Charlie Rose: The hour with De Niro, Damon and Jolie next. Filmmaker Robert De Niro is here. For years, the Academy Award-winning actor has wanted to tell the story about the origins of the CIA during the Cold War. “The Good Shepherd” is his answer. Here is the trailer for the film.
Matt Damon: Everybody has secrets to tell. My secrets are bigger than others.
Robert De Niro: You understand that whatever we discuss here doesn’t leave this room.
Matt Damon: Of course.
Robert De Niro: The president has asked me to look into creating a foreign intelligence service.
Matt Damon: My orders came through. I’ll be going overseas.
Angelina Jolie: What are you going to do? Save the world?
Matt Damon: I’ll do what I can.
Unidentified Male: Welcome to our little clubhouse. You’re going to have to learn the English system of intelligence.
Matt Damon: I’m here to see a tailor. How was the fishing? Set the mongoose free.
Robert De Niro: Gentlemen, the CIA.
Unidentified Female: The nasty little secrets.
Robert De Niro: No matter what anyone tells you, there will be no one you can really trust.
Unidentified Male: In our profession it’s best that way.
Matt Damon: How do I know if I can even trust you.
Unidentified Male: Take th gloves off. Tell me your real name. We don’ have to be gentlemen anymore. What is your name? You’re the guys that scare me. You’re the people that make big wars.
Matt Damon: No, we make sure the wars are small ones.
Unidentified Male: First opportunity your boys get, they’re going to be breaking and entering like thieves in the night. Margare tells us you work for the CIA?
Matt Damon: My wife has a vivid imagination. You are never to tell anyone what it is that I do.
Angelina Jolie: What you do — I don’t know what you do! You leave at five, you’re home at ten, seven days a week. I live with a ghost! I don’t know anything about you.
Unidentified Male: Why is it that people like us choose to serve for nickels a day in a profession that makes us continually look over our shoulders for who is watching us?
Matt Damon: It isn’t about dedication and loyalty. It’s about belief in what we do.
Unidentified Male: I’ve never even met my little boy. You ever?
Unidentified Female: We don’t have to be like this, you and I. We don’t have to be strangers.
Robert De Niro: Remember what I said to you about friends?
Unidentified Male: Yes, while you still can. While you still have a soul. “The Good Shepherd.”
Charlie Rose: Also joining me, two of the film’s stars — Academy Award winners Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. I am pleased to have them here to talk about this rather extraordinary film. Congratulations.
Robert De Niro: Thank you.
Charlie Rose: After eight years?
Robert De Niro: Yes, about – about eight years.
Charlie Rose: Tell me what it was about the story that you wanted to tell that sort of — created this great interest for you.
Robert De Niro: Well, I – I had always been interested in this world. It’s – it’s a fascinating, great world. CR Yeah. You know, you go on and on with stories about it, obviously. So, I – and I was working on something myself earlier, but then I had read “The Good Shepherd,” and I asked Eric and met him. And I asked him if he’d work on this thing that I was working on, which was about a later period. And so, he didn’t really — he wasn’t inclined to do that, but he — we agreed that I could — if I directed “The Good Shepherd,” if I could, get – get to the point which I finally did, then he would write the next installment if we would ever be so lucky to do that, which you never know. Hopefully we might be able to. But — so that was it. And I loved his script. I mean, I just — everybody loves it that reads it. And it was one of those 10 best unproduced scripts —
Charlie Rose: Yes.
Robert De Niro: — that I learned later was like in film magazines and stuff like that. And – and I guess – I don’t know if you read it before. You might have. And – and – I know you had read it —
Charlie Rose: It had come across your desk before.
Matt Damon: I read it as a writing sample. I didn’t even read it as a – it was because it was one of those great unproduced things. And I – I try and keep up with those. And I just read it. At the time, I think you were supposed to be in it. It was years and years ago.
Robert De Niro: Years ago. Yeah.
Matt Damon: So – so, yeah, I just — I loved it.
Charlie Rose: And so, why wasn’t it made into a movie before?
Robert De Niro: I think it was too hard. And just people were afraid of what it would — might – what it might cost. I mean, there were some scenes we had to take out, I’m sad to say, like, the Iran sequence and Mozambique (ph) and all that stuff. We – we and some other things that I had to give up in order to get other things, which is something that happens in movies. You sort of negotiate for what you can hold on to.
Charlie Rose: It couldn’t be made until after 9/11. 9/11 made it more interesting to make or —
Robert De Niro: Well, it was — once 9/11 happened, I figured it will never, you know, that’s — everything stopped. But I was trying to make it before that.
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Robert De Niro: And then I guess now things are more relative obviously with it coming out now.
Charlie Rose: Someone said to me that – that – that you couldn’t have — or I read this– couldn’t have made this, say, 10 years ago. You were too young. That what you needed in this is — because the character is so torn by the nature of his life as well as the impact on his family. You had to have a certain age on you before you could do it.
Matt Damon: Well, I mean — yeah. I mean, it’s just – it’s — the character ages from 19 to 41 or two. So it’s not – it’s — I – I actually have a lot shorter distance to travel to get to the – the end and back to the beginning. So – so, yeah, it was a good – good age for me to do it, probably. It would have been harder if I was a little older or a little younger, I think.
Charlie Rose: Yeah. This film has an interesting relationship to your friend Marty’s movie “The Departed.” A, because he’s in it.
Robert De Niro: Yes.
Charlie Rose: Because Marty wanted you in it.
Robert De Niro: Yes, and I’m sorry I couldn’t be in I, but I wanted to be in it.
Charlie Rose: You had nothing to do with either.
Angelina Jolie: Well —
Charlie Rose: It is also — Leo was in that one.
Robert De Niro: Yes.
Charlie Rose: You know, you considered him for this part.
Robert De Niro: Yes.
