Julia! It’s Thor!

I was starting to get used to the phone calls. The line would ring, usually on the cusp of evening, and it would be Thor L. Halvorssen C’96 G’96 filling me in on his latest crisis or coup. The biggest mystery would be where he was calling from. Would it be Montreal, where one of his documentaries was premiering at an international film festival? Or New York, where his Human Rights Foundation is based? Perhaps Los Angeles, where he’s been overseeing a film based on a Kurt Vonnegut short story and huddling with such stars as Jon Voight and Gary Sinise?

Lately, though, Halvorssen has been telephoning from his native Caracas, Venezuela, the focus of much of his human-rights work. A vocal opponent of President Hugo Chávez’s regime, he called one January day to report jubilantly on the freeing of a Venezuelan political prisoner whose case the Human Rights Foundation had championed. Then came a sober call about the shooting of the foundation’s Venezuelan director of research, former Judge Monica Fernandez. Halvorssen was supposed to have been with her at the time; he ended up holding a vigil at her hospital bed.

The purpose of today’s call, however, is to put me in touch with his Hollywood “buddy” Sinise. “I’m having lunch right now with the former president of Venezuela, Ramón Velásquez,” Halvorssen informs me by way of a greeting. “But I told him I had to call you because I knew you were on a deadline.”

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My Dinner with Thor, by Julia Klein
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