In good com­pany

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By RafeR Guz­man

Con­fes­sions Of A Dan­ger­ous Mind, Good Night, And Good Luck, Leather­heads and The Ides Of March. The os­car-win­ning ac­tor’s lat­est project high­lights Clooney’s con­tin­u­ing goal to find sto­ries that oth­ers would never at­tempt.

“We’re al­ways in­ter­ested in sto­ries that are unique and no slam dunks for the stu­dio to make. It will re­quire us to sort of pick it up and carry it in. It’s hard to make films like this. It took us a long time to get Argo (on which he was pro­ducer) made. With Good Night, Good Luck, I mort­gaged my house to make it,” Clooney says. “We are just try­ing not to do films where ev­ery­one would walk in and say, ‘ Yeah, that’s an easy one.’ Along with ge­orge Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Mur­ray, there’s an­other face you might recog­nise in The Mon­u­ments Men – that of ac­tor Bob Bal­a­ban.

In the film, di­rected and co-writ­ten by Clooney, Bal­a­ban plays an art his­to­rian who joins a group of soldiers track­ing art stolen by the nazis. It’s the lat­est in a string of nearly count­less roles for the 68year-old char­ac­ter ac­tor, whose re­sume ranges from 1977’s Close En­coun­ters Of The Third Kind (as Fran­cois Truf­faut’s trans­la­tor) to 2012’s Moon­rise King­dom (as the on-screen nar­ra­tor).

Bal­a­ban is equally ac­tive off-cam­era: he has di­rected plays, films and tele­vi­sion se­ries, helped pro­duce Robert Alt­man’s Gos­ford Park and re­cently launched his sec­ond se­ries of chil­dren’s books, The Crea­ture From The Sev­enth Grade.

“It’s why I write, pro­duce, di­rect and act: be­cause then there’s a chance I could be work­ing all the time,” Bal­a­ban says. “Each time you stop work­ing, you think, ‘oK, what will I do next?’”

Bal­a­ban re­cently spoke over lunch in Man­hat­tan about his lat­est role and his un­ceas­ing work ethic.

Tell me how you joined the cast of

The Mon­u­ments Men.

I was at the pre­miere of Argo, at some fancy steak­house. grant (Heslov, co-pro­ducer of Mon­u­ments) and ge­orge are there, and we say hello and chat. The next morn­ing, I get a phone call. So it just goes to show you that you must go to all par­ties.

You’ve prob­a­bly been in more movies than the other ac­tors.

Well, I’ve been around a lot. Some­times I’m the third lead in some­thing, and maybe I have a few in­ter­est­ing scenes some­where. And if that was my whole life all the time, I’d kill my­self, ac­tu­ally. But since it’s one of four or five things I’m do­ing, it’s re­ally fun. I can use it to meet people and hire them for things I’m do­ing. I get to work with mil­lions of di­rec­tors. I’ve had the priv­i­lege to watch Steven Spiel­berg di­rect­ing, and Syd­ney Pol­lack and Robert Alt­man.

While film­ing

The Mon­u­ments

in Ger­many, you worked on your own projects?

Men

In the mid­dle of it, I went back to las Ve­gas to di­rect four com­mer­cials. I’m from the school of: you bet­ter do it while it’s hap­pen­ing. I can put it off for a year or two, but next year I could be sit­ting around do­ing noth­ing. — news­day/ McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion

Best of both worlds: Ge­orge Clooney is tal­ented be­hind the cam­era as well as well in front of it.

The star-stud­ded cast of TheMon­u­mentsMen in­cludes (from left) Bob Bal­a­ban, Ge­orge Clooney, John Good­man, Bill Mur­ray, Cate Blanchett and Matt Damon. Pos­ing with them is screen­writer Grant Heslov.

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