Charlie Rose: And —
Robert De Niro: Yeah, I know, Leo was — we were going to do it, but then the — it was still complicated with schedule and this and I went to Matt. I said, Leo, I got – I’ve got to move on, and I went to Matt. He came.
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Robert De Niro: Thank God he did it. Thank you.
Charlie Rose: Because it turns out what? Because it turned out he was right?
Robert De Niro: Well, every would – everybody would do it in their own way. It would be — but Matt, you know, did it. And – and in every — every way supportive and so on and so on. It’s just, you know, that’s it.
Charlie Rose: It’s almost like everything came together. I mean, the right timing, the right – you know, the right everything. I mean, the great Michael Gambon. Wonderful.
Robert De Niro: Yeah.
Charlie Rose: When you travel around, as you do as an ambassador for the United Nations and all the places you go, is there much talk about the CIA when they talk about America? Do you hear much of that kind of sense of the CIA as the evil extension of America?
Angelina Jolie: Not in the circles I’m in, no. But there is — there is always the question about America, and I’m sure that that is part of what they’re talking about. The questions about, you know —
Charlie Rose: Yes.
Angelina Jolie: The recent war, the intelligence, the president, that, of course it’s – it’s an element that is maybe not blatantly discussed, but is certainly present.
Charlie Rose: Tell me about the character you play here, who is his wife?
Angelina Jolie: She is, well, first of all, I just – I – I was – I didn’t read the script years ago. I read it —
Charlie Rose: When it was sent to you.
Angelina Jolie: — a few months before.
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Angelina Jolie: And it wasn’t originally sent to me to do. It was sent to me as something that was being done, and – and then I fought for it, I wanted to do it, and we met many times. I – I loved the project. And I wanted to work with – with Mr. De Niro. And – and — but – but the character to me was, you know, as a woman, it was somebody who in the beginning had so much fire and spirit. And by the end is – is quite dead inside. And – and that journey was fascinating to me as an actor and – and to understand what it is to be the wife of somebody who works for the government, especially the
Angelina Jolie: What – what that kind — but especially certainly the agency.
Charlie Rose: Why is it especially the agency for what it does to sort of the nature of intimate relationships?
Angelina Jolie: Well, I think any good relationship is based on trust.
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Angelina Jolie: So – so if you have a marriage —
Charlie Rose: And every good CIA agent learns that there’s nobody to trust.
Angelina Jolie: There’s nobody to trust and – and shares nothing.
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Angelina Jolie: So it’s – it’s a – it’s not — how can it even be a marriage, really? And I – and I’ve come to believe, because I’m met women of the CIA; recently I met a woman.
Charlie Rose: Yes.
Angelina Jolie: And we were talking. And you – I think the only way it works if you are both equally patriotic and believe so much in what you’re doing and your government somehow that you’re — your silent marriage is part of your own contribution.
Charlie Rose: But in this case, she couldn’t.
Angelina Jolie: She couldn’t, no, and I couldn’t.
Charlie Rose: And you couldn’t?
Angelina Jolie: And I couldn’t. No.
Charlie Rose: Because of the nature of your own life force?
Angelina Jolie: Yeah, and – and I – I mean, I don’t know for how well I would have done living in the ’40s or the ’50s either. I’m just not that kind of woman. But —
Charlie Rose: It wasn’t that bad. I was there.
Angelina Jolie: No, no, but I – you know —
Robert De Niro: You weren’t a woman.
Angelina Jolie: But – but — and a fascinating world. But I did — I felt like the housewife who really knew nothing of what was going on.
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Angelina Jolie: So I was – I was quite closed off.
Charlie Rose: Tell me about him. I mean, in the whole sense of this character in this – “The Good Shepherd”, but – but getting inside and – and how he lives, and you have said that — that what was important for you was for him to appreciate the restraint that he operated with.
Robert De Niro: Yeah.
Charlie Rose: Meaning what? Meaning?
Robert De Niro: Well, I just — Matt is different than the character, very different. And so, and for the youthful part of that, we would allow that to be more there — but then as he got older and more sort of within himself, we took this – this approach which was for him to get —
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Robert De Niro: — and more closed. And so we were always watching, making sure that it wasn’t any extraneous kinds of movements or things that would — also, to make him more youthful, we had to make him — that was like very important, to say the least.
Matt Damon: It’s also the things that I could do subconsciously and not even know it, and it would really help to have somebody who was sitting right next to me the whole time, saying, you know, and keeping an eye on all of that, so that – so that it was all kind of a piece, it seems, like the same guy. I’m just a little bouncier than – that just naturally. And I don’t —
Robert De Niro: Yes.
Matt Damon: I don’t – and I didn’t realized how much so.
Angelina Jolie: He’s really still.
Charlie Rose: He is what?
Angelina Jolie: He is really still.
Charlie Rose: Yeah, I know, that’s not the man you know. But getting in – getting this character right, what was it about him that in the end we ought to know that makes him compelling and interesting?
Matt Damon: You’d probably have to watch it and draw your own conclusions, but I – but in terms of preparing it, it was just — I came late into the whole process, and — and you know, Bob is very famous for his attention to detail. And – and – and so I made the mistake of calling his office and saying, you guys have any research material?
Charlie Rose: Next day there was a box outside your door.
Matt Damon: Yeah, a giant box. And – and so, I read a lot. One of the – one of the things that we talked about early on that I was concerned about was scheduling-wise, as he said, he had to end up talking to Marty to move — to frontload me in “The Departed,” because I ended up wrapping “The Departed” on a Friday and starting “Good Shepherd” on — the following Monday. And so, I didn’t have any time in between. So I had to get ready for both movies before “The Departed” started, so I was kind of preparing two of these things at the same time. But he was very adamant that because he had been on the movie for so long and been thinking about the character, and basically he had prepared the role so that – so that I could – I could move into it and not – not worry about it. And – and to have him as a safety net was really about as much as an actor could ask for because I knew — I knew I was going to be OK even if I – even if I didn’t — I mean — with all the reading that – that we did and then we met with family members of people who were actually family members of original — some of the – some of the people who were there at the beginning of CIA and some of the people that these biographies were about, and – and – and they were nice enough to give us some – some reminisces of their lives and what their home life was like, because obviously that was this whole aspect of the – of the movie. And then – and then we had a technical advisor named Milt Bearden who —
Charlie Rose: Sure.
