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Bluntly Speaking | George Clooney
an emily blunt interview





Bluntly speaking? I have to say, on a scale of 1 to George Clooney this guy's an 11. Hardeeharhar...

Jokes aside, Clooney is actually (make-up & stylist-free) moviestar handsome - in that manly man old-time classic-style; he's very Dean Martin meets Cary Grant suave - but without the Aqua Velva tinge permeating the atmosphere when he saunters by, sadly a "style" so many of the neuvo-stars have nowadays...

George is also extremely intelligent and charming. Not your average Joe. No siree Bob. Smitten? You bet ya. And who could blame me? He even passes my self-induced 40-40-40 rule; the gentleman in question must be over 40 for an acceptable maturity level (check), hemust make at least 40,000 a year so every once in a while he can pick up the dinner and a show tab (check), and he must live at least 40 minutes away to avoid pesky surprise visits or continual visitations (check).

Clooney's in a coupla super hot films and is up for three Acadmey Awards in three separate categories; Best actor in. Syriana (which I am ashamed to say, I have not seen YET due to my super-busy chickbabe schedule) and as director and CO-screenwriter forgood night, and good luck. The latter is is an incredibly personal piece; George produced, co-wrote, directed and co-starred in it - but in a good way. It's also, a great and grand film - important, timely, and frankly a refreshing exception in Hollywood. Though it's a true feature film, it's dolloped with non-fiction and interwoven real-life footage and uncanny performances of iconic names in American history so precisely portrayed you can almost smell the ever-present cigarettes and feel the anguish of Constitutionally important battle artfully transpiring upon the screen.

I giggle inside as he strolls in sporting a super-bright red-checkered pic-a-nik semi-western style shirt, something a like a Lawrence Welk Singer (sans the matching scarf and accordion) might have chosen for the day decades ago; but his warm smile and down-home enthusiasm is the real deal. I think to myself, "Geeze Louise - this guy can even pull off retro-kitch and look swell. Pure cool. Purrrrrr-fst fst."

George: Well hello - thanks for coming out.

Emily: No, thank you on behalf of journalists everywhere for the film Mr. Clooney…(stop swooning - stop it, he's just a silly talented handsome boy… did I say that out loud? Did I mention he's handsome? Think Batman and Robin - focus..). Edward R. Murrow was and is an American Icon - in the truest sense. And David Strathairn is an impeccable Edward R. Murrow - how did you decide, "he's the guy" to play this journalistic legend?

George: He was the cheapest (laughter). No. As we were watching Murrow's clips and discovering how he I needed someone who had the weight of the world on his shoulders. That's not something you can "act." I needed someone like that. David was perfect and potluck at the last minute before shooting! I figured if you can stick a camera on someone for five minutes and not move it - not have to move it - then that's a good actor. That's the difference.

Emily: Do you now consider yourself primarily a director a writer an actor (an Orson Welles-like demi-god sprinkled with pheromone inducing bits of yum)?

George: (laughter- and with a broad smile - like he heard my inner-thoughts) I think of myself as a choreographer more than a director; I like to dance. I really just like to be a part of what ever the process is - I like directing 'cause you get to boss people around (laughter). I like writing; listen - you know you don't get to hang around too long as an actor before people get tired of seeing you - so it's good to have a job to fall back on.

Emily: (Holding back the giggle "tired of seeing you….") But, certainly it helps being "George Clooney," when it comes to "smaller films."

George: Yes. As with Confessions I had to do a small part in it to get it made - true. To get to direct. Because believe me, they weren't jumping to do a black and white film! I dunno why - but they weren't eager! Sure. Look - this is a thing for me that I want to do for a long time. I pay attention to directors - I've spent a lot of time with them. I like storytelling.

Emily: Can you talk about the pre-production backlash you received and are still receiving regarding the whole sordid McCarthy Era?

George: Sure. For example, in one of Murrow's original broadcast speeches, that we put in purposely, he says, "You will note, that I do not know nor does the lawyer, know that Annie Lee Moss is a communist." Murrow was the master of using the Constitution. The problem is that McCarthy didn't care about facts; he used fear to gain popularity. This meeting of the titans (Murrow and McCarthy) was an incident and that whole "time" has been a passion of mine because it is one of the few times you could point to where broadcast journalism actually changed the world and people's minds. McCarthy was untouchable till Murrow stepped up. It was one of those great moments where you really had to be brave. And it ultimately ended both their careers. Page Six ran a story about how we were producing a liberal piece condemning McCarthy and so forth. We (Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov) had already decided not to use an actor as McCarthy; we would use the real footage. As Heslov says, "otherwise whomever we got to play McCarthy, no matter how good they were, nobody was going to believe it!" So, we decided to use the real footage. That's also why the film is in black and white - to stay congruent to the actual clips.

