tv Charlie Rose PBS December 20, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin with a new film written, directed and bruceed by ben affleck. it is called live by night. >> the way it is it right is to hire really good actors so that you have everybody doing great performances and they are kind of create ag scene in the world and you can step into it as an actor and be able to forget you're directing the movie and just kind of immerse yourself into whatever the scene is of the day. the directing stuff comes to mind enough to give yourself a chance to relax and to being an actor a little bit ask not rush that. >> rose: we continue with the film hidden figures. we talked to the director ted melfi and the stars, octavia spencer, wrong henson, janelle monae and kevin costner.
>> what she was able to accomplish had never been done before. she was on the course of being a colored computer but she had the mine of an engineer for doing this in 1960's. women are not even allowed to vote much as minorities, we were not allowed to attend certain classes because of the scholar of our skin. so she fought, she petitioned and she won. she made history, not just for herself but all of the women around her. everything she did was for the community. she was not going to be a woman who sat back idly and allowed discrimination to face her because of her race or her gender. two things she couldn't change and two thing she would never change because she was proud to be an african american woman. >> rose: live by night and hidden figures when we continue.
>> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> live by night is the new film from oscar winning director ben affleck based on the best selling book by dennis lahaine. it follows joe caulk reign as he travels from the boston under imrownld to the rule running world of tampa florida. here's the trailer for the film
>> what i learned was ... men tonight have to be cruel. i got one guaranteed life. who is going to live it. i had a plan. >> you think we got where we are by letting some -- >> if that's what you think we are, you are making a fatal mischaracterization. your clerks, bankers, police officers and we even got a judge. if you're dumb enough to fight us, i'm going to rain bloody
hell fire down on you and all you love. >> you're threatening me with people who are more powerful than you. >> exactly. >> what am i talking to you for >> we're all going to hell. >> rose: joining me is director, producer, right and star of the film is ben affleck and joining me are the stars,. i'm please to do have all of them here with me at the table. i'm starting with the producer, prerk and the star.
you told me you want this to have the feeling of a classic, what does that mean. >> a black burgs when that was about scope and scale and cost actual and transporting you an audience member somewhere and telling big sort of grand stories whetherrist like dr. shivago or angel with 30 faces and those great movies. i want sort of a love letter to that era of hollywood. >> rose: big challenge. good actors. >> have you to start with good actors. >> rose: a good script. >> a good book. and really the truth is, directing is 90% casting. there's a lot of truth in that. i got really lucky my first choice people showed up to do the movie. otherwise it would have been an impossible task. >> rose: hard to adapt. >> yeah.
it was long, know what i mean. the book was long and really riched and nuanced. there were some thing that are sort of modular but then you lost a thematic piece and it was a little bit of playing three demential checkers trying to keep all the thing that were interesting and complicated and you know, and still have a movie that respected the audience's time. >> rose: let me go through and everybody tell me about the character they played in the time that we had. first, who is joe. >> joe is a guy who was the son of a police captain. he went off to fight in the first world war, disillusioned by what he saw there and that transformed into a guy who was the going to follow anybody's else order. >> rose: and son of the superintendent. >> yes. >> rose: where he's coming from. >> i would say an irish immigrant daughter of a pimp murderous uncle wrong side of the track kind of back stir but pretty compelling character. >> rose: in her relationship
