Is the world ready for a comedy about terrorism? British filmmaker Chris Morris thinks it is…and he’s offering up his new film “4 Lions” as proof. We meet a man who has he’s been pushing the comedic envelope for more than two decades.

Guests

  • Chris Morris Filmmaker, 4 Lions

Related Video

The Official 4 Lions Trailer:

Interviewer Chris Hewitt speaks to Chris Morris, producer Mark Herbet, and writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain at the the Bradford Film Festival earlier this year:

Transcript

  • 12:29:27

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe New York Times describes him as equal parts social satirist, media critic and surrealist prankster. Few Americans may recognize the name Chris Morris, but ask a Brit and there's a good bet she'll know and she'll have one of two reactions, either ooh, that guy. They say he's a talented writer and performer but his comedy isn't always very funny. In fact, he has no shame, crosses the line regularly and makes everyone uncomfortable. The other reaction you might get? A broad smile or even a laugh out loud. These are the folks who say Chris Morris' satire is brilliant. He's been a comic force on the British scene foregoing on three decades. He's pushed the envelope regularly, joking about pedophilia and teen drug abuse. But he'll explain he's mostly satirizing radio and television news and their tendency toward hypocrisy and overreaction in most situations. Maybe I should say our tendency. Chris Morris is a writer, director, performer, and satirist. His debut film "Four Lions" opens in the U.S. later this week. Chris Morris, good to have you aboard.

  • 12:30:35

    MR. CHRIS MORRISI concur.

  • 12:30:36

    NNAMDIWelcome to Washington. Somehow it seems appropriate that you're here today just a couple of days after the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally to restore sanity and/or keep fear alive. Were you there? Any thoughts on that event?

  • 12:30:50

    MORRISTragically, we were in the air at that time. We were flying in from Seattle. So we arrived in the aftermath. And I saw very little of it. I've been fascinated with that. It looked like a good crowd. Were you there?

  • 12:31:00

    NNAMDINo, I was not there, but I saw a great deal of it on television. How would you compare what they do on a daily basis with what you do?

  • 12:31:07

    MORRISWell, I think the Jon Stewart show is, sort of, like op-ed show, really. It's like an opinion piece in a newspaper which uses humor to get his point across. But, I mean, that pretty opinion driven in a strictly, sort of, daily news political way. Things that I've done, you know, a, kind of, playing with the medium or high-jacking the medium to, kind of, drive it off the rails and have games with it. It's a, sort of, different approach.

  • 12:31:30

    NNAMDIIf you'd like to join the conversation, and we will be talking about Chris Morris' debut film laughing at terrorism, if you will, are we as a nation ready to laugh at terrorism? 800-433-8850 is the number to call. I guess I should be saying to you, welcome home. You started your professional life in a radio studio, didn't you?

  • 12:31:49

    MORRISI'm loving it. Yeah. And we're doing lots of radio today and it's great. You will have difficulty getting me out of here.

  • 12:31:54

    NNAMDIYou also have a degree is zoology. What happened to that?

  • 12:31:58

    MORRISFell by the wayside. (laugh) It -- I mean, to be perfectly honest, it turned into some fairly rigid strings of learning and not much else, and it kind of killed my interest in the subject other than as something to keep on the side. But I wasn't going to end up working -- I mean, basically your options are to be an academic and I didn't want to be an academic around microbes.

  • 12:32:17

    NNAMDIEarlier in your career, you made it a habit to dupe public figures, be they elected parliament, members of parliament or musicians like Phil Collins into unwittingly being a part of your jokes. Tell us about that.

  • 12:32:30

    MORRISWell, look, I mean, there are key subjects which are important subjects which people treat in a stupid way and that's what I was after. That basically when people make a hysterical reaction on the basis of a knee-jerk response rather than thinking about it, that's when you can get them to say things which are -- I mean, as an example, if I said to you, I've just been to see a radio presenter and I gave him a live crab and I got him to say into camera, this crab has more genetically in common with a pedophile than a pedophile has in common with you and me, right? As a genuine statement, he believed what he was saying. What would be your judgment about that radio presenter?

  • 12:33:14

    NNAMDIAbout the radio presenter?

