OK! – June, 2007

NOT ON OUR WATCH – by Marcia Moody

George, Brad, Don and Matt on what we can do to stop the growing humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle are four of the brightest stars in the showbiz galaxy, and, before the evening kicked off, they sat down with OK! for an exclusive interview.

Reminiscent of old Hollywood movie stars with their Brylcreem hair, sharp suits and impeccable manners, it was quite a treat to be flanked by such gorgeous gents who also know how to treat a lady. However, this new guard are not content to simply put up their Gucci-clad feet and push on through till dawn fuelled by whiskey sours – although it has been reported they do enjoy a tipple. They are also striving to use their fame and influence to help some of the people who need it most around the world, and were in Cannes to raise funds and awareness for their cause.

After some initial tomfoolery – Matt is quick to tease us about our ‘old-school’ tape-recorder before George, concerned it won’t pick up what they’re saying above the swing music, speaks slowly and clearly into it: ‘It’s great to be here,’ he says, before passing it to Brad who adds: ‘Thank you for coming’ – they settle down with their drinks while Brad reaches for the bowl of almonds. If you want the gossip on their women, then it’s all over the news stands, but if you want to find out what else these guys are really passionate about, then read on..

Why did you decide to set up this particular charity?

Don: Because with Darfur we’re in the midst of the 21st century’s first genocide (the mass murder of a racial, political or cultural group) and there doesn’t seem to be anything happening.

Brad: And it should be considered unacceptable.

George: When people actually read about this, they think, this is wrong, but then after a week it loses momentum, it’s like it’s gone – out of sight
out of mind. We’re trying to get what’s happening to stay on top of the radar.

Don: It reaches the level and we’ve already seen this happen in the States but not so much internationally yet – people saying, why are we letting this happen?

Matt: Don co-wrote a book called Not On Our watch which is on the New York Times bestsellers list, so it shows there is an interest there. I feel like people are looking for guidance.

Don: There’s a lot of threatening to threaten and not enough action. We want to raise awareness of what’s going on in Darfur. It’s important that people know what’s going on over there. I’m going to tell you what is happening there at the moment. People are throwing babies on the bonfires, tearing babies out of their mother’s arms and then beating the mothers with their own babies until the babies are dead. These are the things that are happening.

George: We need to raise money to give directly to these people. The people on the ground need the money right now. They’re being forced to live on 400* calories a day because there aren’t the resources to keep them alive. So yes its about the publicity and talking about it and getting people involved, but it’s also about raising money, like tonight. The people need this money or they will die. Period. (* Average recommended daily amount is 1500 for women and 2000 for men.)

Matt: I think it would be wrong if we were here and we didn’t do anything about it. We’re all in the public eye so we should use it to bring attention to certain issues. Brad’s been doing this for a while.

Brad: Well, it’s like how did it get to the point where this is able to go on? If it was on our doorstep would we do more then? It seems so far away because it’s overseas but it’s our problem too. If this was happening in the US or in the UK it would be a different matter. We need to be asking, why are we letting this happen? We need to get our leaders involved.

Have you all visited these places that are in need of help?

Matt: All four of us have independently visited a region in the past year. George and Don have been to Darfur, and Brad and I have been on the ground but to other places in Africa.

George: If you see it first-hand then that’s what’s going to make you want to do everything you possibly can.

Don: George and I also went to China and Egypt last year. Egypt has defended Sudan’s decision to keep out UN peace-keeping troops, and China has also been protecting the Sudanese government.

George: Their defense for not doing anything is to say it’s not genocide it’s a civil war, and they don’t want to lose the economic edge.

Don: China’s slogan for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 is ‘One world, one dream’ but it’s more like one world, one nightmare.

What can people do?

Don: Campaign. In the UK you can write to the government, in the States we can write to the White House. I always say to people: ‘Are you active in the community? Are you active in church? Are you active in school?’ We all have power. We need to hold our leaders’ feet to the fire. This is a crucial time and we need to demand their attention. Mia Farrow wrote a letter last year calling Steven Spielberg on the fact he’s the artistic
advisor to China for the Olympic Games. She basically said ‘I don’t know if you’re aware of this but you could end up being the Leni Riefenstahl (a Nazi propagandist) of the Being Games.’ Days later Steven Spielberg wrote to the president of China condemning the killings and asking the Chinese government to use its power to bring an end to what’s going on. Next thing, a senior Chinese official traveled to Sudan to put pressure on the
Sudanese government.

Matt: And that didn’t come from someone donating 50 million UKP, that came from one person writing one letter and that’s the kind of activism we’re looking for around the world.

For more information, visit www.notonourwatch.com