Disclosure: This event and trip to LA was an all expense paid journey sponsored by Disney. All thoughts, experiences, opinions and character crushes are 100% my own!
Talking about TOMORROWLAND with George Clooney
Last week, I travelled to LA to attend a press junket with 24 other bloggers for the film TOMORROWLAND. This included a press screening of the film, and a sit down interview with George Clooney himself.
George and I go way back. Well. My memories of us do: me glued to the television as Dr. Doug Ross (swoon!) handsomely gave hospital orders, saved lives and melted hearts on the hit television show ER. I must admit that aside from his humanitarian work (applause!) I haven’t followed his acting career as closely since those early ER days. After ER ran it’s course (sob!), I just didn’t get to see George as much. Oh sure, I still followed him from afar (he has been pretty hard to miss!) and noticed him in a Batman suit here and there, but our lives took different directions; I was raising children–singing Hakuna Matata with Disney characters, and George was off winning academy awards and doing amazing (talk about one person making a difference…WOW!) humanitarian work.
Upon learning that I would be interviewing George at the press junket for TOMORROWLAND, I spent some time further researching his path the last couple of decades and as you well know, it’s been a pretty amazing Hollywood journey for Mr. Clooney. One might even think that all of this success might have went to his head. But that’s just the thing: From the moment that he walked into the room, he was warm, kind, humble, engaging, interested and HILARIOUS. All things that make for a pretty awesome interview.
My biggest curiosity then, was finding out how he ended up here, in a Disney film, something that is a bit out of character for him. I’m sharing Part One of this interview today, as Part Two has a few spoilers that I don’t want to share with you just yet (because I can’t stand a spoiler!) so look for a second interview post coming soon.
In TOMORROWLAND, George Clooney plays Frank Walker, former boy-genius who has grown up jaded by disillusionment and has, quite frankly, become somewhat of a grouchy, bitter, middle aged man. Fate (or great writing) finds Frank crossing paths with Casey (played by Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity. This meeting leads them to embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever.
The interview. Part One:
What drew you to this movie?
George: At first I wanted to work with Brad Bird. I think he doesn’t make bad films, and I just love the kind of films he makes. And then when I read the screenplay, I thought, you know, what I love about it is that we are inundated in our lives with lots of bad news. You turn on the television, it hurts, it’s a bad time and what I loved was the idea of the script. It said that the future isn’t just automatically inevitable. And that, you have to participate or you don’t have to just accept how it ends. And I’d grown up in an era, you know, I was born in the early 60’s, so I grew up in the era where the individual actually had effect, you know: the civil rights movement, the Vietnam movement, the women’s rights moments, and that stuff. So I always felt and believed that you could affect the future, and you didn’t have to just accept it, you know? The Russians weren’t gonna necessarily just blow us all up.
So I really loved the idea of hearing this again, this idea that we are not necessarily doomed. That there IS something that you can do about it if you pay attention and you work hard. And I liked it.
“I always felt and believed that you could affect the future, and you didn’t have to just accept it, you know? ” ~George Clooney
Was it fun or difficult to be working with contraptions and harnesses ?
“The thing about being an actor is you really don’t ever have to grow up, right?” ~George Clooney
George: I’ve done it a few times. In Gravity, I had to do it, and I’ve done it in a few films. I’m never particularly in love with it. Green screen is tricky because you just have to sort of make things up. The thing about being an actor is you really don’t ever have to grow up, right? We’re still playing make believe. I’m 54 and I’m playing make- believe. So when they put you in a contraption, and say now you’re gonna fly, you’re still a 12 year old and you go “really, am I gonna fly from here to there? Oh yeah, let’s go! It’s fun!” I’ve always found that part to be magical, you know. I just wish the jet pack really worked. You know, when I was growing up, it was the space race and it was space food sticks and we were drinking Tang and you know, I really thought by now we’d be riding around in Jetson cars, you know, so…
Would you say that a jet pack would be one of the futuristic items that would be awesome to have?
“I don’t know that I want everybody to have a jet pack because they’d just be circling my house, “Hey! What’s Amal gonna wear to the MET Ball?” ~George Clooney
George: Let me put it to you this way. So you’re at LAX. You get your bags. You’ve got to get to Studio City. It’s 4:30 on a Friday. It would be the greatest moment ever, just blasting right over all the traffic. I think it would be fantastic, although, you know, I don’t know that I want everybody to have a jet pack because they’d just be circling my house. “Hey! What’s Amal gonna wear to the MET Ball?” I don’t know if I want everybody to have a jet pack.