  • 12:33:15

    MORRISYeah.

  • 12:33:15

    NNAMDIThat he's an idiot?

  • 12:33:16

    MORRISFine. So, if you can isolate examples like that with jokes of, you know, discourse which has gone awry where basically people are saying things without thinking about them, that's the kind of mechanism that underlies -- so you say, you know, my show made jokes about pedophilia. That was the context in which it was. It was playing with the fact that people talk without thinking. Surely, basically, if you're trying to think things through, you're gonna be in a better position that just shooting from the hip like that.

  • 12:33:42

    NNAMDIOn the other hand, if you make me say things that amount to gibberish, people will think it's just my normal broadcast because they're used to that. Most Americans will meet you for the first time through "Four Lions." I guess we should start with a basic explanation of the movie plot without giving too much away.

  • 12:33:58

    MORRISWell, it's about a bunch of what's called self-starched Jihadists. Those are the ones who are homegrown. They haven't come from abroad. They live in a country where the plot is carried out. So they're -- let's say they're semi-competent. They have a plan. They start carrying it out. Things start going wrong, and you may say things end in an inevitable mess. Now, it's drawn from reality. This is the thing that people find hardest to kind of cotton on to. You say it's a comedy about terrorism. That sounds like you've taken the worst mash up and tried to get something that couldn't possibly work together almost as an act of willful perversity, but no. This film was caused by reading about reality. And seeing that in reality, actually, the commissioning and the execution of these plots is often shot through with farcical incidents, arguments between the guys in the cell and so on. And it's that that basically made me make it.

  • 12:34:55

    NNAMDIAs a matter of fact, I saw a previous interview with you in which you talked about the idea of being sparked by I think what happened in Oman, correct?

  • 12:35:02

    MORRISCorrect. These guys were going to blow up a warship, a U.S. warship, by ramming it with an exploding boat. So what they did was they assembled under the dead of nights and they've put their launch in the water. They filled it with explosives and it sank. And I thought that's a pretty farcical event. Who's gonna say what to whom in that incident? And it didn't stop there. They kept-- you know, even the architects of the 9/11 plot were ludicrous when interviewed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was put on camera by a news channel and he said, wait, wait, wait. Hang on. And he kept changing his costume for two hours in order to make himself -- to stop himself looking fat. And then when he finally got his act together, he went into this sort of didactic shake mode, the familiar raised finger and started quoting from the Qur'an. Until the journalist realized he was getting his Qur'anic quotes completely jumbled. They had to keep stopping and correcting him. This is not the sort of the pristine evil behavior you expect from a so-called mastermind of terror. This is klutzes, like a sitcom character.

  • 12:36:04

    NNAMDIIndeed, in the movie, "Four Lions," you will see scenes of potential Jihadists trying to make a video that is supposed to be aired after they have committed suicide and the, well, problems they had with that. But to just give you a taste of "Four Lions," here's a clip.

  • 12:36:23

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE 1Liquid Peroxide.

  • 12:36:26

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE 2So you guys are stock piling? How did you get it all?

  • 12:36:29

    1A wholesale shop down the road.

  • 12:36:30

    2Well, all from the same shop?

  • 12:36:32

    1Yeah.

  • 12:36:32

    2You, mug. You'll get us nicked.

  • 12:36:34

    1No. I use different voices every time I go in.

  • 12:36:37

    2Different what? Different voices?

  • 12:36:38

    1Different voices.

  • 12:36:39

    2Show me.

  • 12:36:41

    1What?

  • 12:36:41

    2Show me the voices. Come on.

  • 12:36:44

    1And one of them is -- well, it's my voice.

  • 12:36:47

    2Right.

  • 12:36:49

    1Can I have 12 bottles of bleach, please?

  • 12:36:50

    2Yeah. I know. I know what that sounds like. Give me another one.

  • 12:36:55

    1IRA voice. (unintelligible)

  • 12:36:56

    2IRA voice? They're terrorist, Fessal. What do you want to do with terrorist voice? You'll get us nicked.

  • 12:37:02

    1Well, I'll be disguised then, wouldn't I?

