Clooney is ready for the hard queries

Week­end, October 27-29, 2017 Ac­tor doesn’t flinch from sex scandal ques­tions Movies

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Ge­orge Clooney is ready for my ques­tion, and he doesn’t flinch from it or dodge it the way many of his fel­low Hol­ly­wood denizens might. It’s right off the top of the in­ter­view, af­ter we ex­change pleas­antries about his re­cent in­duc­tion into the happy cult of par­ent­hood (he and his wife Amal have four-month-old twins, Ella and Alexan­der).

Here’s the hard query for ac­tor/direc­tor Clooney: The sex scan­dals cur­rently roil­ing Hol­ly­wood and other male-dom­i­nated in­dus­tries, from movie pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein to top chef John Besh, is grab­bing head­lines and social media clicks, but is there any hope that pos­i­tive change might come out of it?

“Good ques­tion – I hope so,” Clooney replies, on the line from L.A., where he’s do­ing pro­mo­tion for his Subur­bicon, his so­cially aware new drama.

“The two things that will come out of this, I think, the good news out of all this id­iocy, is that women will feel that it’s eas­ier to come for­ward, per­haps, and per­haps men will feel like it’s much more dan­ger­ous for them to be preda­tors along the way …

“Lis­ten, it’s not just Hol­ly­wood, as you know, it’s pretty much ev­ery ma­jor in­dus­try. We’ve seen th­ese things hap­pen be­fore. We saw it when Fox News went through its whole thing, and you didn’t re­ally see be­hav­iours change too much. So I hope that be­cause this is such a big story and con­tin­ues to grow, I hope it af­fects male be­hav­iour and I hope it makes women feel safer to come out ear­lier.”

Clooney is be­ing asked vari­a­tions of this ques­tion a lot th­ese days, as are many men, but he’s par­tic­u­larly vis­i­ble as one of Hol­ly­wood’s best-known stars and as an ac­tivist for many social causes. The lat­ter in­cludes his hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts, backed by the UN and other agen­cies.

He’s also a good friend to for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, the two of them keep­ing in fre­quent con­tact through tex­ting, wher­ever they roam.

Speak­ing of roam­ing, Clooney does just that as he dis­cusses Subur­bicon, the sixth fea­ture he’s di­rected, while also weigh­ing in on racism and his failed pre­dic­tion that Don­ald Trump wouldn’t be­come U.S. pres­i­dent: If we did that, a lot of peo­ple would be say­ing, “You’re just try­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on a true story.” And there’s so much of the movie that isn’t based on a true story, so much of it is just a mur­der thriller. I also fig­ured that peo­ple like you and peo­ple who did their home­work (would know about Le­vit­town) and I think that’s prob­a­bly a bet­ter way of get­ting it out than try­ing to stamp it at the be­gin­ning of the movie. The race an­gle it­self was sort of a stand in for a lot of things at the time. I had seen this mini-doc­u­men­tary called Cri­sis at Le­vit­town, and I saw this re­ally in­ter­est­ing thing, which is this African-Amer­i­can fam­ily moves in, and all th­ese white men feel like their lives are be­ing ru­ined be­cause this black fam­ily’s come in, and they built a fence around their home, they were scape­goat­ing mi­nori­ties and blam­ing them for every­thing. I’ve been hear­ing a lot of talk in pol­i­tics at that point about build­ing fences and scape­goat­ing mi­nori­ties and I thought it’s al­ways good to re­mind our­selves that this is not new, this kind of di­a­logue ... and also the idea that some­one’s afraid that they’re los­ing their place in so­ci­ety, when of course they have noth­ing to do with the mi­nori­ties or im­mi­grants or any­thing. I thought it was al­ways in­ter­est­ing to talk about, and I thought it’s bet­ter to put it in entertainment than to try to do a piece about Le­vit­town it­self. No, I don’t mind peo­ple re­mind­ing me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I would ar­gue that prob­a­bly 90 per cent of peo­ple, in­clud­ing Trump, would have made that same ar­gu­ment. Well you can make the ar­gu­ment that be­cause of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama we saw sud­denly peo­ple stand­ing up against things only be­cause a black pres­i­dent had sug­gested them. Oba­macare and was orig­i­nally called Rom­n­ey­care, but sud­denly a black pres­i­dent wants to do it and it’s tak­ing away (peo­ple’s) rights, tak­ing away every­thing else. I’m al­ways sur­prised at our abil­ity to scape­goat peo­ple that are a huge part of our so­ci­ety. I’m al­ways sur­prised by that. But I’m also al­ways op­ti­mistic that some­how we’ll get through it.

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Paramount Pic­tures

Direc­tor Ge­orge Clooney and ac­tor noah Jupe on the set of Subur­bicon.

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