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'It’s terrifying': Stephen Daldry on Trump, 'The Crown' and refugees

The three-times Oscar-nominated director speaks out about Donald Trump, the plight of refugees, and success on stage and screen

By Andrzej Lukowski

Your production of JB Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’ has been doing the rounds for 25 years now. Why do you keep bringing it back?

‘I was a young man when I first worked on it and in some respects I was a lot braver than I am now – it’s fascinating for me to keep revisiting it. But mostly it’s the play. When I first directed it, it was in response to Margaret Thatcher, but Priestley has an incredibly powerful voice that’s always zeitgeisty.’

What does it mean for you now?

‘I’ve spent the last year working with different refugee groups, and when I came back round to this production I felt like it was talking about the refugee crisis that Europe was involved in at the time, that we have to have empathy and compassion for them.’

You were heavily involved with the Good Chance Theatre, set up in the Calais Jungle – does it have a future now the Jungle’s gone?

‘It certainly does: they’re very busy working in Paris with people that were moved out of the Calais camp, so there are people working out what to do out there, and also in Athens. And there is a new play actually called “The Jungle” that we hope to stage at the National Theatre this year.’

You’ve had great success on screen – might you deal with the refugee crisis in that medium?

‘Yes. Patrick Kingsley, the Guardian correspondent for immigration and refugees has written a book called “The New Odyssey” which we’re adapting for television.’ 

An Inspector Calls

‘An Inspector Calls’. Photo by Mark Douet

‘That’s all we’re getting from the office of the president elect – fire and blood and anguish’

You’ve had a massive hit on Netflix with your royal drama ‘The Crown’ – what's next for it?

‘We’re in the middle of negotiations right now. We’re negotiating seasons three, four and five with Netflix even as we speak. I’m very excited about getting on to Harold Wilson and the ’60s. The show is a huge gift to a history freak like me.’

You were at the Golden Globes: What did you make of Meryl Streep’s anti-Trump speech?

‘I mean, bless Meryl Streep, somebody in our community needed to do it and it was great that it was her. I have nothing but unending admiration and unwavering support for her.’

Does ‘An Inspector Calls’ speak to the age of Trump?

‘We have to keep talking to people, whoever they are, get out of the bubble, keep making the arguments of empathy and progress. And the great thing about “An Inspector Calls” is that every night 800 people get the message that unless we start understanding the nature of empathy, then there is fire and blood and anguish. That’s all we’re getting from the office of the president elect – fire and blood and anguish. It’s terrifying.’ 

An Inspector Calls’ is at Playhouse Theatre until Saturday March 25. 

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