  • 12:37:04

    2Yeah. But as a terrorist.

  • 12:37:06

    NNAMDI(laugh) Okay. I should stop laughing. We're talking with Chris Morris. He is writer, director, performer, and satirist. His debut film, "Four Lions," opens in the U.S. later this week. It's a daring thing making a comedy about terrorism. You must have known, even as you were making this film, that it was more than likely that terrorism would be in the headlines the day the film debuted.

  • 12:37:28

    MORRISWell, I mean, look. You wouldn't make a film about terrorism if it wasn't relevant.

  • 12:37:32

    NNAMDIYeah. Well, it's not only relevant but it happens to be, as this movie is being released in the United States, once again in the top of the news. Here is Oliver in Silver Spring, Md. Oliver, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:37:45

    OLIVERHi, Mr. Morris, and thank you for having me on the show. I had a sort of a question. I was wondering, why is it that you think that using humor to express opinions about relevant issues works? Why do you think it appeals? And why do you use it specifically? And you know, in the reciprocal, why do you think some people are offended by it? And just some general thoughts.

  • 12:38:11

    MORRISCool. You're asking me to speak on behalf of a lot of people there, Oliver. I mean, look. I wouldn't be doing jokes in this film on this subject if they hadn't been lying around there in real life just waiting to be relayed. So it's really, you know, the question is the other way around. I mean, look. If you make a film and people laugh 90 minutes and then they come out and they think, hey, you know what? I got a couple of thoughts in there too. It's not a sort of laugh-yourself-clever film. But if you can be entertaining and you can base it on truth, I feel that that's kind of really what all films should be made out of.

  • 12:38:43

    NNAMDIOliver?

  • 12:38:44

    OLIVERYes. That's true. And, I mean, I personally do enjoy using humor in relevant issues, and I think it's a great way to express opinion. But I just wanted to, you know, kind of get your thought about it and why you decided to use this.

  • 12:39:00

    MORRISWell, I guess it's a bit like real life, isn't it? You know, I mean, if you're with you're with your friends and you're talking about whatever subject you're talking about, you're gonna use humor because, I mean, things are humorous. They strike you. In events great and small, there are funny things. And what's more, if you're funny, then your friends will tend to listen for a bit longer. So, you know, it's sort of really -- that may sound just like a sort of bit of demystification, but I think that's what you try and do in a film like this. You know, you try and bring the full 3D picture of what's going on. The fact that, you know, people can go to training camp and then get sent home because they took a teddy bear because they were gonna be homesick, you know, really silly things. People get thrown out of training camp for stealing honey. And these are the kind of things that we'd recognize from smaller scale projects, right? You know, if you were trying to get together a, you know, like a camping weekend with some friends or something, you know? Things would go wrong. Bunch of guys tend not to get everything right.

  • 12:39:48

    NNAMDIOliver, thank you very much for your call. One of the things I suspect you have to demystify for people who have not seen the movie is the fear that this movie will stereotype Arabs or stereotype Muslims. One of the more poignant touching scenes in this movie is between a father and son. And the father tries to tell the son a bedtime story and he begins weaving in a morality tale that he's trying, apparently, to resolve on his own.

  • 12:40:13

    MORRISYeah. Well, I mean, you know, this -- the textures in the film came from -- I mean, I hang out with a lot of British Pakistanis. Most of the Muslims in Britain are Pakistanis or of Pakistani origin. So, you know, you pick up a lot. And I think for that reason, the sort of stereotype issue went away, and it was quite deliberate. You know, the film was welcomed by British Pakistanis. You know, they -- we did a screening recently for the floods in Pakistan. They mobbed our stars all the way from the station to the cinema when we turned up, you know, like rock stars. So I think that that basically makes it approachable on a sort of human way. And when you described that scene with the father and the son, they're using "The Lion King" as a sort of good and evil narrative. Now, that didn't come from nowhere. I mean, I met guys who are pretty radical, Muslims who are pretty radical. He liked "The Lion King." And it seems weird that they would accept that you realize, of course, they are looking for a good and evil tale. And as long as you put yourself on Simba's side, you're the goody. And that's what's happening in that scene.

