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Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Sunday, 11 January 2009

'We are all complicit'

On Sunday 11 January, Sophie Raworth interviewed Richard Dreyfus and Kevin Spacey, Actors

Please note 'The Andrew Marr Show' must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Oscar winners take a stand against 'torture'.

Kevin Spacey
Kevin Spacey

ANDREW MARR: Now, however, the Oscar winning American actor Kevin Spacey has made London his home and he's now into his fifth season as Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theatre.

His latest production's a new play, 'Complicit', about an American journalist who, having supported the war on terror, is sickened by the discovery of his own government's alleged complicity in the torture of terror suspects.

Another Hollywood star, Richard Dreyfuss, plays the central character, and I should admit there is a cameo role on video for some jug-eared fellow playing a TV interviewer.

When I talked to Richard Dreyfuss and Kevin Spacey at the theatre, I put it to them that the US Administration does vigorously deny any suggestion it's involved in or condones torture.

RICHARD DREYFUSS: I think that the administration itself has so narrowly defined legalistically torture that everyone knows that it's a wink and that we've been torturing.

ANDREW MARR: This goes a lot further than water boarding and that kind of stuff?

KEVIN SPACEY: Yeah, essentially the play, while it never identifies the current administration, it is in a sense a kind of parallel world to the one that we're in, but it is a nightmare scenario of what could happen to a journalist who writes a story that an administration decides they don't want Americans to know this. Now the argument is they don't want the enemy to know, but the truth is they don't want Americans to know and they want to try to control the message.

ANDREW MARR: If columnists say that the administration is right or wrong to do these things, do the journalists themselves have some responsibility for what then follows?

KEVIN SPACEY: The reason the play is called 'Complicit' is because we are all complicit. When a government or an administration puts forth a policy that takes away our civil liberties, or in our name the United States does things that we are fundamentally against as a nation, then every person that doesn't stand up and scream, "Stop it! Don't do this to my country!" is complicit. And we have to as a nation, as a people, as a citizen decide where is the protest; and to that degree, where was the journalistic protest.

ANDREW MARR: There aren't many new plays around in the West End, Kevin Spacey, are there? I mean you know Shakespeare seems to be doing pretty well, as ever; musicals are doing pretty well, as ever. Is it a gamble when you take a new play by a writer probably not very well known in Britain and put it on here?

KEVIN SPACEY: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's one of the reasons you don't see as many new works for example even on Broadway. It's difficult to raise money to do a new play. But I think particularly here at the Old Vic, in a season in which we're doing Ayckbourn and Brian Friel and Shakespeare and Chekhov, that it's valuable and important to bring in a new work.

ANDREW MARR: People know you of course through those great Hollywood blockbusters, 'Jaws' and 'Close Encounters' and all the rest. Is there any part of you that thinks when the call comes from Kevin - small theatre, live, London, cold, you must be joking?

RICHARD DREYFUSS: Yeah. But Kevin said the one thing that I couldn't, couldn't argue with. He said, "Richard, when you're 107 years old and you're dying, are you going to regret not doing this play?" And I said, "Oh shit!"

ANDREW MARR: And here you are. I've watched you together and it's very intense and it's quite rude, and you're up against each other's faces and there's a lot of eye contact and there's a lot of prodding - I mean verbal or otherwise. It's an almost, it's almost like watching a wrestling match at times.

KEVIN SPACEY: Well the two things I learned early on is that he's fearless, so as a director I can tell him anything and I can push him and try to force him to go to places that his instinct might not at first think he should go. But the great thing is he'll go there. And nine times out of ten, once he goes there, he goes, "Ah, ah, ah now I see. Yeah, I get it, I get it, I get it." A lot of that's been happening.

ANDREW MARR: Was it on balance a good thing or a bad thing to win an Oscar so young?



RICHARD DREYFUSS: Because I was, I didn't know myself well enough and I didn't know that I was best shaped for the pursuit and not for the attainment. And I was much happier having to prove myself rather than the assumption is he's proved himself and now he'll do "blah-blah-blah". I was totally uncomfortable with that.

ANDREW MARR: So it put you into the wrong club?

RICHARD DREYFUSS: Yuh, and I took myself out of it.

ANDREW MARR: Whereas I would have thought, Kevin, that your Oscar was something that you were able perhaps at a different time of your career to leverage almost?

KEVIN SPACEY: Well it was also, I think I was In a way, I've always felt that I was fortunate that I had about 10 or 15 years of not only steady work in the theatre and then the beginnings of starting to work in film, but I had a chance to watch and observe 10 years of people I knew that I went to school with become successful and watch how they dealt with it and see how it altered or changed their lives. And I think I was able to just by observation learn a great deal about how to handle what Richard's talking about, which happened to him at a much younger age than it happened to me.

ANDREW MARR: You have spoken in the past about being so proud of your Jewish-ness and you've taken a very nuanced view of what's happened in Israel in the past. And we're going through this great crisis at the moment, people on the streets of every major city including this one, on both sides, and I just wonder the good citizen - your answer is educate yourself.

RICHARD DREYFUSS: Yes. And also the good citizen has to have commonsense. It's a problem that is so complex that there is only one word that works, it's God's test, and that is "forgive". You must forgive them and you must forgive yourself because there is no original sin there. Neither of the parties involved committed an original sin. I forgive.

KEVIN SPACEY: I think you know forgiveness is a fantastic place to begin.

ANDREW MARR: And it's a good place to end.

KEVIN SPACEY: And thank you as well for making your debut on the Old Vic stage. We're very delighted to have you.

RICHARD DREYFUSS: Thank you very much. (laughter)


Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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