“Getting Older is Better than Being Dead” - George Clooney on Career and Aging, By Adrienne Papp
By Adrienne Papp
Written By Adrienne Papp
By Adrienne Papp | November 01, 2009
Academy Award winner George Clooney, quit his job as a broadcast journalist at the age of 21 and slept in a friend’s closet in his first year in Hollywood before he broke into television, and later into films. He is notorious for having a witty, wry sense of humor, which comes out at every turn in this interview.
Clooney’s playfulness is obvious on screen and off as he shares one of his tricks he pulled on a friend, Matt Damon. Once Damon, while vacationing in Clooney’s villa at Lake Como in Italy, and desperately wanting to lose 30 pounds after a movie role, was exercising twice a day and only ate salad. To get a good laugh, Clooney hired a woman who took in an inch, or so, almost daily from Damon’s pants without him knowing. He kept on wondering how it was possible in God’s name that he seemed to be gaining weight as his pants were getting tighter and tighter while he was eating next to nothing and exercising vigorously. Having no children Clooney certainly seems to have found a way to entertain himself with his friends just the same.
Right around the corner he has three movies coming out almost simultaneously: "The Fantastic Mr. Fox, " "The Men Who Stare at Goats," and "Up in the Air." He is now filming "The American."
“That is pure coincidence,” he says referring to the current trio, “Because they’ve been made over the past two years. However, there’s no doubt that some people will be thinking ‘That Clooney fella –– does he NEVER stop?’ But I can assure them that I do, and that I am pretty pernickety about projects these days.”
Contemplating his graying hair the 48-year-old actor says with a laugh: "It's an interesting thing to watch yourself grow older on screen. I was watching "Up in the Air" and I thought, 'Jesus, who's the old gray- haired guy?' And it was me... I never wear make-up for movies and it's starting to show."
"But I'm kind of comfortable with getting older because it's better than the other option, which is being dead. "
"Up in the Air," is a romantic comedy drama, and "The Men Who Stare at Goats," is a black comedy.
In the "Up In The Air," Clooney portrays a businessman, Ryan Bingham, who leads an empty life out of a suitcase with a job that has him traveling around the country firing people. Just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams, his company does the unexpected: ground him. This story about a man who is ready to make a connection is arriving this December to theaters. "It's a bit close to my own persona so I knew I'd have to take that baggage on, and it would be okay" he says.
In "The Men Who Stare at Goats, " a war-comedy in which Clooney portrays Lyn Cassady, a guy who claims to be a former member of the U.S. Army's First Earth Battalion, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions. A reporter in Iraq might just have the story of a lifetime when he meets Cassady, as he is trying to lose himself in the romance of war after his marriage fails, and certainly gets more than he bargains for from Cassady as he reveals the existence of a secret, psychic military unit whose goal is to end the war as we know it.
The film is based on a book by Jon Ronson, a British journalist, which tells true insights of various psychic phenomena. The film, which will be released in November costars Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey and was co-produced by Clooney.
"The script had been around England and Hollywood for a while and it wasn't going to get made because things started working against it," he says. "We worked our magic to get it independently financed. From the very beginning it was one of those projects where I had to go to Ewan and Kevin and Jeff and everybody and say, 'Let's all just jump in and do this and have some fun.' We made up stuff in the script that we thought was funny, but the weirdest stuff in the film is the true stuff."
Both "Up In The Air, " and " The Men Who Stare At Goats" received great critiques at the Toronto Film Festival last month and Oscar talk is already building around Clooney, who previously won and Oscar for his role in Syriana.
The "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is an adventure animation about angry farmers, tired of sharing their chickens with a sly fox, and look to get rid of their opponent and his family.
Clooney, seems to have fallen in love with the concept right away.
“How could you not? I’ve been a huge fan of Roland Dahl for as many years as I can remember, and I love working with Wes Anderson. Wes told me that it was the first book that he ever really appreciated as a kid, and when you hear something like that, you have to find out what all the fuss is about. I wasn’t disappointed. And then it was also Wes’ first foray into stop-motion animation, so I was a sucker for it from the beginning, as soon as I was asked to voice Mr. Fox.”
Clooney has a villa on Lake Como where he rides his Piaggio motorbikes and races his speedboat. He loves to entertain and is an enthusiastic host to his friends.
"Tons of people have stayed and everybody shows up for dinner," he says. "I've had some of the most fun dinners ever there. We have wild, fun evenings of interesting people telling interesting stories. I relate to nothing but joy and happiness there and getting the villa has been the greatest thing I've ever done for myself."
Clooney was briefly married to Talia Balsam in 1989, and remained determinedly single ever since. He has been recently linked with Elisabetta Canalis, a presenter on Italian television, but his focus remained his own production company. He produced and starred in a string of films, including the Oceans 11 series, and received a best actor nomination for Michael Clayton.
"I've been lucky enough to do a few films that will last longer than an opening weekend and those films are the ones I'm proud of. But I have to be honest and admit that I’m much more successful now than I ever dreamed that I’d be. It’s all icing on the cake from here on in, but you know that I still don’t feel that where I am now is a success? ..., but, I'm very comfortable with what I'm doing " he says.
George Clooney and I share the same motto: When someone says ‘‘Trust me’’, in this industry," it’s probably wise to get it in writing!"
Comments to date: 9. Page 1 of 1. Average Rating:
6:43am on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
Sounds like a busy busy man. Gotta love him!
12:35pm on Sunday, November 1st, 2009
Great article! That was inspiring about the sleep in closet. I slept on a park bench for 2 weeks in Heff's neighborhood while struggling through to make a feature film for no pay.
santa monica, ca
8:57pm on Saturday, October 31st, 2009
Since you seem to know G well, tell him I am still awaiting his phone call.....I hope it will be as good for him as it will be for me ;)))
ps: nice article
8:42pm on Saturday, October 31st, 2009
Clooney has that old world charm that nobody has anymore. Kind of a gentleman without trying. But, in a funky way. What I liked about this article is that the writer is not shooting for sensation, and glitz but just story telling in a factual and comprehensive way. She is in for the subject and not for gaining the readers.
10:23am on Saturday, October 31st, 2009
George is the greatest and he WAS a broadcast journalist for a brief time. His Dad was and still is a broadcast and print journalist. He too is one of the good peope. As Carl Sandburg would put it, "They ain"t what's wrong with the country."
2:19am on Saturday, October 31st, 2009
Sorry to rain on your article but its inaccurate in a couple of spots, George was never a broadcast journalist, that was his dad, he worked on his dad's show behind the scenes when he was much younger and he quite college to go to Hollywood. The Damon story was very different when Matt first told it, he was home in Miami and he didn't want to believe he was putting on weight, so he convinced himself George was playing a trick on him, George seems to have taken the story and run with it. George does not race a speed boat on Lake Como, there are very strict laws on how fast you can travel on the lake. Otherwise its a nice story, well stitched together from other interviews.
4:20pm on Friday, October 30th, 2009
clooney for president...i love him..km
1:55pm on Friday, October 30th, 2009
I enjoyed this article. Thank you
11:20am on Friday, October 30th, 2009
I love George Clooney. 3 movies all at once? He does not stop. This is a good interview.