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  Actor Interview

DOWSE Guide to the Movies
by Tony Lee editor of Pigasus Press

Three Kings:
syndicated interview with George Clooney

Does producing and being part of all the behind the scenes details change your perspective when you're performing in your films?

"I think you get to a certain place in your career where even though you're not a producer on the film you're involved in it from the very beginning. In this film, I was the guy that talked to the studio when they said we don't have enough of a budget to blow the cow up. I knew it was important for the film to do it so I offered them to take it out of my salary.
   I think at a certain level when your name is on the film, you become much more involved. Knowing your name will be associated with the final product is probably one of the best selling tools for trying to make a good product even when your billing is only actor. So I don't think your perspective changes much when you add producer to the title. I think that as an actor you become a producer out of necessity. I'm in the position right now where I can control most of those elements if I have to. The secret is that you don't want to. The problem is that actors do that. They get in and they rewrite scripts and they mess up what the directors are trying to do or they get another cut on a film.
   The trick is you've got to work with Steven Soderberg or Dave 0. Russell or the Coen Brothers, who I just finished working with, and you realise these guys are geniuses. If they need me to fight for something I will, but everything else is in their hands. In general, the reason you produce is because you want to have a product that is functioning separate from you. There is going to be a period of time in the not too distant future when people will be sick of seeing you on screen as an actor and this way you have something else that allows you to still be involved in the industry. That's why you do it."

You seem to be delving a lot into the subject of world politics in the last few movies you've made. What is interesting, is that in Three Kings America is not the glamorised hero nation. Did that attract you to this part?

"I think as an actor you don't necessarily read a script and think of it as political or not. You read it and think 'God I really like this script'. I think it's smart and it's funny and the way it tells a story is unique and interesting. I loved this script for those reasons. Later on, after or while you're filming it, you start thinking about some of the issues that will become topics of conversation when we have to sit down and start to do the publicity for it. Then it comes down to our responsibility as film makers and as people telling a story and that's an important responsibility.
   The most important thing about what we do is that we don't try and make this an educational tool. We try and make it something that may open the discussion of some of the facts of things that took place that maybe have been glossed over during the war which were true."

Does your father give you tips on what kinds of movies he thinks that you should work on?

"He doesn't give me advice about movies, never about movies. He gives me a lot of tips about integrity and about the types of things that you should stand up for or not stand up for.
   Growing up, my dad used to make me crazy because I grow up in Kentucky where there was a lot of bigotry in the '60s and I remember if anyone said any sort of racial remark near my dad he was going to take the family and walk, no matter what we were doing at the time. So we always learned to eat very quickly. As a kid too, it used to bother me because I thought why do we have to stand up? I was thinking why can't we just not agree.
   He taught me that you have to stand up for what is right. And now I'm very happy that he did."

How is life post ER? I presume you're enjoying yourself?

"I am. I see the cast and crew every single day because my office is literally fifty feet from Stage 11. My movie deals were all at Warner Bros. so I'm literally there all the time. During Perfect Storm I was on Stage 15, and they were on Stage 11. I saw them everyday. And I'd see them in their doctor's outfits. I think I was very happy to be finished with the show when I did and the way I did. It felt like I did that one right. I had a five-year contract and I honored it. I never renegotiated. This year they've brought seven new regulars on the show and have got it back to what it used to be which was 52 patients in an episode where the audience is just bombarded with good stories and then they can't sit and fixate on one character. It was what we did in the first two seasons when I thought our show was as good as television gets."

In Three Kings, beyond the comic and action sequences that these characters go through there is also a very spiritual movie dealing with self-sacrifice. Do you think that with this new millennium people are moving towards being less consumed by the greed and the fame and the power and are more concerned with trying to find the inner self?

"I think it's going to be a crazy time as the Millennium unfolds because the funny thing is it's like a full moon. You go through reassessing your life and what have you done and what really matters and what is sort of timeless in what you've done and what isn't. But even though a lot of that takes place, we're still pretty much a big product of the 'Me Generation'. It is especially like that in our country right now. We're very isolated because we've had such a prosperous time that it's hard for us to be completely affected by what's happening outside in the world."


Three Kings is available to buy on video from 26 March 2001, released by Warner Home Video

Read our review of this film (and other Clooney movies) at:
The New Century of Cinema

Buy this title from Blackstar

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