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George Clooney Charms On "Inside the Actor's Studio"

Charlotte Spangler |
January 31, 2012 | 9:15 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Clooney talks films, humanitarian efforts, and favorite words in recent interview (Flickr)
Clooney talks films, humanitarian efforts, and favorite words in recent interview (Flickr)
When James Lipton sat down with George Clooney on the most recent episode of "Inside the Actor’s Studio," you could tell Clooney was going to give him a run for his money. Clooney’s charm shone through immediately, as he cracked jokes about his director, his fellow actors, and himself.  He was wonderful (and this is not just because he is a two-time winner of People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”), the perfect mix of funny and serious, witty and thoughtful.  

The first topic was Clooney’s latest film, "The Descendents," which tells the story of Matt Kane, his dying wife, his two wild daughters, and his world crumbling around him (view trailer here). Clooney has already received numerous praise for the film, which Lipton mentioned frequently. 

Clooney’s has that irresistible quality of being charmingly and ironically self-centered. He made comments throughout the program in his favor, but they were always done in good taste. He claimed that he almost did a film with Alexander Payne ("The Descendants'" Director), but Payne “didn’t see my charm.”

Clooney admitted dryly that when he was approached to be in "The Descendants," he was “worried it was going to be the only bad Alexander Payne film” and flashed his brilliant smile.  The studio audience erupted in all-knowing laughs, kicking off what was sure to be a evening. 

He found the script entertaining, and was immediately drawn to Matt Kane, though he knew it would be a challenging role. Clooney said, “This is a character that has never had control—he loses every argument to a ten year old…He has to learn to forget all the problems that come his way and learn to forgive himself. I couldn’t have done it five years ago. But now I’m ready to dip my toe in something I’m uncomfortable with. It’s exciting.”

The interview was a nice glance into the acting style of Clooney, as he admitted a few clues as to how he works. He praised Payne for his directing style, and explained, “he [Payne] has an incredibly capacity for kindness. When you are playing a character with such emotional range, you are not quite sure where you should be. It requires a certain amount of kindness in a director to gently get you there. If they push you there it wont be organic. ”

The next 10 minutes alternated between commercial breaks, clips of Clooney in the film, and words of praise from various journalists. Come on, Lipton, get a little creative. Lipton reminds him that he has been compared to Cary Grant, which Clooney quickly shoots down, explaining, “its because I’ve got really great hair. I am a hair actor, you know.”

Eventually they moved on to something more interesting, and the conversation soon took a more serious turn as Lipton addressed Clooney’s work on the genocide in Sudan with fellow actor Don Cheadle. Their project, entitled “Not On Our Watch,” launched a satellite to take frequent photos of Sudan.  The project was inspired when Clooney asked himself, “Why is it that you can Google Earth my house, but you cant Google Earth a place where people are being killed?” He realized that sometime you need “a celebrity to shine a light on things.”

Clooney, however, admitted himself to be a “failure,” for humanitarian rights because “Nothing is different form the time we started until now. Shining a light on it does not make it go away.” 

To lighten the mood, Lipton went to a lightning round of dumb fun facts, where we learned that Clooney’s favorite word is “shitzu” (“because you can say it on TV), his least favorite sound is the shuffling of people in seats at the theater (“because that’s when you know you’ve lost them”), his favorite curse word is “dipsh**” (because everyone knows who you’re talking about when you say it,” and, drum roll please, ladies, he is most turned on by bravery (I think we can manage that, right?). 

When the audience of students at Pace University got the chance to ask questions, Clooney offered wise words on the art of acting.  

On auditioning: “Actors tend to get in their own way, a lot. A lot of times you will do things that will screw up your audition process. I was very bad at auditioning, and I always went in to it saying  ‘God I hope I don’t screw this up.’ But at the same time, the directors are saying, ‘God, I hope this person is the savior.’ You have to remember is that the worst thing that could happen is you don’t get the job you don’t already have.”

On getting emotional take after take: “Sometimes you don’t get there. I’ve worked with actors when there’s no time, mostly on television, with director who is only result oriented and says ‘I need you to cry here.’ There are times when you’re just not going to get there. But remember that on film and TV you only need to get it right once. The minute you let go, you always do well.”

One of Clooney’s final pieces of advice to actors was, “Confidence is one of the big things you’re selling.” Clearly, Clooney is taking that advice and running with it, because he oozed confidence up there with Lipton (and for good reason).

Overall, this was a great show. Clooney was great, I learned new things, I laughed, I cried, I learned Clooney likes to say “shitzu.”

"Inside the Actor’s Studio" airs specials throughout the year on Bravo.

Reach reporter Charlote Spangler here



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