If there was ever a man truly unfazed by a woman’s intelligence, it’s George Clooney. Not only has the Oscar-winning actor-producer married brainy beauty, Amal Alamuddin, renowned human rights lawyer whom he describes as ‘much smarter than me,’ but it seems that Clooney is surrounded by smart women.
“We have five people running our company, Smoke House Pictures, and they are all women. It’s incredible the fact that sexism is unfortunately still ingrained in our culture and the fact that women are still getting paid 78 cents on the dollar. That is a mistake,” says Clooney.
“I’m a big believer in the idea that the only reason most films have men in the leading roles is because it’s the majority of men who run the studios as well. It’s an issue that should be paid attention to.”
Speaking of political and social issues, how green are the Clooney’s?
“Well, I do what I can.” He pauses. “But listen, I have always made it very clear that I won’t be the green spokesman unless I’m one of the first people to buy an electric car. But I conserve wherever I can but I have also gotten on and off a private jet so that would be hypocritical of me standing up and saying, ‘I’m the green guy.’ I believe in it and I do everything that I possibly can to help it but I try not to the spokesperson for something if it makes me hypocritical.”
Clooney stars in Tomorrowland, a family sci-fi adventure about a former boy genius (Clooney) and a gifted teenager (Britt Robertson) who set out on a dangerous mission to unearth the secrets of Tomorrowland, a mysterious location caught between time and space.
The family sci-fi genre is not the usual fare in which we see Clooney. “I got to play a guy who’s grumpy all the time. Bob Iger (Disney CEO) said to me, ‘We got you in a movie and you don’t smile once.’ And I have to say, it was fun for me,” he laughs. “In general, what appealed to me was the idea of working on a film that is a very different project for me. I don’t usually do these types of films.”
Politically active, Clooney has advocated a resolution for the situation in Darfur, among many other causes in Africa as well as the Middle East and has donated tens of millions of dollars to various philanthropic endeavours (but he usually does it quietly).
Presumably, now that he’s married to a British-Lebanese woman, his views and understanding about the Middle East may have changed.
“Well, I understand it less because I think we are all understanding it less and it’s infinitely more complicated than I think it’s been in a long, long time. The idea that we are constantly dealing with competing forces against one another and our allies are also friends with our enemies, and our enemies are friends with our allies, just trying to understand it all is very confusing. I think everybody has a difficult time with it,” he says earnestly.
“Look at places that are on fire right now; you turn on the TV and it’s a tough time. I’m always hopeful that things will work out but it will take time. We have had so many things happen all at once, but if you’re asking me, do I understand it better? I don’t.
“Amal and I talk about it almost daily and Syria always comes up and it’s always heartbreaking what is going on there, but it’s all over the world. It’s all over Ukraine and there’s trouble everywhere.”
Clooney has always kept abreast of the news, especially given that his father, Nick Clooney, was a former news anchor on national TV in the US. “I have to say, I get depressed a little bit turning on the news and it doesn’t help that we are inundated with it. Twenty-four hour news doesn’t necessarily mean more news; it just means the same news repeated more often. And so you constantly see the same images and the same piece. What’s being lost between the internet and the news is perspective. We are losing our perspective on what is really happening in the world.”
And what about Clooney’s personal world? How is life as a newly married man? (The happy couple married last September in Italy).
He breaks a smile. “My life? I couldn’t be happier. My life right now is really great, I have a great partner in life and it’s fun. I didn’t think I was ever going to have this, so it’s nice.”