Indonesia's forestry minister Zulkifli Hasan, likely expecting a relaxing interview with actor Harrison Ford on the country's environmental policies, was left red-faced and fuming after things decidedly took a more serious turn.
Hasan's staff clearly did not do their homework on the impassioned environmentalist
, who was in the country to film a part of the new Showtime climate change documentary
“Years of Living Dangerously." Ford may be best-known for his Hollywood films, but the 71-year-old has also worked for decades on conservation initiatives; most notably serving as the Vice-Chair for Conservation International.
According to Hasan, Ford and his film crew started the interview immediately; squashing the assumed expectation that there might be a discussion before filming began.
“His emotions were running very high,” the minister was quoted as saying by the state-run Antara news agency. “I understand the American man just came here to see Tesso Nilo [a national park on Sumatra island] and wanted violators to be caught the same day.”
Indonesia, home to some of the most biologically diverse forests in the world, is also threatened by massive illegal logging. According to the NRDC
, between 1990 and 2005, approximately 108,110 square miles of Indonesian forest disappeared (an area larger than the State of Colorado), 77% of which were virgin forest.
In a statement to reporters
, Indonesian presidential adviser Andi Arief accused Ford and the film crew of “harassing state institutions” and even went on to threaten the actor with deportation. Fortunately, Ford was due to leave the next day.
He was “shocked that as soon as his [Ford's] crew came in, they started filming and interviewing him… and attacking him with questions.”
“There’s no privilege for him although he is a great a actor,” Arief said. “His crew and those who were helping him in Indonesia must be questioned to find out their motives for harassing a state institution.”
Yea, I'm pretty sure their motives were to catch off-guard the man charged with doing something about Indonesia's rampant deforestation. It sounds like Hasan was expecting a sit-down with Indiana Jones, some polite questions about policy, and a photo-op for the mantel. Instead, he received the questions that someone in his position is likely not used to answering. Hard questions. Inquiries not from a Hollywood actor, but from a man who has more experience in conservation policy than most politicians.
Ford also met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - but apparently, that meeting went a lot smoother.
We'll get to see how this all really played out sometime next year, when Showtime finally releases “Years of Living Dangerously." The eight-part series, produced by heavyweights James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, features “well-known actors” interviewing people around the world who have experienced the devastating consequences of a warming planet. Besides Ford, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Don Cheadle, and Edward Norton are said to be involved.
“We’ll make it exciting,” added Cameron. “We’ll make it investigative. We’ll bring people the truth. And people are always hungry for the truth.”
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