Matt Damon: — was fantastic.
Charlie Rose: Been on this show a number of times.
Matt Damon: Yeah, and he – he — He really is, and he was a great resource for us. And then – and then — at the end, I had Bob as my backstop. And he didn’t let anything — he knew every single detail of the performance that he wanted, and it was important. And so, he was very good about communicating what he needed and – and articulating it in a way that I could understand it, and – and – and guiding – guiding me to do it.
Charlie Rose: Are you conscious at all times obviously because of what he has done as an actor, that the man talking to me understands what I do as well as anybody in the world could understand what I do?
Matt Damon: Yeah, that’s — that was a big part of being comfortable — of being comfortable with something that I – that I felt was a really big and incredible role that was very — going to be very minimalistic, because the guy is not going to broadcast his feelings, and I had just complete trust. I mean, he definitely knows what we’re going through.
Charlie Rose: There’s something to be said for a director that has the kind of experience you have in understanding actors.
Robert De Niro: Well, I think actors in general that I — I’ve seen working with other actors get pretty good performances out of actors. Clint Eastwood —
Charlie Rose: Yes.
Robert De Niro: — who was just here, you know. Some terrific — I – I don’t think I’ve ever seen where – where — bad performances given by actors – given by actors who have been directed by someone who is an actor.
Charlie Rose: What is it about that? I mean, is it simply —
Robert De Niro: I think it’s just like any profession. They just know, you know, they have the vision on – on — you don’t need to say certain things that are obvious. And when you make a suggestion that they – they – they trust that it’s something that they know it’s a good one.
Charlie Rose: Yeah. You are at a time in which you’ve had a chance to do – you worked with lots of interesting directors, and also you have a chance to choose what you want to do. So you choose a director like this would make a difference, as you said? For you because you want to learn, you want to know what it’s like? You want to —
Angelina Jolie: Well, I mean I think there are many, many things about this project that were just like, you know, heaven sent. I mean, to where — I love Eric Roth as a writer.
Charlie Rose: Oh, yeah.
Angelina Jolie: I love the subject matter of this, I was fascinated by it. I hadn’t read something that was such a smart – maybe — I had to read it four times before I really understood the script. And – and to work with – with Bob is just a dream for – for any actor, just because you know there’s so much — because his passion and his body of work is – is — had taught us all. We’ve all studied —
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Angelina Jolie: Everything he’s done. And – you know, and so, so it was — and then Matt, you know, who hardly spoke to me through the whole film, but was really great to work with him.
Charlie Rose: Why did you hardly speak to her?
Matt Damon: We just had – we had an odd marriage, you know.
Charlie Rose: Oh, you —
Angelina Jolie: No, I mean in the film.
Charlie Rose: Oh, in the film! You mean the character in the film.
Angelina Jolie: You know, but, those for me – I was — everything about it.
Charlie Rose: Just to understand the two movies that were there that you put together in one, is one sort of looking back at the beginning of the CIA.
Robert De Niro: Right.
Charlie Rose: And how it was formed, coming out of OSS in World War II —
Robert De Niro: Right. Right.
Charlie Rose: And on the other hand, your sense of great curiosity about the CIA’s role in the Cuban —
Robert De Niro: Yes, and it’s also used as a device in the story as — I mean, I don’t want to give it away, but that kind of, what’s hanging on, what sets up the hopefully the drama, the interest by starting out with it.
Charlie Rose: Yeah. Here’s what’s interesting to me too. I mean, I’ve known a lot of these people from – from Helms to Colby – to – met Angleton. Are they now, because this was some time ago, much more open to talking about who they are and what they did? I mean, Helms is dead and Colby is dead and Angleton is dead and Bissell is dead. But there are still people who knew them like Bearden, people like that.
Robert De Niro: No, I think they – I think that’s true. I think they’ve opened up and feel that they have to be more accessible, that – that whole cult of mysteriousness or whatever there — I mean, there is – there is, it is by nature what it is. It is what it is, but at the same time there has to be — they’ve opened up more, I think.
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Robert De Niro: More, and I – and it’s — that’s good for all, many of reasons.
Charlie Rose: Here’s what’s interesting too from a standpoint of one who has looked at it. I mean, both – and we know that Philby and those guys came out of Cambridge, you know.
Robert De Niro: Yes.
Charlie Rose: There was sort of a whole great university feeding him. The same thing is true, the
Cia Was Formed By Very Bright: Right.
Charlie Rose: — and – and I assume some women as well, who sort of really formed it.
Robert De Niro: Yeah, exactly, yeah.
Charlie Rose: And today it’s different. I mean it’s not that way anymore —
Robert De Niro: I think it’s —
Charlie Rose: — an old boys’ club – it’s not.
Robert De Niro: It’s different.
Matt Damon: Different, yeah, it’s different. Milt’s been — you know, actually, I think he came in in the mid ’60s. And that — you know, they reached out more then. I mean, it’s – it’s — in this movie Bob plays the character basically of “Wild Bill” Donovan.
Robert De Niro: Right.
Matt Damon: His name is General Sullivan in the movie. And he – he — he lays out what – what the prescription is for the type of people they’ll be looking for. And that’s what they were looking for. And it is – it is a really well documented time. And they were a really well documented group of people with, you know, biographies written about, you know.
Charlie Rose: “Wild Bill” Donovan was amazing.
Matt Damon: Well, yeah, sure. Sure. So – so – so – so that was – that was just- that was helpful in preparing, because we – because you could really get a sense of the whole world, there is a lot of —
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Matt Damon: There is a lot of things written about them and the culture that they came from, and – you know.
