in some of your projects vs. really kind of an
emotional threat and danger that you're putting yourself. What is harder?
VON EINSIEDEL: Well, I mean, this is going to sound so strange.
I found making this film probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. And I don't -- it's weird. Physical fear is -- yes, it's very
scary, and I'm used to being scared in my life a lot. But looking inwards, I don't know. I found that so much more terrifying.
SREENIVASAN: For people who haven't seen the film, tell us a little bit about your brother. What was he like? I mean we learn little bits from
the home videos that you include in the documentary.
But who was he?
VON EINSIEDEL: So, Evelyn, he was a gentle -- a very gentle boy.
We -- I shared a room with him for most of my life. And he loved the outdoors. He loved walking. He loved camping, which is part of the reason
we did this in the film. We went on this big walk to all of the places where he had loved to go when he was alive.
And then towards his -- just as he started university, he was studying to be a doctor, and he just started to spiral downhill. And his life started
to unravel. He got depressed. He dropped out of college.
And, eventually, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. And just one day, I mean, sadly, for all of us, it seemed like he was on a turn that was going
better. And just, in that moment, he decided he didn't want to live anymore.
SREENIVASAN: Your family, they all agreed to this, oh, yes, by the way, remember our brother, and let's go on walks and talk about the one thing
that we really haven't talked about?
VON EINSIEDEL: I sort of felt it would never actually really have to happen.
I would never really had to go through it, because there's no way my family would agree to do it. And the strange thing was, one by one, after talking
to them, they all said, no, we'd love to do it. It was...
SREENIVASAN: And there you're stuck now.
VON EINSIEDEL: Yes. Then I was like what do you mean you want to do it?
I think, for them, this was -- they had been waiting. Especially my brother and sister, they had been waiting for an opportunity to have this
And I guess maybe they've been waiting for me to sort of catalyze it.
SREENIVASAN: Let's take a look at one of the clips with the three of you and your mom on a walk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "EVELYN")
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I sometimes think of him deeply, there are six points that come into my head that I don't try to think of, but they come
towards me. One is, he used to whisper in your ear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The other one was his giggle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The other were his twinkling eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The other one was, he had the loudest farts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was about to say that.
VON EINSIEDEL: Mom, I can't believe that's one of your memories, because that's also -- I actually don't remember the loudness. I remember the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The smell, yes.
VON EINSIEDEL: That would -- if you were to ask me sort of 10 things, I definitely would have listed that as one of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: You said he had a diagnosis of schizophrenia. I mean, it's a disease.
But were you angry?
VON EINSIEDEL: After he did it, I was furious, because -- you know, the sad thing is -- and this is one of my regrets -- is, I was angry a lot of
the time when he was ill, because, of course, when anyone is ill, all family attention and resources go into that.
And I felt that was -- I sometimes felt it was selfish, because we -- there was four of us as kids, and suddenly almost 100 percent of my mom's time
and energy was on Evelyn. And I didn't really understand that. I thought maybe he was being selfish and self-centered.
And it's only in hindsight that I realize that that's a ridiculous view. He was ill.
SREENIVASAN: Then you realize to yourself, wow, what kind of person am I to think about this, right?
VON EINSIEDEL: I have to say, it takes a while for that to come out, because, when he actually took his life, actually, the anger was even more.
You know, it takes -- that needs to subside, and then you start to feel really sorry for him and the pain that he must have been going through, and
then shame, and then grief. I don't necessarily know how exactly it is in the U.S.
In the U.K., suicide is so taboo, which is partly one of the reasons this was so hard to talk about. And...
SREENIVASAN: Yes, you say it's the number one killer of men under 45 in the U.K.
VON EINSIEDEL: Yes.
SREENIVASAN: That's a stunning statistic.
Why do you think that is?
VON EINSIEDEL: Lots of reasons. I mean, I think -- and this is something I really learned about myself.
I think I thought, I'm a modern man, in touch with my emotions.
VON EINSIEDEL: And, in doing this, I realized that I associated being open and emotional with a sign of weakness. And that -- a lot of men feel that.
So, when people are ill, they have mental health problems, they don't often go and seek help. They don't talk to people, because it's embarrassing.
And, therefore, they suffer in silence, and they don't reach out.
And it's in talking to other people and seeking help that you can break that pattern that might eventually lead to suicide.
SREENIVASAN: There are several points in the film where each kind of character, if you will, struggles.
And there's a part, I remember, where your sister is in a car and she's crying and she's saying, you know what, I thought these walks, it would all
be over. I thought there -- she was looking for a finality. There isn't one. I mean, he's gone for the rest of your lives. And you have to live
with that emptiness.
VON EINSIEDEL: I think, going into this, I had a slightly naive, Hollywood idea of how this all might work. We would go on this walk, we'd talk about
this thing that none of us could face, and then we would all be healed and we live happily ever after.
And the reality is that that's really naive. That's not how grief works. The reality is that, we went on this, we did talk, and we all built a
relationship with Evelyn again. That's something that I have taken away, I have cherished.
I went from nothing, not even being able to think about it, into being able to talk openly about him and remember all the good times that we spent
together. So, that - but in terms of the day it finished and feeling healed, no, it's an ongoing process.
And that scene with my sister was recognition of that, that, at the end of this, she was saying, I'm not -- this isn't all better, but there is
SREENIVASAN: Yes. There's a scene of some of the progress when you all are walking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "EVELYN")
Let's take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought I had kind of put all these feelings to bed. And I just -- I just want to keep...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: Who is Leon? What did he mean to your brother? Where is the relationship?
VON EINSIEDEL: So Leon went to school with Evelyn, and they were best friends. They used to do training, like athletic training together. And
that's what they bonded over.
And then, since Evelyn died, I have become close to Leon. And he's one of my best friends. So it felt he obviously had to come on this walk and join
us. And he was so generous.
I think he found his own way to deal with Evelyn's death. But I think he came on this walk to help us deal with it.
SREENIVASAN: How do we get to the point where here you are on this -- these walks, and it's an incredibly intimate kind of portrayal, because the
camera is right here? It's almost like we're walking with you. And it's almost natural, where people just stop, and they have these moments.
VON EINSIEDEL: Walking is this extraordinary thing that, for some reason, allows you to have these really difficult conversations in this very
You know, you ask me this question now, it's very intense. I have to answer. I'm looking directly at you.
But when you're walking, you're not looking somebody in the eye. You're looking -- someone asks you a question, and you can answer in bits. You
can pause. You can breathe. You can look at the view.
And it just is -- creates this forum for really open conversations. And so what you see in the film, is you -- there are these very open
conversations. And then it just gets too much every now and again, and somebody stops, and they just want to cry. They want a hug.
And that's what you see in that moment.
SREENIVASAN: And Leon is also just dealing with the survivor's guilt. I mean, you see it a different part of the film: If I had gotten that phone
call, if I didn't let it go to voice-mail, could I have been the man that saved my friend's life?
VON EINSIEDEL: I think all of us, and I think anyone that has experienced suicide in their life, I think everyone racks their brains for that moment:
Was there a moment where, if I would have done something, could I have stopped it?
I was actually -- I was on holiday when I got the phone call that Evelyn died. And I, of course, thought, well, if I wasn't on holiday, if I had
been at home, could I have stopped it?
SREENIVASAN: It's your fault.
VON EINSIEDEL: It's my fault, yes.
And you live with that.
SREENIVASAN: How could you not have seen it coming? What kind of brother are you?
VON EINSIEDEL: Precisely.
And everyone -- everyone lives with that who has been touched by this.
SREENIVASAN: Your mother at one point, said something about her being a single mom and raising you all, and here he is. This son is schizophrenic.
And she was carrying this weight, while other people perceive me as the source of -- I mean, it's just a huge effect. It's not just that one
VON EINSIEDEL: Well, I guess I would say two things.
I think the first is, on the surface, it looks like a selfish act.
VON EINSIEDEL: I think, for the person that is actually doing it, they -- to them, it's a selfless act, because they have got to a point in their
lives where they believe they're a burden on everybody, and the world would be better off without them.
VON EINSIEDEL: And I cannot tell anyone who might be thinking -- who's watching this, who might be thinking that, how wrong that is, because --
and this film is testimony to what the devastation is, that, 13 years later, a family can't even talk about this person because of the grief that
they are carrying.
I -- actually, one of the legacies, one of the things that's touched all of us behind this film so much is all the letters that we've received from
people who said this very thing. They have said, I watched the film, and I have struggled with suicidal thoughts for a long time. And I now don't
think I could ever go through with it, because I have seen the damage it will do.
And that, for us, is incredible to hear.
SREENIVASAN: You know, what is strange is -- or maybe it shouldn't be so strange, considering that the prevalence of suicide in the U.K.
But you're walking along this, and you're deciding to share with people why you're walking. And it's literally the ice cream man that you stop at
shares an incredibly personal story with you, and a veteran that you meet on the walk.
I mean, it goes -- we're watching the entirety of that conversation, and it goes from zero to very deep in 30 seconds.
VON EINSIEDEL: So, I -- this is something that -- probably one of the things I have taken away most from this is that there is this extraordinary
thing about, if you're open emotionally, honest and vulnerable, it's almost contagious.
So people would see the cameras, and they would say, what are you doing? And we would explain that we're doing this walk in memory of our brother,
who took his own life.
And people would just suddenly open up completely and say, well, that happened to my mom. That happened to my sister. And we'd have these
extraordinary conversations with complete strangers. And it was really beautiful.
And, in some ways, the film has done that, too, that in a lot of the Q&As we would do when we would show the film in cinemas, at the end of the film,
people would just stand up. They wouldn't ask a question. They'd just share.
And it was really beautiful when people would just say, this happened to me, and I just wanted to share it with this room of strangers.
And it was -- yes, it's extraordinary.
SREENIVASAN: Why is it so hard to talk about?
VON EINSIEDEL: Life is difficult.
And we build these barriers around ourselves, and it's easier to not have to go there and make yourself upset. I think -- and I definitely -- I had
built this big shell around myself and dealt with other things that, I guess, prevented me from ever needing to deal with my own problems.
I can't tell you how liberating it is to actually have these difficult conversations, whatever they might be. It doesn't need to be about mental
health or suicide. It might just be, there's -- all families have issues.
And I think, if you can find the right forum to have these open conversations -- and walking is definitely a good catalyst for that -- it
SREENIVASAN: Given that you know what the passing of an individual, the impact that it has on the family, here you are, a guy that has gone into
pretty sticky situations.
In your next project or the project after that, does this factor into you that, maybe I shouldn't put myself in riskier places because of what will
VON EINSIEDEL: I have also just had a child.
SREENIVASAN: That will change the equation.
VON EINSIEDEL: And it already has changed the equation.
And it -- I mean, even just going away from home is a much harder decision. So there's a balance. You've also got to live your own life. You've got
to be true to who you are and what makes you passionate and what contribution you feel that you can make, small contribution you can make to
So it's about weighing that up with your family and your responsibilities.
SREENIVASAN: What are you going to tell your child about their late uncle?
VON EINSIEDEL: Well, my son, he's -- his middle name is Evelyn. So my brother will kind of live on in him.
SREENIVASAN: Orlando, thanks so much for joining us.
VON EINSIEDEL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for now. Thanks for watching this special edition of AMANPOUR.
Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at Amanpour.com. And you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
Goodbye from London.