Famed film director Ron Howard has a chilling warning about President Donald Trump: his actions as president so far remind the former child star of what went down in pre-World War II Nazi Germany.
Howard was being interviewed by the Daily Beast when he made the comments, about his new National Geographic series Genius, which details the life of Jewish physicist Albert Einstein. The smartest scientist the world has ever known fled from Nazi Germany several years before the war broke out, just as Adolf Hitler came to power. Indeed, the first episode of Genius details how Einstein and his second wife, Elsa, fled Germany before things got worse.
Discussing how Einstein made the choice to leave his homeland, Howard explains that the elements of hatred and violence are still present within society today.
“Those pressures and threats on people and narrow-minded thinking and greed and careerism around science and politicizing science and discovery — they’ve never faded entirely,” Howard explains. “But it certainly has not been lost on us that these issues are more up front and center, and reemerging with a level of intensity that we haven’t seen in a long time,”
“It’s the U.S. but it’s also around the world. So those scenes in episode one and in the series definitely carry with them more impact than I think we expected when we began,” Howard continued.
In one particularly moving part of the interview, Ron Howard talked about the necessity of sticking to one’s principles, even if it means risking one’s life.
“If [Einstein] had been on one of those hit lists and just decided to go to his country and dial back, his life would have been a lot safer,” Howard told the Beast. “But he had the courage to carry on, to be high profile, come what may. And his life also would have been a lot easier on a personal side had he simply said, ‘I’m going to yield to convention. I’m not going to dedicate myself to my work as much. I’m going to follow the rules and the definition of a great family man.’ Well, he made a trade-off there.”
In a separate interview with Ars Technica, Howard made the same points. And like his Daily Beast interview, Howard encouraged the scientific community to power through obstacles put in front of them by governments — like the Trump administration — and continue furthering the human race.
“It’s suddenly politically prescient, which we were… aware of this as we were shooting,” Howard said in the interview. “Of course, it’s not just the United States. There’s a call to conservative nationalism [worldwide]. “Closing borders, blocking immigrants, imposing controls. That’s been going on around the world for some years now.”
“When human beings become frightened, we tend to clench and dig in and trust the thing we have in our hands right in this moment and nothing else,” Howard said. “We’re going to need those thought leaders and action takers who can push through that fear.”