Axel Dumas

Axel Dumas

Jo Ellison eats lobster and talks waiting lists with the Hermès chief executive — and guardian of the Birkin

Illustration by James Ferguson of Tony Hall
©James Ferguson

Tony Hall, media executive

From the Jeremy Clarkson ‘fracas’ to protecting the licence fee, the BBC’s director-general always has a full in-tray. As he puts it, ‘You can’t just hang people every time things go wrong’

Illustration by James Ferguson of Sang-Hyun Song
©James Ferguson

Sang-Hyun Song, lawyer

International Criminal Court’s outgoing president talks to Lionel Barber about wartime Korea, negotiating in Libya and the difficulties of bringing war crimes to trial

Barry Diller illustration by James Ferguson
©James Ferguson

Barry Diller, businessman

Over a personalised meal in New York, the media mogul talks about surviving the 1970s, the art of reinvention and why Rupert Murdoch stands out from the conglomerate crowd

Illustration by Patrick Morgan of Amitav Ghosh
©Patrick Morgan

Amitav Ghosh, writer

Over a ‘Calcutta Chinese’ feast, novelist talks to David Pilling about the ‘cognitive problem’ that separates India and China, and completing his epic Ibis trilogy

Lunch with the FT illustration of He Jiahong by Luke Waller
©Luke Waller

He Jiahong, law professor

Over a buffet lunch in Beijing, the anti-corruption campaigner talks about writing crime novels — and how he won over his wife’s family

Francis Ford Coppola Lunch with the FT illustration by James Ferguson
©James Ferguson

Francis Ford Coppola, film-maker

Over croissants at Claridge’s, the film director talks to Peter Aspden about switching from making films to making hotels and wine

Ginni Rometty illustration by James Ferguson
©James Ferguson

Ginni Rometty, business executive

The IBM chief talks to Gillian Tett about having ‘cyber-conversations’ with half-a-million employees, machines making decisions and why she wishes they’d gone to Starbucks

Demis Hassabis illustration by Patrick Morgan
©Patrick Morgan

Demis Hassabis, AI researcher

The DeepMind founder aims to make ‘machines smart’. Over dim sum in London’s West End, he talks to Murad Ahmed about artificial intelligence — and why eating is time wasted

Illustration by James Ferguson of Stephen Wall
©James Ferguson

Sir Stephen Wall, diplomat

Over a long diplomatic career, the former ambassador gave advice to British prime ministers. Then, in his sixties, he abandoned his religion and finally came out to his family as gay

Marc Andreessen, entrepreneur

The Netscape founder and tech investor talks about the trouble with stock markets, what he looks for in entrepreneurs and why illegal immigration is good for America

Richard Plepler, businessman

Amid growing challenges from rivals, HBO’s chief has to keep the hits coming. Over chicken in New York, he talks about creativity, the future of TV, and venting while running

Pedro Almodóvar, film director

Over tea in London, the director talks about the stage musical of his breakthrough film and reveals the title of his next movie

Brian Chesky, businessman

Over steak with peppers in San Francisco, Airbnb’s chief talks about turning his room-rental idea into a $13bn business, convincing lawmakers it is legal and what he wants to do next

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, businessman

After 10 years in prison, the oligarch who crossed Putin is poised for a fresh foray into politics, and tells Neil Buckley why the current Kremlin master cannot keep power for ever

David Miliband

The former British foreign secretary, now head of the charity supported by FT’s seasonal appeal, talks about the perils of intervention, the EU, and his brother Ed

Esa-Pekka Salonen, musician

Over king crab salad, the Finnish conductor-composer talks about heavy metal and why classical music should be at the centre of political debate

Donald Tusk, politician

Over fish and shots of Goldwasser, the new president of the European Council talks about why ‘Russia is our strategic problem’

Mikhail Baryshnikov, dancer

Over Dover sole in London, the ballet legend talks about watching other people dance, and hanging out in the White House

Katherine Boo, writer

Over pizza in London, the journalist who lived in a Mumbai slum while researching her book on its residents tells Jan Dalley how it feels to see their stories on stage


This column is a weekly interview in the Life & Arts section with leading cultural and business figures.

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