In good company
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.
in Germany, you worked on your own projects?
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.