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I embraced French culture and then I went to England and America and travelled the world and, you know, learnt four-and-a-half languages and all of that and I became a citizen of the world; but at the same time something in me is still a bit of a stranger, a foreigner, un étranger, wherever I go – even when I go to Nicaragua, because I left it when I was so young. At what point did you really become committed full-time to human-rights work?You had something of a career as an actress in the Eighties, didn’t you?Sure, but substance without celebrity can be hard work. I don’t think I am regarded as a celebrity, forgive me for saying.I may be well known, but I am really regarded by the people that count more as a human-rights advocate or as an environmentalist.The death penalty is a very important issue for me, too. You have said that when you went to Paris, Camus’ novel L’Étranger made a big impact on you. It was a very important book in my life, and it still is.When you are born in one country and very early on have to emigrate to another, or many others, you have to adapt – to different cultures, to different languages, to different ways of thinking.Well, in 1981 I was asked to be part of a fact-finding Congressional delegation that went to a UN refugee camp in Honduras called Colomoncagua.We had just arrived in Honduras when we were told that some death squads had crossed the border from El Salvador, with the acquiescence of the Honduran army, and were coming to abduct people from the camp and take them back to El Salvador, presumably to kill them.
But it wasn’t for me – I was obviously a fish out of water.I think that there are many people who have used their celebrity well and are remarkable: they have substance, they are really articulate and committed, you know – George Clooney is one of them.But celebrity without substance doesn’t mean anything.Even before my divorce I was asked by the Red Cross to help to raise funds for the victims of the war in Nicaragua, and thus in a way began my human-rights work.Managua fell to the Sandinistas on July 17, 1979 and my divorce was on December 23 – and my life changed forever. But I knew that my commitment, my perseverance and my focus were really what was important, not explaining it or trying to justify it.I think there are some profound differences between how Europeans and Americans see the world, and their understanding of the rule of law and so on.Because of the Second World War I think the establishment of the United Nations to avert the scourge of war was really important for Europeans.When you first came to the world’s attention in the early Seventies, the image most people had of you was of a beautiful but frivolous creature – and yet now you come across as an intense and very serious person.Have there always been two different sides to your character?Can you say how you were shaped by your upbringing?My mother was my role model, though I only realised in the last three years before she died how much she had influenced me and my outlook on the world.