to. >> i think she wants to survive so she's on the arm of a few monsters but kind of got as close as she was able to. >> i play irving vegas, chief of police in tampa, sort of keep an eye on joe. >> rose: these boys have come to town. >> cut out a little section for their business and i show them their parameters and i kind of give a blind eye to it. >> rose: so you will allow them to go only so far. >> yeah, yeah, exactly. >> i'm his daughter in the film loretta fig es. she is born again and becomes an evangelist preacher and starts preaching again alcohol and drugs. >> rose: during the
prohibition. >> yes, during the prohibition. >> i play joe's right hand man. very loyal friend and brother. >> rose: and body guard. >> yes, body guard if you can believe that. >> i'm 40 pounds heavier. >> rose: you bulked up for this. >> yes, it was in the book, the character was very round. and so being next to him i decided the only way to do that, to be the heavy was to gain weight. >> rose: what's intriguing if i remember, joe comes back and he decides he's going this direction in terms of but at the same time he doesn't feel like he's of that world. >> right. and he tries to sort of maintain his own independent moral compass, how can you be a good man and doing bad things and he wants to have his own sort of moral universe when he openly find out we don't have that luxury. >> rose: he wants to have his own but you can't make choices
like that. >> ultimately there's a price to be paid for things we do. >> rose: is this the way you'd like to write, i mean to work. you find a piece of property, you're going to star in it. i assume part of the price you have to pay to get it going. >> yeah. i mean in this case i was really, i loved the part. it was really great, interesting kind of fun gangster leading role. you're going to direct a movie you do not so much work you've so involved in it you do not research it's all so encompassing you figure out you might as well act in it. >> rose: you said this was a great experience for you. >> it was the cast principally and the crew were amazing. >> rose: how can some
experiences before like he described this. does it come from one person setting the vision or what. >> i think it comes from the top. his sets are very relaxed, calm. very inviting. you're allowed to play. and so there's so much trust. >> rose: trust was probably a key word. >> yeah. there's so much trust in him and all the people he brings around. a lot of sets, unfortunately you're dying to leave and this one you're dying to get back to. >> rose: chris your character develops some idea of repentance. >> oh yes. well you know, he has to telewith these boys and there's compromise there and then my daughter takes this trip as she mentioned and everything turns upside down.
and what i, irving realizes how she's been mishandled and it drives him crazy, crazy. he cannot handle it. so then she gets into the religion and i get into it with her. >> rose: what is it chris, your character tells joe he doesn't plan to see old age. >> yes. i think my character really for me represents the night in live by night. he's committed to the night. he loves being a gangster. he'll live this way and he'll die this way. this is a great character to play. it was amazing on the page, there was so much there, so much fun. >> rose: does hover over this the idea of the american dream and how people adjust to their own vision of the american dream. >> yes. i think gangster stories are classic american ambition stories. you say they are more large but what their ambitions are towards
criminal empires and that kind of thing but it makes for great metaphor and it makes a lot of fun and certainly makes for great drama, you know. >> rose: why do they go from boston to tampa. >> because tampa is where a lot of molasses was brought in from the islands and it's a great port of entry for getting molasses and rule up to boston. through the connection that they have, they make in boston they move down and try to take over and continue to try to compete with other interested parties. >> rose: take a look. this is a clip where ben and sienna play their ill-fated escape from boston, who are it is. >> i thought daniel was in california. >> i'll go to california. >> i don't know anything about honest work. >> who said anything about honest work. we do if we want to.