Charlie Rose: Did you seek out these guys to talk to them and — or you just have Milt there for constant reference?
Matt Damon: Yeah, well, Milt was there. And then – and then – and then we met with, you know, the families, which is – which is kind of one degree or one generation away. I mean, I don’t know that — I mean, this is a very different time. And these are very different people. I mean, I went to Harvard. And it was tough to run across blue bloods like — quite like this. I mean, the – the world has changed a lot since 1939.
Charlie Rose: This film, it is said by some, wouldn’t have been made unless you could have gotten him to sign on. Is that a fair —
Robert De Niro: Who?
Charlie Rose: Matt.
Robert De Niro: Absolutely. It wouldn’t have been done, and Angelina —
Charlie Rose: Well, yes, exactly.
Robert De Niro: I mean, that is certainly —
Charlie Rose: But what is the reluctance? I mean, you had a fantastic script, a great director, you know and – and obviously with them coming in made it happen. But is it just simply waiting for the right talent before these studios are willing to bankroll this kind of thing?
Robert De Niro: They are nervous about, as I say, I had to — there was one sequence in particular that was — took place in Iran that I would love to have done, but that would have been another — another week of shooting at least. And so, I had to give that up in order to get the other scenes. And Matt gave up most of the salary. And if I – if I didn’t have him to come back to every time, it would have been like the pressure is just unbelievable. And he – he loved the script, loved the character and – and told me that. And that’s what is needed for these kinds of projects. And as Angelina said.
Charlie Rose: Is it all that you wanted it to be?
Robert De Niro: Well, yes. I mean, I can’t — somebody asked me, you know, are you happy? I said — when we just finished the last mix, you know, the sound and everything, I said I’ll be as happy as I’ll ever be.
Angelina Jolie: Are you ever considered be happy?
Robert De Niro: No.
Charlie Rose: Help me out of here. And for you as a movie experience, how was this different from other directors?
Angelina Jolie: Oh, the filming.
Charlie Rose: Yeah, the filming, you know?
Angelina Jolie: It was just, you know, it honestly reminded me of why I want to be in this business. I’ve – I’ve done, you know, I think so much now this — it has become such a business. And so often, maybe one of the reasons it was difficult to make is it’s – it’s an expensive movie, it’s a period movie. And it’s – and it’s a real smart movie, it’s a complicated movie. It is not something that is obviously going to make a studio a bunch of money. You know, and so to – to have an experience where you are in it and everybody who is in it is in it for all the right reasons, just to make the best film they can —
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Angelina Jolie: — and the conversations going on on set about foreign policy, about the history, about life, about — it’s just amazing. And – and the work everybody is doing and surrounded by such amazing actors and all the best.
Charlie Rose: This is why you want to be an actor?
Angelina Jolie: Yes, then you realize this is what we are supposed to be doing. This is what we’re supposed to be focusing on, supposed to be trying to sell stories that we feel are relevant as honestly as possible, with as much attention to detail and research and respect for – for, you know, the film-making process and work really, really hard as a team. And – and that’s why it was one of the best, absolutely, experiences I’ve ever had.
Charlie Rose: It is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It really is, and A, because I’m interested in the subject matter.
Robert De Niro: Yes.
Charlie Rose: So I acknowledge that. But it is because of performance, performance — Billy Crudup is great. I mentioned Gambon is great. You know, the great Gambon is great. And just so many people — and Eric’s script.
Robert De Niro: Yes.
Charlie Rose: I mean, the whole thing is crisp. And it gives you a sense of sort of a crucial time in America. When you are going through this, do you know this is a movie that is working? I mean, when you’re there in the midst of filming, or do you have to see it to —
Matt Damon: Well —
Charlie Rose: You feel something that’s —
Matt Damon: Well, things feel good kind of moment to moment. But it’s impossible — I mean, we always talked about what Steven Soderbergh says, film making is like doing a giant mosaic from two inches away. It’s really hard to get a grasp of the big picture when you’re right up against it. And all you can really do is, if you have faith in the script, which we all did, and you know, in my case I was either going to work with Angie or with Bob or with John Turturro or Michael Gambon — These fantastic — or Alec Baldwin, William Hurt. It’s like, you know, these incredible actors. Everybody was cast perfectly. Tammy Blanchard, who plays the girl that I have, you know, that I’m courting in college, who is deaf. She was fantastic. And so day to day, it felt really good. But we leave every day and go, yeah, I think that was good. You know, I think — and then we go to the next day. But we were 100 some odd days of that. And so at the end it’s not — it was that we were guardedly optimistic, but we just tried to maintain our focus. Because it was a long haul. It was — every day was 16, 18 hours.
Charlie Rose: And a complex film to make going back and forth.
Robert De Niro: Yeah, yeah.
Matt Damon: Very.
Charlie Rose: Take a look at this. Here is a clip from the film.
Angelina Jolie: John is very fond of you.
Matt Damon: I’m very fond of him.
Angelina Jolie: He’s talking of going off to fight with the English. My father isn’t particularly pleased about it, because he’s one of the organizers of (inaudible). Not very good for an isolationist’s son to go off to the war.
Matt Damon: Your brother John is a man of great conviction. I admire him.
Angelina Jolie: And what about you, Mr. Wilson? What do you believe in?
Matt Damon: Are you in school?
Angelina Jolie: You don’t say very much, do you?
Matt Damon: When there’s something worth saying.
Angelina Jolie: Oh. Well, I think I’m going to like you.
Charlie Rose: Tell me the story you were telling us while we were watching this.
Angelina Jolie: Oh, that I did an interview and somebody said, you guys have great chemistry. I said, are you kidding me? We were always joking that we have like — this must be one of the worst possible relationships.
