George Clooney hits back at claims he does not understand Britain’s right to Elgin Marbles

Star responds to criticism at press conference to promote his latest film 'The Monuments Men'

George Clooney has hit back at suggestions that he does not understand Britain’s right to the Elgin Marbles because he is an American, as the row between Hollywood and Westminster escalated with Matt Damon and Bill Murray also weighing in.

On Saturday at a press conference in Berlin to promote his new film The Monuments Men, Clooney said he thought the marble sculptures taken from the Parthenon in Athens by the Earl of Elgin in the 19th century should be returned to Greece after a question from a Greek journalist.

That prompted John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, to tell The Independent on Sunday that Clooney might not know about the UK’s “legal entitlement” to the priceless artefacts partly because “he’s an American”.

On Tuesday, at a press conference in London, Clooney hit back.

“Apparently I got in trouble for saying that [the Marbles should be returned] and I had to do a little research to make sure I wasn’t completely out of my mind,” he said.

But he then somewhat undermined his case by mispronouncing the name of the Parthenon.

“Even in England the polling is in favour of returning the marbles from the Pantheon,” Clooney said, before calling them the “Pantheon Marbles” again.

On the subject of whether he was not fully versed on the subject because he was American, he said sarcastically, “that's probably right”.

Mr Whittingdale’s suggestion was dismissed by co-star Damon. “That can't always be the British default position. I mean seriously, it's not actually an argument to say we are Americans, we don't get it,” he said.

And Murray, who is also in the film, said the Marbles had had “a very nice stay here, certainly”.

“There's plenty of room back there in Greece,” he said, urging the UK to let “art go back where it came from”.

Murray said if the Marbles were reunited in Athens he felt sure that Greece would “loan it back every once in a while”.

Clooney was asked if he planned to go to the British Museum, where the sculptures are kept, but said they had to head to France to “insult the Parisians” with “something about the Mona Lisa and Italy”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend