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Movie Airs This Weekend About JFK Jr.

Aired January 10, 2003 - 11:54   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: America's prince, JFK Jr.'s sometimes stormy relationship with his mother, his marriage to Carolyn Bessette, his death in 1999, it all comes to television this weekend in "America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story" premieres Sunday night on TBS super station, our sister station. And Kristoffer Polaha plays the title role and Portia de Rossi is JFK Jr.'s wife, Carolyn Bessette, and they join us from New York this morning.
Good to see both of you. Thanks for sticking around and hanging with us, with all the breaking news that we had to cover this morning. I'm sorry it's going to cut us a bit short.

PORTIA DE ROSSI: Sure. Thanks for having us.

HARRIS: Hey, no, our pleasure.

And first of all, Kristoffer, I'm looking at you and I don't see the JFK hair. I don't see how you pulled that one off. But, way to go, you did it anyway. This has really got to put you on the radar screen. How much of his life does this movie cover?

KRISTOFFER POLAHA: It covers everything from his -- basically from three years old up to the death. You know, his entire life basically and I play him from 20 years old to 38 years old.

HARRIS: All right. So what did you do with the hair? I understand you pulled a trick off with the hair to get the part.

POLAHA: It's all digital, it's an illusion. It's like Olive (ph) in the dream of the two towers. Yeah, it was a hairpiece that they put on. It took about 45 minutes in the morning and there were actually two different sizes. there was like the ultra tall, you know, '80s to the early '90s and then as he got a little more mature, he cropped it down a little bit. This is the older.

HARRIS: It's kind of like the Elvis starter kit, the Elvis pompadour starter kit.

POLAHA: Right, right.

HARRIS: Portia, you obviously, the look, you already had that. No question at all. As I understand it, you actually met Carolyn Bessette, correct?

DE ROSSI: Yes, I did actually. I met her on several occasions. But I was kind of just standing around, minding my own business when I felt a sharp tug on my ponytail, and when I whipped around I saw her grinning at me. And she said to me, so what are you trying to look like me? Which was kind of crazy, as a matter of fact very prophetic, but, of course, everyone was trying to look like Carolyn Bessette. She was just so lovely and so elegant.

HARRIS: For a lady born in Melbourne with no Australian accent, you pulled it off. This is an amazing job here.

You know, what I want to know is what both of you think about the idea of commercializing this story. We know this family has -- they hold a very special place in this country, in the hearts of many people in this country, and the idea of making money off of this doesn't really run well with a lot of folks, particularly the family. What do you think about that?

DE ROSSI: You know, actually, I don't think we're commercializing it at all. I think we're celebrating it. I think it's a wonderful story to be told. Especially in the current state of the world, it's kind of nice to remember all the great figures in our history. And John F. Kennedy, Jr. certainly was in line to, you know, take over that legacy of the Kennedys, And I just think it's a really nice tribute to John F. Kennedy, Jr., and a reminder of what a great man he was.


Listen, Kristoffer, you have got to be one of the luckiest guys in the business right now, because you get a role like this at this particular time when people are feeling patriotic in this country, you pull off something like this, this has got to be really something big for your career. Tell me about the challenge of actually stepping into those kind of shoes.

POLAHA: Well, you know, to address the first part of the question, yeah it felt amazing. When I received the role, my manager called me up and I was completely humbled by it and then realized the responsibility. And you know, there was a "People" article that came out, and in the title it said "Polaha dares to play JFK Jr."you know, so, I mean, I knew had a lot -- I knew I had huge shoes to fill. And I knew what I wanted to stress was his sensitivity, was his humanity, his compassion, and sort of the conflict of this man's life, you know, sort of -- I mean, it's Shakespearian in a sense. Like here's this man with all this potential. Everyone has expectations for him, and he's got expectations for himself and how does he go about it, you know, how does he do it on his own terms, in his own way?

And I'd like to answer, to help out, you know, to address something that Portia was saying, you know, in a sense, the Kennedys represent a time and a place in our country that was pure and that was innocent, and it sort of started from the assassination on, sort of, we've started, you know, going in another direction. And this movie really does harken back to that and celebrates the life of John F. Kennedy, Jr.

HARRIS: Well, we're going to look forward to seeing it on Sunday. We've got to move on, because we're up against the clock right now, Kristoffer Polaha and Portia De Rossi.congratulations on a great body of work here, and we look forward to seeing you more in the future. Take care.

POLAHA: Thank you very much, Leon.

HARRIS: All the best to you.


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