Charlie Rose: Yeah, and so there was no way for —
Angelina Jolie: It’s not even interesting enough to be the worst. It’s just one of the oddest.
Matt Damon: It’s just missing every time, yeah. Zero chemistry.
Charlie Rose: Did Marty play any role — did you — because you’re such great friends, the phone would ring occasionally?
Robert De Niro: Yeah, I would call Marty. And actually after the movie I put it together, I sent it to him, and then I sent him another version and another version. Yeah, yeah, because I wanted to get his input on one thing that I did that I took out that we — in the reshoot. And I was curious what his impression would be. And yeah —
Charlie Rose: What did he say?
Robert De Niro: He told me, he said, you have got to figure it out, ask other people. He wasn’t — he was more like a teacher saying, you know, and I forgot Marty was — taught film at NYU. So I mean, actually, that’s just — because I couldn’t — you could go one way, you could go the other. I just was worried about it. So — and he couldn’t give me an answer on that. He said, I’m not sure myself. You know, just —
Charlie Rose: How many more do you want to make with him?
Robert De Niro: Well, I would say at least two. And in fact, I got Eric Roth together with Marty to come up with something for us. In fact, today they’re meeting —
Charlie Rose: So as we speak, they may be talking at lunch or something, saying — Is it an extension of this story?
Robert De Niro: No, it’s not an extension of this story. It was — it’s about career, our career. And I’m not even sure we’re working it out, what Marty wants to do, what Eric is coming up with and what I put into it. And so, they’re working on it. And —
Matt Damon: My role.
Angelina Jolie: My role.
Charlie Rose: OK, I want to come back to that for a moment, but what is it about the two of you? I mean, there is history, but what else? I mean, you’re more Irish than you are Italian in the end.
Robert De Niro: Yeah, well, half. There are other things too. But I — we just have a — we have a very special relationship, creative relationship. And I mean, any actor will tell you that. Matt can tell you that with Marty, he’s just open to ideas, open to things, open to trying things. And he doesn’t — he’s very, very respectful of actors. And that’s, you know, and he’s not afraid to try things, unless, you know, and that’s what he’s supposed to do. As a director, he guides you here and there. If it’s going off — but he’s very smart. He knows what to do.
Charlie Rose: How many times do you want to direct?
Robert De Niro: I don’t know. I only thought if I ever did five movies, that would be it for me.
Charlie Rose: You’ve done two.
Robert De Niro: Two. I’d love to do the next installment to this. And we’ll see. And maybe who knows, but if I could list the five, I would like to finally, if I ever did one, write one and then direct it totally —
Charlie Rose: The whole —
Robert De Niro: Do the whole thing.
Charlie Rose: — experience.
Robert De Niro: Make a film by as opposed to — because, I mean, this one for me is — I directed it. It’s not a film by me. I directed it. Eric wrote it. The collaboration of everybody. All the actors. And Bob Richardson, the D.P.
Charlie Rose: Who was your cinematographer?
Robert De Niro: Bob Richardson.
Charlie Rose: Bob Richardson, right.
Robert De Niro: Tariq Anwar, the editor. These guys are all great, you know. Lucky to have them. And all the other people.
Charlie Rose: That’s the great thing about what you guys do. It’s a collaborative experience. Isn’t it?
Robert De Niro: No other way.
Charlie Rose: I mean, it really is. And coming together. There’s interesting themes in this too. Speak to this about father-son.
Matt Damon: Yeah. That’s one of many. But that’s a very — that’s a huge part of the film is this relationship, my relationship with our son. And Angie’s relationship. But, yeah.
Charlie Rose: Go ahead. I mean —
Matt Damon: Well, I mean, without giving too much away obviously. But yeah, the character had sacrificed a lot, a lot of himself and a lot of that relationship by the end of the film. And he’s compromised professionally because of his relationship with his son. There’s, I mean —
Charlie Rose: Who is also — OK, I don’t want to give it away either. But I’m not sure if we told the whole story, you wouldn’t still appreciate it greatly because of the nature of the way it is. Tell me what — from looking at it as I did, you see what the
Cia Does To You: Well, for the wife, you mean.
Charlie Rose: Well, for both. For the man as well as for the woman.
Angelina Jolie: I mean, I’ll speak on behalf of the woman, I suppose. I think it’s just — well, God, for any of us, I mean, just to live with that kind of — for a wife to just know very little about what’s happening, but to understand that the things going on in the world — to believe, hopefully as she does in the beginning, that he is out to try to save the world and thinks he’s doing all the right things for all the right reasons. And what that must have made them feel. But at the same time, how unhealthy it is in many ways to think you have that kind of power, as one man or one group. And what that — but certainly the secrets and the things that happen and just being somebody completely in the dark and the world is going on around you. Even in the scenes, just to feel the moments where they’d be talking and something would be going on —
Charlie Rose: She can’t imagine having —
Angelina Jolie: It felt that there was something wrong. It felt like the whole world — there was just something uncomfortable going on. He was always uncomfortable in his own, you know, to be next to somebody who is having to guard so many secrets. Who is weighed down constantly by something that is clearly a decision he’s having to make that is going to either hurt somebody, maybe try to help somebody, maybe make a real big mistake. And I didn’t know moment to moment, and I wasn’t overly — tried not to be conscious of where he was at. But certainly just the weight of being next to him and feeling something very uncomfortable.
Charlie Rose: Thinking about the things you have done, how hard a performance was this for you?
Angelina Jolie: It was a great challenge. It was hard in that it was just against what I am. She is —
Charlie Rose: Which is the exact opposite of you?
Angelina Jolie: The exact opposite to me.
Charlie Rose: What you’re trying to get at here? Meaning what?
Matt Damon: Meaning, I always joked with her that she just followed her instincts completely —
Charlie Rose: In her life.
Matt Damon: No, and then did exactly the opposite to play the character. What’s my first instinct? OK. Now let me do the opposite.