  • 12:41:13

    NNAMDIChris Morris. He's a writer, director, performer, and satirist. He's debut film, "Four Lions," opens in the United States later this week. We're gonna take a short break. If you have already called, stay on the line. If not, we still have lines open at 800-433-8850. Do you have a favorite film that walks the line between good satire and bad taste? 800-433-8850. Or you can go to our website, kojoshow.org. Join the conversation there. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:43:26

    NNAMDIOur guest is Chris Morris. His debut film, "Four Lions," opens in the U.S. later this week. He's a writer, director, performer, and satirist, better known in Britain than he is here. Back to the telephones though because there are people who know you. Here's Claire in Washington, D.C. Claire, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:43:45

    CLAIREHi, Mr. Morris. Thank you for taking my call, Mr. Nnamdi. And I wanted to just say that I enjoy your work to no ends and I appreciate all the work that you've done. And I love the absurdity and kind of the general creepiness that you're able to bring in "Jam" and "The Day Today" and "On the Hour" in kind of a selfish way. I'm wondering when will you return to radio.

  • 12:44:08

    MORRISWhoa. Okay. (laugh) This is a proxy for my agent, no doubt. Well, good afternoon, Claire. Thank you. I mean, for asking about that. I love doing radio. I haven't got any immediate plans. But the next thing could be a radio-shaped idea. It really just depends on, you know, what form the idea demands. You know, doing a sort of three-act story about an incompetent Jihadist cell in "Four Lions" was automatically going to be a film. But I do -- you know, I think it's just the thing that you basically want to make sure that you do the right move. But I'm sort of trumping it a bit to get back into radio. I'm just gonna wait for the right channel to jump into. Any suggestions?

  • 12:44:45

    NNAMDIAny suggestions, Claire?

  • 12:44:48

    CLAIRE(laugh) No. I'm just anxiously awaiting anything because anything Mr. Morris has done, not just I'm like a sick fan that I've enjoyed entirely.

  • 12:44:56

    MORRISYou don't sound like a sick fan at all. I mean, sick fans sounds slightly like that but much less acceptable.

  • 12:45:02

    NNAMDIDoes your agent keep bugging you about going back to radio?

  • 12:45:04

    MORRISNo. (laugh)

  • 12:45:05

    NNAMDIHere is -- Claire, thank you for your call. Here's Jason in Baltimore, Md. Jason, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:45:12

    JASONThank you. Yes.

  • 12:45:13

    MORRISHi, Jason.

  • 12:45:16

    JASONWhat I was gonna say is that I don't think that blowing one's self up expecting to get into heaven is exactly an honorable profession, and so it should be quite a target for a diversion. I'm looking forward to seeing your film. Humor has brought down kings down the ages. It has prevented people from being elected presidents. And it is a very potent force when used properly, and I am looking forward to your film, so thank you.

  • 12:45:41

    MORRISThank you very much. I believe it was humor that sort of undermined the Ku Klux Klan, wasn't it? Wasn't it the -- there was an infiltration in the Ku Klux Klan who shelled out all the passwords and all the silly names they used to the "Superman" radio show, right? When it was the kids who were running around using that stuff...

  • 12:45:57

    NNAMDIYes...

  • 12:45:57

    MORRIS...the Klan felt they couldn't carry on, right? So...

  • 12:45:59

    NNAMDIWe talked with that guy on this show. Stetson Kennedy was who it is.

  • 12:46:02

    MORRISStetson Kennedy. Really?

  • 12:46:03

    NNAMDIYes. Exactly right. Yeah.

  • 12:46:03

    MORRISWow. Fascinating story.

  • 12:46:04

    NNAMDIWe had him on the broadcast. Jason, thank you for your call. On to Sue in Arlington, Va. Sue, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:46:13

    SUEI wanna nominate a Peter Sellers movie, "The Mouse That Roared."

  • 12:46:19

    NNAMDIYeah. I remember that.

  • 12:46:20

    SUEHe's doing it again in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • 12:46:25

    NNAMDI"The Mouse That Roared." Are you familiar with that movie, Chris Morris?

  • 12:46:27

    MORRISI haven't seen it. No.

