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George Clooney on Venice, Gravity and Superheroes - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Actor George Clooney signs autographs for members of the public as he arrives for the screening of Gravity at the 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival held from Aug. 28 through Sept. 7, in Venice, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/David Azia)

Actor George Clooney signs autographs for members of the public as he arrives for the screening of Gravity at the 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival held from Aug. 28 through Sept. 7, in Venice, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/David Azia)

Venice, Asharq Al-Awsat—George Clooney seems to be very fond of his fans. He is even willing to delay his departure to take pictures and sign autographs. During the premier of his new film, Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, he even took the time to sign autographs along the 30-meter entrance to the venue, where more than three hundred fans had gathered. Not that he nor anyone watching him could count how many autographs he signed, but Clooney is not one to ignore an outstretched hand or a notebook. His signature is quick (and it has to be) and he uses his own pen, which he never leaves the house without.

When asked about this after the premier, during a party arranged by Warner Bros. celebrating the film, he smiled, as he always does before he speaks, and said: “I do it because I know the crowd is waiting for me. I couldn’t forgive myself if I ignore an extended hand or a photo someone wants sign. I can’t choose some and ignore others either!”

After asking what the interviewer thought of the film, Clooney discussed what drew him to the project. He said: “This time, I did not take the role of producer for this film. The project came to me two years ago and we’ve been preparing it since. I read the script and found it fantastic and agreed to participate without hesitation, although I play a supporting role. When filming began, I was relieved not to be in charge of producing. This time I was just acting and this comforted me.”

When asked what he liked about the script, he said: “I liked the new idea. A man and a woman trapped in space with no escape and their fate is inevitable. The idea of a space vehicle breaking down 600 kilometers away from the Earth is scary. I realized it would be an individual project, unlike anything done before. There are many great science fiction movies, and I expect this film to meet this standard and rise up to that level.”

Clooney’s previous forays into this genre also came up: “Yes, I was in another science fiction film over ten years ago, Solaris. It did not raise much praise because it was compared to Andre Tarkovsky’s original [from 1972]. Tarkovsky made one of the smartest science fiction films, no-one can deny that, but I also believed in our version and I think it was well done”

With regards to the Venice Film Festival itself, 2013 marks the fourth time Clooney has a film under consideration. His movie Burn After Reading was showcased at 2008’s festival, followed by The Men who Stare at Goats in 2009, and The Ides of March, directed by Clooney himself, in 2011. Venice itself is not far from Clooney’s home on the coast of Lake Como, north of Milan. When asked if he can speak Italian, he replied: “I am not fluent but I can communicate and understand.”

Asked why he returns to the Venice again and again, Clooney responded: “I like this festival because it is different than others in the way that it cares for and encourages art and creativity. I think it supports creativity more than any other festival and I feel I am a part of its recent history.”

When asked if he had a say in the selection of Gravity as the festival opener, he denied it, claiming: “I believe Alberto Barbera [Director of the festival] heard of the movie and asked to see it. He then chose it to kick off the festival.”

Clooney then answered a question regarding his friendship with fellow A-list actors Ben Affleck, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon and whether they ask for his advice regarding movie decisions. Clooney laughed and said: “Actually, Matt Damon called me yesterday to ask about the role of Robin in Batman vs. Superman. I told him Supergirl or Superboy, it doesn’t matter . . . you will find that it is not worth it!”

This interview was originally published in Arabic. It can be read here.