go where we want to go. sleep by day. >> you got a job -- >> free to leave. >> yeah, free to leave. >> rose: what does that represent to him as joe. >> i think he just falls completely in love with her and i think it's one of those love he probably senses it's a dangerous thing to be involved in but it's heart with any kind of cognitive. >> rose: she's the love of his life. >> she represents that kind of she's talking about sort of crazy head strong without regard for consequences and they get each other in trouble. >> rose: your character wears white a lot. >> yes, pretty much only wears white. >> rose: does the define
purity or what. >> you see one time she wears black. after she gets addicted to heroin and has track marks and she also in the interesting, in a way she's kind of a circus animal too because she's a performer because a part of her perform's is she wears white. there's her thing. >> rose: here's a clip in which chris welcomes oh, ben, to tampa. here it is. >> how are you doing. >> hey. sorry about your -- >> thank you, thank you. listen when they found me in montreal and want me to come work for them i thought it was a straight bamboozle. but i thought any receipt and
you'll find a friend. >> rose: for all the conflict with gangsters this becomes your competition doesn't it. >> yes. part of the morality story is that yes he's competing with for those the souls of the people, you know. and it's about, it's kind of complicated and interesting and i want her character to really have a, to be making a very salient point, not to hold up the prohibitionist as a caricature but really to look at the public health issue that alcohol was. it was viewed really as a crises, it was a serious attempts to get rid of it and i think it was an interesting thing that happened because everybody who is drinking
alcohol went from over night from being law abiding american to being a criminal. so it made criminality just all of a sudden it looked different in the american psyche. i think changed our relationship to what our laws were. >> rose: and made people like al capone very rich and created a whole battle between sort of the rise of gangsters. >> once you make something illegal you create an illegal market. there's countless of millions of dollars being made pie criminals. >> rose: what's the most difficult thing about directing and starring in a film at the same time. time. >> you always wish you had more too many. the way to do it right is to hire really good actors and everybody is doing great performances and they are creating the scene in the world and you can step into it as an actor and be able to forget you're directing the movie and kind of immerse yourself into whatever the scene is of the day. the directing stuff come to mind
enough. you need to give yourself a chance to relax into being an actor a little bit and not rush that. >> rose: chris you worked with within he's not directing. >> in company men, that's where ben and i first spent time together. >> rose: was he more focused as an actor then when he was. directing? >> i don't think so. no, i don't think so. i think he was very focused and what chris mentioned, this is a very, you know, professional, very calm certain. >> rose: always comes in charge. >> always comes in charge and we realize the load that ben has taken pre production. the shoot, post. >> rose: and the producer too. >> yes, yes. so i like to make it as easy as i can for him. >> rose: would you like to do it? >> oh, lord. yes, i've been asked. i said i've got to find
something i'm crazy about to spend that because something like this takes three years out of your life. >> rose: you're the owner, you're the quarterback, you're the coach. all of that. >> you never see him directing when you're in a scene with him which i think is kind of an amazing magic trick. when you're in a scene with them, you're with joe. and then -- >> rose: is that when the assistant director takes over. >> i don't like to say action and cut and stuff. i like to sort of give that voice to somebody else so it feels like i'm part of the group of actors rather than the one. and i think these something that happens, i don't know like saying action, i don't like the whole idea okay now we're going to start acting and pretending. now it's play time. i try to have a thinner membrane between when you're just being ourselves and when we're telling the story. >> rose: sandra would you direct. >> one day maybe but i can't
imagine it right now. >> rose: someone would say they love to think about ill because they could create characters or films they would like to see or about? >> i think pretty probably closer, to reading material. i really think that's how you get great roles as a woman. and directing i do feel like i would love to one day. >> rose: how did ben influence your character? to start with. >> i first met ben when i was 15 so a couple years ago and i did not think i was going to get the part because of the way it was written, i just looked at her as older. but ben and i spoke and one of the best kind of qualities of hers that she is so kind of child like and we talked about that, that she is still a little girl and she's gone through so much. loretta's very nostalgic about her childhood so to keep that
little girl thread throughout, we kind of talked about. most of my scenes were with ben, and so it was nice to have that support because he just creates such an environment where you want to give and you want to create. >> rose: take a look at this. >> we got off on the wrong foot here. i'm just here to ask you if you would be amenable to omitting the casino issue from your sermon in exchange we're going to bring a business here. business to create jobs which will reduce which comes with poverty and idle hands. would you be willing to contribute to the church. build a few churches. >> as god rewrites the bible to cast gambling virtuous i will reframe from speaking against it. but until then, we don't get to pick our sins, mr. cochran. >> rose: she's a stand up
woman, isn't she. a sense of i know what i'm doing here sir. >> like he's going to chem in and operate and it's become very clear that's not going to happen. >> rose: you don't afraid. >> no. >> rose: here's another clip. >> i expect you'd feel that way. >> do you know what happens if you don't help me. >> no, i don't. >> more bodies are going to pile up. more articles like cigar city slaughterer going to get written. >> you too. >> maybe. >> difference is when you get pushed out, someone does it with a bullet to the back of your ear.