Charlie Rose: Oh, I see. It’s kind of a contrarian kind of thing.
Matt Damon: Angie would last in this marriage for about 15 seconds. You know, she would have knocked out Edward, taken the kids. She’d be on the road.
Charlie Rose: Following her own plane.
Matt Damon: Exactly. And it’s like nothing she had done as an actress, and the role is completely different from her whole body of work. There’s nothing like this.
Charlie Rose: That’s my point. Therefore, it had to be difficult.
Angelina Jolie: It was. And again, like Matt was saying, you know, you have the safety of, you know, you get very nervous in front of Mr. De Niro. At the same time, when you feel like you’re doing something right or you’re on track, you have this safety net of, you know, of somebody who is not going to, you know, who is going to guide you to do — I was often questioning. I felt lost on many, many occasions.
Charlie Rose: Saying where do I go from here?
Angelina Jolie: Yes, and I did. I mean, I had an etiquette coach. We had things that — we had many, many different things to help me understand the period, the women of that period, to understand the difference of what rights they had, what freedoms they had compared to mine, that her behavior was from something and why she didn’t leave. And it was — there were real reasons for that. It wasn’t just, if it was me, you know. It’s a different time. And especially the women, it wasn’t that long ago. It was a very different time for women. And even to speak up against her husband to say –.
Charlie Rose: Yes, but you’re close to your mother, aren’t you?
Angelina Jolie: Oh, very.
Charlie Rose: Yes, I mean —
Angelina Jolie: But my mom was — she was — she was a ’60s. Yeah.
Charlie Rose: Right. The idea — the poet we were thinking about was Ezra Pound.
Robert De Niro: That’s right.
Charlie Rose: We were all trying to remember who — Jim Angleton as a kind of prototype for the character.
Robert De Niro: Yes.
Charlie Rose: This is a guy who came out of Yale, who was a poet, who was a very literary guy, ended up in counterintelligence in the CIA. And was a friend I think of Ezra Pound and read E.E. Cummings and all of those people like that. Did you read much about Angleton in terms of sort of understanding him?
Matt Damon: Yeah, we didn’t want it to be an exact imitation or anything, and also for legal reasons, we wanted it to be a composite. And also, we didn’t want to get stuck having to do a bio-pic and then we were restrained by only things he did in his life. You know, the story — we wanted to have more leeway with the story. So —
Charlie Rose: But he is sensibility of the character.
Matt Damon: A lot, yes. We read — there were some books about him. “Cold Warrior” was one that Tom Mangold wrote, and we — that was one of the ones we were reading.
Charlie Rose: Is this the British journalist, or –?
Matt Damon: Yeah. Yeah. And I went and talked to him —
Charlie Rose: I know him, right.
Matt Damon: And yeah, and talked to him about —
Charlie Rose: It’s his kind of story.
Matt Damon: Yeah. And “Wilderness of Mirrors” was another book. But, you know, and Angleton was, you know, he raised orchids, and so in this, we have — you know, I do ships in bottles, it’s a solitary thing that takes a lot of patience. And so that was kind of the model of it. And you know, I saw some, you know, some interviews and some footage of him. But very early on, and then just let that go.
Charlie Rose: Are you a different director than you were last time out?
Robert De Niro: Well, I’ve learned stuff from the last time and now. I don’t know if I’m different. This is a different set of problems in this story as opposed to “Bronx Tale”. So I can’t —
Charlie Rose: Clooney once said that being an actor versus being a director is the difference between being paint and a painter.
Robert De Niro: Oh, yeah, that’s interesting.
Charlie Rose: But one you would not necessarily agree with, or –?
Robert De Niro: Well, no, I think — well, movies are so expensive, the materials you have are the actors and every — all the other people that create the movie, and then it’s like not having a pencil and paper to write a story or paint, you know, oils and a canvas. You have got this big production that is your paint and canvas, so you have got to get it all right in order to be able to put it all together later. Of course, it costs a lot of money to do that.
Charlie Rose: Let me ask you — and wasn’t there a moment in which you lost, I guess Leo was looking at it. And when he departed, one source of money departed?
Robert De Niro: Well, it is sort of — it’s just that I had all the momentum going, and all the heads of departments. I had Bob Richardson, I had everybody in place. And we had lost people before. We started up, lost offices. I had to pay to keep it all going, so that I was so worried with the schedule and everything that I — that’s why I said I just got to go on. I’ve got to move on, because I have to keep it moving.
Matt Damon: So he grabbed the nearest —
Robert De Niro: And thank God he was there. Thank God he was there.
Charlie Rose: Here’s what I would love to do for a moment and just have you guys talk about it. I don’t know if you can talk about it easy, but acting is damned hard. I remember the late Robert Altman saying to me, you know, I watch them with awe because of what they can do — what you can do, what you can do, what you can do. And you have said before, I mean, the drama of getting somebody, of knowing that you have to come to the right moment, you know, and deliver. Talk about that for me. How hard it is to act, and what it is that makes acting so challenging.
Matt Damon: Well, for me, it depends. I think if there’s a really great script and a really — you know, it gets a lot easier. Sometimes you can get into a place where you’re really relaxed or with the character or something that you’re really just kind of — it’s easier. And sometimes it feels like it’s impossible. And sometimes it literally feels impossible. And something is not working. I mean, I think actually maybe you should answer the question first.
Robert De Niro: No, I was thinking of certain scenes. And we had some scenes where I wasn’t sure about how far we would go. They were very emotional, dramatic scenes, but that doesn’t mean they’re big and all that. So when we were working on a couple of these, actually — I think sometimes, for example, sometimes Matt’s actual frustration with something was really good for the scene. And he was trying — he was putting all this stuff together. And ultimately, what we used with the scene — the scene was, I felt, what he was trying to get to, but actually what he was trying to get to is what he was actually — what he should have been doing. And I didn’t realize it then. All I know is we had it later — I knew he had it, it was just putting it together and taking it down, simplifying it. So that was — and —
Angelina Jolie: Follow him on acting?
