There are only a handful of really charming men in Hollywood, at least only a handful of men that I have had the opportunity to interview. These guys now include George Clooney, someone that walks into the room full of confidence, a huge smile and tries to make sure he acknowledge every person in the room with a smile, eye contact, or a handshake/pat on the back. He was very genuine and a pleasure to sit down with. As we interviewed him for his upcoming movie Tomorrowland he talked about how he believes we can make change, the future used to be optimistic and how fun it would be to have a jet pack.
Q : Alright, so the message in Tomorrowland said a lot. Can we fix it? And you firmly believe in that with all your humanitarian work. Is that one of the things that drew you to the movie…?
Q : … and your first Disney movie?
George: Oh, well, my first Disney movie was a Miramax film, called From Dusk Till Dawn, which is not a very Disney film. [LAUGHING.] But yeah, you know, at first I wanted to work with Brad Bird. I think he doesn’t make bad films, and I just love the kind of films he makes. And then when I read the screenplay, I thought, you know, what I love about it is that we sort of are inundated in our lives with lots of bad news. You turn on the television, it hurts, you know.
And it’s a bad time and what I loved was the idea of the script said, you know, their future isn’t just automatically inevitable. And that, you have to participate or you don’t have to just accept how it ends. And I’d grown up in an era, you know, I was born in the early 60’s, so I grew up in the era of, ah, where the individual actually had effect, you know, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam movement, the women’s rights moments, and that stuff, and so I always felt like and believed that there was a version of it.
I was raised that there was a version of this where you could affect the future, and you didn’t have to just accept it, you know. The Russians weren’t gonna necessarily just blow us all up and the nuclear bombs. So I really loved the idea of hearing this again, this idea that it’s, we’re not just necessarily doomed, that there’s something that you can do about it if you pay attention and you, and, you know, and you work hard. And I liked it.
Q : Was it fun or difficult to be working with contraptions and harnesses and all those things…?
George: You know, I’ve done it a few times, you know. In Gravity, I had to do it, and I’ve done it in a few films. I’m never particularly in love with it. Green screen is tricky ’cause you just have to sort of make things up. But, the thing about being an actor is you really don’t ever have to grow up, right? We’re still playing make believe. I’m 54 and I’m playing make-believe.
So when they put you in a contraption, and say now you’re gonna fly, I mean, you’re still a 12 year old and you go really, am I gonna fly from here to there? Oh yeah, let’s go, it’s fun. I’ve always found that part to be magical, you know. The, the, um, I just wish the jet pack really worked. You know, when I was growing up, it was the space race and it was, you know, everything you were eating, space food sticks and drinking Tang and you know, I really thought by now we’d be riding around in Jetson cars, you know, so…
Q : Well, that’s what the Jetsons told us.
George: Well, they did tell us and I believed them, so when I see the jet pack, I’m like I want that thing to work by now, you know, but no such luck.
Q : Would you say that that would be one of the futuristic items or things that would be awesome to have?
George: Let me put it to you this way. So you’re at LAX. You get your bags. I’ve got to get to Studio City. It’s 4:30 on a Friday. It would be the greatest moment ever, just blasting right over all the traffic. I think it would be fantastic, although, you know, I don’t know that I want everybody to have one ’cause they’d just be circling my house. Hey George…. What’s Amal gonna wear to the MET Ball? I don’t know, I don’t know if I want everybody to have a jet pack.
Q : The young, kid that plays Frank Walker in the movie, did you have any say so who it would be? He looks like you, like his facial expressions, did he like study you?
George: No, they just went around, actually they did a little plastic surgery on him…. Which seems, ah, a litte rough, but yeah, you want to, it’s show biz. You want to be in show biz, we’re gonna have to reduce that nose. We’re gonna have to pin those ears. I’m sorry. No, you know, he was funny. I actually did, ’cause I never got to work with him obviously, because we were, you know, in different worlds as you know, completely different worlds, but he would walk by, I’d come over and I’d go, so you’re, ah, you’re me, right? He’s like, yup. Alright. Don’t screw it up. He was really sweet though. A really funny kid.
Q : What was your favorite scene in the movie?
George: Yeah, that’s a good question. It’s fun because, look, first let me start off by explaining to you how I came to this part, right? Brad and Damon called me and said we’ve written a part for you in a movie. And I’d been trying to work with Brad for a long time. I was like wow, that’s amazing. And they send me the script and I open it up and the description of me is, you know, 55 year old angry, bitter, guy. I’m like going, thanks guys. Thank you so much.
But what I loved about it was that the entire film, he’s just a grump, you know. He’s just a grump through the whole thing. So I loved like when Britt first comes to the house. It’s really fun where it’s like shut up! You know, and like who are you? And so we really had fun shooting all that stuff in the farm house. That was fun ’cause all the robot guys were really sweet and nice, and not really robots, you know. [LAUGHING.] And, so I think that might have been the most fun scene to shoot, all the farm house stuff, yeah.
Then he talked a bit about having a say in the future and making a difference.
George: I mean, I’ve been in those kind of movies before and you don’t, you know, you sort of don’t want that, because it is a summer movie. But the truth of the matter is, the idea is that, the future is yours and the future is yours to decide what it will be. You know, as you look at the world, and you see how sort of, tragic it can feel, and you know, it always has been that way.
It wasn’t particularly great in 1968 either. There were assassinations and there was wars and there was civil unrest and riots, but we weren’t as inundated with it, and so there was always still a hopefulness that the future was still gonna be alright. And I feel as if we have to get to that point where, we all understand that, you know, the individual is not helpless. And I think that’s a really important part of this, you know.
An advantage since I’ve become successful, I understand that I have a voice that I can amplify things, so I can make Darfur louder or we can, there’s things that you can do that you can try to affect change with. But I was like that when I was 10, because I was told, that your voice has to matter and has to participate, even if two people hear you, because those two people may change, you know.
I–I would say my parents taught me that and their parents taught them that, and I feel as if there’s a world where we have to constantly remind not just young people, ourselves that we’re not just stuck here, you know. I also think we have to find a way to put news back in perspective. I think part of the responsibility of news in general is not just to report on it, but put it in perspective.
And my father was an anchorman in Cincinnati, Ohio. When he was covering a story about, some skinheads at Fountain Square who were gonna, you know, had a rally, seven guys up. They’re saying horrible things, you know. And he had to cover the story, so he goes out and in the camera, it looks pretty awful, you know. It looks really awful. And there’s about 2,000 people yelling at them. And then my dad says okay, and they went upstairs to Carew Tower, which is the tallest building in Cincinnati, and the shot down on to the park with these seven little tiny people in a town of 400,000, are just yelling and being jerks.
And it just, a town that otherwise is functioning perfectly and people are getting along and working together and you realized in perspective it meant nothing. It meant absolutely nothing. And I feel that we’re losing perspective of the things that are going on in our world, and we think oh, it’s just nothing but apocalyptic stuff, and I don’t believe that necessarily is true. I mean, there’s an awful lot of good and it’s hard to report good because it doesn’t sell. So I think that maybe along the way, it would be nice to remind ourselves that there’s an awful lot of good that’s being done too, you know.
Are you ready to go to Tomorrowland? Tomorrowland is in theaters May 22.