Hollywood, CA: In between producing, writing and directing films, his humanitarian work, political activism and slough of girlfriends, you would wonder when Academy Award winning actor George Clooney even has time to prepare for his roles. But with a near encyclopedic knowledge of George Clooney movies in his head to draw inspiration from, he assures there’s no problem finding the time.
“I have such an accomplished body of work to draw from, so my inspiration always comes from within my past roles,” Clooney explains. “I’ve played so many different characters to great acclaim, like the strong but sensitive Dr. Doug Ross on ER and the determined but vulnerable Michael Clayton in the eponymous Michael Clayton. I’ve even played Batman; which, I admit, was a bit of a stretch having to be heroic yet humane, but it wasn’t my performance the critics panned,” quips Clooney behind his charming smile.
“Like in Up In The Air,” further reveals Clooney. “I had to play a white American male with a hint of humility, so I just locked myself in a hotel room for two weeks, studying the first four seasons of ER between long stretches of standing in front of a mirror and staring deeply into my eyes, to really get in my character’s head.”
This was a risk which undeniably worked, garnering Clooney many accolades and awards praising him for the artistic lengths he took although, Clooney laments, it could have been something more. “I was initially trying Bob Barnes in Syriana – my Academy Award winning performance – but I just couldn’t obscure my face behind a beard again.”
“And then for Burn After Reading, Harry Pfarrer was a upper class guy with a soft spot. So I played him like Miles Massey from Intolerable Cruelty, with a slight touch of Jack Taylor from One Fine Day.” Clooney looks back on his range with admitted humility in regards to himself. “Sometimes I get so committed I can’t even recognize myself on-screen. I sit there wondering, who is that man on the screen? And then it hits me, wow, that’s me.”
Mr. Clooney has two upcoming movies slated for release later this year, Gravity and The Monument Men, the latter of which he wrote, directed, produced and stars in.
“Screenwriting for me has always come easy because I can just ask myself, what would Danny Ocean [from the Ocean’s trilogy]or Archie Gates [from Three Kings]say?” Clooney admits in earnest, “Directing, on the other hand, was never easy for me, at least at first, because I had no previous experience or inspiration to draw from. But after Confessions of A Dangerous Mind I told myself, ‘George, you can do this. You’ve got one in the bag so now you’ve got something to use.’ Now look at me: an Academy Award nominated director.”
He certainly has come a long way from those early ER days: racking up award after award; being the only person in Hollywood history to have been Oscar nominated in six separate categories; demonstrating there isn’t any role, whether in front or behind the camera, he can’t tackle.
“Right now I’m looking to get my name on more titles in my movies. Initially I was looking into something a little lighter, like gaffing, that was until I learned you can’t win an Oscar for that. But I just got into Local 706 [Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Union] and I’m really excited. Have a lot of hair ideas for my next passion project entitled, George Clooney.”