So it’s left to director Schumacher to say what’s different about Clooney’s take on Batman: ‘Besides being a wonderful actor, and looking mighty damn handsome in that black rubber, he’s brought a humanity to the role. He’s a kinder, gentler Batman.’

Another potential pressure for Clooney was a schedule that required him to shoot episodes of ER and scenes for Batman And Robin at the same time; but he blithely dismisses that too.

‘I shoot ER right here on the Warners lot, so 1 have a golf cart and I ride back and forth between the two. I don’t have a whole lot of acting range anyway, so there isn’t that much difference between the things 1 do. I wish I could say I had a little more method to it, but I just show up. they stick me in the suit and I say, “OK, what am I today?” As long as I don’t have a stethoscope around the Bat Cave, I’m fine.’

Clooney’s casual approach notwithstanding, he found a supporter in Batman comic-book creator Bob Kane, who had wanted the young Robert Wagner to play Batman in the 605, but feels the smooth. handsome Clooney is the

'I just show up, they stick me in the suit and I say, "OK, what am I today?"

As long as I don’t have a stethoscope around the Bat Cave, I'm fine.’ George Clooney

birth of Poison Ivy is the birth of her female power mania. Also, she’s so passionate about the environment that she’s trying to inter- breed deadly poisonous plants with deadly venomous animals to create a race of plants that can fight back against environmental crimes.’

Thurman relished the opportunity to play her wicked character to the hilt: ‘Poison Ivy is a really delicious, broad character. Our scriptwriter Akiva [Goldsman], was particu- larly in love with her character; she’s eloquent, clever and wicked. She’s a completely deadly vixen who surrounds herself with powerful men and manipulates them. She seduces absolutely everyone she can possibly get her hands on. She has potions and drugs to do it; it’s not done with her own charms, it’s done with chemical science research. She truly has Love Potion No 9.’

All of which seems a little unnecessary if you’re Uma Thurman to begin with, but I let that one pass.

Batman And Robin goes on general release on 27 Jun.

Bad taste: avoid meeting Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger down a dark lane

modern-day equivalent.

All flippancy aside, Clooney is right about the replaceability of Batman, a part which merely requires an actor to look good in the body-flattering Batsuit. and in the dinner jacket worn by the Batty One’s alter ego, socialite Bruce Wayne. Hardly a stretch for the knee-weakenineg handsome Clooney, who is also required to get hot under the collar over co-star and romantic interest Elle MacPherson. Hardly tough work. Also, what audiences really love about the Batman films is the villains, be it Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman or Jim Carrey’s Riddler. Or. as in this case. Schwarzenegger’s frozen-hearted scientist Mr Freeze and Uma Thurman’s eco-terrorist Poison Ivy.

Much has been made of the fact that Schwarzenegger is playing an out-an-out villain for the first time since The Terminator: ‘Arnold says it’s The Terminator meets the Refrigerator,‘ quips director Schumacher. However. Schwarzenegger is keen to emphasise that although Mr Freeze is bad to the bone. he’s not actually cold to the core.

‘Mr Freeze had a previous. normal and happy life as Dr Fries. a very brilliant scientist, an Olympic champion and someone with a good marriage.’ he says. ‘There’s this great film footage that I look at every day. which shows my relationship with my wife, Nora. It’s really warm and beautiful, so you understand that. later on. when I turn into Mr Freeze, ljust want to pay the world back. I want to freeze everythinU, because at that point I’m a frozen person. So Poison Ivy and I become allies. because she wants to get rid of everything that exists in this world and so do l.’

Like her partner in crime, Uma Thurman’s deranged flower-power freak Poison Ivy wasn’t always evil. ‘Before she becomes Poison lvy.’ explains Thurman. ‘she’s a mad botanist called Pamela lsley, a nerdy, shy nutball who’s consumed by her work and not remotely aware of herself as a female. So the

Gorgeous George

set. As a teenager he chased two obsessions: baseball and acting. An unsuccessful try-out for Cincinnati Reds quashed one dream and a precarious career as an actor made the other seem forever out of reach.

His first job came via another famous relative, his jazz singer aunt Rosemary Clooney. Her son, Miguel Ferrer, landed the 21-year-old George a bit-part in a small feature film. Thirteen years, fifteen TV pilots, seven series, a hospital spoof (bizarrely called EM) and one failed marriage later, Clooney finally landed the part of the delectable Doug Ross.

Now as the most exciting Batman yet. the sky is the limit for Dr Love. (Ellie Carr)

So, apart from the pecs and the pouch. what is all the fuss about the new Batman? Words: Ellie Carr

WHEN BATMAN DIRECTOR Joel Schumacher decided to put George Clooney in a rubber suit, he was only doing what most women, and quite a few men. dream of every week when they tune in to ER.

As Doug Ross, the paediatrician with the heart of gold and wandering libido, Clooney has become the biggest sex symbol with a stethoscope since Dr Kildare. Rugged good looks. bad-boy charm and big brown eyes go a long way in a white coat. Top that with a tender bedside manner and trendy Julius Caesar haircut and you have the perfect hospital drama heart- throb.

Now with three series as ER's Dr Love under his surgical belt, the 36-year-old actor is to quicken pulses further as he assumes the cape previously worn by Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer. to play the ultimate screen hunk Batman. Already. he is tipped to become the most successful Batman ever, and not just with the ladeez. According to Hasbro, makers of the bestselling Batman action figures, the Clooney doll already looks set to overtake its Keaton and Kilmer counterparts. And as anyone who has ever been ten will know, kids know a superhero when they see one.

As does Warner, which has signed Clooney up for a further two Bat pictures. This comes on the back of two Emmy‘nominations for ER, and a starring role opposite Michelle Pfeiffer in the forthcoming film One Fine Day.

Clooney's rise to the top has been far from meteoric. The Kentucky-born son of veteran newscaster and talk-show host Nick Clooney, George grew up in the flickering light of the TV

Who needs rubber? Elle MacPherson and George Clooney prefer it without

13—26 Jun 1997 THE llST'l