>> rose: you both worked with ben when he was directing before in argo. is he getting better. >> he's been great from the beginning. >> rose: how do you explain it. you really came out of the box good. >> well thank you very much. i got lucky with my first movie as well as with the other one. we had a great cast and had really good material and that's so much of the battle. it just took a very simple approach to i thought if i can just get boston right and get the characters have the right ag sense and hit the right few key notes we need in the story dennis had created a very powerful ethical moral dilemma in that movie. and you know, you're as good as the material and the people that you're working with and like this is the best crew and cast that i've worked with of the four movies of any of the movies i've done. >> rose: who was your cinematographer. >> bob richardson whose been tom
nated ten -- nominated ten times for oscars and won a bunch of them. >> rose: what is your idea of direct. >> it's really like all complicated relationships. it can be become thorny or dysfunctional. it's like a marriage. it needs to be taken care of and nurtured. have you to collaborate and you have to be open and you can't be too president obamaly and you can't get pricklyly for for every role and every move you see there's 20 people that memorize the sides and
flogs them self and i just feel like i want to cast everybody who comes in. >> rose: just today i was in atlanta interviewing al pacino. he's making a film down there. we were talking about memorizing. he says that he waits for a while he doesn't try to go memorize the whole script that he lets it sort of come to him as he's getting inside the character. >> yes. i mean over the years i think i kind of changed what i'm doing now with scripts is get away from making judgments and just read it time and time again and let things soak in, you know. and then it's truly intuitive when i feel the time now is the time to you know memorize and i will do research all before the
memorization. it's really, it's a sensual thing and i think when it's time. >> rose: is it a muscle that gets better with experience. >> she doesn't -- well go ahead. >> i just, i memorize. i normally always memorize the night before only. >> rose: that's the scene -- >> or any scenes, all the scenes i have to do, memorize just the night before or the next day. but for this movie, i looked and the sermons that i, in one particular scene i say is three pages long that kind of threw me off because i'm like how am i going to, i love memorizing the night before so it's fresh and i don't analyze the words too much and on your toes. for this one i have to, it was a couple weeks ahead of time. actually i was very nurse --
nervous about it too. i never done a play or theatre but it felt like a very theatrical moment. ben asked me and i said no that's just do it. i hadn't said it outloud yet. >> rose: did you like -- >> i love doing face hair which is probably my favorite part investigating and get forensic on text. i think the muscle of doing that means i do find it easier to learn lines because of that experience. >> rose: good to have you. >> thank you very much. >> loved doing the show. >> rose: thank you. great to have you here. live by night opens christmas day limited release and then nationwide on january 13th. >> rose: hidden figures is a new film that tells a true story
of three african american women working in the 1960's. kathryn johnson, dorothy bonn and mary jackson were a small group of mathematicians and engineers. they were referred to as colored computers. they have launched the first americans into space. here is the trail for the film. >> you all go employed riding around in this pile of junk. >> you're welcome. >> to sit on the back of the bus. >> do you have identification on you. >> nasa. >> nassa i didn't know they hired women. the best i could do is give you an es escort. >> three black women chasing down policemen that's a god-ordained miracle. >> 14 days astronauts will be here for training they're shooting humans into space and
it's never been done before. >> i can't believe. >> she can handle any number you put in front of her. >> etcetera about inventing the math. we're not going anywhere. >> that's john glenn. >> what do you do. >> calculate your loss. >> equal rights. i have no righted in every color. >> would you wish to be an engineered. >> i wouldn't have to. i've already been one. the i don't know if i can keep up in that room. >> make that pencil move as fast as your mind does. >> for 300 hours. >> felt like it for me too. >> we don't have that figured out yet. >> there's no protocol for women attending.
