The transition from ER hearthrob to big screen star hasn't been easy for GEORGE CLOONEY. But with hip and sexy crime movie Out Of Sight, he's found the formula for success. Words: James Mottram

HOLLYWOOD IS NOT NOTED FOR ITS BENEVOLENCE: three strikes and you're out. For George Clooney. the relief is evident. He has hit a home run. After the commercial apathy afforded to The l’eaeenzaker and the universally snubbed Batman And Robin. the star once voted ‘the sexiest man on TV’ was finding the transition to the big screen uncomfortable. Were it not for Out (2f.8'iglzt. Clooney may well be walking back to the dressing room by now.

Based on the Elmore Leonard novel and directed by sex. lies and videotape creator Steven Soderbergh. this juicy crime caper casts Clooney as bank robber Jack Foley in a role that reeks of sex appeal. Flirting with the law in the shape of Deputy Federal Marshall Jennifer Lopez and even spending one scene locked in a car boot with her

Clooney shows an on-screen attraction to his co-star

that‘s as firey as his partnership with Michelle Pfeiffer in One Fine Day was limp.

‘Yes. it was tough to be in a trunk with Jenniferf says Clooney with a smile. ‘I recommend everybody do it. We didn‘t know if the chemistry would work because you never know. That is just catching light in a bottle. It works or it doesn’t work.’

Attributing that crackle to screenwriter Scott Frank (who also scripted Get Shorty). Clooney cites seminal 70s film All The Presidents Men as an influence on character. ‘There are no good guys here. just different degrees of bad guys. It's like when we used to make movies in Hollywood. That was before we had to relegate character pieces to independent lilms.’

Today Clooney is in jocular form. at ease with his publicity duties. if not his fame. ‘I don't know how you walk past a six-year-old kid with a pen and a piece of paper. and go “Get the hell out of my face". lfl could do it. I would.’ he sighs.

Recounting a tale when he was confronted by a posse of fans while in Las Vegas with Robert Duvall. the actor speaks of adoration in embarrassed tones. 'Robert was walking ahead of me and they started screaming at me. Now. to some people that's good. To me. that's the most humiliating thing in the world because I want to go. "You dumb shits. that is Robert Duvall. That's the guy that did .l/I‘i‘;l*.8"*‘H. That's the guy that they have on a list starting with To Kill A Moe/dngln'rd.‘

Outside his hotel room. a similar-sized gaggle of

rain-soaked girls await a glimpse of their hero but that comes as no surprise to all but Clooney. Refreshingly honest. the 37-year—old’s humility is as attractive as his swoon- inducing looks. A Cary Grant for the 90s. Clooney is as willing to confront his failures as he is to blow his horn. The Kentucky—born actor has no qualms in talking about the ’8‘ word.

‘With hindsight. it's easy to look back at Batman and go “Woah. that was really shit and I was really bad in it".‘ he admits. ‘I can't really point at it and say it didn‘t work and then not take some blame for that.' He pauses and states defiantly: 'I am going to do some clonkers along the way. and it’s


'lt's easy to look back at Batman and go "Woah, that was really shit and l was really bad in it". I am going to do some clonkers along the way.’

George Clooney

just going to happen. You know we are all going to do it. I did some bad television along the way. and then I said I wanted to do some better television. and then I got to ER eventually.‘

Much to fans‘ dismay. the programme that catapulted Clooney from sitcom veteran (in the likes of Roseanne) to the man with TV's warmest bedside manner is soon to lose its star. Clooney's bad boy Dr Doug Ross will be bowing out in the New Year with provision made for the obligatory guest appearances. of course.

'You do a lot of scenes that are similar. and I start doing things so as not to do the same thing. And it damages the scene.‘ he explains. ‘You know. I'll start laughing when a kid is dying. And they will go “Why are you doing that?" And I'll be like. “Well. I did this scene a week ago and I thought that [this time] I would laugh". The truth is. that hurts the integrity of the script. but you can’t do the same thing every time. You have to try and change it somehow.‘

Guarding his privacy as much as his career trajectory. Clooney recently boycotted any appearances on L'S programme Entertainment Tonight alter the show's sister-edition. Hard Copy. aired an unauthorised clip of Clooney with 25-year- old French girlfriend Celine Balidran. Yet. unlike most stars. Clooney is willing to be drawn on his relationship. Affectionately mocking her cookery skills (‘she could burn water‘). Clooney himself is feeling the age gap.

‘Her parents came out to visit us in California. and they are. like. 42 and they are. like. my age! And I am looking at these people going. “Oooh. who are those people?" and she‘s like. “That's my father and that's my mother". and I‘m like. “Oh no. Oh man. I am getting old!".’

It‘s a relief to know that. even in Hollywood. stars suffer the sands of time. This sense of maturing is now reflected in Clooney’s career plans. Rejecting the opportunity to feature in the forthcoming Will Smith-starter ll"ild ll'ild ll'est. the future looks serious his willingness to reprise his role as Sparky the gay dog in South Park aside. Next up. albeit briefly. is an appearance in Terrence Malick‘s long-awaited World War II drama The Thin Red Line. followed by Three Kings. a dark Gulf War comedy by Flirting ll'ith Disaster director David 0. Russell.

Behind the camera. two TV' pilots written by Clooney will go into production through CBS next year. while his company. Maysville Productions. have a slateful of projects for Clooney to choose from. including romantic comedy A Thousand Kisses and political thriller Heat Score.

’lt‘s all very cyclical.’ he adds. 'Who knows'.’ I could easily end up hosting a talk show in Idaho. and probably will and then back to Murder She ll'rote.'

Out Of Sight goes on general release on Fri 27 Nov. See review, page 35

'9 \0‘\.~3 Dec '998 THE LIST 19