George Clooney stars in the comedy, Hail, Caesar! A movie within a movie set in the Golden era of 1950s Hollywood. Playing a dim-witted movie star, Baird Whitlock, the star of a Roman epic, Clooney dons the appropriate gladiator-inspired costume. In LA to promote the movie, as always, the A-list star has a bit of fun with MiNDFOOD as he talks about his life, his wife and retaining his sense of humour.
What are some of the old Technicolor movies you liked growing up?
I would watch Spartacus over and over again, as well as Ben Hur. Those films were just so much fun. And The Robe was always on at Easter. It’s funny, people won’t understand this who are under 50 years old, but The Wizard of Oz would always show once a year and you would plan it out for months, The Wizard of Oz is going to be on and we would all watch it. We had a black and white television, so for years I didn’t know that it even changed colour halfway through. And of course, It’s A Wonderful Life got a rebirth on television. But those big sort of epic movies and the big musicals that we look back so fondly on, I missed going to the movies and I was a little too young to see those in the movie theatre, but I sure watched those on television and loved them.
What did your very fashionable wife, Amal, think of your outfit in this epic movie, ‘Hail, Caesar!’?
I think she has proudly said she had nothing to do with it.
What does she say about your fashion sense in general? What is it like when you both get ready for a red carpet event?
She’s never said anything but I would imagine it would be horrifying (for her) that I am still wearing some of the suits that I have always worn. It is a very difficult thing when you are a woman trying to get ready for ceremony because it’s a dress that nobody else has worn and you have to have hair and makeup. For me, I am playing basketball for a half hour until we have to go and so it’s not very fair. But her sense of style is all her own and we happily don’t cross paths on that.
Hopefully you’ll have a bit of fun with this question – Which actor would be good to play Donald Trump in a movie?
I don’t know! Listen I wouldn’t dare to scar someone with the idea that they should be playing Donald Trump in a movie (Laughs). That would be one of those things where I make that joke and they wake up tomorrow and it’s in the paper and then all they want to do is kill themselves (Laughs). With these elections, it’s sort of performance art watching what happens. I just was in Holland for this massive fundraiser for this thing called The Post Code Lottery, and I was there talking to all these NGO’s with 2,500 people in a room because they are panicking like the rest of the world is. I said, ‘You have got to relax a little bit and understand this is an election era, this is an election cycle, and we tend to go through some craziness.’
Could you live with a person who has a completely different approach to life?
Oh, I don’t think so; I don’t think any of us would want that, I don’t think anybody would want to have anyone who doesn’t have a sense of humour. I think a sense of humour in general is that there is fearlessness to it, and the fearlessness is to not be afraid to make fun of yourself.
At two golden globe awards you were made fun of by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and you took it well
Yes. They destroyed me with two very, very funny jokes. One is floating off in space rather than date someone my own age and the other one is that I am getting this Lifetime Achievement Award while my wife has done all these amazing things. Now, the truth is, they were the two funniest jokes of the night. They were really funny.
Not everyone can tolerate being the butt of the joke
If you don’t have a sense of humour about how you are perceived and what your life is and all of the mistakes you have made, including the good things you have done, then you are not going to enjoy anything because you are going to be constantly guarding this thing that you are so afraid might be exposed. But the truth of the matter is, the worst thing you can try to do is go, ‘Hey, don’t say that about me!’ So I find that it’s always best to try to do it yourself first before somebody else does it. I am a big believer that the secret to a sense of humour is that if you are going to make fun of other people, the first person to make fun of is yourself. If you are going to go after anybody, you have got to go after yourself a little bit, and I think that’s always helpful.
And what about Amal? How important is it for her?
For Amal and I, I think probably number one in our relationship is her sense of humour because she does very serious things and works on very serious subjects, but she is also one of the funnier people you will ever meet. She has got a great sense of humour and I think that some of my humour is wholly inappropriate, which I think is very funny. But I think that humour is just the ability to not be afraid of anything and go, ‘Oh well, if you want to come after me, that is a fair deal. ‘ I think that is the way to do it; you have to make fun of yourself.
Is your house a party house? Do you keep that tradition like it was in your single days?
No, not so much. It’s not with a lot of famous people, it ends up being with a lot of politicians. My wife just got the former President of the Maldives released from solitary confinement after being jailed for political reasons. They released him for medical reasons and so I think two nights ago at our house in England we had President Nasheed over to say hello. So it’s less about stars and more about some of the people that she and I are working with in other parts of our lives.
Can you walk me through a typical day in the life of George Clooney?
Mostly what I do is wake up around seven; I make myself a coffee, a Nespresso (laughs). My life is, well….we are spending it in different places now, we spend a little time in LA, England and Italy and that’s where we base everything. England for me means I can do a lot of writing and work there and focus on the humanitarian stuff I am working on. In Los Angeles, I am about to direct a film and I can work on prep and doing all that stuff too. I am pretty regimented on how I do things. I like to get up in the morning, I like to sort of work out every morning and there are certain things I like to do, when they are disrupted I sort of get off-kilter a little bit. And Amal I think finds it easier in some ways to work out of Los Angeles for the work she has to do because when we are in England she has friends and family she has to visit and stuff, so she can isolate herself a little bit more here in LA.
Are they very different (homes)?
Yeah the house we have in England was built in 1680. So, it’s old. And we decorate it accordingly which means we have a trapeze and (laughs) a trampoline and all the things you need in a house from 1680. You’ll have to come by some time.
Hail, Caesar! Is in cinemas now.