METROFOCUS: OCTOBER 22, 2019

The actor will share his take on one of literature’s best-known characters in the Broadway adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Humans of New York has captured lives and garnered attention around the world. The man behind the viral sensation will join us to share how it all began.

Aired on October 22, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS,' ACTOR JEFF DANIELS IS NOW PORTRAYING ONE OF LITERATURE'S BEST KNOWN CHARACTERS, ATTICUS FINCH IN THE BROADWAY ADAPTATION OF HARPER LEE'S CLASSIC 'TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.'

HE WILL SHARE HIS VIEWS ABOUT THE STAGE, THE CLASSROOM AND THE NEWSROOM.

> AND HUMANS OF NEW YORK HAS CAPTURED LIVES AND GARNERED ATTENTION AROUND THE WORLD, BUT HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN?

THE MAN BEHIND THE VIRAL SENSATION WILL TELL US.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪ ♪♪

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY --

> WE CAN'T GO ON LIKE THIS, WE KNOW THAT.

SO LET'S HASTEN THE CHANGE.

LET'S HASTEN THE END OF THE BEGINNING, LET'S DO IT RIGHT NOW IN MACUM, LET'S BEGIN BY RESTORING THIS MAN TO HIS FAMILY.

LET'S BEGIN WITH JUSTICE.

JEFF DANIELS STARRING AS ATTICUS FINCH IN 'TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD,' THE SHOW AT THE SHUBERT THEATER IS NOT JUST A HIT, IT'S NOW THE HIGHEST GROSSING PLAY IN AMERICAN HISTORY, A CRITICAL SUCCESS THAT REPORTEDLY HAS NOT PLAYED TO AN EMPTY SEAT YET.

AARON SORKEN ADAPTED THE STORY FROM THE HARPER LEE LITERACY CLASSIC.

DANIELS STARS AS FINCH, THE ALABAMA LAWYER CHARGED WITH DEFENDING A BLACK MAN WRONGLY ACCUSED OF RAPING A WHITE WOMAN IN THE SEGREGATED SOUTH.

WHILE THERE ARE PLENTY OF SIMILARITIES TO THE BOOK AND THE 1962 FILM THE PLAY CERTAINLY HAS ITS DIFFERENCES, TOO, AND IT ALSO SERVES AS A POIGNANT REMINDER THAT THE FIGHT AGAINST RACISM IS STILL ALL TOO RELEVANT TODAY.

FOR MORE ON THE PLAY AND HIS CAREER, IT IS OUR PLEASURE TO WELCOME JEFF DANIELS TO 'METROFOCUS.'

JEFF, WELCOME TO YOU.

I HAVE TO TELL YOU I SAW THE PLAY, I WENT INTO IT WITH REALLY HIGH EXPECTATIONS AND THEY WERE IMMEDIATELY --

WHY SO HIGH?

THE BOOK OR THE REVIEWS?

A COMBINATION OF THINGS.

YEAH.

IT WAS THE BOOK, IT WAS THE FILM, IT WAS AARON SORKIN.

YOU EXPECT EXCELLENCE OUT OF THAT GUY.

YES, YOU KNOW IT'S COMING AND NOT TO BEAT YOUR DRUM, BUT YOU ALSO.

I'M NOT BAD.

YEAH.

SO I WENT INTO IT THINKING THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD AND IT WAS REALLY GOOD.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO MY QUESTION TO YOU, WHICH IS WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST THOUGHTS WHEN THIS IDEA OF TAKING THIS ICONIC BOOK, YOU KNOW, RECENTLY VOTED OUR MOST POPULAR BOOK EVER, EQUALLY ICONIC FILM AND TAKE IT TO BROADWAY AS A PLAY?

WHAT DID YOU FIRST THINK ABOUT THAT?

I DIDN'T THINK.

I DIDN'T BLINK.

AARON TURNED TO ME, WE WERE -- THIS WAS TWO YEARS BEFORE OPENING NIGHT, HE TURNED TO ME AND WE WERE CAMPAIGNING FOR STEVE JOBS, THE MOVIE, WE WERE DOING SOME PRESS AND HE TURNED TO ME SAND SAID SCOTT RUDEN JUST GOT THE RIGHTS TO 'TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.'

THEY WANT INTO TOE WRITE THE PLAY FOR BROADWAY AND SCOTT AND I WANT YOU TO PLAY ATTICUS FINCH, ARE YOU INTERESTED?

AND I SAID YES, OF COURSE.

I DIDN'T WORRY ABOUT GREGORY PECK, I DIDN'T WORRY ABOUT HOW MUCH THE NOVEL IS BELOVED.