Emily: Yeah, you can't make this stuff up. What about the fact that folks are asking,"Who's the actor playing McCarthy?"

George: (laughter) We are thinking of taking out an ad in the trades next spring, "For your consideration for Best Supporting Actor: Joseph P. McCarthy!" (laughter) "A Stunning Portrayal." (laughter). Yes, a few folks really don't know who is he - like 20% Emily. And here's an opportunity that one in a hundred young kids actually might learn who Murrow is! Aand have some discussion and have some understanding of what, and how dangerous, a democracy can be if fear is used as a weapon. (<-Blunt Aside: I swear I heard a bar of Grand Old Flag queue in my head…. Beautiful dreamer…)

Emily: Are there any Murrows among us today?

George: Back in Murrow's day you had three channels. Now you can watch the news that fits your belief - the channel that agrees with your point of view. I was really heartened during the hurricane Mad Magazinecoverage - the teeth I saw in the journalists. It was nice to see it again. You haven't seen this since Clinton was getting serviced (laughter). It was good to see that kind of appetite again for challenging authority. There are no Murrow's of today - that doesn't mean there are not great people of ethic. There is no longer one man who can change a policy. The last of those was really truly when Cronkite stood up and came back from Viet Nam and said, "At best this is a stalemate." And Johnson didn't re-run for president ' cause he said, "If I lost Cronkite, I lost the American people." We don't have that anymore. That's not to say you can't sit and listen to Bill Moyer all day. It's not they aren't out there…it's that they don't have the same power. So, I don't think you can have a Murrow any more - because we are too fractured to do it. It DOES NOT mean those guys are not out there. I think the contrary - there are a lot of them out there. Kids get killed in Afghanistan and Iraq everyday - and I find there's some of the best reporting I've ever seen out there.

Emily: What inspired you to even create this film, this document - that's so incredibly hauntingly timely?

George: Yeah! Well, my dad was an anchorman back home and wrote his own news. And, every reporter wants to break a story! I grew up under this world and Fred Friendly. I always loved The Columbia School of Ethics in Journalism Seminars - ethics in America! And I became a fan if his where he talks about how he'd walk around with a mini-version of the constitution. So, I got one - I still have it - I always found it was sort of a funny thing - whenever you get in trouble with any sort of questions, it's really a kind of great "bible" for the governmental questions. Now, listen, a lot of times wrong about stuff early on; they don't address slavery for example…but the beauty of the Constitution is they kept saying, "We know things are going to change so we leave it movable so we can fix it." So, Fred was a hero of mine growing up, because he was a hero of my father's, as was Murrow. I grew up holding cue cards and watching the news being reported. I didn't want [good night good luck] to be a civics lesson - I also didn't want it to be strictly biopic. I aways envisioned framing a film inside the "Box and Wires Speech (1958)" - which is very famous - I had done some reporting early on and was pretty bad…if those tapes ever come out. But, I talked to my dad and he said, "Get your facts straight. Be very very careful with the facts. Get them all right - 'cause if you get one wrong, you'll get marginalized and nowadays you'll get beat up." I double sourced everything - every scene. We used all the pieces we could use - we didn't make that up. You know, you talk to my aunt and uncle back in Kentucky and as far as they're concerned, from the beginning - before the war - Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 and a part of al-Qaida. Period. I mean that was a fact. Now, what happens with that is it polarizes people. That's sort of the issue or the problem that comes in. It's not evil, or wrong, or…it's just going to happen.


Good night and good luck, is truly a masterpiece and not just 'cause Clooney's in it - in fact he's hardly the star; George disappears into his "smaller" role of Fred Friendly, who is a star of the film; and more importantly, an exceptionally important character in the scheme of actual history. Bravo Georgio, il talento funziona ovviamente in the Clooney DNA..

Eh, whayda heck:

Mansteak Weekly George Clooney
*Sorry Sold Out




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