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CNBC Transcript: Interview with Kevin Spacey and Carlos Moreira

Following are excerpts from the transcript of a CNBC interview in Davos by Tania Bryer with Kevin Spacey and Carlos Moreira, CEO and Founder of WISeKey security.

T: Kevin Spacey, thank you so much for joining us today, and also to Carlos Moreira, who is the CEO and Founder of WISeKey security. You've just announced, well, actually in October 2015, that you made Kevin an ambassador for your company. Why did you choose him in particular?

CM: Oh gosh, so first I was inspired by him all my life, you know, and the impersonation, the characteristic he has as the President of the United States, is exactly what I believe we have to upgrade (? 12:09:42) as our security debate. So our security is not only about technology, it's about standards, it's about regulations, we're in a world where cybersecurity is totally fragmented, we don't have yet an international standard about cybersecurity, and while that happens, hackers in the world are entering everywhere. In banks, in governments, in people's houses, and this is going to be incremented further by the fact that we are bringing 50 billion devices to the Internet. So having somebody like Kevin, and yesterday we had a panel where he can summarise and crystallise the message in a very simple way that everybody understands, is a must have for me.

KS: Okay, first, I have hacked into the Oval Office, I am not the real President of the United States.

CM: Oh, I was not aware of that, I'm disappointed.

T: That's disappointing. Whoever would have thought it?

KS: I know, I know. It is shocking a little bit that there are people around the world who actually do believe I am the President, and in fact this is true, there was an online vote for the presidency in Egypt and I won.

T: You know what, Kevin, with the other candidates, that's not a surprise.

KS: Look, thank you very much, that's incredibly kind, but the truth is I'm not an expert in this field at all, but I've always been very fascinated and interested in this space, and now as it seems that all of us, I mean, you know, this wonderful audience we have here, just a moment ago were all holding up their phones, you know, we do everything, or we can or will be able to do everything from our phones, so if you can make toast and turn on your heat and start your car-, then that means that the device between that and the rest of your information, if someone can hack into those things, it means that you are not protected, and so partly for me to begin to understand this on a lot of levels, at first personally, but also now I am the chairman of a motion picture study, so obviously in light of the Sony hacks last year, I think it's prudent for anyone in my position to be able to look at this and make sure that we can assure that this sort of thing doesn't happen again.

T: Kevin, I'd like to ask you, actually, about becoming-,

KS: Well then, please do.

T: Thankyou, about becoming Chairman of Relativity Media. It was quite a surprise inHollywood. Why did you and your producer partner, Dana, want to take this on?

KS: I've been producing movies for a long time, and the first film I produced was a film called swimming with sharks, in which, oddly, I played a very abusive studio boss. I never imagined that one day it would actually become true, that I would become a studio boss, I hope that I won't be an abusive one, and I've had some pretty good fortune in producing films that were character driven dramas, films that I really thought were important and valuable to make, like The Social Network and Captain Phillips, and these films were made for budgets that were much more reasonable than the sort of big films that the studios have really focused on over the last ten years. I mean, since I was really focused on making movies in the late 90s and the early 2000s, before I went to London to run the Old Vic, these were the kind of movies that I was attracted to and that I had great success in, but now studios really are focused on the Marvel, kind of, word, and the action figures, and I think audiences really love character driven drama, and I think it's proved by the fact that television has become such an incredible, fertile ground for both artists but also for audiences. So there's a kind of wheelhouse that Dana and I have had success in, and I think that those films that can be made under 50 million, we believe there's a vacuum both in terms of an audience wanting those kind of movies, and filmmakers wanting to make those kind of films. So this gave us an opportunity to, in a sense, grow our company to the point now where the company has been purchased by Relativity and now I've become the Chairman and Dana's become the President, so that we're in a position now where we can greenlight films and get movies made without having to go through the process that we have gone through before of trying to convince executives at studios that this is a good script, or this is a good director, or this is a good writer. So we've never been on this side of the table, and it was an incredibly exciting opportunity for us.

