Transcript: Leonardo DiCaprio (The 11th Hour movie), Aug 17 2007
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in and put together the film the 11th Hour.
Thom Hartmann talks with Leonardo DiCaprio, 17 August 2007
Wake up and shake it up, America!!
From north to south, from east to west,
from sea to shining sea
our government is of, by, and for
‘we the people’ who can’t ignore
That we shall reap what we sow, so we better sow carefully!!
Wake Up America, Bob Wickline.
[Thom]: Yes, sowing carefully has an awful lot to do with our environment and the world around us and just an absolutely brilliant movie is opening today on that topic; the 11th Hour; 11thhourfilm.com the web site for it. Great reviews in today's Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, there's even a video review of it over at the New York Times, Salon magazine. And with us Leonardo DiCaprio, the guy who put the movie together and stars in it. Leonardo DiCaprio, welcome to the program.
[DiCaprio]: Hello Thom, how are you? It's great to be on your show.
[Thom]: Well, thank you, thank you very much, I'm a huge fan of your work as well. You're extraordinary. You've had a lot of success in your life and I know it's come literally from a lifetime of hard work and it's often so easy for people who've had a lot of success to just, you know, spend their time on the French Riviera or partying, or whatever, or, you know, working at what brought them more success. You've taken a different direction with this movie. What has moved you to take this extraordinary step of issuing what is literally a global wake up call on the issues facing humanity by making this movie?
[DiCaprio]: Well, I suppose it's by being sort of a closet environmentalist in my entire life. I remember being very young and watching, you know, documentaries on the rain forest and rain forest depletion and the loss of species there, and at a very young age wanting to really do something about it when I got older. And of course, I became and actor, and this movie is really the infusion of those two worlds; my passion about being an environmentalist and my experience in the world of filmmaking.
And the intent was to get some of the greatest minds in on this issue cohesively together in an uninterrupted form to be able to really speak freely about issues that they've devoted their life to. And there was a reaction in a lot of ways from seeing the disconnect that seems to happen in main stream media between issues like global warming and mankind's effect on it. I did a documentary in the late 90s where I actually got to interview president Clinton and sit down in the White House and it aired on ABC, and the whole issue became a kind of moot point at the end of the day. No one really talked about mankind's effect on this issue. It became almost as if who knows, a meteor could hit the Earth as well and it would be just as probable as global warming being a reality.
And I really wanted to get, you know, some of the greatest people in the world that have really, you know, attached themselves to the issue to be able to speak freely and uninterrupted and not have to argue whether global warming was a reality any more, because the science is now there.
[Thom]: Yeah, in fact, you know, there are folks who are trying to say that, "well, there's still a debate on this issue". Speak to that debate issue for a moment.
[DiCaprio]: Well, you know, we're talking about the overwhelming majority of the scientific community in agreeance that mankind has had a role on this issue, that we are affecting this issue; that our carbon emissions have now gone to an extent where there's no turning back, and the truth of the matter is that whether you believe in this issue or not, whether you believe in the consensus of the scientific community, you can't argue with things like wanting to be less reliant on foreign oil. You can't argue with issues like wanting to have cleaner air and cleaner water. So it really is a unifying issue in a lot of different ways. This is a human issue, a human rights issue, and in the film we talk about that. So, you know, hopefully enough people will go out to see the film and really take an hour and a half and listen to
what a lot of these people, including yourself, have to say in the movie.
[Thom]: Yeah. One of the points you make in the movie is that the environmental crisis the planet is facing is far more a crisis of humanity than a crisis of planet Earth. Why, and what does that mean?
[DiCaprio]: Well, we talk about this in the film; it's a cultural shift that needs to happen. We've somehow along the way become very disconnected with nature in our modern industrialized world. We talk about consumption, and how the driving force nowadays seems to be economy, the economy, and in doing that we have literally tapped out our planet's resources and we need to, you know, make a shift in our modern world to renewable energy. And we talk about energy as being the key to all of these things. We need to be a nation powered by alternative energy. We need to be a nation powered by solar and wind power. And the great irony here, and the great tragedy, is that these technologies are now there.
And as we say in the film, we can reduce the human imprint on the world by 90 percent with the technologies that are already in place. And that's the great tragedy; this disconnect that's happened in the modern world that we live in in the sense that, you know, our political leaders, our corporate leaders, haven't implemented these technologies into our daily lives. It would be a wonderful world where we wouldn't need to have to think about buying a hybrid car or getting the right light bulbs or buying the right appliances; that these things were already unconsciously a part of our daily lives. And that's been the great failure of our political leaders and our corporate leaders. And I think, as we say in the film, it's about time to change that.