>> there's no port call for man circling the earth. >> every time we have a chance to move ahead they move the finish line. >> they paying the rules. >> you sir, you are the boss you just have to act like one, sir. >> either we get there together or we don't get there at all. fight of our lives people. >> more than 50 million americans watching. >>y got a warning light. go find kathy. >> it's getting hot in here. the. >> last year president obama awarded captain johnson the presidential medal of freedom. which stars taraji henson, octavia spencer, janelle mow may
and kevin costner and ted mefli. how did you find them. >> her father was a research scientist in nasa so she grew up with kathryn johnson and dorothy von and mary jackson and she'd ask her dad who are these women. they work at nasa, they are mathematicians. and it sparked her. >> rose: was it hard to get this green-lighted or not. >> strangely not at all. i mean everyone -- >> rose: an american story. >> yes. and the moment everyone read this book proposal and the script and heard the story, they became infested with the idea that a it had to be told and had to be told right now. especially we were going out politically at the time. >> rose: this is the early
1960's. >> no, now. everyone wanted to be a part of this and tell the story. >> rose: racial questions that existed between african american communities and other communities in terms of police. >> yes. >> rose: kathryn johnson. >> yes. >> rose: tell me about her. >> the closest i've ever come to a living super hero. it's a different feeling. it's not like meeting a celebrity. i never get starred struck i guess because i'm an entertainer but it was a different kind of star struck. this woman changed the course of history for america. they met gleam years ago but it was the formal. this was formal. i was in her house and sitting there talking to this super hero. >> rose: how did she feel about a film being made about her. >> she seemed excited. it's almost like why do you want to tell my story. she doesn't see herself as a
hero. she just saw herself going to work every day. i don't think she ever saw herself as going to nasa to change the world. rose: she was confident who she was in her ability. >> absolutely and not knowing she was given that opportunity to change course of history. who knew. she just knew oh my god i work in a field i have all these degrees in and i don't have to be a teacher. >> rose: who do you play. >> mary jackson first african american female engineer at nasa. >> rose: tell me about her. >> she is my hero as well. all of these women are my hero. what she was able to accomplish had not been done before. she was on the course of, you know, being a colored compleurt -- computer but she had this mind for an messenger. women weren't allowed to vote and as minorities we weren't allowed to attend certain classes because of the color of
our skin. she fought, she petitioned and made history for everyone around her. everything she did was for the community. she was not going to be a woman who sat back idly for race discrimination. two things she couldn't change and two things she would never change, she was proud to be an african american woman. >> rose: your character. >> identify play dorothy vaughn and dorothy can be credited as the mother of the women of the code movement. she was the acting supervisor of the african american computers but she didn't have the title. and she was instrumental in figuring out the bim and then learning how to program it and she taught the other women to program it because she knew their jobs had become obsolete
once that computer was up. >> rose: she was the -- >> she was a visionary. she was able to look two miles down the road and know analysis awe would no longer need computers. she taught herself literally and then taught all of the other women. >> rose: kevin, what do you think this film says. >> what do i think it said? >> rose: an american story. >> it's set set against these big back drops, the civil rights movement. you're dealing with women in the workplace. you're dealing with, and then you top that off with race inside that. so it's important i think to point out that while this is a good story, i never think that a good story makes a good movie. i think that a good script does and there's an art form that comes in somehow distilling us down. how margin can you make it. people are always going to react
