On The Problem With Famous People, Why Life Does Not Get Better Than At His Villa At Lake Como, L.A. Buddies, and How To Deal With Constant Loss Of Privacy
By Jan Janssen, The Interview Feed
|“You have to be willing to work hard to create your own sense of freedom, and that’s where the real art of living comes in.”
– Actor George Clooney
The word charisma doesn’t even begin to describe the aura that surrounds George Clooney. He’s the epitome of the debonair playboy. The natural-born movie star. The no-strings celebrity multimillionaire with the devil-may-care-grin who divides his life between work and his idyllic Italian villa. Clooney is the ultimate movie star whose neon smile and magnetic personality rival that of Hollywood’s greatest screen legends. Clooney has reached a point in his life where his legacy is the only thing which matters.
Question (Q): What draws you to Italy?
George Clooney (GC):What I love about Italy is being able to feel very free there. The Italians have a great joie de vivre and way of looking at the world. Very little bothers them except when their local football team loses. So that kind of spirit is incredibly stimulating. As soon as I set foot in Laglio, I feel truly at home and at peace there….And no one cares about the film business there. It’s all about food and wine and the beauty of being there. I get to do some work, I get to ride my motorcycle, and that still leaves plenty of time for food and drink. Mostly drink.
Q: Why do you think you’ve been able to remain close to your producing partner Grant Heslov and some of your L.A. buddies for so long.?
(GC):You always remember the hard times and the people who stayed with you for the ride. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve stayed close to pretty much the same group of guys I met and hung out with in L.A. when I first arrived there basically broke and not having a clue how I was going to make it as an actor. Nearly thirty years later, we still get to hang out and have fun together.
Q: You seem incredibly relaxed and happy. Do you feel that you’re one of those lucky few who has exactly the life he wants?
(GC):Things are easy when you’ve figured out how to live. You’re able to cut through all the crap that tends to weigh people down, and you just focus on what you want out of life and pursue that. For me, the key to life is knowing what you want and being able to go out and get it. It takes hard work, but once you get to the point where you’re achieving your goals and not wasting time, everything in life becomes much easier… I’m pretty close to where I want to be. I’m doing the kind of work I want to do, and I still have a lot I have left to accomplish and that keeps driving me. You have to be willing to work hard to create your own sense of freedom, and that’s where the real art of living comes in.
Q: You long ago decided to dedicate yourself to the kind of career which you can be proud of. Do you feel you’ve accomplished most of your goals?
(GC): (Laughs) I’m not drowning in sorrow. But I also don’t take anything for granted. This is the point in my life where I can get a lot of interesting films made, and that window can close very fast if you’re not careful. I feel I understand the process that goes into making films that will stand the test of time, and I’m more determined than ever to take advantage of the opportunity I have….I want to be able to leave some sort of legacy and not have any regrets down the road that I didn’t do my best to make interesting films.
Q: Unlike some movie stars, you seem so relaxed and at ease with your rather considerable fame. How do you stay so cool and calm?
(GC):Before I ever arrived in Los Angeles, I was the son of a very famous newsman (veteran journalist Nick Clooney – ED) and my aunt Rosemary had been one of the biggest stars in the music business in her day. So I knew what it meant to be a celebrity and how it could all go away pretty fast. My aunt Rosemary also taught me how to keep a perspective on everything that happens to you. Rosemary was once one of the most popular singers in America. But I learnt from how her career sank in the sixties (with the advent of rock and roll). I saw how little it has to do with you. It’s all about luck and being at the right place and the right time. The problem with famous people in general is that they actually think they’re geniuses. You get famous and you think, “Yes, of course I should be famous and I’ve earned it all.” You haven’t, though. You got lucky. I got lucky. I was in a TV show (ER) that got a Thursday night time slot at 10pm, and it was a massive hit and we were drawing 40 million viewers each episode. Because of that success, I was able to work in film and eventually get to do the movies I wanted to do…But remember, I’m also the guy who nearly killed Batman for good. So I never take anything for granted.
Q: You’ve often spoken about not wanting to waste time. Do you approach your work with a sense of urgency?
(GC):I’m aware of how brief life is and how you have to mark every day and make it matter — not just the best moments, the award nominations, the opening nights. If my life is all about is these satellite moments, what then? They come, and they’re gone. I have to live it whole. In the end, it’s all about friendship and loyalty and treating people right. That’s one of the reasons I always make it a point of being as pleasant to people I’m working with as I can possibly be and why I will not work with people who treat others badly on a set.
Q: How do you adjust to the constant loss of privacy?
(GC):I remember walking through the streets of New York during the first season of ER, and people starting to wave at you or smile as if they knew you personally, or going, “Hey, George.” Your life becomes more complicated when that starts to happen. I try never to complain, because no one wants to hear that. I will say though that I don’t think many actors from the forties or fifties would have survived very long under the kind of scrutiny we get today. But privacy is an issue for everyone now and not just celebrities. With the Internet and social media, almost everyone is facing a loss of privacy.
Q: What’s your favorite reaction you’ve had from fans who meet you?
(GC):“Hey, you don’t look so good up close!” HBM 3/14
Photo Credits: Reuters