George Clooney Speaks on Leatherheads

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George Clooney is more than a handsome face. He's both a director and an actor.

The charitable hunk put both skills to the test for the upcoming movie Leatherheads. And he recently spoke to MovieWeb about the project:

How does George Clooney the director work with George Clooney the A list actor?
George Clooney: It's funny. With the three films I've directed, the other two I only had bit parts in them. I wasn't the lead. It becomes tricky, because there is an enormous amount of narcissism that comes into play. You are breaking the trust between two actors when you are in the lead. If you and I are doing a scene together and we're talking, I'm not supposed to be judging you as an actor.

Some actors do that, and they'll tell you what to do. In general you're not supposed to break that trust. The director is. If we are doing a scene and we finish, then I go, "Okay, cut. Now try it like this." It really requires an amount of trust. You have to go to each of the actors before you start and say, "Listen, this is going to be awkward." You just get it out in the open and lay it out early. You say, "It's gonna be strange all the way around."

Directing Leatherheads

As an actor, it's easy because I know precisely what I need to do in that scene. I've cut out that step where the director has to explain it.

Why did you choose to take the starring role in your own film this time out?

George Clooney: The truth is, I did it because I wanted to play this part for a long, long time. I always thought I was the right guy to play it. I also thought, "I'm 46. If I don't do it now, I'm done. This is it. This is my last shot at it." Soderbergh was going to direct it in 1998, when we were going to do it and I was very excited about that sort of prospect. Things kind of moved on. The script wasn't in shape.

We had an outline. We had two or three scenes that we loved and characters that we loved, but we didn't have a plot. Some years passed. I thought, "I want to do something that is completely away from what I have been doing." I like screwing with different genres. This was a world I knew a little bit about. The style of film I knew. So, I spent a summer stealing from Philadelphia Story, homaging the hell out of those types of films.

And Hail the Conquering Hero sort of helped too. I was stuck in this world where I was going to direct it, and I was going to play the lead. What I hadn't really paid attention to was that I was also going to be playing football. And it hurt. The first day I got hit by some 21-year-old that knocked me on my ass. I was like, "Okay, I'm in trouble because I've got four more months of this."

I would never, by design, do a film that I would play the lead in ever again. It was really one of those things where all of it came together very quickly. It was a dumb move in some ways because it was a little too much to take on.

Leatherheads opens on April 4.

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