Thursday, May 23, 2024

George Clooney, Producer, Brings “August: Osage County” to AFI


The last time we saw John Wells’s “August: Osage Count” was at the Toronto Film Festival. It looked pretty good, and received a massive standing ovation. But it’s been tweaked since then for its American Film Institute opening.

Last night, George Clooney–who produced “AOC” with partner Grant Heslov, was very funny when he quipped about seeing the excellent adaptation over and over. “I haven’t seen it in two weeks, I’m not sure if it’s changed or not.”

Director John Wells, who cast George in the TV series “ER,'” which launched his career, told me:  “George is really very supportive. He’s just happy he didn’t have to act in it. He likes producing and over our 22 year friendship, we’ve developed a real shorthand.”

Clooney, Heslov and Wells weren’t alone at the Chinese Theater screening. “AOC” cast members Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, and Julianne Nicholson. Missing–but soon to seen when the film rolls out in December– Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.

Cooper told me what attracted him to the script by playwright Tracey Letts. Cooper explained, “This kind of writing is what got me into acting in the first place. Essentially ‘August’ is a great and intense study in human behavior. Tracy’s (writer Tracy Letts) writing reminds me of Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Arthur Miller, that kind of playwriting. He’s up there with them.”

What’s up next for Chris? “I honestly don’t know. Reading a lot of material. Tracy is a lot to live up to for anybody.”

I asked Chris how about Clooney as a producer. “He came to the set often. He put us all at ease. He’s a real cheerleader…you just want to give him your best effort.”

Juliette Lewis chimed in with, “George is hands on. Grant too. And they’re both funny and cute. What’s not to like?”

Clooney, meanwhile, was going back to see the movie again. Many stars just do the red carpet and leave without sitting through the screening again. But he was going to watch it after seeing it numerous times.

And just keep this in mind: “AOC” could figure greatly in the Oscar race for Picture, Director, Actress (Streep), Screenplay and supporting actors. Streep is stunning in it and Margo Martindale could be a dark horse nominee. Chris Cooper, with his usual subtlety, quietly commands attention in his scenes with Benedict Cumberbatch. Just sayin’….

“August: Osage County,” is set to be released on December 25th.


photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney writes from Los Angeles for A seasoned journalist with a long history during the halcyon days of the NY Daily News, Leah is a member of the Critics Choice and Rotten Tomatoes.

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