  • 12:46:28

    NNAMDIIt's a great Peter Sellers movie about the people from this very small parish in England, isn't it, Sue?

  • 12:46:35

    SUEEurope.

  • 12:46:36

    NNAMDIIn Europe. Who decide what to invade some place, correct?

  • 12:46:40

    SUEYes.

  • 12:46:41

    NNAMDIYes.

  • 12:46:41

    SUEYes, exactly. They decided to irritate the United States. I don't know what they invaded. But they did it so that the United States would come and rescue them.

  • 12:46:52

    NNAMDIYes. And the -- I remember that you can probably still get that movie, "The Mouse That Roared," with Peter Sellers. One scene from "Four Lions" that is guaranteed to stay with the viewers long after they've left the movie theater takes place in a university classroom. Tell us about Jihadi rapper.

  • 12:47:11

    MORRISWell, he represents -- I mean, that the -- one of the fascinating things you'll find out is that there's no preset character type for getting involved in this kinds of business. It's a huge range of people from highly qualified and highly intelligent through to really quite dimmed. And this guy represents, I suppose, the wannabe Jihadi. He's all mouth. And really, he likes showing off. And he wants to get the, sort of, disapprobation of his peers. But he has the misfortune to meet a blowhard who's actually recruiting for a Jihadi cell and he, sort of, can't say no. He's, you know, he's challenged, are you for real, bro? And he sort of has to go, well, yeah. I'm for real. And so he's in -- he's sort of -- he's caught up. He's way in over his head.

  • 12:47:54

    NNAMDIDid you write the lyrics for the Jihadi rapper yourself?

  • 12:47:56

    MORRISI did.

  • 12:47:58

    NNAMDIThe characters are surprisingly -- surprisingly the new ones can sure to leave you with thinking about the complexity of stereotypes and assumptions. My assumption is that that was your intention.

  • 12:48:09

    MORRISWhat? To stir up stereotypes? Well, I mean, that's what I found, you know, in reality that the -- nothing stayed the same. You have this perception from the way things are reported in the news. And they all crumble as soon as you start looking at the -- you know, good -- bad guys start behaving like good guys might behave. And from that point on, it all falls to bit. So we went -- yeah, of course, we were fastening onto people who you found in real life. The converts, another character, you know, they're regular examples of the radical convert.

  • 12:48:38

    MORRISI met a guy who had been in a far right group in Britain, a white guy. And he used to beat up Asian kids. And then he decided that he was gonna get even more sophisticated in an operation and mess with their minds. And to do this, he bought himself a copy of the Quran. And he was gonna win -- he gonna beat them at their own arguments, all right? So he opened the Quran. He read it from cover to cover and accidentally converted himself.

  • 12:49:02

    NNAMDI(laugh) Now, I see. Do you think it had been true? Do -- you have to be making that up.

  • 12:49:07

    MORRISNo. It's - I met the guy. I mean, he didn't say it as joke. What was funny was that he was the best deadpan presentation of that joke because he was campaigning to rule the world under a single Islamic caliphate. But that gives you a clue as to how you can find humor in the subject. The characters behave in ways like that. You know, Barry is made up of that kind of stuff.

  • 12:49:26

    NNAMDIIf you are hearing Chris Morris for the first time and you would like a clue as to his previous work, we have a clip for you from his show, "The Day Today." It's a piece about a British reporter on 9/11.

  • 12:49:40

    MORRISThe day today, 24, live now stays with those terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, both towers now gone. Later, what is a hijacked airliner, and how does it crash? But first, our correspondent, Peter O'Hanraha-hanrahan, is in New York at the moment. He went there to cover the World Trade Organization talks due to start today at the World Trade Center. He's on the line now. Peter, where are you and what's going on?

  • 12:50:02

    MR. PETER O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANIt's a clear, crisp morning in New York, Chris. A crackle of anticipation among the delegates at breakfast. Moments later, these talks could be the big yes or no for the Eastern economists.

  • 12:50:12

    MORRISRight. So Peter, can you tell us exactly what the situation is currently in New York?

