Clooney looks back, and forward to his legacy
Monday 12 September 2011
Actor George Clooney always thought of himself as a movie star, even when he was cast in "crappy TV shows" early in his career, he said Saturday.
"Even when I was on some pretty crappy TV shows ... you always think of yourself as a film actor, you know, I'm a film actor but I just happened to doing this crappy TV show now and soon I'll have this fabulous movie career that I wasn't actually having (then)," he said.
Clooney was speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival where he showed his new political drama "The Ides of March," and appeared in acclaimed director Alexander Payne's "The Descendants."
His early career was marked by appearances in vacuous television series such as "Street Hawk," "Riptide," "Crazy Like A Fox," "Hotel," and "Throb." He also played Major Biff Woods in the unmemorable television movie "Combat High."
A decade later he would go on to huge box office success with critically-acclaimed films "Ocean's Eleven" (2001) "Good Night, and Good Luck" (2005), "Michael Clayton" (2007) "Burn After Reading" (2008), "Up In The Air" (2009) and "Men Who Stare At Goats" (2009).
As well, he won an Oscar for his role in "Syriana" (2005) about the state of the oil industry.
The turning point in his career, he recalled, was his casting as a hospital emergency room doctor in the hit television series "E/R," which he described as "lucky."
"There's a period of time when you're just trying to get a job and then you get lucky. E/R was lucky," he said. "Immediately I went from obscurity to being able to get a film."
Admittedly, the first few were "not great films," he said.
"Then you start to realize that you have to take responsibility for the roles because you're going to be held responsible for the whole movie. If your name is on it above the title, then you've got to actually pay attention to, not just your part, but the film."
This lesson was first applied in "Three Kings" and "O Brother Where Art Thou?" that came next, he said.
"It was like, 'Oh I get it, I have to work with really good filmmakers on really good screenplays,' and that makes a big difference," Clooney said.
Over the past decade, the Lexington, Kentucky-born Hollywood icon has been mostly directing films, but still views acting as his "day job," he said.
To prepare for his new role behind the lens, he said he read a book on directing by legendary director Sidney Lumet ("12 Angry Men" and "Dog Day Afternoon") and dissected his film "Network" as well as the movies of other famed 1970s directors.
Musing about his legacy, Clooney said he now "wants to do projects that last longer than an opening weekend. That's it."
"When they do that thing when you're 75 and they roll you out in a wheelchair (at the Academy Awards) and you have a colostomy bag hanging off of the side, you don't want them to say, 'Well, you had 20 films that opened number one.' Who gives a shit?"
"The truth is I want to make films that people remember, and if you do five or 10 of those in your life that last, then you win, unless someone steps on your colostomy bag."
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