George Clooney–the last of the great movie stars, as it turns out–is about to stop talking.
“After this, there’s no nore,” Clooney said, after the very full house at Roy Thomson Hall went crazy for “Goats” last night. “Goats” is a rocking dark comedy in the vein of “Dr. Strangelove” and “Wag the Dog,” directed by Clooney’s pal Grant Heslov. It was of such interest last night that a bunch of other actors–including Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson–turned up to see what all the fuss is about.
But it’s Clooney’s other film here at the Toronto Internantional Film Festival–Jason Retiman’s “Up in the Air”–that’s going to bring the actor his next Oscar nomination and lots of accolades as well as big box office. And that’s okay with him, but there will be no Oscar campaign.
No campaign? “Nope, I’m done, I have nothing to say. And I really liked not doing a campaign for ‘Michael Clayton,’” George said.
And it’s too bad because Clooney has a lot to say, generally. When Michael Moore came to congratulate him last night, the two reminisced about their mutual trips to Venice. “Oliver Stone brought Hugo Chavez,” Clooney said. “He invited me to a screening of their movie. I looked around and said, ‘I see what this is.’” He laughed. “At least this time, it wasn’t me getting in trouble.”
What– or rather wh0–Clooney is proudest of is his dad, Nick, who spoke so eloquently at Walter Cronkite’s memorial service this week. Clooney was not able to be there because of this last PR push. “I downloaded the whole thing from You Tube,” he said. “And you know he wrote the whole thing. Wasn’t he wonderful?” he asked, eyes sparkling.
Cronkite was a lifelong family friend, George said. “He and Walter had their last dinner together at Patsy’s,” he revealed, the famed Italian restaurant favored by Frank Sinatra, on West 56th St. in Manhattan.
Cronkite, in fact, had visited Clooney at his home in Lake Como, Italy–the same place where George recently had his hand smashed in a car door, hence the big white bandage he’s sporting–for the last four summers.
“The first time he came, he asked if we dressed for dinner. He came down in a blue blazer and a white hat, so we played a joke on him and’were all in robes! He was so angry, and we went in to change. When he came back, dressed casually, we were all in suits. He loved it. He had a great sense of humor.”
George got his start on TV, of course, in “ER,” most famously. He is an unexpected movie star. But once you’ve seen “Goats,” and “Up in the Air,” and then calculated them with “Michael Clayton,” you realize he’s a hybrid of Cary Grant and Jack Lemmon. In “Up in the Air,” he is Lemmon in “Save the Tiger,” a man who knows he is a dying breed–a 10-million-mile frequent flyer who’s more at home in the American Airlines Admirals Club than in his own, spare apartment.
The performance, I tell George, like everyone else who’s seen it, is extraordinary.
“It’s Jason Reitman, the director,” he replies, typically self-effacing. “He did it.”’ He’s not going to toot his own’horn. And that’s the Oscar campaign. He says, with a sheepish smile, “I have some pull, don’t I?” And then adds, quickly: “And you know, I didn’t even plan it.” We know.
P.S. Clooney’s two films will be boons to their respective studios even without publicity. ‘”Up in the Air” is a Paramount release, which needs a good hit after postponing Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” until next February. Even more importantly, “Goats” comes from little Overture Films, only two years into business. Chris McGurk’s mini mini-studio also has Michael Moore’s “Capitalism.”’ Two hits–not bad.
Risky Business blog has more on Clooney’s Toronto press conference.