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Because of my work as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme, I traveled in September to the Peruvian part of the Amazon to try to understand the subtext to the story of the fires in the rainforest that had caught the attention of the world. Climate change is an overwhelming issue, and I am one of 7 billion people — what difference can I make? I don’t want to walk around in a constant cloud of guilt because I live in this world we created. And though it feels good, I have a feeling that liking and sharing Greta Thunberg’s tweets won’t do the trick. The future we all want to preserve, is that a future full of restrictions and legislation? A world where the only way forward is by limiting our access to all the things we take for granted today: transportation, food, water, a pair of jeans … a laugh?
To quote a friend of mine who is a lot smarter than me, architect Bjarke Ingels: “The idea that sustainability needs to sacrifice quality of life is a flawed one. It’s a design challenge, a challenge to build something that transforms the idea of sustainability into something that will increase the quality of life for all those around it.”
One person meeting that challenge is Henrik Fisker, who has designed some of the most iconic cars over the past decades for BMW and others, like the BMW Z8, Aston Martin DB9 and Aston Martin V8 Vantage. He’s a hero for gas-guzzling supercars. He is a fellow Dane, I am a fan, and we met, of all places, on Twitter.
When we met in person, he described his new project — an all-electric luxury SUV — and asked me if I would help spread the word on his car. The problem as I see it with most electric cars is that they only accomplish the basics. They get you from point A to B. They run electric so you don’t pollute while driving, but that’s it. They are basically unattractive combustion engine cars that have a battery thrown into them — and for most of them, a battery with a limited range. What Fisker does is to try to make every part of the car in a sustainable and attractive way, like a full-length solar roof, recycled floor mats and vegan leather seats. It looks incredibly cool and inviting, with a great 250- to 300-mile range, and at a cost of just under $40,000, it’s a luxury car affordable to a mass market.
I said yes and even became an investor, not only because it’s a great car but more importantly, I hope and believe it can inspire other companies to actively incorporate sustainability goals into all aspects of their business. Fisker then had the idea of calling me “sustainability” adviser. Which I am not. Just to be clear. Thanks Henrik, sounds cool, but I am an actor and a citizen, and that’s really it.
And what about Hollywood? Is our industry changing, are we at the forefront? Looking at social media, you would think so. And things are happening, but usually only when a camera is pointed at people. Remember a few years back when all awards shows only used EVs for the red carpet? We made a difference. We mattered. We showed the way. So cool. So green, so … brief. Now it’s back to the Escalade. But hey, we are not using plastic straws anymore!
To believe that change will come from Hollywood is not really based in reality (when did that stop us?), but we are great at reacting — and things around us are changing, and changing us. I have a good friend who loves his SUV. It’s not electric. But he cannot give up his car. He is a good guy, he’s works for the U.N., so if he has a problem going electric, we all do. But if he is presented with an alternative that doesn’t mean a reduction in his quality of life, something like the Fisker SUV, I think he’d transition to electric in a heartbeat.
This story first appeared in the Nov. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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