T: How does it feel to be on that side?

KS: Well, you know, being Chairman, I've found it's very important, you know. I'm actually not a suit, you know, I'm a jumper, so I have to work up to being a suit, I guess. It's very early days, we don't officially take over until February, so we're really learning the lay of the land and looking at what their slate of films that they intended to make are. We may make some of them, we may decide not to, look what our slate is and what we may bring along with us and what we may let go of. So there's a lot of work to do, a lot of understanding, a lot of people to meet, obviously, it's a place that employs many, many, many people, but I'm incredibly excited.

T: A big challenge, Kevin, because they had a lot of publicised difficulties, obviously, before you've taken over. So how do you think you're going to go about-, is there a plan to start turning it?

KS: Well, what we're waiting for now is that the bankruptcy court is going to rule on February 2nd, about whether the restructure will go forward, every indication is that that will happen, and you know, that's really the past. There's been a lot of bad ink, a lot of, quite frankly, fuzzy journalistic reporting, not entirely accurate, but you know, our job is to right the ship, to bring a level of credibility to Relativity when it needs it, and I think, I hope that a lot of people will come now and want to make films with Dana and I.

T: Well you were a pioneer, of course, with House of Cards being produced by, you know, yourselves and Netflix back in 2013-,

KS: Yes, so long ago. I mean, 'Do you remember 2013?'

T: Did you realise the kind of impact it was going to have back then?

KS: No, I think you can never really know going into something what the response is going to be, but I can say this, that for about eight years, Dana and I had been talking about the fact that we absolutely believed that if any of these companies that had made a gazillion dollars in being a portal for content, and whether that was going to be Google or Yahoo or Netflix, if they wanted to compete they were going to get into the game of creating their own content. So it didn't surprise me that somebody actually finally stepped up. What surprised me was that I was involved in it and that they stepped up as significantly as they did, because they made a very serious commitment, you know, to do two seasons of a television series without a pilot, it had never been done in the history of television, and even though there was a lot of talk about, oh it was crazy, it was a crazy deal, they could never make their money back, actually when we ran the numbers, all Netflix had to do to break even was get 575,00 more members, and in the end they had about 17 million. So it did alright.

T: Also in 2012-,

KS: Don't ignore Carlos, it's really rude.

T: No, of course I won't!

KS: He's sitting here, he wants to talk, he's happy to answer your questions-,

T: No, I love Carlos, I love Carlos-,

KS: This happens every time.

T: I love Carlos.

KS: I'd like to sip my coffee. Talk to him.

T: Okay, I'm going to ask you one quick one about the McTaggart speech and then we'll go back to Carlos, if that's okay.

KS: Sure.

T: Okay. In your famous McTaggart speech, which was also in 2013, you talked about the film and television industry, and the worry that you had about avoiding the pitfalls, the way the music industry has gone. Do you think it's improved since then? What more needs to be done, do you think?

KS: Well, I think if you just use the Netflix model, it's quite clear that-, I mean how many people here binge? Are you binge watchers? Binge, binge, yes. Binge.

T: Gosh.

KS: I think what that proves is that we have essentially, I hope, demonstrated that we've learnt the lesson people didn't learn. Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in at a reasonable price, and the chances are they won't steal it. It doesn't mean that there isn't piracy, there probably always will be, but I think we can take a bite out of piracy, because why would you go and buy a worse version of something when for seven or eight bucks you can get the best version of it in terms of quality, as well as the ability to watch all the other programmes that a network like Netflix has, and I think that is true. Audiences have shown us they want that power, they want to be in control. You want to watch three episodes? Watch three episodes. You want to watch the whole thing over a weekend? Which I think is amazing-, because you know, there's always this sort of comment that people don't have a long attention span. I'm like, if you can watch an entire two seasons of Breaking Bad over, like, a weekend, you have an amazing attention span.

T: Yes. True. Talking of course about piracy, Carlos let me ask you, because of course your expertise is security, tell us what kind of new technology can we expect? What are you talking about here at Davos? How can we counter what's going on?