What was your favorite scene in the movie?
George: That’s a good question. Let me start off by explaining to you how I came to this part. Brad and Damon called me and said we’ve written a part for you in a movie. And I’d been trying to work with Brad for a long time. I was like wow, that’s amazing. And they send me the script and I open it up and the description of me is: 55 year old angry, bitter, guy. I’m like going, thanks guys, thank you so much!
But what I loved about it was that in the entire film, Frank is just a grump, you know? He’s just a grump through the whole thing. So I loved when Britt first comes to the house. It’s really fun where he’s like “shut up!” And we really had fun shooting all that stuff in the farm house because all the robot guys were really sweet and nice, and not really robots, you know? I think that might have been the most fun scene to shoot, all the farm house stuff.
“And they send me the script and I open it up and the description of me is: 55 year old angry, bitter, guy. I’m like going, thanks guys… thank you so much!” ~George Clooney
In your words, what would be the message of this movie to inspire teenagers?
George: Well, here’s the funniest thing about this. It’s a summer movie, right, and what you don’t want it to be an eat your spinach kind of thing. I’ve been in those kind of movies before and you don’t want that, because it is a summer movie. But the truth of the matter is that the future is yours and the future is yours to decide what it will be. You know, as you look at the world, and you see how sort of tragic it can feel, It always has been that way. It wasn’t particularly great in 1968 either. There were assassinations and there were wars and there was civil unrest and riots, but we weren’t as inundated with it as we are now, and so there was always still a hopefulness that the future was still going to be alright. And I feel as if we have to get to that point where we all understand that the individual is not helpless. And I think that’s a really important part of this.
“Since I’ve become successful, I understand that I have a voice and that I can amplify things.” ~George Clooney
Since I’ve become successful, I understand that I have a voice and that I can amplify things. I can make Darfur louder or there are things that I can do to affect change.
I was like that when I was 10, because I was told that your voice has to matter and has to participate, even if only two people hear you, because those two people may change, you know? I would say my parents taught me that and their parents taught them that, and I feel as if there’s a world where we have to constantly remind not just young people, ourselves that we’re not just stuck here, you know. I also think we have to find a way to put news back in perspective. I think part of the responsibility of news in general is not just to report on it, but to put it into perspective. My father was an anchorman in Cincinnati, Ohio. When he was covering a story about some skinheads at Fountain Square who had a rally, seven guys. They’re saying horrible things, you know. And he had to cover the story, so he goes out and through the camera, it looks pretty awful, you know? It looks really awful. And there’s about 2,000 people yelling at them. And then my dad went upstairs to Carew Tower, which is the tallest building in Cincinnati, and the shot down on to the park with these seven little tiny people in a town of 400,000, just yelling and being jerks. It’s a town that otherwise is functioning perfectly and people are getting along and working together and you realized in perspective it meant nothing. It meant absolutely nothing. And I feel that we’re losing perspective of the things that are going on in our world. We think oh, it’s just nothing but apocalyptic stuff, and I don’t believe that necessarily is true. There is an awful lot of good in our world, and it’s hard to report good because it doesn’t sell. So I think that maybe along the way, it would be nice to remind ourselves that there’s an awful lot of good that’s being done too, you know?
“There is an awful lot of good in our world, and it’s hard to report good because it doesn’t sell. So I think that maybe along the way, it would be nice to remind ourselves that there is an awful lot of good that’s being done too, you know?” ~George Clooney
Did you keep any props or any memorabilia from the movie?
George: Now here’s the thing. Disney is very… they’ve got like…you know, armed guards around all that stuff. And Brad is very possessive of all those things as well. So I will not answer to what I stole, because they will come take it away from me, but it shoots rays and it’s a gun.
About that TOMORROWLAND pin.
George: I love that pin. It’s fantastic.
Remember the Future!
TOMORROWLAND is rated PG and hits theaters May 22nd, 2015!!
Check out this exclusive TOMORROWLAND sneak peek that will bring you into the world of TOMORROWLAND and tease you with the futuristic possibilities:
Follow all of the excitement in social media:
Photo credits to Disney and Louise Bishop of MomStart.com
AND … a very, very special thank you to the folks at Disney for this wonderful and once in a life time opportunity that I will NEVER forget!