to the big boom in meefers but this going to be moved into interpersonal things either tucking your children into bed or letting them absolutely believe they can be whatever they want and go to work be put down on a daily basis. so what do i think? i think this is a movie that some people will be changed by it. not everybody. it doesn't always happen that way. >> rose: because. >> i think that people young people, maybe young girls will be really empowered. i can do that, i can be that. when movies are working at their best that's kind of what they're doing. so what does it saw? it says that american movies are alive and well. we can make stories about this and we can movie people. >> rose: there's some sense and some people are talking about this is the year of african american films in which african american characters play a prominent role coming after all the things that were said about the academy. have you heard that, do you as
soon as that. >> what's wonderful is that we know that this isn't a reactionary project. we knew it when it was in the first writtation. i'm excited that we know there are movies starring people of color. i'm also excited about lion and see def patel doing something different. >> as an african american woman i'm excited to hear more diverse stories and i think inclusion is important and including these women who have gone far too long without being celebrated in a way we all felt they need to be celebrated is important. we think about other films, lion and moon light. it's just about making sure we have, we account for so many
nuanced and layered characters. they are on screen and they can see themselves and we're also a part of the american experience. >> rose: this is your second film. >> yes. >> rose: what would the challenge be. >> i think the biggest challenge when i got the script and the book proposal. being a white man and a white director, i didn't know. it was scary to think what do i have to offer this. i didn't understand why i made the movie. i didn't tell octavia this. i didn't understand why i made the movie other than i had to pay reference to these women. then i was sitting at the airport with octavia in heathrow and we're traveling to back to screening and we're in the first class lounge. and i talked to octavia, i'm going to go get something for a friend of mine, i leave. i get something for a friend of mine, i come back and octavia
and her make up art ist hadn't been served a cup of coffee and i didn't get it. i walked up to them and they were sitting there with a look on their face and the server came out. >> immediately. >> immediately. i said to myself that's why i made this movie. the movie is important. >> rose: because your experience -- >> yes. it speaks to the every day racism and slight and sexisms. >> rose: this is a woman at heathrow airport. >> i will never go there again. truthfully you can feel the changes in the world. it's very pervasive in all of these cultures. so i think this is the great time to have movies like this.
>> to bring people together. >> exactly. >> to remind people what made america great in the first place. everybody putting their brilliant minds together. >> rose: take a look at this. this is kathryn johnson. this character you're talking to kathryn who is playing al harrison. here it is. take a look. >> what's the status in our computer. >> it's right behind you mr. harrison. >> doesate handle -- >> absolutely. yes, sir. >> which one. >> both. the. >> do you think you can find the brand -- >> yes, sir. i prefer it over you encoding this. >> i love that. >> rose: did you change this
character at all. >> i was the going to do the movie at first. i was in complete support of the movie, i thought it was really beautiful and the movie was about to go and the call came in that ted would want me to play the role. i just didn't feel like i understood the role. it was schizophrenic. i've used that word before. we got on the phone and i knew it wasn't time to do this big dance here. i said look it's a little schizophrenic and i was quiet. i just offended the director and writer and my career is dependent on great writing and there's great writing in the story. i was quick to say i think the movie is just great but i don't see how i fit. what came back to me was that it was, couldn't get the rights to that character so it became a combination of three different men. and so when he said that, i went well at least i'm not crazy. you know. and we began to talk then.
