Movies & TV

Clooney on new film, fatherhood, Trump

Clooney and his wife Amal Clooney at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, May 12, 2016. AFP / ALBERTO PIZZOLI

NEW YORK: Most things have changed in George Clooney’s life since he and wife Amal had twins in July but, as he prepares to unveil his latest directorial effort, some rituals remain eerily familiar. “I just have to clean the barf off of my tux,” Clooney said. “It used to be my barf but now it’s the twins’ barf, so it all works out.”

“Suburbicon,” which Paramount Pictures will release Oct. 27, marries twin passions: farce (“Burn After Reading,” “O Brother Where Art Thou”) and socially conscious filmmaking (“Good Night and Good Luck,” “Ides of March”).

Comic trailers aside, the film, which peers into the dark racial tensions of 1950s suburbia, leans more to the latter.

Clooney believes it’s deeply relevant to Donald Trump’s America.

It bristles, he hopes, with the spirit of Howard Beale, the truth-telling “Network” newsman who yelled, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

“I last week screened it for ... Norman Lear. When it was over, he looked over and said, ‘This is the angriest film I’ve ever seen,’” Clooney said. “It’s a pretty angry film. There’s a lot of anger out there ... The main idea of the film was to pick some fights and I always like picking fights.”

That makes “Suburbicon” potentially one of the more combustible films of the fall movie season. It boasts an A-list cast (Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac) and comes from an unproduced, decades-old script by Joel and Ethan Coen about rampant suburban paranoia and fearmongering after a home invasion.

For Clooney and partner Grant Heslov, the Coens’ characters were perfect for their plans to dramatize 1950s Levittown, Pennsylvania, specifically the enclave’s response to the arrival of a black family in 1957.

It’s a tale, they believe, that mirrors today’s political landscape.

“I found it interesting to talk about building walls and scapegoating minorities,” Clooney said. “I think that’s always an interesting topic but particularly when I was hearing these conversations on the campaign trail. I thought, ‘It’s always good to look back and remember that nothing really is new.’ Every time we’re shocked, we forget that we’ve had this behavior time and time and time again.”

A longtime liberal activist, Clooney doesn’t mince his words when it comes to President Donald Trump. “It becomes increasingly clear,” he said, “how in over his head and incapable this man is of being president of the United States.”

Clooney says his life has changed drastically in the last two months. “Suddenly, you’re responsible for other people, which is terrifying,” he chuckled before heaping credit on his wife. “She’s like an Olympic athlete,” he said. “She’s doing so beautifully.”

“Right now my job is changing diapers and walking them around a little bit,” Clooney added.

“I really didn’t think at 56 that I would be the parent of twins. Don’t make plans. You always have to just enjoy the ride.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 30, 2017, on page 12.

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