Video: Robert Redford's 'Heroes'

updated 6/28/2005 5:32:25 PM ET 2005-06-28T21:32:25

Actor Robert Redford's new documentary tracks people around the globe who try to change the world in their own small way.  The film, “The New Heroes,” premieres Tuesday night on PBS.  In the current project, Redford teamed up with Jeff Skoll, co-founder of eBay and head of the Skoll Foundation.

They sat down with Joe Scarborough for Monday's program to talk about the film along with some other hot issues. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH: What does it take to become a "new hero?"

JEFF SKOLL, FOUNDER, SKOLL FOUNDATION:  Well, I think there's really been a movement in the last 20 years where people are seeing that there are problems in the world, environmental degradation, and people that can't afford health care, crimes, drugs, terrorism, and so on.

They're saying the traditional institutions can't solve all of these problems, so we're going to take matters into our own hands.  And so these people who today we call social entrepreneurs are finding these problems around the world or in their communities and they're taking action themselves.  And the amazing thing is, an ordinary person can really make a great deal of difference in these problems. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Robert Redford, obviously, you can pick and choose your projects.  Why did you decide to get involved in “The New Heroes”? 

ROBERT REDFORD: It tied nicely to issues I'm concerned with and things I feel passionate about.  I mean, obviously human rights and the condition of human rights is one.

What we do at Sundance, at the nonprofit suit at Sundance focusing on independent film, is to raise the voices of independent people around the world, to increase diversity, as some areas might be shrinking.  For me, the idea of using film — I mean Jeffrey is a social entrepreneur.  And he's bringing the idea forward of social economics and social responsibility and putting it in a form. 

The role that I would play would be to do what I do.  I'm more on the art end or the content end.  That is to use film in a way other than just something as restrictive as just straight-out entertainment.  Saying, is there a way that we can take these people, who need to be celebrated, their voices need to be heard, and who can be so inspiring to other people when they see the courage and the commitment that they exhibit around—from an impoverished position, sometimes against incredible odds of corporate greed and corruption?

But that's the reason that I'm involved, because it ties to a lot of things I've tried to do over 30 years in my work and particularly in the environment to raise awareness about what's at stake.  That's my role in this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And why do you think the Bush administration has such a blind spot on the environment? 

REDFORD: Look, this is a personal opinion, so it will have to sit that way.  I'm not a politician.  I think you have a leader that, in my opinion, comes from a privileged place, is somewhat spoiled, narrow, limited, and arrogant.

And that's my personal view.  And the policies that come from that, the people he puts around him, attitudes about the environment display a kind of ignorance, more than anything else.  They seem to be enjoying shredding the environment to create support for something that might be yesterday's news, rather than tomorrow's future. 

That's hard for me to witness.  I don't think you're going to change it because of the arrogance.  They seem to enjoy it.  I don't know beyond that why this is.  I think that the thinking in Washington right now is old.  It seems like they're operating in the ‘50s rather than the year 2000.  It's a new world we‘re living in and a new future.  And a lot of our resources have already disappeared.  And communities are now living closer together.  Cultures are living closer together.  Somebody better start paying attention to foreign culture and history and what the environment really means, rather than something treated like an enemy. 

It just is mystifying. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You talk about Sundance.  This past weekend, I was up at the Nantucket Film Festival.  A young filmmaker came up to me and talked about a film that she was making, a documentary about the electoral process in South America and in Central America.  It's a remarkable film.

And it really drove home to me that what you started at Sundance — obviously, it began before that — but what you specifically started in 1991 really unleashed a cultural revolution.  Could you have ever imagined, 14 years later, what you started in 1991 would lead to? 

REDFORD: Well, no, Joe, I couldn't.  First of all, it actually started before that in reality.  I don't think it came to the awareness factor until around 1990, ‘91.  But it started in 1980. 

And it was a rough start to begin with, because it was not easy to get support.  People did not think there was much future in independent film and why would I waste time with something like that.

But, in time, as it grew and increased in value and awareness, I was encouraged.  But I didn't think I could anticipate the broad reach that it would have and that we would move into the international marketplace with this idea.  No.  No, I didn't.  I'm glad to hear that story, because that's why we're there. 

Watch 'Scarborough Country' each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC.


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