CM: So first of all, piracy today as an industry is a $1 trillion industry. People believe that downloading videos or buying counterfeiting is actually cool or not a big issue, but it is. Actually this is the money that then funds the terrorists, this is the money that then goes into the bank accounts of the bad guys, right? So there's more money now into the hacking that is actually money into the defence side. So the technology is there, but it requires better cooperation, and users to start to take basic principles. This is like, you know, in the morning you wake up and you have to secure your email, secure your website, encrypt, if possible, your information through your SMS, because your mobile phones are terminals that can be used against you and against the corporation that you are working for. I mean, there's absolutely no point as many people around Davos are saying, 'Ah, we're going to invest $1 billion,' there was a major CEO saying that, 'In cybersecurity,' when maybe you don't need that much money. Maybe how you should start is by securing the mobile phones of the staff and their working into a bank, because you become a terminal of a potential hacker that has hacked you through social media, or any other interactions, and once they hack you they will hack everything else you do in the corporation.

KS: And to prove Carlos's point, I've just hacked into your email.

T: And what does it say, Kevin? It says, 'Dear Tanya-,'

KS: Wow, that's a hell of a photo, isn't it? That's a shocking photo.

T: Oh, no, no, that was not me, I promise.

CM: Encryption, security.

KS: Everybody face cybersecurity. Thank you.

T: They put my head on someone else's body. I promise you.

KS: Well there are so many places to go with that comment, but I'm not gonna.

T: Kevin, I've got a boss, one of my bosses is here in the audience, President of CMBC, please.

KS: Are we cancelled? Are we alright?

T: Talking about technology and the different forms, the content, Kevin, I know that you're talking a lot about virtual reality and that being a game changer. Do you think that really is the case?

KS: I've had the good fortune of being able to see quite a lot of the technology and it's just mind boggling, it's quite remarkable, but aside from the things that we'll be able to do in terms of entertainment, and that isn't necessarily to say that there will be entire films that will be in VR, or augmented reality, but I do think that we can start to do it in certain sequences and sort of experiment with it, but I'm also really, really compelled by it in terms of education. Because if we think about, it you know, the classroom is about the only place that hasn't changed in terms of what it is from the beginning of time. You know, it's a chalkboard and students in seats and the teacher up front, and a lot of kids who have difficulties, and who have issues with their own confidence, you know, there's a lot of people who end up in the back of the classroom who are quite shy, and I was one of these kids, so I recognise that, and I think that to be able to put a headset or a pair of glasses on a young person's head, and to allow them to turn that classroom into an extraordinary world where you can actually be at the bottom of the ocean studying science and being in the environment, you can put yourself in someone else's shoes, you can actually go somewhere, you could put them on and be in the Sydney Opera House, you could put them on and be in a world you have never possibly been to and seen, and I think it's an incredibly humanising idea, that we can change people's attitudes, and I think it's like the way I feel about acting is I've always thought it's a very humanising profession, because when you are forced by your job to step into someone else's shoes, to wander around in someone else's ideas, in their clothes, it is that much more difficult to not have empathy, and I think it can be an incredible-, I think Chris Milk, who is one of the leaders in this field in VR has said that he believes that VR is a remarkable empathy machine, and that to me is incredible, if we can not only-, obviously it will be incredible in sports and entertainment. I think, you know, we'll probably be able to buy a ticket and be on the side lines of a football match while it's live, I can imagine that sort of thing is going to happen relatively soon, but if we also use it in education, in getting those kids to be able to move from the back of the classroom to the front of the classroom, I think that's going to be really remarkable.

T: Does AI scare you, Kevin, and you Carlos? You know, the advances that they're making?

