The Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging interviewed award-winning actor Alan Alda about his new book If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating. Alda is a six-time Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winner and is widely known for his roles as Captain Hawkeye Pierce in the TV series M*A*S*H and Arnold Vinick in The West Wing. The book chronicles his experiences and lessons learned in discovering new ways to help people communicate and relate to one another more effectively. It also describes key techniques to build empathy and avoid jargon—especially when speaking with broad audiences.
Founder of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and former host of PBS’s Scientific American Frontiers, Alda also delves into his past work, where he interviewed many scientists and helped them effectively communicate complex ideas to broad audiences. Alda’s focus complements the Center for the Future of Aging’s mission to improve lives and strengthen societies by promoting healthy, productive, and purposeful aging. Our current health efforts include increasing the public's scientific literacy, writing editorials, and convening top experts, among other projects. As the Center sees a need for better communication in prevention and wellness, our focus is to convey ideas and information about healthier, longer lives. For this Q&A, the Center’s Sophie Okolo interviewed Alda about key themes in communication, purpose, and beneficial engagement.