Erik Audé has over 100 film/TV credits to his name. He’s been seen in Dunkirk, NCIS, CSI, American Sniper, and Sons of Anarchy. Astonishingly impressive. However, his most important role is the one about a time in his life that you can’t really comprehend until you see it.
Audé was falsely accused of smuggling opium and sent to death row. He spent 3 years in a Pakistan prison as an innocent man.
Our interview with Audé proves that the human spirit is still alive. His story is one of faith and the undying belief that regardless of how bad things get, there’s always a silver lining.
The GM’s Perspective: First, let’s talk about the documentary. How did this process start? And what were your thoughts having to relive this time in your life?
Erik Audé: I was getting a lot of backlash from the Case File show on Nat Geo (Locked Up Abroad). It was only 48 minutes of my story and left a lot of unanswered questions. People who watched the show filled in the gaps with their own answers. People were saying I was a liar and a drug smuggler. People wanted to be very hurtful and it started to add up.
I’ve known the director of 3 Years in Pakistan: The Erik Audé Story (Jamielyn Lippman), since we were teenagers. We had the same agent in the 90’s. She knew I was getting a lot of flack and it’s because very little of the story was actually told. By this time I didn’t want to tell my story anymore because I just wanted to move on with my life. I was getting death threats and harassed. Locked Up Abroad, from what I was told, was aired over 800 million times and there’s just too many haters on the Internet. I used to think I had thick skin, but it started to add up. Jamielyn said let’s tell your story and it took us over two and a half years.
The documentary just came out and the response has been very positive. I’m actually shocked cause I’m so familiar with all the hate. There hasn’t been any hate…not yet anyways. I’m sure it could come, but people who’ve seen it have said they find inspiration in it.
What happened to me didn’t happen for nothing. If seeing how bad it was for me and still finding a way to get through it allows others to get through whatever pain they’re dealing with, than it’s worth it.
GMs: I don’t know you from Adam. We’ve never met, but throughout the film you never seem down. You have this demeanour that shines of confidence.
EA: I focus on the good even after everything I’ve been through. Sometimes I have down days, but I remind myself that I have amazing days. I have a wonderful girlfriend and great friends. I love to travel and exercise and keep my mind sharp. Even in Pakistan when I was in a dark room, all I had was my mind. I had my thoughts and my memories. Instead of focusing on the bad and feeling sorry for myself, I would focus on the great memories and things I would hope to do one day. I chose to be happy. I chose to stay positive and hope for the best.
GMs: You talk about what’s more important; your pride or your freedom. After everything you’ve been through would you still make the same choice?
EA: I wouldn’t change anything because I know me. I know that if I plead guilty for a crime I didn’t commit I would have killed myself with shame. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself.
GMs: There’s not a lot of good that can come from your time in prison, but to see where you are now; you’re movie career is flourishing (133 credits to your name), opened your eighth restaurant, and are a name in the poker world…My questions is, how do you stay so focused on all the positives when you’ve been treated so poorly?
EA: I trip and fall all the time. Not every day is going to be sunshine and rainbows. You’ll constantly come up across obstacles that beat you down, but you’ll always have the choice on how you handle it. It’s always up to you.
GMs: Your girlfriend said something so amazing in your documentary,
“You’re with the person you’re supposed to be with when you’re a better person. And I think he’s done that for me for sure.”
What does that mean to you?
EA: It made me cry. I’m lucky to have her. I feel like I’m the luckiest man in the world to have her. She puts up with all my flaws and all my nonsense. I love to make her laugh, I love to take care of her, and I love to make her smile. It means the world to me to hear her say that.
GMs: You relish life and look at things without blinders. What can you say to those who may be struggling in their life?
EA: Sometimes it takes looking at the worst to appreciate how bad it really isn’t for you. You have the option on how you handle that time in your life.
GMs: What’s one word to describe your life, your career, and the path to where you are now?
I believe that people watching this, not only will it answer questions that weren’t answered previously, but it will let them know that this stuff happens out there. I’m happy I told this story. I wish I saw something like this back in the day, therefore I would’ve known it was too good to be true. I would’ve walked away. I would’ve been smarter.
Hopefully this inspires people to realize that things aren’t that bad. As long as you don’t tell yourself you can’t, you can. We’re smarter than we realize. Everyone has it in them to be amazing.