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08/11/2012

N: What is your daily routine in Italy when you're not writing or editing? Do you even have a daily routine? Or do you take each day as it comes, like on

a real vacation?

George Clooney: There are bigger plans, like, in two weeks we're going to take the motorcycles to the Dolomites. And the plans are according to who is coming to visit: If it's my friends with a whole bunch of kids then we're going to take the boat out all day, because the kids want to jump in the lake. If it's friends without kids, it may be sitting poolside and reading and listening to music. It depends on who's visiting. We don't make fixed plans - that's no fun!

 

N: How has this house and being here four months a year influenced you as a person? How has it changed your concept of time, your lifestyle?
George Clooney: We're always in a rush in America. The issue is truly that we're a young country, some 230 years old. We still have that mentality of “the harder you work the faster you get there and the more you get". And you've got to get; everything is about getting. The problem is that we don't understand that when you have something - as opposed to enjoying it which we never got used to, having two weeks a year vacation and you run somewhere and you suffer through that - you come here and they go: No, you're going to enjoy dinner, you're going to enjoy lunch. And it taught me a very important lesson, because I always worked, worked, worked. And we as a country still feel that way: “Gotta work, gotta go". And Italy in particular and most of Europe has another attitude: We work and we take a break, we work and we take a break. Italy takes a whole month off!

 

N: Which habits that are typically European have seeped into your daily life in the US, and vice versa?

George Clooney: That's interesting, you know, I live almost two completely different lives. I work harder now than I ever did in my life, harder even than when I was doing ER, for the eight months I am in LA. Because I made a decision in my life that says: from mid- May to September I am not going to do anything because of that lake. I'm not going to do anything but spend time at that house with my friends, with my family, with new visitors: I'm going to change my life. So in order to do that, I have to work like a dog the rest of the time. And I do. On September 1, I start a movie, then I do press for another movie and go directly into a new movie that wraps in March, just in time for me to go to the lake.

 

N: You raised 9.3 million dollars in Cannes at the fundraiser for Darfur. What made you take on this exceptionally difficult situation, which many experts describe as unsolvable? And - after lobbying Congress - what are your plans with your work for Darfur for the future?

George Clooney: It is unsolvable, of course, as almost all of these conflicts are. But the only way they're getting solved is by people going in and saying: They're unsolvable, so let's go in anyway. It's not ever going to be one clean answer. My father and I went there specifically knowing that if we went there we'd take cameras, and we shot it and we figured we could get on the air. We thought that it was something important enough to try and get involved. And once we got there we were completely committed to the idea. There's 2.5 million people who are in immediate peril. They're living in those camps, and the camps can't sustain them. And we feel as if our job is - certainly not to make

policies - but to try and shine a light on the situation, and hope that the people who are smart enough to make policies can do that.
 

N: How do you, as a celebrity, make politicians listen?
George Clooney: Celebrity has always found a way of being involved. Certainly in the AIDS epidemic. Famous people have always had some voice to bring attention to it. There is a new way of understanding it now, which is you have to be incredibly well informed. Because nowadays you get marginalized very quickly. If you get one thing wrong factually, then a group of people who really want to tee off on you will throw the whole issue out and say: They're all just idiots, they're a bunch of dumb actors, a bunch of dumb celebrities.
 
N: You are also very involved in environmental issues - and you drive an electric car in Los Angeles and had a hybrid engine built into your classic car. And now you are getting one of the first 100 Tesla Roadsters. Why do you want to be one of the first?
George Clooney: I can't stand up and say, I am the “green guy". The green movement is one of the most important. But it's tough for me to do because I have flown on private jets. There are soft spots where someone can come at me and go, “Oh, look, if it's so important to you why are you flying on a private jet?" So I have to accept that I am not the guy to be the spokesman for that. So I am buying electric cars because I want their technology to get better, and I know I'm famous and it costs me a lot of money to drive it. And I am very aware of the fact that it's a silly movement because it's not financially responsible right now. And no one who gets an electric car can drive it everywhere. However - if enough people see it and want one, they'll mass-produce them, they'll start to get those batteries better and make them so they
run a little longer. And make them look better - the Tesla looks better. And then the world changes.
 

N: Would you say that your social awareness started and exists because of your father?
George Clooney: My mother was a mayor. And my father ran for Congress. My parents brought me up to read and to ask questions, and to constantly question authority. Because authority unchecked, without exception, corrupts. Always.
 

N: What are subjects for films that still interest you and that you haven't explored yet?

George Clooney: Energy policies is a big one for me. Corruption in government. Elections. How you win them, I am really interested in. Some of them may be documentaries and some of them may be films. I'd like to see another movie like “The Candidate", which is about what you have to do to get elected. I have done Oscar-campaigns where you feel like a politician: you have to kiss babies!

 

N: As a director, now working with the second Oscar-nominated director on the Nespresso commercials - have you considered directing one yourself?

George Clooney: I don't have the time to do them. And you have to have a really good understanding how to tell a story in 30 seconds. I don't know how to do that. I know how to do a joke in 30 seconds. Commercials are very hard to do because - unlike a film - there's 10 people making decisions. Now that's fine and that's the way they work, but to me when I am the director of a film I'm the final decision maker. I have final cut, I have final say, it's all mine. If I do a commercial I have to look to other people and they get to tell me yes or no. I don't think I'm cut out for that.

 

N: And finally: what IS your cup of coffee?

George Clooney: I had to switch to decaf - I like the red ones best.
 

N: And in the not so literal sense?

George Clooney: There's this moment on the set - and I used to play baseball - when you really get a hold of the ball. You hit a home run. You don't even feel the ball hit the bat, and it is the greatest feeling. You knocked one out of the park. That's the beautiful feeling on a film set when things are going really, really well. You look around and everyone is doing it better than you imagined and they're having fun. And they trust you, and you think, why the hell would they trust me, but they do. That's an amazing feeling. When you have 150 crew members all laughing and knowing that all of us are going to be fine.

 

Interview: Elisabeth Sereda

 

 

 

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