  • 12:50:16

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANWell, the situation, I'd say it's eggs over easy for the Germans, eggs over not bad for the Japanese, and eggs over pretty grim for the Russian.

  • 12:50:24

    MORRISSo the meetings aren't going ahead?

  • 12:50:26

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANThat's right, Chris.

  • 12:50:28

    MORRISAnd where are they being held?

  • 12:50:30

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANHere at the World Trade Center.

  • 12:50:34

    MORRISYou're at the World Trade Center?

  • 12:50:36

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANYes.

  • 12:50:39

    MORRISWhereabouts exactly in the World Trade Center are you?

  • 12:50:42

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANI'm in the restroom, the windows down below the restroom, Christ, floor 107, sipping a cappuccino.

  • 12:50:49

    MORRISFloor 107 no longer gives a particularly good view of New York.

  • 12:50:54

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANWell, it does from where I'm sitting, Chris.

  • 12:50:56

    MORRISIt's now part of the basement.

  • 12:50:59

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANI think not. Yeah. (laugh) You're pulling my leg, Chris.

  • 12:51:03

    MORRISAre you near television?

  • 12:51:05

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANRight. The television is on.

  • 12:51:07

    MORRISTell me what you can see.

  • 12:51:10

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANWell, it's quite bizarre. I'm actually looking at an image of the World Trade Center. I'd almost be looking at myself if I wait.

  • 12:51:19

    MORRISWhat can you see?

  • 12:51:20

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANWell, there's a plane and one of them -- yeah, actually, we didn't hear that. The sound insulation in these buildings is extraordinary. There is a plane that...

  • 12:51:30

    MORRISKeep watching, Peter.

  • 12:51:32

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANAh. Oh, my God. (laugh) One of the towers has collapsed. Fortunately, not the one I'm in, the other one. The one I'm in is one of the -- the other tower -- the tower I'm in is collapsing. I'm collapsing, Chris, under the sheer -- I've managed. I'm out. I'm out. I'm very -- start run -- I'm not there. (laugh)

  • 12:51:56

    MORRISWhere are you?

  • 12:51:58

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANI'm in a hotel in Midtown, The Marriott.

  • 12:52:02

    MORRISWhy did you say you were at the World Trade Center?

  • 12:52:05

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANBecause that's where I was supposed to be this morning.

  • 12:52:09

    MORRISYou overslept.

  • 12:52:11

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANI slept longer than I've anticipated.

  • 12:52:14

    MORRISWould you like to revise your appraisal of the situation in New York in light of what you've just gleaned?

  • 12:52:20

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANYes, I can, Chris.

  • 12:52:21

    MORRISGo ahead.

  • 12:52:23

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANI'm a man standing at a window of his hotel room. It's a very gray day, a very gray day for the world, Chris. It seems like a movie...

  • 12:52:36

    MORRISPeter, you've added nothing. That's Peter O'Hanraha-hanrahan from New York on a day which would go down as...

  • 12:52:42

    O'HANRAHA-HANRAHANYes, a day...

  • 12:52:42

    MORRISBe quiet.

  • 12:52:45

    NNAMDI(laugh) That's Chris Morris in "The Day Today," from that show. Chris, would you believe I once had a reporter at another radio station. He, too, told me he saw when President Reagan was shot. I put him on the air live in much the same way as you did Peter, and it turned out he got the hotel wrong. He was seeing it on television. He got the location completely wrong, and fought it all the way to a union grievance before he finally admitted that he wasn't there.

  • 12:53:10

    MORRISThere are cases, aren't there, of reporters in war zones sort of ducking out of the way of bullets which aren't there. And we know this. And we know that they've added sound effects afterwards, you know? It's -- I mean, look, you know, it's part of the job. But I guess that was an example of something that, you know, you're playing with a serious subject but you find the funny side in it. I mean, that guy is caught with his trousers down. There's no way out.

  • 12:53:32

    NNAMDIThat was hilarious. And Chris Morris, we're still laughing at it after all this time.

  • 12:53:36

    MORRISListen, okay, I beg to, you know, defend myself. I was laughing at Patrick Marber's performance there. He was the one playing the reporter. I wasn't laughing at anything I had done.