CM: Actually, Professor Schwab said, in his book about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, that humans we have three things, right? We have the brain, we have the soul, and we have also the capability to produce emotions. We will have to give away maybe the brain part, because machines are going to be more intelligent. Machines are able now to auto-programme themselves. One of the problems with software developers and encryption developers is that, or people developing code, they have basically problems in their lives, and those problems coincide with the mistakes they make during developing that code, so the code is not perfect. Machines will soon, within five years' time, be able to auto-programme themselves, so you won't need any more programmers. Actually people say, 'Well, programmers is a great job of the future,' actually it's not. Machines will replace the programmers. So machines will become much more smart, and artificial intelligence will actually do a lot of things, but I don't think, I don't see the Terminator vision where artificial intelligence takes over the world, because the individual aspect of the human interactions is always there, and that's what companies like us they do, they design future technology taking into consideration the possibility of a human always being in control, but it's actually a challenge that this could eventually not happen.

T: Kevin, I just want to pick up on something you said before if you don't mind. You were talking about the shy kids in the classroom and that you were that shy kid, and I just want to take you back briefly if you don't mind, to what you grew up-, you were born in New Jersey, you grew up in Southern California, and I believe you were rebellious at age 10, your parents sent you off to military school for a time-,

KS: Yes. It didn't help.

T: Didn't you set fire to something?

KS: I actually got thrown out of military school.

T: Oh no!

KS: But actually, that is what led me to a guidance counsellor back in public school, and that guidance counsellor said to me, 'You seem to have an excessive amount of energy,' and suggested that I channel that energy into a number of elective courses. One of them was wood shop, which I took, and the other was drama, and it was in that class and in that experience and in that environment with a remarkable teacher that I discovered something about myself that I had never felt, and that then led me to a workshop that was being run by the great Jack Lemmon and he was, like, my idol. I mean, his performances in Some Like It Hot and The Apartment and The Odd Couple are some of the greatest performances ever, and he was running a workshop, and so we had to do scenes, and when I finished the scene I had to do, he walked over to me and he put his hand on my shoulder and he said, 'That was t-t-terrific.' He said, 'Now you're a born actor, I'm telling you, you should go to New York and study to be an actor because you are meant to do this for your life,' and I was 13 years old, and sometimes a teacher, a mentor, an adult, a parent, can say just the right thing at just the right moment and it can be life changing, and for me that was that moment, and I did go to New York, and I did study to be an actor, and about 12 years later I got the chance to audition to play Jack Lemmon's son in a Broadway play and I got the part, and so we then ended up becoming friends, and he really became the greatest mentor I could have ever hoped to have. So I've always had this belief that if I just keep a little twist of Lemmon in my heart, I'll be okay.

T: Didn't he also teach you to, as his saying was, send the elevator down?

KS: Yes, he had this wonderful philosophy that I sort of adopted now as my own, and is really the mantra of my foundation, which is that Jack believed and often said, he said, 'If you've done well in the business that you wanted to do well in, then it's your obligation to spend a good amount of your time sending the elevator back down,' and I always thought that was such a great way of saying it, so that the logo for my foundation is the universal button we all push to send the elevator up. So I've taken on that as a real, important cause for me to use the tools of theatre as a way first of all to help emerging artists, but also because it's not just about whether a kid wants to go into the arts, because frankly if a kid wants to go into the arts, nothing's going to stop them you know. It's about those kids who may not go into the arts, but who have issues about self-esteem and confidence and need to learn about collaborating, and it's so incredible when I do these workshops, and I do them all over the world, when you see that nickel drop and a kid suddenly feels something about themselves and can express themselves in a way they never could before, maybe through a poetry project, maybe through a theatre project, maybe just by collaborating with other kids, and it's so incredible and I recognised that drop because that was me, I was that kid, and no matter what happens to me in my life, I don't want to get too far away from that feeling ever, I always want to be connected to that.

T: Where doyou want your foundation to go? You've already been knighted, honoraryknighthood by Her Majesty the Queen.

