Clooney talks about playing a sex addict in the new Coen brothers movie, we also get his thoughts on the new Batman movies, is he jealous of the new Dark Knight?
They say sex sells. And no man sells it better than George Clooney – just ask any sex shop owner. Playing a sex addict who carries around an armoury of saucy toys was enough to send sales of sex toys through the roof when Burn After Reading was released in the US.
Whether Clooney’s character will have the same effect on the rest of the world’s adults-only stores remains to be seen but what is certain is that even in bad jeans, cheap suits and a dodgy beard the actor just can’t stop being sexy.
The dowdy look is all part of his portrayal of lowlife US marshal Harry Pfarrer who is coincidently having affairs with two different women wrapped up in a madcap blackmail plot involving a lost CIA data disc.
Amazingly, not only do directors Joel and Ethan Coen manage to get Clooney to play the fool for the third time in one of their movies, they even make an idiot of his best buddy and fellow heartthrob Brad Pitt who plays a gym worker who finds the disc.
It is as much this willingness to embrace his silly side and poke fun of himself as it is his reputation as a humanitarian and politically-minded filmmaker that has made Clooney a hit with audiences across the world.
Time magazine recently described him as the last true movie star in Hollywood – in the classic sense. But the man himself shows another of his almost annoyingly perfect traits by greeting such an idea with extreme modesty.
He may not like it but Clooney is very much the Cary Grant of his time – suave, sophisticated and always one step ahead of a game that has far more pitfalls than it did back in Cary’s day.
Here the sex shop king of Hollywood talks about playing the fool, how he’s looking for friends not lovers and how even after Dark Knight he’s proud to have been a Batman – rubber nipples and all!
Q: Time magazine recently described you as the last true Hollywood movie star. How do you feel about that?
GC: “Yeah, that was kind of embarrassing because it came out the day of the Oscars. I was sitting next to Jack Nicholson and he leans over and goes, ‘Hey, it’s the last movie star.’ I was like, ‘I didn’t write it.’ But I think what that really was in some ways is a bit of a knock on me. I have no problem with that. It’s just that there is actors out there like Johnny Depp who can transform into a lot of different characters. In general, I am some form of myself in films. I think that’s a reference back to old school movie stars. I think that’s probably what that meant although it was embarrassing when it came out.”
Q: Burn After Reading is your third movie with the Coens.
JC: “Yeah, what they try to do is do a movie with me after they have had a big success. Oh Brother tanked and came right after Fargo. Intolerable cruelty came right after The Man Who Wasn’t There which got Oscar nominations. And now this one is coming right on the heels of them winning everything so we’re in a lot of trouble. I am there go to guy to bring them right back down to Earth.”
Q: You are quite daring with the kind of movies you make. You could just play safe and make sequels to your hit movies but you don’t.
GC: “Well I have made some sequels. The truth is I have a really lucky career because I’m kind of doing the projects I want to do. The ones you feel you are selling out for are infinitely better than the ones other people are making. Some of the movies I make people absolutely hate. People hated The Good German, some hated Solaris – other people loved it. So you are stuck in a situation where you have to go by your own taste and what becomes of it we’ll have to figure out. It’s like Oh Brother Where Art Thou? When that came out it was a big flop. We were pretty poorly reviewed but now people really like that film a lot.”
Q: Did you have any reservations about playing such an ignorant character?
GC: “No, not really. The thing that disturbs me most about this guy is that here is this sad, moronic character and then the Coens call me up and say the wrote this guy for me. That worried me a lot (laughs).”
Q: How did you decide on the look of your character because you are not looking you best with that beard?
JC: “Joel and Ethan just said that I should grow a really bad beard. I said, ‘I can do that really quickly.'”
Q: As a filmmaker yourself did you have a say in the making of this movie?
JC: “The thing is with Joel and Ethan is they make every actor feel that they make every actor think that they can give their opinions. They listen to you, you try it your way and then they go, ‘Okay, now how about trying it the other way?’ What you realise is that you never do it your way but they make you feel like it’s all your idea.”