| Clooney: Down to earth
Berlin, Feb. 12 (Reuters): He has three Oscar nominations this year. He is one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs. He is winning plaudits for making good, serious films that tackle corruption, both political and corporate.
But George Clooney isn’t letting it go to his head.
In Berlin to promote the West Asia thriller Syriana, the 44-year-old knows that adulation can go as quickly as it comes.
“People wax and wane, it ebbs and flows on what my standing is,” he told Reuters in an interview late on Saturday.
“As for Batman and Robin, I was considered probably one of the worst actors in the world, and they were probably right about that,” he added, referring to the 1997 film for which he was widely derided.
“I just keep going to work every day, keep trying to do the films I want to do.”
Now he is being hailed as a champion of movies-with-a-message, and was even called “The Most Dangerous Man” in Hollywood on one magazine cover.
“Next year I will be the butt of all the jokes, so it’s cyclical,” he said.
In Syriana, Clooney plays a world-weary CIA agent caught up in a global race for oil that involves not only some of the world’s biggest companies but also its most powerful country, the US.
He has been nominated for best supporting actor for the role to go with best original screenplay and best director nods for Good Night, and Good Luck, his black-and-white film about the showdown between a reporter and Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Good Night has garnered six Oscar nominations in total, and Clooney is not hiding his excitement. “I’m fairly proud to be able to sit down at a table, write a script and have it get six Oscar nominations. It’s pretty exciting. You feel like it’s a good year.”
Clooney believes the spate of recent films tackling serious issues is no accident.
“I think society changed. People are talking about interesting issues which is good,” he said.
“I think for a period of time, after 9/11 and until (Hurricane) Katrina, newsmen weren’t asking... questions.
“When the New York Times has to write apologies for not asking tough questions in the lead up to the war... films started to take up some of that slack.”
The U.S. newspaper said in May, 2004, that its coverage of the buildup to the 2003 war in Iraq and the early occupation ”was not as rigorous as it should have been”.
According to Clooney, major film studios are reluctant to back the kind of films he wants to make.
”It's not like these studios, that are owned by big corporations, are jumping to do these films. But I can say, 'Well, we'll give you 'Ocean's Twelve' if you give us this. It's a bargaining system.”
Heist movie Ocean's Twelve, in which Clooney starred, netted an estimated $360 million in worldwide ticket sales and the earlier Ocean's Eleven brought in around $450 million. (Additional reporting by Mike Collett-White)