KS: Yes, I'm Sir Spacey. Not just Chairman, not just CBE, but Sir Spacey. It's a wonder I'm even talking to you commoners. Yes, it's-, I've been very blessed and honoured. You know, some of the things I love about working through the foundation, and some of the things we're able to do, we did a project last year in the Middle East where we brought together, we auditioned like 700 actors from 17 different regions, and then we brought together from 12 regions, young actors, I think we had 35 of them, from Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Beirut, Turkey, Palestine, and many of these kids had never been on a plane, many of these kids had never been out of the region, and for the men from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, they had never never worked on stage with women, because it's not allowed. We did a play with them and I did workshops with them, and it was this extraordinary experience that we brought them all together into Sharjah, which is just outside of Dubai, and sometimes you can do things and you can say things and you can push things, artistically and theatrically, that you can't politically, and that was an incredible experience, and I hope that we're going to be able to raise the money to do a full programme of that over a five year period and not just as a one off.

T: You also do master class online.

KS: Yes, I'm a thespian, you see, so you bring actors together and we try to teach them about the craft.

T: What are your top tips-,

KS: Is there whiskey in this coffee?

T: Ollie? We asked them to put it in. What are your tips though for aspiring actors, Kevin? Is there anything? Any advice that you can-,

KS: Well, there are many things that you can say, but frankly, you know, these sort high-faluting, you know, 'Do this, do that,' it's always about the individual and it's always about seeing a young person get up and do a monologue or do a scene, and it's only in that moment that you can see where they are at that moment, where their talent is, and that sometimes it's an incredibly exciting feeling to go, 'Oh my gosh, if this person is nurtured and taken care of and encouraged, where they will be in five years, or ten years, is so incredible.' It's not about where they are at that moment, it's what you can see their potential can be. So that's the kind of things that I work with in workshops, and obviously very specific direction. The actual master class thing that you're talking about is something that has just been put out there and it comes out in February. So I did a workshop with 20 actors in Washington D.C. at a wonderful theatre, and I critiqued them, so we spent three and a half hours the first day, three and a half hours the second day, then there's a long interview process, a one on one interview with me, and we cut this up into chapters. So I think there's, like, 31 chapters, and they each deal with a different subject, so you're able to see what a direction to a particular actor in a particular scene they're do in moving them towards it improving or it going somewhere new, or them trying it in a different way, and so people will be able to buy the master class and participate in it in that way, and I had a great time doing it, and these actors were wonderful to work with.

T: Well,talking about improving, I know everyone is very excited here, they can't waitfor House of Cards Season 4, which is coming out on March the 4th,anything you can tell us at present on what you're up to?

KS: I can tell you this. There will be scenes in the White House, and they will have dialogue.

T: Thank you.

KS: I know, it's so exciting.

T: Talking about the White House, I mean, of course, I mean, America is just, you know, the Presidential race has started, what are your own opinions about it, Kevin? I mean everyone is going to look at President Obama's legacy now. What do you feel about it?

KS: It's an extremely entertaining programme. I look forward to it, you know, almost every night. Laugh a minute, so incredibly fun, and look, the thing that I love about my country is that, you know, we know how to have a good time and we're very entertaining, and you know, generally it might take us a while, but we generally get it right, and I suspect we'll get it right.

T: What do think President Underwood would debate with Donald Trump? How would you see that play out?

CM: That's a good point.

KS: He wouldn't-, there would be a terrible accident on the way to the debate, and-, it would be terrible and very sad.

T: Have we told the Donald about this? I mean, in Britain, I don't know if you're aware, but a few days ago, you know, they were actually debating whether to ban Donald Trump.

KS: Yes, I mean, that was rather silly. I mean, look, you can't ban someone from a country because you don't like what they say, or their position on something. It was a silly notion and I wasn't surprised it didn't pass.

T: Can you give us your Trump impersonation?

KS: 'I'm huge. I'm too huge for this church.' If I had a tie that was down to my knees, I could stand up and do a phenomenal impression of Donald Trump. His ties are really-, they're so long. 'My wall of ties.'