Charlie Rose: But it is — the three of you at this table —
Angelina Jolie: I think we love —
Charlie Rose: — is an opportunity I shouldn’t miss.
Angelina Jolie: I think — just being in the group with these guys is great. I think we all know that we are very, very lucky to have this profession. And we obviously love it. So as much as it’s difficult to create and to discover yourself through all the different worlds and different people we’ve been able to inhabit, it’s such a great education as a human being in life, the things we’ve gotten to do and be. And you know, it’s amazing. I think the difficulty lies only in having to kind of be so aware of your own self. I know for me to — whether it is figuring out an emotional place or how you feel about something, you know, to be somewhat connected to — to –.
Charlie Rose: As your life has become larger and you’ve done, you know, with the U.N. and all the things that you’ve done that go beyond acting, is it still as compelling for you as it was, or do you find that there are other things that are pulling you away from it?
Angelina Jolie: Yes, certainly. I’ve worked very little in the last two years. I’ve worked maybe a total of three months. But I’m fortunate that in the small times I’m able to work, I’m able to do something like this. But no, my life has become — and this time with my family and being a woman, so I’m home having the baby and, you know, I mean all of that has just taken priority. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think film is important. But I certainly —
Charlie Rose: It now has to share with other things.
Angelina Jolie: Yeah, yeah. And I’m in a very lucky position where I can disappear for a year and still get a job. So that’s great.
Charlie Rose: Roll tape. Here’s another clip from the film.
John Turturro: Mr. Carlson? Is this the American trade bureau?
Matt Damon: Which product?
John Turturro: Dry goods.
Matt Damon: You’re late.
John Turturro: Yeah, that’s what my mother said.
Matt Damon: Raymond “Duco” Brocco, born May 8th, 1907, New York City. St. Ignatius High School, Fordham University, married Anita Delvecchio. Two children —
John Turturro: Stephanie and David.
Matt Damon: 6-foot-2, 182 pounds, black hair, brown eyes. Military record —
Robert De Niro: The Soviets, without firing a shot, have taken over half the world. They’re breathing down our necks, and will be in our backyard before you know it. So I’ve been telling the president about the need to create a new foreign intelligence service, one that would do in peace time what OSS did during the war. Philip Allen will be heading the agency. Richard Hayes will be his exec, and you’ll be taking Division C, special operations, that report only to the director. It would be limited to overseas, obviously, suppressive operations, intelligence gathering and analysis. And I’d be interested in your thoughts about this. Particularly in your area of expertise, counterintelligence.
Matt Damon: I’d be glad to help in any way I can.
Charlie Rose: There is an extraordinary scene in which John Turturro plays — he’s your colleague. And they’re going through the kind of hall of mirrors thing, where they’re worried about whether there is a mole inside and whether they’re being had by the Russians. Who is that actor and where did you find him?
Robert De Niro: Well, I read him about two years ago. And — Mark Ivanir — and I was so concerned about this part that somebody could pull it off. This scene. And when he came in, you know, I even looked after him. He read, I said I know we have him. And I just looked — and the Russians actors, nobody ever came close to what he could do. I was so lucky that he — that we have him in the movie.
Charlie Rose: Oh, it’s an extraordinary — I mean, I mean the back-and-forth between the two of them. It’s probably the best torture scene I’ve ever — don’t you think that?
Matt Damon: It’s a great scene. It’s a great scene. I mean, it’s just — there’s nothing. It’s perfect. It’s perfect. In fact, the long version went — we wish we could put the long version, I don’t know it was 10 or — it just kept going and going. But it was so full of detail and so full — I mean, everything. I mean, it — and what was incredible was this actor, Mark. He showed up, you know, it’s like with his lunch box and went to work. For less than a week. But it was incredible to just show up and do that, and then go right to where he went and be there for a week, and then, boom, and then that was it. And that scene was over and he was gone.
Charlie Rose: For all the things that are going on on the set, when you guys are participating in this movie, beyond what you have to do together, are you sitting around saying, I’m going to go to school here? I want to think about what’s going on here and beyond my character, because I want to make movies, because I want to do other things, because of all that stuff? And I’m here in one of the most interesting laboratories that could ever be?
Matt Damon: For me, yeah. I think the part that’s really fun, the whole research part, when there isn’t any pressure, when there isn’t that incredible amount of money being spent every minute that you’re there. And it’s a much kind of more relaxed time, where you can get a lot of work done and learn a lot of things that, I don’t know, sometimes help and sometimes don’t. For me, I never really know what is going to help. And I’ve done things in movies that I think are terrible, because I just — I researched it wrong. I just studied all the wrong stuff beforehand. And there was nothing there for me to hold on to when I did the movie, and it didn’t work. But with this, I mean, this is — I mean, it’s really, really interesting subject matter. I hope other people find it interesting.
Charlie Rose: Are you thinking about, I might direct a movie one day and here, this is one rare opportunity to see actors and a director that I can learn from?
Matt Damon: Well, I think about that with every movie that I’ve done. I choose every movie by the director. I mean, I’ve even taken a lot of roles that I don’t think — I mean, rather than try to take a role and — I never take a role that I think would be great for me if I don’t like the director. Because I’d rather be in a supporting role with a director that I really admire, because I’d like to direct some day. So I want to be learning as much as I can.
Charlie Rose: “Bagger Vance” was that.
Matt Damon: Yeah, that was an example of I chose the director, you know, who I admired, and ultimately I don’t feel like I brought anything to that role. You know, I think I — I think I let — I underserved him, you know, I think in that movie. And I researched it all wrong. I didn’t play golf. And it turns out, you know, millions of people play golf. I sat there for hundreds of hours, and I had never played golf, and just trying to focus on this thing. And by the end, it didn’t work. It was hopeless. I didn’t have anything.
Charlie Rose: But I thought you might say, you go to a job like that because of the director.
Matt Damon: Absolutely.
Charlie Rose: And the character might not have been right for you in the first place.
Matt Damon: It wasn’t. But it doesn’t mean I didn’t learn a lot. I mean, the experience, you know, the results are one thing. The process is different. I got a lot out of that. I have a lot of — I learned a lot. There’s always a lot to learn, no matter what.
Charlie Rose: In the end, are you instinctive about this business? You operate from the heart and from your..
Angelina Jolie: About this business, no.
Charlie Rose: I don’t mean about this business, but I mean, about what you’re doing in front of a camera?
Angelina Jolie: Yeah, I think so. I think so. I think I — I’ve always, you know, I’ve read a piece and I’ve always felt that if I didn’t think I was the right person to do something, then I had no right to step forward and put my hat in. You know, and I only have felt that way when I’ve read something and had some kind of instinct, not knowing exactly why, but knowing that there was something that I identified with, something I cared about, something I was going to fight for, want to explain, want to express through the character.
Charlie Rose: If I looked at the things that you have done over the last 10 years, would I see any kind of pattern? Or just —
Angelina Jolie: Hopefully growth.
Charlie Rose: Yes, bu (inaudible) you’d see that.
Angelina Jolie: Well, hopefully that. I mean, hopefully, I’m changing as a woman, I’m growing up as a woman, and I’ve been really fortunate to not just get stuck doing the same thing, and I have this opportunity to do something that was so different from what I’ve done. And to try to keep doing that, not just to show I can have range, but to have, you know, these — to learn different things about different sides of myself as a woman and different sides of life.
Charlie Rose: Do you want to direct?
Angelina Jolie: I don’t think so.
Charlie Rose: You don’t?
Angelina Jolie: I don’t know if I’ve got the discipline involved. I love movies, but I don’t know if I’ve got — I don’t know — I’d have to have all my kids raised and out of the house, you know. I don’t know. I don’t know, but I mean, I — you know, I love it, but I also — I really — it’s a lot of work. And I think — and I respect so much — I’d come to work and I’d see these guys and they’d be working 17-hour days. And he’s got the whole — so much to worry about, as he was saying, just handling everything. And it’s a big responsibility. And you have to think about everything and take on everything. And I like the joy of being a team member.
Charlie Rose: Do you like — does being a mother give you greater appreciation for the whole process?
Angelina Jolie: Of film?
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Angelina Jolie: Well, I think I know it’s — you know, to balance family and film, which Bob has done, which Matt is going to learn how to do as he gets up at night with the baby and then goes to work. I mean, it is a balance, and it is the most important thing to have examples too of not just people you like their work, but that you see that they have a great marriage, a great life, a great family, and they’re able to live an interesting life, not just portray one.
Charlie Rose: You’re amazing in that beyond acting and now directing, you have this sort of extraordinary sense of commitment to the city.
Robert De Niro: Right, yes.
Charlie Rose: You want to love to create a film capital here?
Robert De Niro: Sure.
Charlie Rose: Tell me what the ambition is that sort of —
Robert De Niro: Well, I — I — well, one of the more obvious ones is that all the movies are moving to Canada. And movies that are supposed to be in New York are shot in Canada. And that’s fine. That’s great, to a point. But then we really should try and have a lot of those films —
Charlie Rose: Some new tax incentives to bring them here.
Robert De Niro: There is, and that helped us with “The Good Shepherd” too. So that was — because I wanted to keep — to shoot the movie here, for personal reasons and because it would be in New York. And those are my two important reasons. And whenever I can shoot in New York — can’t always do that —
Charlie Rose: So you made a great cathedral in New York look like (inaudible) and all of that.
Robert De Niro: Well, yes, we, at St. John the Divine, and then we used the Brooklyn Navy Yard for Berlin. A piece of the street with the railroad track and everything else.
Charlie Rose: Richard Holbrooke said about this film, and I assume you talked to him, because he knows as well as I do some of the players, the real-life players — you know, that this is, in fact, in the end shows what you can do about finding truth in something that’s not, you know, that’s a script. What is the truth that you hope comes out of this?
Robert De Niro: Well, I, the movie is like — is to me, is like the — the mythology of the CIA, America — America’s elite class, ruling class. And so the things that we — what I was hoping to do was get whatever the material we did, that it was as truthful, as believable, as credible as it could be. And I mean, the story is so big. I wish I had more time to make it — pull it and make it, like, two or three more episodes.
Charlie Rose: Well, you may do a second.
Robert De Niro: Hopefully. Yes. But that’s it. I mean, that’s what fascinated me, this how — it’s like certain things are not actually what happened, but they are part of that mythology. And to make that believable and as real as possible, that was my —
Charlie Rose: It also says in a less significant way, but still there, that the United States has existed and prevailed, but that it takes a lot of tough things in order to live in the world — that we live in a very tough neighborhood around the world. And that you have to play a very hard game.
Robert De Niro: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Charlie Rose: And sometimes like the Cuban — as President Kennedy has said, you have to, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. And sometimes you wish you hadn’t tried.
Robert De Niro: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah.
Charlie Rose: Congratulations.
Robert De Niro: Thank you. Thank you, Charlie.
Charlie Rose: This is — congratulations, Matt.
Matt Damon: Thanks.
Charlie Rose: Great to have you here. It is — “The Good Shepherd” is as good a film as I have seen in a long, long while. It is a combination of all the things — many of them are here — but people are not at this table. Eric, who wrote the script, and John Turturro, and the great Michael Gambon and Billy Crudup, and so many other people came together under the great hand of Bob De Niro to make a film called “The Good Shepherd,” which is about America, but it’s also about fathers and sons and husbands and wives and friends, and a whole range of human endeavor and emotion that has somehow in a film been captured to tell us something about who we are. Thank you for joining us.