Man Without Qualities

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Couric & Streep v. Washington

Katie Couric's interview of Academy Award winners Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Jonathan Demme hasn't received proper attention in its original form, which shows a very interesting, gutsy and substantial side of Mr. Washington (an elaborated version is circulating on the internet, but the original packs lots of whallop without any need of elaboration):

Couric: "I know you were there. And in fact, I read your quote. You said -- you talked about President Bush and his invocation of religion and you said—"

Streep: "No, of Jesus."

Couric: "Of Jesus, sorry. ‘Through the shock and awe, I wondered which of the megaton bombs Jesus, our president's personal savior, would have personally dropped on the sleeping families in Baghdad.’"

Streep: "It was a question about when you put Jesus on the campaign bus to stump for you, you have to really listen to what he says, because he says, ‘If a man smite thee on the cheek, let you turn the other that he may smite it also.’ And he says, ‘He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’ And he says, ‘Love thine enemy.’ Jesus could have raised an army against the people that persecuted him. He didn't. So that's what I was pointing out in my speech, and I couldn't really imagine Jesus, like I couldn't imagine how Jesus would vote. Jesus was the Prince of Peace. Would the Prince of Peace vote for a war President?"

Washington: "And it's open to interpretation. Jesus also went into the temple and kicked everybody out."

Streep: "That's kicking the money-changers out of the temple."

Washington: "Well, you're right. So—"

Streep: "The money-changers should get out of Congress, I agree. And I agree, but he didn't—"

Washington: "He didn't. He didn't only say turn the other cheek though. You’ve got to read the whole book. That's not what all he said."

Streep: "Oh, I do read the whole book."

Washington: "I do too. And that's not all he said."

Streep: "What does he say that said 'pick up a stick and kill somebody?'"

Washington: "Like I said, he did go into the temple and cleared the place well—"

Streep: "Of money, yeah."

Washington: "Okay, well, we're all—"

Streep: "Money's bad."

Washington: "We all make money. So does that make us bad? Maybe he's talking about us?"

Streep: "Well, yeah, maybe."

While the New Testament might have been an unexpected and volatile sidebar, politics proved equally incendiary for Denzel.

Couric: "Denzel, are you-- do you feel-- you know some people say Hollywood folks should stick to acting."

Washington: "I don't know what Hollywood folks are, first of all. Hollywood is a town that has some stars on the sidewalk. I don't know anybody from there. So, I don't-- that's like saying-- calling you a type of folks. I'm not a Hollywood folk. I don't know who they are."

Couric: "Okay, all right, well, let me rephrase the question. Are you one of those people that—"

Washington: "Ah, there you go. Am I one of those people? Hmmm, isn't that interesting?"

Couric: "Oh, stop, stop, stop."

Washington: "No, don't stop. I heard what you just said. "Am I one of those people?" No, I'm not."

Couric: "No, are you an actor who would rather not—"

Washington: "No, I'm not that either. I'm a human being. My job is acting."

Couric: "Okay, are you somebody who would rather not express his political views publicly? I mean how do you feel about that? Some people are more outspoken than others. And what I meant, are you one of the people who would rather keep it private? Don't make my questions loaded when they're not."

Washington: "Would I rather keep it private? No, I'm not one of those people. I think I speak what's on my mind."

Couric: "And how do you feel about the current political situation?"

Washington: "You know, I haven't seen ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ because I live in America. I grew up here. I'm an ex-slave. I'm a result of what this country can do. So it's nothing knew to me. I'm not surprised at all. It's just business as usual. What I want to talk about is, what are we doing right now, today, for these young kids that are coming home? Are we embracing them? I don't hear about them being lifted up. I mean, I'm not just talking about a parade but—"

Couric: "Are they getting the support they need."

Washington: "Are they getting the support and love they need from us? And maybe that story's being told, but I sure haven't seen it that much in the news. Yeah, they're pointing fingers about who was right and whose wrong and who started what and where the weapons of mass destruction. But these kids are coming home."

Streep: "Uh-huh."

Washington: "You know, I have a son, 19, 19-year-olds are coming home completely different."

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