Jane Goodall reflects on a lifelong mission to save the planet, and she's far from finished

“So,” Brett Morgen began, “you’ve been telling your story for so many years. Do you get tired of answering the same questions?”

Jane Goodall stared back at the filmmaker, her expression unmoving.

“Depends on who’s asking the questions,” she replied.

There was no “wink-wink, nudge-nudge, ha-ha!” to her inflection, Morgen recalls now. “It was just cold.”

After all, the primatologist had not wished to be interviewed for Morgen’s documentary, period. Sure, it was a film about her life — called “Jane,” even — culled from 140 hours of footage that had been hidden for more than 50 years in National Geographic’s archives. But she’d already done so many interviews over the course of her 83 years. Couldn’t the filmmaker just repurpose one of those?

As politely as he could, Morgen relayed that there was no way that was going to happen. So, at the urging of her colleagues at the Jane Goodall Institute — “we need the exposure,” they said — she agreed to participate. She was told she would have to sit for only one filming session, which would last no more than three hours.

She ended up spending two full days with Morgen at her home in Tanzania.

“I guess Brett’s quite persuasive,” Goodall said with a shrug.

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