and without breaking it completely down, i said this will take work. and tess says i'm ready to do that work and i said but i've directed two. and after a 12 hour day or longer to get a phone call from the supporting actor because let's face it that's what this part is and i was proud to be a part of it. it's a supporting part and when you're out there directing every day to come and get on the phone with me because it's still not right. that can tax you. he said i could do it and i believed it. not always do they follow the through and ted did. and i didn't even know what part we had actually created until we finally saw the movie. we had worked very hard to the kind of turn it on its ear a little bit. >> rose: who was the -- >> identify think he was the guy when you boil him down was the cream to get to the top and i don't care how it happens. on a sporting field, at nasa in
the classroom. this country will survive beautifully when we understand that no advantage can be given to wealth, to race. when we open the door to ability and contribution, we can be that, we can be that thing where we're headed. >> and he had the capacity he had that mild set and secondly he saw the possibilities of these talented people. >> yes. s own shame about maybe nothave paying attention. >> rose: his own shame. >> there's a scene where we go break down the bathroom sign, which is in my mind everybody in the world after seeing that movie will wish they brokate down. but we put something in the middle of that which was, which is a coffee pot, which i think ended up setting up the hallway even more. the coffee pot as a disappointment in the room that would not allow this young woman
just didn't realize, it was bothersome. but it was equally on me too that i was the taking a look around the work spot. and so the character we just want to do was we want to create a spencer tracy role we just stand there and left the ladies do an amazing dance and have their stories told. >> is there a common denominator in the three ladies. >> fidelity to each other, to the sisterhood and community. if one does great they all do great. >> rose: is there also to science. >> yes. we're deep and we're proud of it. >> because science is truth. >> absolutely. >> and numbers don't lie. >> rose: they don't lie and they don't see any color or anything else. >> they, they don't. >> rose: how much it is their pride being part of history. >> just being a part of this
project, this is the most important project to date in my career. >> rose: i was talking about the characters at the time but your career. >> definitely in my career because this is a missing part of history and an important of cinematography that we need. we need it and we need it now. and the fact that my name is on it it's like i couldn't have written a better script in my life. i couldn't have planned it any better judicial testified a very interesting thing at that moment where after she becomes, because when john glenn says i'm not going, i'm not going unless the girl does the thing. what girl. not the black girl, not the tall girl, not the white girl. the smart girl. the really smart one. i'm not going. and what ted did boothfully when that happened kathryn's still going to be shut out of her credit and the door shuts on her. once again john will go because kathryn's done her job.
it's a beautiful moment. and tid chooses what makes the script very sophisticated but seemingly simple is the door opens and all that come out is the tag. you can come in. there's no words. i got you the tag. i got you this. it's like hurry up in those heels because she was having to make that awful run. >> great acting. >> you take the vision and the vision was not to beat people over the head with the message it is just for them to enjoy and get it. it will seep into your blood and veins. just watch it you'll get it as opposed to get the message. >> rose: skip down to the third clip here. i want to show that. this is where you were telling your future husband about your work at nasa. here it is. >> you mentioned you were a computer at nasa. pretty heavy stuff. >> yes, it is. >> they let women handle that
sort of -- that's not what i mean. >> what do you mean? >> i'm just surprised something so taxing. >> mr. johnson, if i were i would quit talking right now. >> i mean no israel respect. >> i will have you know i was the first female negro student at west university graduate school on any given day i analyze the level for air displacement and velocity and compute over 10,000 calculations by hand. yes, women do some things at nasa mr. johnson and it's not because of their skirt, it's because of their glasses. >> rose: when you were e selected for this flm, you were also -- you in sisted on the
doing this. >> yes. i had been through the spider man process for about four months and -- >> i'm just thinking i'm going to ask him that story when we have more time, what that spiderman process is. >> i was enjoying the process and on forty night -- marvel was going to give us an answer that monday. friday night my eights called me and said we know you're in the middle of a spiderman situation but we have something we want to tell you about. they tell me this story and i go oh crap. really, yeah, really. i said send to me. i read it that weekend and then sunday night, i said i'm going to back out of spiderman. i can't possibly do that now that i've seen this. it's like -- >> rose: were you contracted to make the film at that time. >> no. it was up to me and the director. so i withdrew for consideration
on monday morning. >> that's a pretty good negotiating move . i can do that spiderman movie or i can do your movie. okay. i know there's not a lot of money but you have to bump it a little bit. >> rose: the spiderman movie. >> we just want to do something good. >> they actually want me for spiderman but i decided i would rather play kathryn. >> rose: what was the most satisfying thing about the entire experience. just putting this on screen exploring that character. >> yes. but knowing that we were going to introduce the world to a story that no one has ever heard of. i mean this is so fresh. this is not like another jfk film, no public -- pun intende.