IT WAS -- I HAD BEEN DOING A SERIES OF THESE FOR THE LAST EIGHT OR SO YEARS OF CHALLENGES, CREATIVE, ARTISTIC CHALLENGES, RISK SOMETHING, BECAUSE I JUST WASN'T GOING TO BE AN ACTOR WHO PLAYED THE FIFTH ROLE OR PLAYED THE JERK FATHER OF SOME 28-YEAR-OLD WHO IS MAKING $10 MILLION AND I'M NOT AND HE CAN'T REMEMBER HIS LINES AND CAN'T HIT HIS MARKS.

I WAS NOT GOING TO BE THAT ACTOR WHO STOOD ON THAT MOVIE OR THAT TV SHOW.

SO I WAS LOOKING FOR CHALLENGES.

'NEWSROOM' WAS A CHALLENGE, SOME OF THE OTHER THINGS THAT I HAD DONE AND AARON COMES TO ME WITH THIS AND I SAID THIS IS THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE.

RISK IT ALL, GO TO VEGAS AND PUT YOUR SAVINGS ACCOUNT ON THE TABLE AND THAT'S WHAT THIS FELT LIKE.

AND IF I FAILED, SEE YA, BUT I WAS JUMPING OFF THE CLIFF AND FLAPPING MY ARMS AND SEEING IF I COULD FLY.

I LOVED IT.

I LOVED THE CHALLENGE OF IT.

IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE I'VE SEEN AARON SORKIN IN SOME INTERVIEWS SAY THAT HE FOUND THE EXPECTATIONS DAUNTING.

YEAH, HE DID.

AND HE SHOULD HAVE.

PULITZER PRIZE WINNING NOVELIST, YEAH.

BUT YOU DIDN'T FEEL THAT SAME PRESSURE OF THE EXTERNAL EXPECTATIONS.

THIS WAS YOU SAYING, HEY, THIS IS NOW -- IN MY CAREER THIS IS WAY WANT TO DO, I WANT TO TAKE CHANCES ON THINGS.

GREGORY PECK GAVE TO MANY A DEFINITIVE I CAN'T IMAGINE ANYONE ELSE IN IT PERFORMANCE.

I'VE BEEN APPOINTED TO DEFEND TOM ROBINSON.

NOW THAT HE'S BEEN CHARGED THAT'S WHAT I INTEND TO DO.

YOU TAKING --

EXCUSE ME.

BUT I TOOK THE APPROACH THAT HE WAS THE ONLY GUY WHO GOT TO DO IT AND I'M NOT WORKING FROM THAT SCRIPT AND WE'RE NOT MAKING A MOVIE -- THE MOVIE AGAIN.

THIS IS A PLAY, IT'S 58 YEARS LATER, WE LIVE IN A DIFFERENT TIME AND I KNOW THIS WRITER.

I KNOW WHAT THIS WRITER DOES IN AARON SORKIN WHEN HE GETS PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING AND HE SAID WHEN THE SECOND DRAFT CAME THROUGH IS THAT WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE DOING THE BOOK AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE DOING THE MOVIE.

SAME CHARACTERS, SAME STORY, JUST WE ARE GOING TO TAKE A DIFFERENT ROAD AND I SAID, THAT -- THAT -- NOW WE'VE GOT A CHANCE.

BECAUSE IF YOU'RE GOING TO DO SOMETHING LIKE 'TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD' OR ANYTHING THAT'S BEEN DONE BEFORE AND SO WELL, THEN WHAT'S THE ADDED VALUE?

WHY SHOULD PEOPLE GO TO THE SHUBERT THEATER TO SEE PEOPLE BASICALLY DO THE BOOK AGAIN OR, YOU KNOW, HERE IS THE MOVIE KIND OF TRUNCATED ON TO A STAGE AND IT'S -- OR -- YOU'VE GOT TO BRING SOMETHING NEW, ESPECIALLY IN 2019 AND AARON SORKIN DID THAT AND I FELT THAT WAS OUR BEST CHANCE TO HAVE PEOPLE REDISCOVER THE BOOK AND MAYBE MAKE IT, YOU KNOW, EVEN MORE RELEVANT NOW THAN IF THEY HAD JUST READ THE BOOK, BY SEEING THE PLAY IS IT MORE RELEVANT?

SO THAT WAS ALL ON THE TABLE.

AND IT WAS A THRILL TO KIND OF THROW IT AT THE AUDIENCE AND GO, HOW ARE YOU DOING?

YEAH, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

DID YOU FEEL THAT?

