Friday, December 9, 2022
Home ENTERTAINMENT Bill Clinton and Tom Hanks chatting at History Talks

Bill Clinton and Tom Hanks chatting at History Talks

Former President Bill Clinton believes “democracy is fragile right now,” speaking candidly Saturday on A+E Networks and History Channel’s History Talks about the issues that “tear us apart.”

“What is more important? Our common humanity or differences? she mused herself on stage. “And what works best to build the kind of future we all want? Does cooperation work better or is everything a zero sum game?

He responded to the rhetorical question by saying, “Life is not a zero-sum game. Soccer is a zero-sum game: I already saw a game today. I hope that’s not true, but it may be true that saving our democracy is just a zero-sum game because democracy is fragile right now.”

The former president was accompanied by Tom Hanks, chef José Andrés and moderator Chelsea Clinton in an hour-long conversation. They spoke at length about his humanitarian efforts, as well as their hopes and concerns about the country’s prospects.

Chelsea made one thing clear: young people alone should not be responsible for the future of the world. “I hate the framing that young people are going to save us,” she said. “With all due respect, what the hell are the adults doing?”

As the audience cheered, a horrified Hanks mouthed, “She said ‘shit’.”

Hanks, speaking with the reverence and authority of a history professor, argued that educating people about real historical facts can help the public care about and champion important causes in their own community. But being a storyteller is a responsibility that comes with great power, he said. In short, he does not support artists who are inclined to bend, bow or break with reality.

“I do nonfiction entertainment,” said Hanks, who has played real-life figures like Captain Phillips, Mr. Rogers, Walt Disney and Captain Sully Sullenberger on screen. “[It’s] the best of entertainment because that comes with an education degree.”

But when adapting stories for film, television, podcasts or documentaries, Hanks said there’s an obligation to ensure the truth doesn’t end up being “displaced” at the expense of telling a good story.

“When we come across inconvenient facts that we don’t want to talk about because they can take the purity out of a protagonist… I’m like, ‘Oh, what you want to do is an alternate story. You want to have an alternative fact.’”

He continued, “Because I’m the boss, I can say things like, ‘Instead of making something up, why not, why not? us, I will say that, do you have any ideas of a way to make up what really happened fascinating? Otherwise, he says, “you can fall into this other way where every movie ends up being a version of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ and it all works out.”

Also during the talk, Andres had the crowd cheering as he made an impassioned and moving plea for the government to treat food as a national security issue. His charity, World Central Kitchen, a food aid operation, has donated hundreds of millions of meals to people and communities in need.

“Sorry, but fuel is not the most important enemy. Weapons are not the most important asset. The most important energy that we must take care of is the energy that moves humanity forward. And that’s food.”

He called on the White House to take action. “Americans, right now, are hungry. We can do better. Let’s make sure, in a bipartisan way, that Republicans and Democrats declare that we will never have food deserts in America again.”

There was a light moment in the otherwise candid conversation when Hanks joked about his dream of playing Andrew in a movie. “I’ve been recording it to lower the accent,” Hanks said, imitating the inflection of the Spanish chef’s speech. “I don’t know how to cook, but I’ll read cookbooks until the cows come home.”

For his part, Andrés approves the casting choice. But, “he has to get the accent right from him.” Andrew is already delighted with Hanks’ efforts. “I’m falling in love with him every time he says, ‘Jose.’ I’m married, but…”


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