Written by Dan Hollis
George Clooney is seemingly the hardest working man in Hollywood, starring in three films screening for The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival, in the coming days. He took time out of his extremely hectic festival schedule to talk about animal nature, rolling around in fields and, the first of his three new films, Fantastic Mr Fox.
What do you think is the particular appeal of Roald Dahl’s story-telling and characters?
George Clooney: Listen, I just should showed up for the pay check. No, this has been an incredibly well known book for a long time to a lot of us, and it was an opportunity to work not only on the story, but also a chance to work with Wes, so I was very excited about the whole process. And it was a very different process to normal, we were often out in the middle of nowhere, doing sound effects, rolling around fields â€“ the whole process was a lot of fun.
Can you talk about your exceedingly fox-like performance as Mr Fox? Indeed it’s a remarkable piece of work in the sense that is seems to be a decidedly George Clooney performance, despite it being a fox.
GC: For me this was a really fun part to play, I remember reading the script and thinking, I love it and I’m thrilled and happy to be doing it. I don’t know who will see it, it’s for grown-ups but also for kids, you never know how that plays out. But for me, it was very much the process of working with Wes and with the other actors that helped my performance. But I didn’t enjoy working with BillÂ Murray.
If there is one, what is the moral lesson from this tale?
GC: Stealing is good. I don’t know…
Bill Murray: Yes, stealing is good.
GC: I don’t know what else, be true to your animal nature?
Mr Murray, you are known for your improvisational skills; did doing animation help or hinder that?
BM: Well, it really has to do with the director and actors that you’re working with. It’s just like any other character. Improvisation often depends on how good the script is; if the script is good, then the story is great, the worse the script is, the more you improvise, simple as that. I personally think the real stars of this movie are Eric and Jason, and Wally, because they give some amazing performance; they’re the things that delight you most in the movie, but they wouldn’t have been possible if George hadn’t forged a great character that we could all may-pole around â€“ it really was some of the best work I’ve seen someone do, in any kind of voice-work and I mean that very sincerely.
GC: Oh, Badger you set me up.
Would this make you want to do more animated films in the future?
GC: No. I have to say in fairness, it’s a little unfair that we’re here. We worked for a few days out on a farm, running around, playing in barns, and generally having fun â€“ the rest of the team worked for over a year and a half on this, so in some ways, us being here is a little silly.
How similar are you and Mr Fox?
GC: Well, I don’t know. I’m a little taller. I don’t know, I can’t really answer that question.
How important would you say the London Film Festival is in comparison with other festivals?
BM: Well we kid about the English being the bad guys in everything, although that Revolution thing is still sticking out. But the reason the London Film Festival is important, I think, I mean festivals are always fun â€“ you go and support your movie, but this film couldn’t have been made anywhere else in the world but London. One of the most exciting days I’ve ever had in the film business was the day I spent with the artists and animators for this film. There was more talent in that one factory than I’ve ever seen before, I’ve really never seen so many talented people in one place before. They do things here with set and with designing buildings that America couldn’t even dream about. I mean we could put a man on the moon but we could not make this movie. That to me is a celebration of all the people who worked on this film, and they’re fun after work too.
GC: There’s a love and pride in film over here, you truly enjoy it.
George, three films in this year’s festival: would it be fair to say that you’re the hardest working man in Hollywood today?
GC: Well it’s a little unfortunate that all three are released so close together. But I am very proud of all three.
Fantastic Mr Fox is screening as part of the London Film Festival, click here to read the review.
Last edited: 15th October 2009
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