Clooney is ready for the hard queries
Weekend, October 27-29, 2017 Actor doesn’t flinch from sex scandal questions Movies
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.
Director George Clooney and actor noah Jupe on the set of Suburbicon.