[Thom]: We're talking with Leonardo DiCaprio. His movie, the 11th hour, opening in Los Angeles and New York tonight and other cities to come; 11thhourfilm.com the web site for it. There's also a trailer there and there's a trailer over at thomhartmann.com for those of our listeners who are familiar with that web site, as well. In the movie you say we have to act now; we don't have the time to debate and dither any longer. Why not wait for more certainty and new inventions and technologies and things?
[DiCaprio]: Well, like I say, the technologies are now there. But it is this generation, truly, that needs to be the generation to implement some of this change. We talk about how, you know, in prior peoples' movements in the past, you know, it's taken 10 to 20 to 30 years to galvanize people into actually implementing some of this change, but we don't have that amount of time. And I think we're going to see nature remind us in many, many different ways that that's not the case; that if we don't implement this stuff today, future generations are going to pay the price.
[DiCaprio]: And that's the great tragedy of what's going on nowadays. But the inspiration, what we talk about in the movie, is that this is a world-wide movement; millions of people around the world that are really working cohesively together to try to solve a lot of these problems and the whole reason for making this movie is, it's just about awareness. It's about getting people to understand that every time you pay for something, you're essentially endorsing the way that company does business; you're either endorsing new technologies, green technologies, or you're not. And you not only can vote with your dollar, but you have vote for political leaders that of course are going to try to implement these things in our daily lives.
[Thom]: Yeah, one of the points made by one of the folks in the movie was, you know, how Franklin Roosevelt completely retooled the American economy to go into World War Two, and we need to do something like that now.
[DiCaprio]: Yeah, it absolutely needs to be that extreme.
[Thom]: Yeah, yeah. Let's talk for a moment about the making of the movie. What was the process? What went into this thing? I mean, this is, first of all, if I can just say, this is a stunning movie. It's visually stunning, the music is extraordinary, the, you know, the technical end of it. Obviously, you know your trade really, really well. How did it come about, and how did you pull this thing together?
[DiCaprio]: Well, with hundreds and hundreds of hours of, we didn't have a camera crew that basically went around the world and got to shoot some of this amazing footage that's in the movie. We sat in an editing bay and took stock footage from, you know, Discovery Channel, the, you know, National Geographic, a lot of these great nature documentaries that have done this work in the past and then fused them together with you know, 60 different experts on the issue, including yourself, of course. And you have a great piece in the movie, by the way, I'm sure you've seen it.
[Thom]: Thank you. Yeah.
I was honored.
[DiCaprio]: No but you, I do also want to mention, on a side note, your book, the Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, was really one of the inspirations for me, anyway, to make this movie, because you really got me as a reader to take a step back and really try to understand how this all came about, you know; where oil is extracted from, you know, the light that fell on the fields was the most humanity could use in a certain amount of time until we actually started taking this ancient sunlight out of the ground, you know, was when our population exploded on this mass levels and you know, has led us to the situation that we're in today. So I want to thank you for your book, truly, It really made me want to take a different perspective on this documentary, as far as mankind's relationship to the planet and the resources that we use.
Anyway, so we got to, we got to essentially spend hundreds of hours in the editing room, trying to infuse many, many brilliant quotes from many, many, you know, brilliant people, and try to put that into an hour and a half format that actually had a narrative. And that was the biggest difficulty; it was really making people emotionally affected by, you know, all this information and it had to have a story at the end of the day, and the experts and the people in the movie really dictated what this, what this movie ultimately became. We had a rough idea, like I said, about what we wanted this documentary to be, but ultimately it was all the people involved that created the plot point, in other words. and that plot point, well, people should go see what that plot point is, ultimately.
[Thom]: Indeed. Yeah, they should, and it really is the choices we're facing and the opportunites we're facing. I mean, there are times in this movie, as in any good movie, where you feel just, you know [sharp intake of breath] almost horrified, and then there are times when you're like [wow!], I mean, just thrilled. The emotional range of this movie is extraordinary, as well as the facts in it. Leonardo DiCaprio, you have created a masterpiece, and thank you.
[DiCaprio]: Thank you Thom, I really appreciate your efforts and you really are the voice of reason nowadays, and on the radio waves, and I'm going to continue to listen to your show. It's a fantastic one.
[Thom]: Thank you very much.
[DiCaprio]: Thank you, sir.
[Thom]: Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie, the 11th hour, 11thhourfilm.com.
You can hear an archive of the entire interview at KPOJ (middle of the second hour).