Here’s what I like about George Clooney: George Clooney knows how to be a movie star. He’s a professional. He knows how to conduct himself in public, he knows who to thank and who to shade, he knows how to do press and he knows how to give a hell of an interview. That being said, even I was surprised by just how candid Clooney is in his new Esquire cover interview. I guess this was arranged for when George thought The Monuments Men would be released in December (it’s been pushed back to February), but George The Professional still sat down with Esquire and gave one of the most candid interviews I’ve ever read from him. He slams Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe HARD. He also praises the crap out of Brad Pitt. It’s pretty awesome. You can read the full thing here and here are some highlights:
George’s Leo DiCaprio story: Clooney suggested they might play [basketball] someday. DiCaprio said sure, but felt compelled to add, “You know, we’re pretty serious.” They played at a neighborhood court. “You know, I can play,” Clooney says in his living room. “I’m not great, by any means, but I played high school basketball, and I know I can play. I also know that you don’t talk sh-t unless you can play. And the thing about playing Leo is you have all these guys talking sh-t. We get there, and there’s this guy, Danny A I think his name is. Danny A is this club kid from New York. And he comes up to me and says, ‘We played once at Chelsea Piers. I kicked your ass.’ I said, ‘I’ve only played at Chelsea Piers once in my life and ran the table. So if we played, you didn’t kick anybody’s ass.’ And so then we’re watching them warm up, and they’re doing this weave around the court, and one of the guys I play with says, ‘You know we’re going to kill these guys, right?’ Because they can’t play at all. We’re all like fifty years old, and we beat them three straight: 11–0, 11–0, 11–0. And the discrepancy between their game and how they talked about their game made me think of how important it is to have someone in your life to tell you what’s what. I’m not sure if Leo has someone like that.”
Advice from dad: He’s grateful, in particular, to his father, for being the guy who tells him what’s what; who tells him to think of the consequences of his actions before he acts; and who, when his son called to ask whether he was “in trouble” for his political stand on the Iraq war, answered thusly: “He was like, ‘Do you have a job?’ I said yeah. He goes, ‘Do you have money in the bank?’ I said yeah. So he goes, ‘Shut up. Grow up—you’re a grown man, you know. Freedom of speech means that when you speak up, you have to be ready for people to say bad things about you. That’s how it works.’ And I said, ‘Got it.’ And you know, I knew it, but it does help to hear it from your old man.”
The Russell Crowe story: “The truth is that [Crowe] did send me a book of poems to apologize for insulting the shit out of me, which he did. He picked a fight with me. He started it for no reason at all. He put out this thing saying, ‘George Clooney, Harrison Ford, and Robert De Niro are sellouts.’ And I put out a statement saying, ‘He’s probably right. And I’m glad he told us, ’cause Bob and Harrison and I were also thinking about starting a band, which would also fall under the heading of bad use of celebrity.’ And that’s when he really went off on me. ‘Who the f–k does this guy think he is? He’s a Frank Sinatra wannabe.’ He really went after me. And so I sent him a note going, ‘Dude, the only people who succeed when two famous people are fighting is People magazine. What the f–k is wrong with you?’ But then I had a year. Then I had Syriana and Good Night, and Good Luck, and he was gonna see me at the Golden Globes ’cause he was nominated for Cinderella Man. So he sends me a disc of his music and a thing of his poetry. I think he said, ‘I was all misquoted,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah. Whatever.’”
On Twitter: “If you’re famous, I don’t—for the life of me—I don’t understand why any famous person would ever be on Twitter. Why on God’s green earth would you be on Twitter? Because first of all, the worst thing you can do is make yourself more available, right? Because you’re going to be available to everybody. But also Twitter. So one drunken night, you come home and you’ve had two too many drinks and you’re watching TV and somebody pisses you off, and you go ‘Ehhhhh’ and fight back. And you go to sleep, and you wake up in the morning and your career is over. Or you’re an a–hole. Or all the things you might think in the quiet of your drunken evening are suddenly blasted around the entire world before you wake up. I mean, when you see, like, Ashton Kutcher coming out going, you know, ‘Everybody leave Joe Paterno alone,’ or whatever he said, you just go, ‘Fifteen minutes longer and a thought process and probably you wouldn’t have done that.’ ”
He loves Brad Pitt: “For a long time now, Brad has been the biggest movie star in the world,” he says. “He’s bigger than me, bigger than DiCaprio. And I really admire how he deals with that. It’s not easy for him. But he tries to be the most honest version of Brad Pitt that he can be. And he also remains unavailable. He’s still a giant movie star because you can’t get to him. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think of him as incredibly talented and smart and all those things. But you also can’t get to him.”
He says Brad’s WWZ reshoots “almost killed him.” “I saw him in London when he was doing the World War Z reshoot. I called him up and said, ‘What are you doing? I’m doing reshoots.’ He said, ‘I’m doing reshoots.’ We met up. And I was like, ‘How you holding up?’ And he took out a knife and stabbed it in the table and we drank a lot of vodka and he just said, ‘This one’s going to kill me, man.’ It was a huge reshoot and Brad was putting it on his shoulders. He picked it up and put it on his shoulders and took it away from all the people who were screwing it up. Carried it over the finish line. Got it made into a film that was well reviewed and made a lot of money. And I just wrote him an e-mail and it said, ‘This one is all on you, brother. Congratulations, because I know this was a killer.’ You know? You don’t want your zombie movie to be the killer, but it was.”
The Leo and Crowe stories are amazing, right? I have no memory of Crowe talking sh-t about George, but I guess the time frame is 2003-05-ish, right? Why don’t I remember that? Hm. Well, if Russell really did go after George like that, then I do love the boy drama and the way George shut it down by being the adult. As for Leo – God, I love the point George makes. Leo is surrounded by all of these yes men and trash-talkers. As so many stars are.
Photos courtesy of Esquire.