AND THAT WAS THE OTHER THING, TOO, WHEN WE STARTED DOING IT IN FRONT OF AUDIENCES AND I DIDN'T NO HE THIS UNTIL WE GOT THE AUDIENCES, YOU WATCH THE MOVIE, YOU READ THE BOOK, I MEAN, YOU CAN PUT THE BOOK DOWN AND READ IT OVER TWO WEEKS, YOU CAN WATCH THE MOVIE AND, YOU KNOW, GET A SANDWICH, YOU CAN -- BUT WHEN YOU ARE IN THE THEATER AND TOM ROBINSON IS GUILTY, WHEN HE'S NOT, AND HE'S LED ACROSS THE STAGE IN HANDCUFFS TO THE ELECTRIC CHAIR, THE AUDIENCE FEELS THAT AND THAT'S DIFFERENT.

WATCHING AND LISTENING TO THE AUDIENCE REACTIONS, WHEN TOM ROBINSON IS FOUND GUILTY, YOUR SUMMATION IN THE COURTROOM, SOME OF THE OTHER HIGH POWERFUL SCENES, AND I'M THINKING TO MYSELF THE AUDIENCE THOSE THIS IS COMING.

THIS HE KNOW THE STORY.

I'VE GOT TO BELIEVE 90% OF THE FOLKS THERE READ THE BOOK, SAW THE MOVIE OR BOTH, AND YET IT SEEMS SOMEHOW LIKE IT'S THE FIRST TIME THAT THEY ARE SEEING TOM ROBINSON CONVICTED OR YOU IN YOUR APPEAL WHERE YOU'RE SAYING THIS HAS GOT TO CHANGE, CHANGE IT NOW.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?

I THINK IT'S ALL SET UP.

I THINK BART SHEARER'S DIRECTION AND THE WAY AARON SORKIN MOVED SOME OF THE SCENES AROUND, YOU KNOW, IN THE BOOK YOU DON'T START THE TRIAL UNTIL TWO-THIRDS OF THE WAY THROUGH.

IN THE PLAY IN THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES YOU ARE IN THE COURTROOM.

NOW, WE GO IN AND OUT OF THE COURTROOM TO OTHER PLACES IN ALABAMA, BUT HE MOVES THINGS AROUND.

WITHIN THE FIRST 15 MINUTES THERE IS A SCENE WITH ATTICUS AND TOM ROBINSON IN THE JAIL WHERE HE MEETS TOM ROBINSON AND SAYS, I'M YOUR NEW LAWYER.

THAT'S NOT IN THE BOOK, THAT'S NOT IN THE MOVIE.

SO ALL THE BOOK LOVERS NOW HAVE TO PUT THE BOOK DOWN AND THEY GET PULLED IN AND WE KIND OF COME AT THE STORY FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE.

THE PLAY COMES AT ATTICUS FROM EYE LEVEL.

HE IS A SMALL TOWN LAWYER, GETS PAID IN VEGETABLES, BELIEVES IN GOODNESS IN EVERYONE AND HANDLES LAND DISPUTES, SERVICE AGREEMENTS, FORECLOSURES AND CAN WRITE A WILL.

ONE DAY THE JUDGE COMES OVER TO HIS HOUSE AND SAYS, I WANT YOU TO TAKE THIS CASE OF A BLACK GUY WHO IS 100% INNOCENT AND HE HAS A BAD LAWYER.

IT'S A NO-BRAINER, ATTICUS.

ATTICUS HAS TO GET OFF HIS PORCH, GET INVOLVED, DO SOMETHING THAT MAY BE CONTROVERSIAL.

HE KNOWS THE SECOND HE SAYS YES THAT HE'S GOING TO GET A VISIT FROM PEOPLE LIKE BOB UHL GOING, YOU'RE A RACE TRADER.

WE DON'T LIKE THAT AROUND HERE.

BY JUST ACCEPTING THE CASE HE NOW IS MUCH LIKE THIS COUNTRY, 50% OF THE TOWN IS GOING TO GO -- OR MORE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

AND THAT'S A DIFFERENT JOURNEY THAN THE JOURNEY PECK TOOK.

AND YOU LOOK AT THIS PLAY, UNDERSTANDING AS YOU SAID IT WAS MORE THAN A HALF CENTURY AGO THAT THE STORY CAME FROM HARPER LEE, IT'S SET IN A SMALL TOWN IN ALABAMA, ALMOST 100 YEARS AGO, AND YET YOU SAY TO YOURSELF, I KNOW THESE ISSUES.

I KNOW THESE TENSIONS, I KNOW THESE CONFLICTS.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?

