Interview with La Repubblica


What prompted you to comment on the Italian political situation and on our Ministry of the Interior, Salvini? I mean, you are a global star, what made you interested in Salvini?

I was traveling that day to Milano and you know, even if I might be considered a global personality or 'star'- I care about the places and people where I travel to. I have many fond memories of Italy and many friends in this beautiful country, but what worries me is the deep economic and social crisis which can be seen everywhere. I do not have anything personal against Mr. Salvini, I just don't agree with his politics, mainly those against refugees. When I heard for the first time about the rescue ship Aquarius, I wished there would be many more like this in the Mediterranean Sea. But now Mr. Salvini decided to stop it from helping refugees. I know many people are scared of refugees. But the refugees are not the real problem. The problem is the origin of the refugee crisis and the involvement in foreign wars of Western governments. The true problem is the deepening economic crisis. To try to solve the refugee crisis by preventing humanitarian organisations to work or building walls is not the right solution.

You do sympathise with the poor hugely suffering, due to capitalist policies which have made the 99% very poor. Problem is that this revolt against the global élites is fueling righ-wing politicians, Salvini-style, everywhere and progressive parties and policies appear completely moribund and stuck. Where to start to reverse the trend?

Revolt is never enough. I have been helping many activist organisations all these years precisely because I know how important organisation is. I've spent most of my life in Hollywood. We know very well how much organisation you need even to shoot a movie. But we also know one important thing which is necessary in order to counter the populist and right wing parties across the world – and this thing is inspiration. They are using the fear, we must use hope and the more wise and powerful  emotions! I can see hope in the newly formed Progressive International, initiated by DiEM25 and the Sanders Institute, which includes already many inspiring leaders like Bernie Sanders, Yanis Varoufakis, Ada Colau, the prime minister of Iceland and others. At the same time, we all need to become leaders of our own lives, we need creaitve movements and grasroots organising.

In France, we see a huge mass protest against the Macron's policies fueling inequality. In Italy, we just see apathy and hate. Young people are just desperately looking for a six-month contract to survive: they have no time to engage in politics to change society and they have even less hope that their activism could make any difference. What do you want to tell them?

I would tell them that I have kids and that I am also very worried about the future they'll soon inhabit. I would tell them that when I was a kid, I struggled hard to achieve what I achieved, and I realised that any achievment without attempting to change society at the same time is not worth it. To young people it might seem as if they can't really change anything, but I deeply believe everyone can change something. You don't need to be a politician, you do not need to be a celebrity to bring whatever you know and do your best - Use all you are and learn - use it to make this world a better place for your kids and those to come.

How do you reply to those who attack you saying that it is easy to side with refugees and migrants when you are a global star, enjoying a rich and glamorous life?

I am doing my best. I am using my popularity and voice not only to talk about the problems of migrants, I also support organisation who help them and I know refugees personally as well. I want to do more and I plan to do more. Not only connected to the migration crisis.

You declared: “I’m an activist, and I’m not doing it for myself, I’m doing it for animals and people who are vulnerable and can’t speak for themselves”. One of these people is the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who has been arbitrarily detained in London and is currently at huge risk of ending up in prison in the US. What makes you to speak out for Julian Assange?

He is a corageous person who risked everything in order to reveal brutal lies and he is paying this by a very heavy price. We should all be happy such a person exists and we should all do our best that he is not extradited to the United States. If Europe wants to save Freedom of Press, it must protect and save Julian Assange.