T: How did you become such-, I mean, your impersonations are so amazing. I mean, I did read that it was something to do with your mother, and how she used to laugh out loud at-,

KS: Yes, because my mum was really the first to introduce me to sort of the great actors, so we used to go to the New Art Theatre, we used to always watch all the great old movies, so I discovered that when I was like eight or nine, that if I could do Jimmy Stewart, or if I could do Carey Grant, my mother would just laugh so hard, and I just loved the sound of my mom laughing. She didn't have an easy life, she was the breadwinner, she worked constantly at jobs for us so that we could have a life, and so it all started because I could make my mom laugh.

T: What about here in Davos? Have the people come up to you and admitted, you know, all the world leaders and politicians that you meet, that they are House of Cards fans?

KS: You know, some people have asked me, you know, are the sort of world leaders, do they ask you far more substantial questions, but actually they're just like, 'So what happened with you and Claire?'

T: Don't tell us if you haven't got caught up to it yet!

KS: It's delightful. I've had such a good time here, people have been so welcoming, it's my first time at Davos, I've met some really extraordinary people and had some really incredible conversations, and you know, the only thing, and I said this yesterday at the panel, the only thing that I just kind of feel, you know, as you're sort of surrounded by lots of people who've done, sort of, incredible things, and how the wealth here, and all the rich people show up-, I almost said the F word by the way, I almost did the F-bomb in a church, but I didn't. I think also as all of this technology happens and we're all sort of incredibly fascinated by it, and it's incredibly exciting about what we're going to be able to do, you know, there is this thing that's happening, too, which is inequality, and this thing about workers and labourers who are going to get-, are we going to advance ourselves to the point where a lot of people lose jobs? And we have to make sure that in all of this excitement, we think about what happens, and do we make sure that people can become trained and educated so that in this new world, this inequality between the really rich and the really poor doesn't keep growing and get wider, but that we try to make sure that we bring people who've been, really, who work so hard on behalf of the world and make the world run, that we don't forget them in our, sort of, excitement about technology.

T: I know you're busy with many roles, but would you ever consider going into politics seriously?

KS: Are you crazy? No. No, because you know, I like to get things done. You know, I like to-, here's a goal, I want to achieve this goal, and then you bring people together and you do it, and think I would find it incredibly frustrating to go, 'Here's a goal,' and then nobody wants to do anything. They just want to not do anything. I would probably end up being very much like Francis Underwood and just kill them all.

T: Just finally, Carlos, what do you hope to achieve, being here in Davos this time?

KS: So WISeKey was nominated by the World Economic Forum as a global growth company. I mean, we are not yet the size of this billion dollar company, we are on the way to get there, but our driver actually is to create a wiser world. I mean, WISeKey is wise and key, so we have the wisdom of the technology, and the key of the encryption. I think we have now maybe the last opportunity to do right. I think people don't realise the dangers ahead. I don't think really that people even realise then what that means, the Fourth Industrial Revolution. So WISeKey wants to be one of the first organisations that creates a model of technology which is not only technology, but can we just say inclusion? I mean, the current society has been designed only by 300 million people. Those are the architects of the world we live, but what about if we empower 6 billion people to access with their mobile, to give us ideas, to give us perspectives, we will create a much better world. I am actually very optimistic that we are getting there. I don't think the world needs more big ideas, I think what we need now is interactions between people, and by the way, great for generation, now we have the power of machines that can complement us to take the right decision, so let's create a wise world.

T: And Kevin, ambassador, President, actor, producer, philanthropist-,

KS: I know, it's sickening, it's just sickening, I know, I know.

T: Running a studio. Anything else you'd like to add to that list?

KS: No. I can't. There's too much going on. I can't even think. It's a wonder I even heard that question.

T: Do you ever get downtime? If so, what do you do?

KS: I'm napping right now.

T: Thank you, Kevin! So you really enjoyed the interview!

KS: It's been fantastic.

T: Carlos Moreira, Kevin Spacey, thank you so much for joining us on CNBC today.

KS: Thank you very much.

CM: Thank you.

KS: Thank you, guys.