WHY IS THERE A -- BOTH, I GUESS, A TIMELINESS AND A TIMELESSNESS TO ALL OF THOSE ISSUES THAT ATTICUS AND EVERYBODY IN TOWN ARE STRUGGLING WITH?

I THINK RACISM CAME OVER TO THIS COUNTRY WHEN THE MAYFLOWER SAW LAND, RACISM LANDED.

AND IT'S ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF THIS COUNTRY.

BLACK PEOPLE WERE BROUGHT OVER ON SLAVE SHIPS.

THEIR HISTORY, THEIR AMERICAN HISTORY, IS SO DIFFERENT THAN WHAT I CERTAINLY WAS TAUGHT IN SCHOOL AND AS WHITE PEOPLE WE FORGET THAT.

ESPECIALLY IF YOU LIVE LIKE I DID IN A PREDOMINANTLY WHITE TOWN.

YOU DON'T THINK ABOUT IT.

IT'S NOT -- IT DOESN'T AFFECT YOU, YOU ARE NOT IN THE SOUTH, YOU ARE NOT WHERE IT'S -- AND I REMEMBER MY DAD WHO WAS VERY MUCH AN ATTICUS FINCH FIGURE, BELIEVED THERE'S THE RIGHT WAY AND THERE'S ALL THE OTHER WAYS, HE WAS ONE OF THOSE GUYS.

I WAS ABOUT EIGHT YEARS OLD, AGAIN, SMALL TOWN, MICHIGAN, WHITE PEOPLE BASICALLY, FRIENDLY, GREAT TOWN.

WALK IN THE HOUSE ONE DAY I'M EIGHT OR NINE, THERE'S DAD SITTING WITH THIS BLACK GUY, HE SAID, JEFFREY, I'D LIKE YOU TO MEET HERBY PIERSON, HE IS A FRIEND OF MINE.

HERBY AND HIS FAMILY JUST MOVED TO TOWN, WE WILL HELP GET HIM A JOB SOMEWHERE, SHAKE HIS HAND.

YES, SIR.

AND THAT WAS IT.

THAT WAS -- THAT WAS MY -- THAT'S HOW I FELT ABOUT RACISM WAS HERBY PIERSON IS A FRIEND OF MINE.

IT WASN'T UNTIL LATER WHEN I HEARD OTHER PEOPLE GOING -- RACIST COMMENTS YOU'RE GOING, THAT'S NOT WHAT I KNOW.

HERBY PIERSON, I'M SUPPOSED TO THINK THAT ABOUT HERBY?

I DON'T GET IT.

WHY?

AND THEN YOU HEAR ABOUT THE GENERATIONAL THING, SORKIN DOES A GREAT JOB.

WELL, HARPY CERTAINLY DID WHEN IT'S -- WHEN BOB LEE WAS AN OUT AND OUT RACIST AND THEN HE PUT HIS DAUGHTER ON THE WITNESS STAND WHO YOU THINK IS JUST PARROTING WHAT HER FATHER SAYS AND THEN WHEN ATTICUS PUSHES HER, WAS IT TOM ROBINSON OR WAS IT YOUR FATHER AND SHE BECOMES THIS FULL BLOWN NEXT GENERATION RACIST SAYING THINGS HER FATHER --

IT WAS A FRIGHTENING SCENE.

THIS LITTLE GIRL.

YEAH.

NOT A GIRL, BUT SHE'S TINY, THE ACTRESS.

IT HAS BEEN PASSED ON.

AND THEN ATTICUS HANGS ON AND SORKIN WRITES THIS IN, EVEN BOB UHL HAS DIGNITY AND THE DIGNITY IS THAT THE SOUTH WITH BADLY BEATEN, CONQUERED IN THE CIVIL WAR, IT WAS 70 YEARS AGO.

NO, IT WAS YESTERDAY.

IT WILL ALWAYS BE YESTERDAY.

MEN LIKE BOB UHL ARE REMINDED THAT EVERY TIME THEY SEE A NEGRO FACE WALKING AROUND SO REMEMBER WHAT I SAID.

YOU KNOW, IT'S BEEN PASSED DOWN TO BOB UHL AND THE MAN WILL HANG ON TO HIS DIGNITY EVEN IF THAT DIGNITY IS RACIST.

ATTICUS GETS -- EVERYBODY JUMPS ON ATTICUS IN THE PLAY, AS THEY SHOULD.

TELL ME ABOUT THE -- IT MUST BE EXTRAORDINARY PRESSURE ON YOU BECAUSE THE FOLKS ARE GOING TO COME AND IT'S GOING TO BE HARPER LEE'S STORY NO MATTER WHO IS ON STAGE, IT'S GOING TO BE AARON SORKIN'S WORDS, NO MATTER WHO IS ON THE STAGE, BUT THE REALITY IS AND I SAY THIS WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO YOU, THE REALITY IS PEOPLE ARE COMING TO SEE JEFF DANIELS BE ATTICUS, BE ATTICUS FINCH.

OH, THAT'S NICE.

THEY ARE.

SO TALKING ABOUT THE PRESSURE, IF YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING AND FEEL A COLD COMING ON, YOU DON'T HAVE THE KIND OF JOB WHERE YOU CAN CALL IN AND SAY, DO YOU KNOW WHAT, COULD YOU MOVE MY MEETINGS BACK TO TOMORROW BECAUSE I'M NOT FEELING REAL WELL TODAY.

I KNOW.

TALK ABOUT THAT.

I TRY TO COMPARE IT TO THOSE GUYS WHO ARE JUST GOING, I'M GOING TO CALL IN SICK TODAY.

YOU CAN.

I COULD.

YOU COULD.

AND I'M AWARE THAT CERTAINLY AFTER THE REVIEWS AND AS THE PLAY HAS BEEN RUNNING PEOPLE ARE COMING TO SEE ME.

I KNOW THEY ARE.

I MEAN, I'VE GOT -- I'VE HAD PEOPLE IN THE LOBBY WHERE PEOPLE ARE BUYING TICKETS GOING, IS JEFF DANIELS GOING TO BE IN THE SHOW ON SEPTEMBER 18th FOR THE WEDNESDAY MATINEE FOUR MONTHS FROM NOW.

AND THAT'S THE REALITY OF THE AUDIENCE.

AND THE BOX OFFICE SAYS, YES, HE IS.

I GET TWO WEEKS VACATION AFTER THE TONY'S AND WHEN AM I GOING TO TAKE THAT?

I HAVE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BOUGHT TICKETS FOR JUNE, JULY AND AUGUST, THEY BOUGHT THEM IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY AND NOW I'M GOING TO ANNOUNCE THAT -- AND ALSO IT'S I JUST WANT TO SEE IF I CAN DO IT.

I'M 64.

I'M HEALTHY ENOUGH, BUT IT'S ATTICUS FINCH ON THE STAGE OF THE SHUBERT THEATER AND WE GOT THE REVIEWS AND THIS IS NOT THE GIG THAT YOU CALL THE AGENT AND GO, GET ME SOMETHING BETTER.

THERE IS NOTHING BETTER.

AND I'VE BEEN AROUND LONG ENOUGH TO KNOW WHEN IT'S AS GOOD AS IT'S GOING TO GET.

OBVIOUSLY MY CAREER IS PEAKING, SO I'M GOING TO JUST SIT HERE ON THE SUMMIT FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.

WHAT ABOUT THAT NOTION, YOU SAID THIS IS A PINNACLE, I MEAN, THIS IS A FANTASTIC ROLE AND THE BROADWAY SHOW NOW THAT HAS BROKEN ALL THE RECORDS FOR A BROADWAY PLAY.

SO ALL THE ELEMENTS ARE THERE INCLUDING THE QUALITY OF YOUR PERFORMANCE.

ARE YOU OKAY AS AN ACTOR WITH THE IDEA THAT, YOU KNOW -- BECAUSE, AS YOU SAID, YOU ARE IN GOOD SHAPE, YOU ARE NOT GOING AWAY, BUT WITH THE IDEA THAT THIS MIGHT BE THE TOP -- THE MOUNTAINTOP FOR YOU?

I'M VERY AWARE AND NOT -- YOU KNOW, TED WILLIAMS, WHAT DID HE DO, HIT A HOME RUN IN HIS LAST ANTI-

LAST ANTI-

HIT THE DUGOUT, WENT TO THE CAR AND DROVE AWAY.

PLAYED IN THAT GAME TO KEEP HIM -- THE SEASON THEY HIT .400 HE COULD HAVE SAT DOWN ON THE BENCH, BUT HE SAID, NO, THIS IS BIG FOR ME, I'M GOING TO GET MY AT-BATS, IF I DIP BELOW .400, HE DIDN'T.

IS THIS THE HOME RUN?

I DON'T KNOW.

PLEASE SAY IT ISN'T BECAUSE YOUR FANS WOULD BE TERRIBLY UPSET.

BUT, YOU KNOW, IT DEPENDS WHAT COMES NEXT.

BUT WE'LL SEE.

I'M GLAD THAT IF IT IS AND IT PROBABLY IS, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BE REMEMBERED FOR?

