George Clooney, character actor
Money Monster is coming out next month. It’ll be screened at the Cannes Film Festival. George Clooney is now starting to promote it with his 9th Esquire cover. And at the beginning of this interview, he’s actually credited with the magazine’s resurgence for the first time he was featured, in 1999. He says it’s “the best cover I’ve ever taken”. And when you look back at it from his perspective, it’s not hard to see why:
That really is a great cover. And also, they’re basically saying his dick is bigger than all the other dicks. Why wouldn’t he love it?
As I’ve always said about George Clooney, my favourite thing about him, selfishly, is that when he has a job to do, he does his job. And he does his job, especially on promotion, by respecting that the person on the other side of the conversation has a job to do too. So he shows up, in this case he shows up even though he put out his back the day before and had to go get an epidural in his spine. Clooney’s had a bad back for a while. And he’s said that it got so bad that he once considered suicide. So if I were the writer, David Granger, I would appreciate that George Clooney came to talk. And that he came to talk thoughtfully, that he was open to having an actual conversation, instead of providing two boring quotes. Which is why this is a good read. That’s all you want from a magazine profile – it has to be a good read.
To me it’s a good read because George Clooney is George Clooney. He doesn’t pretend to be George Clooney but, really, someone less influential. There’s a story in here about how the President was at his place for a fundraiser and the next morning at 5:30am came back to play basketball. And that’s just a thing that happens when you’re George Clooney, no apology required. Also Bill Murray just randomly shows up at your house in Italy and stays a while, no notice required. And a story within a story about Bill Murray staying with him for a week because everyone’s schedule changed when “Owen Wilson tried to hurt himself”. Oh yeah, remember that?
How, then, does George see George? Yes, he talks about how he’s met the love of his life and he’s happily married now. But, whatever, that’s not the best gossip in this piece. The best gossip is related to how he’s approaching his career:
“Somebody said, "What are you doing in 10 years?" And I said, "Well, I don't think anybody really wants to see anybody age." But humor doesn't make it in print. The reality is what I was talking about was the kind of parts that I was doing I'm not going to be doing anymore. Paul Newman did it best. He was a movie star, he was a leading man, and then he was like, Now I'm a character actor.”
This is interesting to me because there are a lot of people who watch George Clooney movies and always see him as George Clooney, not a “character actor”. In Hail, Caesar!, though, he was playing to character type. Which he acknowledges:
“I'm much more interested in doing films where the role makes sense for me. I'm not gonna be carrying movies the way I did before. There are actors you'll see that try to hold on to this leading-man status long past the due date.”
George Clooney has declared that George Clooney, alone, can’t carry a movie anymore. He’s conceded as much in his choice. You’ll note his recent choices have been ensembles or two-handers: Gravity, with Sandra Bullock, and Money Monster, with Julia Roberts. Who are the actors who are trying to hold on to the leading man status past the due date? To me, here, he’s talking about Tom Cruise. Right?!?
Click here to read the full piece on George Clooney at Esquire. Oh and one more thing:
When the conversation turns to politics and whether or not there’s hope for America, George broke it down like this:
“This country is a big carrier ship that has to slowly turn all the time to right itself, and it takes longer than we want it to. But if you look at us over the history of time, we really f-cked up. We f-cked up with the Indians; we f-cked up with slavery. We were terrible to women. We f-ck up and we f-ck up and we f-ck up, and we get better. We're not great yet; we haven't fixed it all yet. We didn't figure it out in 1776. We didn't have a Constitution until 1787. It takes a while to figure things out. But what happened in 2008 was: Just when you thought you couldn't figure it out, that the world was gonna go straight to hell, we elected the first African-American ever, who, when he speaks, he makes us feel proud, and makes the rest of the world calm down about the United States.”
I jerked at the use of the word “Indians”. In Canada, “Indians” is off-side. We say “First Nations”, we say “Aboriginal” or “Indigenous”. So last night I asked Sarah, who is American First Nations, what the standard is for usage in the United States. She, too, bristled at George’s “Indians”. She said it’s more acceptable to say “American Indian” but that “Native American” would be preferred. And then she observed that:
“I tend to think of it as a generational thing. Someone Clooney’s age is probably going to use it without thinking twice.”
George Clooney is old. And he says he’s old. But would he want to be boxed off as old in this respect?