  • 12:53:43

    NNAMDIOkay. I was laughing at both of you. Here's Andrew in Rockville, Md. Andrew, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:53:48

    ANDREWHello there.

  • 12:53:49

    MORRISHi.

  • 12:53:49

    ANDREWPleasure to speak to you, and great fan of you both. As an expat Englishman, I was wondering, Chris, if before you started this promotional tour, whether you thought you would find the American audience had more difficulty accepting this approach to a very serious topic. And so far your experience has been of a -- seem to find it a little less possible than English audience has or the European audience more generally.

  • 12:54:15

    MORRISWe Brits, Andrew, might think that. And I hold myself sort of -- I accuse myself of that thought. Before we came to the States in January, to the Sundance Festival, I had some trepidation. But I have to say -- and you may feel this sounds like a boast, but there's no one else here to witness it -- but when the film has played to American audiences, they've got it every bit as clearly as British audiences, and they've laughed and sometimes clapped and cheered. So I, you know, just excuse that being a boast and take it as an objective assessment of what's happened.

  • 12:54:43

    MORRISI felt slightly reproached for having anticipated it any other way. We played in New York recently and there were, you know, there was loud laughter and afterwards there were people from both sides of the political spectrum coming up and saying, you know, maybe you thought we were gonna be too sensitive, but, you know, we've gone through this. This is real for us so we're over it. And I guess the only clue I had that that might happen was that in Britain, there was a much broader reach for the film than I thought. You know, British Muslims, on the one hand, embracing it and also soldiers who'd lost friends to suicide bombers in Afghanistan and Iraq also laughing their way through the film.

  • 12:55:17

    MORRISAnd I guess the way, maybe the clue to that happening, is the fact that the film is not making light of death, you know? That's -- that was a clear rule we had to follow. We're looking for the jokes where they realistically are. We're not trying to contrive anything that isn't funny when it isn't.

  • 12:55:33

    NNAMDII have the same feeling about "In the Loop" last year that turned out to be wildly popular over here also. We got this e-mail from Randell in Bowie. And Andrew, thank you for your call. Randell in Bowie, Md., says, "I saw this movie in the U.K. a few months back. One thing I love was the young guy's mixed normal Muslim concerns with normal young guy concerns. For instance, one of the potential terrorist is concerned about what is and what isn't halal -- everything from having your image captured on film to being up in a room with a woman to whom you're not related. At the same time, the same jihadi is name-checking everyone from Tupac Shakur to Maroon 5, from iPods to Game Boys. After seeing the movie, I couldn't stop wondering whether you're release a director's cut because I'm guessing there were probably some great scenes that had to be cut out for reasons of time. Any favorite outtakes you can tell us about?

  • 12:56:23

    MORRISThere are outtakes, and they tend to be scenes which you make think of very funny but they don't fit the narrative drive, so they just feel like they're getting in the way when they're cut into the film. But, you know, we live in the age of DVDs now so you can retain those scenes that you've cut. I mean, we had a lot because when you're making a comedy, you shoot a bit longer than you've got anyway because not every joke is gonna hit the bull's-eye. But we had scenes -- we had a scene out in the training camp where they're sitting on a ledge in the early morning. And this was based on, you know, recollections from people I had met who had been to training camp. And they describe it, you know -- sometimes it is transportingly beautiful out there.

  • 12:57:04

    MORRISSo we had this transportingly beautiful scene, but Waj, who is, I suppose, the most mentally challenged of the group, having great trouble in working out exactly why, he asked a question, the martyr feels no pain. And he is told about the story of a man who was cut in half by a missile. And Waj starts thinking about he was -- was he half in heaven and half here, and were his legs running around in heaven. Then, there's a whole stupid conversation that flows from that. You know, it's not in the film, but I guess, you know, the bits and pieces are out there somewhere.

  • 12:57:34

    NNAMDIAnd I'm afraid all -- that's all the time we have. Chris Morris, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:57:39

    MORRISThank you very much.

  • 12:57:39

    NNAMDIChris Morris' debut film, "Four Lions," opens here in the U.S. later this week. He is a writer, director, performer and satirist. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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