CERTAINLY THIS WILL PERHAPS MAYBE IF POSSIBLE KNOCK OFF THE TOILET SCENE IN 'DUMB AND DUMBER.'

I'M NOT SURE.

I HOPE NOT.

IT MIGHT NOT.

I'M A 'DUMB AND DUMBER' FAN.

LISTEN --

AND THE SEQUEL THE BRILLIANTLY TITLED 'DUMB AND DUMBER' TWO, T-O.

BRILLIANT IS A BIG WORD.

WILL THIS KNOCK THIS OFF AND WILL YOU BE REMEMBERED FOR ATTICUS FINCH?

CERTAINLY MANY PEOPLE WILL.

BETTER TO COME NOW 42 YEARS IN THAN WHEN I'M 32 OR 40.

WHY DO YOU SAY THAT?

NOW YOU'VE GOT TO -- THAT'S WHAT IT FEELS LIKE.

I GUESS HERE IS HOW YOU COULD GUARANTEE YOUR LAST PERFORMANCE IS MEMORABLE, DO ATTICUS FINCH

WAIT.

I SUSPECT SOMEBODY HAS TALKED WITH YOU ABOUT IT.

FROM BACK STAGE WHEN THEY GET ME GOING AND I'M DRESSED IN THE ATTICUS SUIT AND I HAVE THE GLASSES, SUDDENLY HARRY DUNN COMES IN AND, YOU KNOW, HE'S GOT TOM ROBINSON, THE DEFENSE CALLED TIM ROBERTS.

YOU KNOW?

JUST ONCE.

I MEAN, JUST ONCE FOR FIVE SECONDS, LAPSE INTO HARRY DUNN.

THE DEFENSE CALLS TIM -- YOU WOULD SEE 24 ACTORS TURNING UP STAGE DOING THIS.

IT WOULD BE MEMORABLE.

YEAH, AND THEN SORKIN WOULD GET ME ON THE PHONE AND IT WOULDN'T BE GOOD.

HE MIGHT NOT APPRECIATE IT.

NO.

JEFF, I HAVE TO TELL YOU IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE TALKING WITH YOU.

'TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD' IS THE BEST THAT THEATER HAS TO OFFER FOR US.

THANK YOU.

AND THE PLAY IS FABULOUS, AARON'S WRITING IS FABULOUS AND YOU ARE MAGNIFICENT IN THE ROLE AND THERE WILL BE A WHOLE NEW GENERATION OF PEOPLE I THINK WILL BE DRAWN TO THE STORY AND THE ISSUES.

JEFF, THANKS SO MUCH.

THANKS, JACK.

> AND A REMINDER FOR YOU, JEFF WILL BE BACK TOMORROW NIGHT FOR PART TWO OF OUR CONVERSATION, WE WILL TALK ABOUT HIS CAREER, THE ROLES HE HAS PLAYED AND WHY.

WHAT DRIVES HIM.

AND ALSO MIGHT BE SURPRISING FOR YOU, HIS MUSICAL CAREER.

WE'LL SEE YOU THEN.

> BRANDON STANTON TRADED SECURITIES ON THE CHICAGO BOARD OF TRADE FOR THREE YEARS UNTIL THINGS WENT IN HIS WORDS REALLY BAD.

AFTER HE LOST HIS JOB HE MOVED TO NEW YORK CITY WHERE HE STARTED THE BLOG HUMANS OF NEW YORK IN 2010.

FAST FORWARD TO 2015 AND BRANDON STANTON IS A NUMBER ONE 'NEW YORK TIMES' BEST SELLING AUTHOR WITH OVER 50 MILLION FOLLOWERS ON FACEBOOK.

HE'S PHOTOGRAPHED AND INTERVIEWED THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ON THE STREETS OF NEW YORK CITY, HAS BEEN INVITED TO THE OVAL OFFICE BY PRESIDENT OBAMA, AND HAS BEEN NAMED ONE OF THE 30 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET BY 'TIME' MAGAZINE.

BRANDON'S BOOK IS 'HUMANS OF NEW YORK STORIES' AND HE JOINS ME NOW.

BRANDON, THANKS FOR COMING.

THANKS, RAFAEL.

YOU ARE A GEORGIA BOY, RIGHT, GREW UP NEAR ATLANTA?

YES, SIR.

SO WHY DID YOU COME TO NEW YORK CITY AFTER YOUR IGNOMINIOUS END IN CHICAGO?

I WAS QUITE RANDOM.

