Bruce Lee - Pierre Berton Interview.
Lee was interviewed by Pierre Berton in 1971, giving his first English language television interview. This was before the kung fu phenomena had hit in the West and two years before Enter the Dragon. Later interviews of all kinds would focus on his movies and his fame. Pierre Berton, a noted Canadian non-fiction author, caught Bruce before the glitz thereby giving Lee the chance to express his philosophy and the deeper, more thoughtful side to his personality.
Lee says 'To me a motion picture is motion; you have got to keep the dialogue down.'
When asked if he can break five or six boards Lee shows his humility and replies that he would probably break his hand.
Lee talks about doing his own fighting in his Hong Kong movies, teaching his actor friends as a means to them gaining self-knowledge.
Lee describes a martial art as the art of expressing the human body in a combative form. A martial art harmoniously combines natural instinct with control.
Lee in this interview also begins to express his rejection of styles and the 'classical mess'. Lee rejects 'the gospel truth' of a martial arts school and instead examines how can he, as a human being, express himself totally and completely.
Bruce Lee continues his explanation of Tai Chi practice, praising the practitioners for taking care of their own body. Lee explains the idea that running water will never go 'stale'.
Lee next talks about his famous students, citing Steve McQueen as being the best fighter; James Coburn as the one most in touch with the philosophical aspect of the martial arts.
Pierre Berton next makes a very perceptive point: that in the West, not since the Greeks, have we unified art with philosophy with sport. Bruce Lee comes back with a superb observation in turn: that to truly express oneself is very difficult and it requires training...but that we can indeed express ourselves through a martial art.
Lee talks about his support role in Longstreet. Lee gave a good, solid performance and was able to express himself to the great satisfaction of the audience.
Lee re-enacts his role, talking about emptying one's mind and becoming formless, like water.
Lee demonstrates that he doesn't want to be known as a 'superstar' but rather as as 'super actor'. He continues, saying that he intends to find success both in East Asia and in the US. Why? Because he has made up his mind to do so...a display of consummate self-confidence. Lee's intention was to show something about the true Oriental in Hollywood.
Next Lee deals with the difficult question of whether or not an American audience is ready for an Asian hero. Lee suspects not and explains that this is why The Warrior will not be made. The Warrior program mentioned was the working title for the later Kung Fu TV series starring David Carradine, a role that apparently Lee was upset he did not get. At the time of the Pierre Berton interview however Bruce Lee seems quite philosophical about the whole thing, understanding that it was business first.