George Clooney covers the January issue of Esquire Magazine, the theme of which is “The Meaning of Life”. Ugh, dudes. It’s just a magazine! Anyway, Clooney is shilling The Descendants hard, of course, and George really, really wants another Oscar. So instead of sitting down with People Magazine to talk about his girlfriend (that comes a few weeks from now), George sits down with his dog, Einstein, and talks about “the meaning of life.” The whole article is written in George’s “voice” – you can read the whole thing here. I’ll try to do some highlights:
On politics: I get asked a lot about getting into politics. I say, “Take a look at politics. You tell me what seems appealing about that.”
Clooney on the Democratic Party’s biggest problem: “If this were a Republican president and Republican government, the advisors around it would be selling this as the most successful three years of a presidency in years. They’d start by saying, “When my guy took office, we were losing four hundred thousand jobs a month. That would mean fourteen million less jobs if we continued along that pace. And it stopped immediately. We saved the auto industry. We passed a health-care bill that no one could pass” — although Republicans wouldn’t have wanted that. “We killed Osama bin Laden.” You could go down the list of things that you could brag about. But Democrats are terrible at selling. So they’re just kind of apologizing, and everybody feels disillusioned.”
Clooney doesn’t play the stock market: I didn’t put money in the stock market. To me that’s like Vegas without the dancing girls — none of the fun, no gambling or dancing or drinking — and you don’t get to participate. So I paid off my house in cash when I could. It’s about having a foundation for when things go bad. I still have that mentality. When things go badly, I’ll have this piece of land I can sell first, and then I have this piece of land I can sell second. You always think that way.
He’s not a balls-out Method Actor: Somebody asked me, How can you relate to being a father? Well, I’m also not running for president, but I played that role in Ides of March. I wasn’t an actual lawyer when I did Michael Clayton, and I don’t fire people for a living like I did in Up in the Air. Go down the list. It’s just a job. An acting job is playing pretend. I’ve been a child of somebody’s. I’ve been an uncle. All my friends have kids. I’m around kids. I have an understanding of what it is. And I also have a really good script that informs me what is required of this father. Because, for the most part, the father I play in The Descendants doesn’t resemble any of the fathers that I know. I don’t have friends who have the kind of issues that this guy has. So a lot of it is just the information you get from the screenplay. There are Method actors that are really wonderful. I don’t bash anybody’s way of working because the results are the only thing that matter in this game. But for me, I don’t have to do heroin to play a heroin addict.
On money, and doing commercials overseas: Ides of March I did for scale — scale as a director, scale as an actor, scale as a writer. And I don’t have any back end on it. So I’m not going to make any money after that. I enjoy living in a nice house and having a nice life. So I do two or three commercials overseas a year to sort of fill in, because they pay pretty well. The wedding one in Norway was great. I usually try to keep away from anything that would have to do with me personally. I always think the commercials should make fun of me, sort of as a personality, but I try to keep my personal life out of it. But they called and sent the script, and the idea was funny. This woman in Norway wakes up and she’s married to me. It makes a big difference when you’re working with the Carol Burnett of Norway. She’s great, and it turned out fantastic. That commercial in particular helped fund a satellite project that keeps an eye on the Sudanese border to try to hold these war criminals in check. The satellite project costs about a million and two a year. So I’m always looking for a gig like that.
On relationships and marriage: People forget that I was married. I love that, Will he get married? I don’t talk about it because I don’t think about it. I don’t ever question other peoples’ versions of how they live their lives or what they do. I understand that it’s a subject of interest for people. But sometimes it exists only because it came up years ago. It becomes this conversation piece that constantly resurfaces. Everybody sort of has their own versions of what they think I am and what they think that is. I’m just living my life and doing the best I can. The rest of those versions, there’s not much I can do about. No matter what I do, I’m somehow upsetting someone in some way or making somebody happy. I can only live my own life and my version of it. My life isn’t focused on results. My life is really focused on the process of doing all the things I’m doing, from work to relationships to friendships to charitable work. If I focused on results, if it’s only about the ultimate results, I’d be a failure in Sudan, I’d be a failure in film, I’d be a failure with my friendships, I’d be a failure in relationships. I look at it as an ongoing process.
I love that he talked about that awesome Norwegian commercial – go here to see it. He also talks a lot about politics and his humanitarian work, and he even talks about his dog. It was a decent piece, and the whole “in Clooney’s own voice” angle worked really well for this particular piece. I get tired of most Esquire celebrity pieces that are just a lot of filler crap that no one cares about. Good read!
Photos courtesy of Esquire.