I WAS TAKING SOME TIME OFF, I GOT FIRED AND I WAS JUST GOING TO TRAVEL TO A FEW DIFFERENT CITIES AND PHOTOGRAPH, JUST FOR ENJOYMENT, AND NEW YORK CITY WAS ABOUT THE FOURTH CITY I HAD GONE TO.

I HAD NEVER BEEN THERE BEFORE.

I WOULD SAY THAT ABOUT TWO MONTHS AFTER I SAW NEW YORK CITY FOR THE FIRST TIME I WAS HERE WITH THE GOAL OF PHOTOGRAPHING 10,000 PEOPLE ON THE STREETS OF NEW YORK.

THAT WAS YOUR ORIGINAL GOAL?

THERE WAS A VERY QUICK ACCELERATION IN MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CITY, YEAH.

WHY DID IT DEVELOP?

I HAD LISTEN TRADING BONDS FOR ABOUT TWO YEARS AND THINKING ABOUT MONEY AND MARKETS FOR TWO YEARS AND I HAD NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT, I LEFT WITH NOTHING.

I DECIDED I WAS GOING TO SPEND THE NEXT PERIOD OF MY LIFE FOCUSING ON NOTHING BUT MY TIME AND SPENDING MY TIME ANY WAY I WANTED TO.

WHAT I ENJOYED DOING AT THE TIME WAS TAKING PHOTOS.

SO MY FIRST GOAL WAS TO FIND A WAY TO MAKE JUST ENOUGH MONEY WHERE I COULD PHOTOGRAPH ALL DAY LONG.

I HAD THIS KIND OF WEIRD IDEA, I WILL DO IT MASSIVE PHOTO PROJECT WHERE I WILL TRY TO PHOTOGRAPH 10,000 PEOPLE IN NEW YORK CITY AND PLOT THEIR PICTURES ON A MAP AND THAT IS NOTHING LIKE HUMANS OF NEW YORK IS TODAY, BUT THAT WAS THE FIRST IDEA THAT GOT ME TO NEW YORK CITY AND GOT ME ON THE STREETS EVERY DAY DOING THE WORK.

YOU WOULD THINK THAT NEW YORKERS WITH OUR REPUTATION OF BEING SO RUDE AND SO DIFFICULT, THAT YOU WOULD NOT BE MOTIVATED TO CONTINUE, TO STOP STRANGERS ON THE STREET.

IT'S HARD.

YOU KNOW, BACK WHEN I FIRST STARTED AND I HAD NO SUCCESS IT WAS REALLY HARD, YOU KNOW, NOBODY IS PAYING ATTENTION, MY FAMILY THOUGHT I WAS CRAZY, I HAD NO MONEY AND I'M TRYING TO STOP PEOPLE ON THE STREETS TO TAKE THEIR PHOTOS AND THEY'RE BEING RUDE.

IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT, YEAH.

YOU ARE A PHENOMENAL SUCCESS.

15 MILLION FOLLOWERS, MORE THAN 15 MILLION NOW, I DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH, IT CHANGES EVERY DAY ON FACEBOOK.

BEST SELLER, 'NEW YORK TIMES' BEST SELLER.

WHO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THE SUCCESS?

WHY DOES YOUR WORK SEEM TO RESONATE SO MUCH WITH PEOPLE?

I THINK IT'S THE COMBINATION OF TAKING A RANDOM PERSON ON THE STREET AND TAKING THEIR PHOTOGRAPH.

IT BEING THE PICTURE OF A COMPLETE STRANGER.

THEN I SPEND 30 TO 45 MINUTES WITH THAT PERSON, ASK PERSONAL QUESTIONS, WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRUGGLE, WHAT DO YOU FEEL MOST GUILTY ABOUT THIS LIFE, WHAT'S YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS, WHAT WAS THE SADDEST PART OF YOUR LIFE.

I FIND OUT VERY PERSONAL STORIES AND PERSONAL DETAILS ABOUT THAT PERSON AND LATER ON WHEN I SHARE IT WITH THE AUDIENCE I THINK THE REASON THAT SUCH A LARGE GROUP OF PEOPLE HAVE GATHERED AROUND THIS WORK IS THAT THERE'S SOMETHING VERY POWERFUL ABOUT SEEING SOMEBODY THAT YOU DON'T KNOW BUT THEN HEARING A STORY OR SOMETHING THAT WAS SO PERSONAL THAT THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE TOLD IT WIFE.

WHAT'S THE SADDEST STORY AND SADDEST PHOTOGRAPH YOU HAVE TAKEN?

IT'S SO FUNNY BECAUSE I ALWAYS ASK PEOPLE ULTIMATUMS WHAT WAS THE SADDEST MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE AND WHAT WAS THE HAPPIEST MOMENT.

THEY ARE HARD QUESTIONS TO ANSWER.

SO, YOU KNOW, I'D SAY PROBABLY THIS RECENT TRIP I DID, I JUST GOT BACK FROM EUROPE WHERE I WAS INTERVIEWING SYRIAN REFUGEES, IT WAS THE SAME PROCESS, I WOULD ASK THEM THE SAME QUESTIONS I WOULD ASK PEOPLE ON THE STREETS OF NEW YORK CITY, WHAT WAS THE SADDEST MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE, ALMOST ALWAYS IT HAD TO DO WITH WAR, THOSE STORIES WERE PARTICULARLY HEARTBREAKING.

AND THE FUNNIEST.

KIDS.

KIDS ARE UNINTENTIONALLY FUNNY, THEY ARE 100% SINCERE WHILE THEY'RE SAYING THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING YOU EVER HEARD AND THAT ALWAYS GETS ME.

DESPITE THE FACT THAT AS YOU TOLD ME BEFORE WE SAT DOWN THAT A THIRD OF THE PEOPLE STILL DON'T KNOW -- TURN YOU DOWN, AT LEAST IF THEY ARE -- NOW THAT YOU'RE FAMOUS AND A LOT OF PEOPLE RECOGNIZE YOU, DOES THAT CHANGE THE DYNAMIC WITH YOUR INTERACTION WITH YOUR SUBJECTS?

IT DOES.

I WAS WORRIED ABOUT IT WHEN HUMANS OF NEW YORK FIRST STARTED GROWING FAST AND I STARTED TO GET RECOGNIZED ON THE STREETS I ASKED MYSELF HOW IS THIS GOING TO AFFECT THE PROCESS?

ARE PEOPLE GOING TO BE TOO SELF-CONSCIOUS OR SELF-AWARE, ARE THEY GOING TO BE SCRIPTED ANSWERS, I FOUND THE NAME RECOGNITION OF HUMANS OF NEW YORK ALLOWS ME TO INTERVIEW A LOT MORE PEOPLE THAN I WOULD BE ABLE TO INTERVIEW BEFORE.

A LOT OF TIMES A GRUMPY OLD MAN I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO YOU.

THAT WOULD BE ME.

YOU ARE NOT OLD AND YOU ARE NOT GRUMPY.

BUT I WOULD STOP SOMEBODY AND I WILL SAY, YOU KNOW, I'M SORRY, OKAY, WELL, IT'S CALLED HUMANS OF NEW YORK CHECK IT OUT LATER.

WHAT DID YOU SAY?

I WILL SAY HUMANS OF NEW YORK CITY.

OH, MY GRANDSON TOLD ME ABOUT THAT.

I'M ABLE TO INTERVIEW A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO INTERVIEW BEFORE AND I FOUND THAT EVEN WHEN PEOPLE KNOW THAT 15 MILLION PEOPLE ARE GOING TO READ THAT NIGHT, YOU KNOW, THERE'S STILL A LEVEL OF COMFORT THAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE IF YOU ARE JUST TALKING WITH THE PERSON ONE-ON-ONE AS IF YOU ARE HAVING A CONVERSATION.

IF YOU TALK LONG ENOUGH EVENTUALLY THE PERSON FORGETS THEY'RE BEING INTERVIEWED AND IT JUST BECOMES A CONVERSATION.

SO I'M ABLE TO GET VERY NATURAL ANSWERS.

BRANDON, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH ME.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

YEAH.

> BEFORE WE LET YOU GO TONIGHT LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A WONDERFUL EXTENSION TO 'METROFOCUS,' OUR NEW TWICE WEEKLY PODCAST WITH ME AS YOUR HOST.

ON IT WE'LL GET TO EXPLORE IN-DEPTH CONVERSATIONS THAT ARE A LITTLE LESS FILTERED THAN THEY ARE ON TELEVISION AND A LOT MORE INTIMATE.

ON THE PODCAST I WILL TALK TO AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SET OF GUESTS WITH AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ATTITUDE.

THE PRICE OF JOINING THIS PODCAST COMPLETE WITH NEW YORKERS FROM THE STREETS TO CITY HALL AND FROM WALL STREET TO BROADWAY, ABSOLUTELY FREE.

SO HEAD ON OVER TO iTUNES OR SOUND CLOUD TO JOIN ME IN THIS ECLECTIC MIX OF PERSONALITIES AS WE EXPLORE OUR CITY WITH A UNIQUE 'METROFOCUS.'

FRESH NEW CONTENT EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY, I WILL SEE YOU THERE.

♪♪

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY -- ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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