George Clooney passed test pictures as the star of the 2000 sea setting The perfect storm. So why did he decide to get back on the water for the rowing movie The boys in the boat (released December 25), his ninth film as a director?
“Here’s the thing: I’m 62 and old and I forget s— now,” Clooney tells EW. “I did The perfect storm. I should have known better!”
While you do The boys in the boatthe director says that all the complications of filming such an undertaking appeared “on the first day on the water. I was like, what was i thinking The wind blows all the boats in different directions, our boat can’t get close to the other boats or we capsize it. We trained [the actors], and they do a great job, but even a professional rower can row maybe two hours, and we’ll be there eight hours. There was nothing but challenges, but it was mostly due to my stupidity more than anything.”
The boys in the boat is based on Daniel James Brown’s 2013 non-fiction book of the same name. The film stars Callum Turner as rower Joe Rantz, who rises from humble beginnings to represent the US as part of the University of Washington men’s eight team at The 1936 Berlin Olympics Turner explained that Rantz came from an “incredibly poor background. He was abandoned at 13 and completely left to fend for himself, which he did, and somehow, through sheer will, ended up in college. He joins the rowing team to pay for his tuition and some digging and some money to buy food.”
Turner stars Joel Edgerton as the team’s coach, Al Ulbrickson, a man the Australian actor describes as “one of those angry guys who’s on the verge of a heart attack. I got to play one of those coaches who we all know can be very successful because they care so much that they look like they’re having zero enjoyment, zero fun.”
The Christmas edition of The boys in the boat is the end of a decade-long search by Clooney and his longtime producing partner Grant Heslov. The director recalls that the two “chased the book 10 years ago, we lost, we didn’t get it. Then we went to MGM three years ago and they had this in their library. We brought in a writer (The return co-writer Mark L. Smith) and we put together a script that we liked, and then we just tried to make it. The budget for this is not very high – this is not a Marvel movie. In fact, the studio came to me 10 days before we started shooting and asked me to return my salary to make the budget, which I had to do.”
Don’t worry, there’s no need to send cash Clooney’s way. The director has recovered financially from the studio.
“Do you know how I got it back?” says Clooney. “Going in the budget we said we were going to get, as opposed to what they thought we were going to get because they thought the water stuff was going to make us late.” Yes, I got my money back, about two months ago.”
Clooney’s next film will see him back on screen and teamed up with his Ocean’s Eleven actor brad pitt in action thriller directed by Spider Man franchise director Jon Watts.
“It’s so good,” Clooney says of the film, which doesn’t yet have a release date. “Jon Watts is just a master storyteller and we had the time of our lives and it’s fun working with Brad. You know, I have to carry him because he doesn’t have any skills,” adds Clooney, tongue firmly in cheek, “but he’s nice, good-looking, so there’s that, I guess. And then [I’m] I’m doing a movie with Noah Baumbach in a few months, so I’m excited about that. I play an aging movie star. How’s that going for you?”
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