From a long THR profile of the quintessential liberal Hollywood elitist, George Clooney (“At Home With George Clooney in Italy: Amal, the Twins, Politics and an Incendiary New Movie”):
George Clooney strides across the lush lawn of his Lake Como home and points toward a cluster of trees, the only barrier that separates him and this 18th century Italian villa from an increasingly invasive world. “That’s where he got in,” he says, more matter-of-fact than angry. “The guy climbed the fence and got up into the trees there.”
The “he” in question is a paparazzo. Less than 24 hours earlier, news was tearing across the internet that a photographer — one of hordes that swarm around Clooney like the mosquitoes on the nearby lake — had slipped past the guardhouse, crept through the bushes, crawled up a tree and snapped pictures of the star and his wife, Amal, cradling their 7-week-old twins. Clooney vowed to sue. The fact that a stranger could penetrate his sanctum sanctorum — the one place where, for a few brief weeks each summer, he can flee the pressures of his almost unparalleled celebrity — infuriated him…
“Every single day there’s some crazy sort of infringement,” he says. “And you go, ‘OK, we’ll eat it. That’s what we have to do.’ But when someone breaks the law, that’s beyond what we bargained for, beyond the pact I made: that when you’re famous, you’re going to be followed. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be furious.”
But George is against Walls, remember.
George likes to assemble The Important People™ to his swank Lake Como pad, to plan out utopian strategies for saving the world:
Each summer, this prince of the New World exiles himself to the heart of the Old, an ancient terrain of artists and aristocrats. It’s here that Clooney invites friends, family and a few chosen acquaintances (Charlie Rose, David Gergen and Samantha Power, among others) to join him for a contemporary Algonquin Round Table, one of the few remnants of the past for which this maestro of the present still hankers. “I was always enamored of that idea,” he says. “All these really interesting, smart people, sitting around having conversations.”
Barack Obama might soon be one of them. Clooney is hoping Obama will visit his Lombardian estate, just as he did Clooney’s home in Sonning, England, where the former president spent a night in early June (along with a squadron of Secret Service), remaining for a five-hour meal, bantering and playing hoops.
Then we get to read all about Clooney’s new film, the latest in a long line of “suburban America are racist and sexist fascists” films (a fetish in Hollywood) and how ‘poignant’ the film is today in AmeriKKKa:
Racism is at the heart of Clooney’s new film, Suburbicon, a drama set in the late 1950s that he directed and co-wrote with Heslov, starring Matt Damon and Julianne Moore.
The movie, which debuted Sept. 2 at the Venice Film Festival, interweaves two stories: a family drama, as a seemingly ordinary husband and father (Damon) becomes increasingly off-kilter; and a racial conflict, as a white neighborhood turns against a black family that has just moved in, whose superficial “abnormality” masks the genuine abnormality of the white family. It’s Clooney’s most dyspeptic take yet on the state of his country.
“I wanted it to be violent, I wanted it to be angry, and I think it’s a very angry film,” he says, fixing me a coffee as we sit at a long, wooden table in his dark, country-style kitchen, three dogs loping around at our feet. “We’re at a time when we need to address these issues, and unfortunately they’re issues that we have never completely exorcised.”
The project originated with the Coen brothers, who wrote the first drafts of a screenplay they planned to film and then in the late 1990s approached Clooney to star. But their script depicted only the white family’s tale. When Clooney and Heslov contemplated the race issues that had simmered during Donald Trump’s run for the White House, they decided to include a second plot element, drawing inspiration from the real-life drama of Levittown, Pennsylvania, in 1957, when a housing project of cookie-cutter homes erupted in violence after the arrival of an African-American family named Myers.
“What I found fascinating, growing up in Kentucky, was that whenever you’d see these movies about any form of bigotry, they were always with a Southern accent,” says Clooney. “Those in the North love to think they had nothing to do with it. They love to wash their hands and say, ‘Actually, we were the liberals. We were against slavery and [for] civil rights.’ And the truth of the matter is much more complicated. There were a lot of problems, particularly in places like Levittown. They built a fence around the people’s homes; they hung confederate flags around it; they named their dog ‘Nigger.’ They got instruments and played all night, 24 hours a day, just to try to get these people to leave.”
Clooney showed news footage of Levittown to his cast, who were only vaguely aware of what had happened there. “I didn’t know about that before George told me,” says Damon, who slashed his usual fee and then shot Suburbicon after wrapping four others that he’d made back-to-back. “I was floored. It’s that incredible thing where people are like: ‘Well, we’re not racist; we just don’t want them to live here.’ “
Damon, mind you, lives at in a nice house in an area that, like Clooney’s Lake Como area, doesn’t likely have a lot of low-income black people.
But, hey, it’s all about Virtue Signaling.
We learn of the on-set devastation, on the night Der Trumpenfuhrer was elected POTUS:
There was a different kind of twist during the shoot, when Trump was elected president, shocking many of the cast and crew. “We were home by 4 p.m., waiting for the returns,” says Moore. “Everybody was pretty devastated. [Then] as we were working on the movie, we felt the tone shift. The realization of the film became much darker than we’d thought.”
And then there were the horrors of the Reichstag Fire Charlottesville incident:
But Clooney hasn’t laughed about politics since the election; his horror will only grow in the weeks after our Lake Como meeting, especially following Trump’s post-Charlottesville comments suggesting an equivalence between white supremacists and those who oppose them. “It would be best for the country if some of these Republicans — and some of them I’m very good friends with, actually — stood up [to him],” Clooney says in a late August phone call. “There’s an important distinction that doesn’t get said enough — the difference between Black Lives Matter and the KKK and the skinheads and the alt-right is this: Black Lives Matter was protesting in support of racial equality. Period. Sometimes it got out of hand, absolutely. But that’s what they were doing. You can never say, ‘Well, those guys were bad and these guys were bad.’ And to hear those words come out of the president of the United States, that is a great crime.”
The interviewer inserts herself as a character in the interview/profile, and the elitism dripping from her pen is excruciating. Here she is mentioning her exchange with Clooney’s wife Amal:
We touch on her time as a student at Oxford (“I loved it,” she says), then shift gears to that old chestnut: whether it’s easier to date in London or Los Angeles or New York. Samantha jumps in, and so do I, and soon everyone’s chattering…
In October 2013, Clooney invited Amal to visit him at London’s historic Abbey Road Studios, where he was supervising the recording of the score for his 2014 release Monuments Men. “That was a good first date,” he says. “Then we went for dinner. She said, ‘Let’s go to this place.’ It was one of those places that was incredibly hip and chic. And when we came out, there were 50 paparazzi there. But she handled it like a champ. And pretty quickly, things escalated once I was in London.”
Clooney remained there for six weeks. Afterward, “we spent Christmas together in Cabo San Lucas,” he continues. “Then we went on a safari in Kenya. Amal loves giraffes; they’re her favorite animal. She went to this place called Giraffe Manor, where the giraffes stick their heads through the windows and kiss you.”
Lord, give me cancer.
And what good philanthropic work will Clooney do with all his money, like the recent $300 million windfall he got from the sale of a tequila company he co-owned?
He and Amal will take some of that money and use it to support the causes they hold most dear. Days after our interview, the Clooneys will announce a $1 million grant to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and that’s just the start.
Well, that’s a relief, given how cash-starved the $PLC is.
Nowhere in the piece is it mentioned that Clooney’s Lake Como paradise has been experiencing some decidedly non-paradisical developments of late. Will he enhance elements of his home security (aka, build his own metaphorical ‘Wall’) as a result? Will he find another ‘reason’ to leave Como? Time will tell.