this is a story you've seen it done a million ways on traryt on the jean this is something no new and so refreshing and that's why the world is waiting to see he because it's something that's happened but you never heard about it. >> especial three three female protagonists. that's very rare. >> rose: african american female protagonist who made a significant contribution of great merit. as john again said we want the smart one. >> we've seen ourselves as seen as beautiful or as objects sometimes but now we're subjects to study until the
who knew. if i knew i could be great with numbers and science maybe i could have been a rocket scientist. >> rose: maybe you could have been an as the not. >> i was told not to silly myself with that boy stuff. >> rose: what does kathryn johnson think about it. >> she loves it. >> well first of all her being 98 she doesn't under the hubub about it. she says i just did my work. >> rose: whenever you talk to people who have done something had he -- heroic, it's my duty. >> sometimes it has to do with the scene you're in. so when i was reading the screen play things that moved me i thought that's why i want to be part of the film. there's a scene, janelle said with the judge. the reason why that scene's important to me is because people don't think at the actually get justice. they think it's predetermined in a long way.
in that particular scene she makes a very compelling sidebar discussion with him. very intimate and the judge sets it. and you don't think he's going to get it and you don't think at that point in history he's going to listen to it. but he does and so i was thrilled with that man. i was thrilled with that man that made a difference in your character's life. and so part of the weight of me kind of saying i'm going to do it had to do with scenes like that. because that's important to me that that happened. it's important to me that dorothy, when these men couldn't figure out these big men, she just got done like she got underneath the car and fixed it. there's charm in that. there's a charm in that. and the fact that it's true makes it like you have this giant secret when you read a script like this that one day it's going to be told because i don't know anybody that wants to tell somebody about the greatest song they just heard, the greatest book they just read. i just saw a movie that touched
me. >> rose: do you remember at scene. >> absolutely. >> rose: what did she say or what do you think it was. >> i think during that era their brothers and sisters were being lynched the way that they even talked to white people or looked at white people. so my character mary had to be very strategic. she had to study and learn her enemy and she had to figure out a way to get him to empathize with her. and the judge was one of the first in his family to do many things. and her knowing that stheafs -- she was going to be the first to be a female engineer at nasa was the connection that she felt that they would bond over and that he would get. he would understand the obstacles that he had to go through to get to where he was, name the first in his family in the u.s. navy armed forces. once she got, once she made that
connection, human to human, she won, justice was served. >> literally these women were so smart, it was a chess game. >> it seemed like a story but it was a screen play. no, we've got to dig in there and that's a nervous moment when you have to find the right words in your life with everything on the line. it comes out in the movie perfect but that little girl had to be really sweating a the that moment. >> rose: was it good to have him around those. >> this is my favorite filmmaker in the world. it's like kevin's like the ultimate partner and dug into the script like i did. >> rose: you have a partner. >> it's like you have a partner. i knew al harrison was going to work out once he said we're going to work al harrison. i know his character from the
first time you shake his hand. you know he's going to be there do and do it and dig in the day before his scene and walk around and preblock stuff. our scenes were very unwieldy, they were big. there was movement. and the art of rehearsal is a lost art in our business and we show up and with a kind of makate up at the moment. we usually do right good but we maybe don't do as well as hamilton and other things where they've taken months to workate out. so for me if i'm not working that day i'm saying where's this next set. and talk about it. >> we don't have a lot of time in the spaces so i literally like to go and sit in the space and feel it and figure it how the and just, because you have to exist in that space on screen as if you've been there ten, 20
years. and that's hard to do, yes. >> these women all took the map home with them, the homework every day on their tomorrow. taraji had a blackboard in her hotel or condo, wherever she was staying and learned that day in and day out. awk -- octavia had to work. they did the work to make the character work. >> rose: it's opened in select theatres on december 25th. it he was nationwide on january 6th. congratulations. >> thank you. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
the kqed television production. ♪ it is like old fisherman's wharf. it reminds me of old san francisco. >> and the calories, the cholesterol, and the heart attack you might have. >> it's like an adventure, putting on your miners helmet. >> it reminds me of oatmeal and a touch of wet dog. >> hi, welcome to check please bay area.