'I'VE BEEN RUNNING FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS AND I WANT TO CATCH MY BREATH'
16 THE LIST .2” 70:“ ‘.'.I>.'
on‘t mention the war. It's too messy: too
tnany worms iit that particular can. Sttsan
Sarandon cart step aboye her publicly- perceiy‘ed acting station to burn a strategic bra in opposition to America's neryous gun finger. btit not (ieorge ('looney: somehow it doesn't seem right that he should draw on his celebrity to stir up another lraqi httllabaloo. to notch up another headline. He was Dr l)oug. for crying ottt loud.
\ey'ettheless. speak ottt he does. with sincerity. And you beliey'e him. itnplicitly. lle marches in support of the (ierman goy‘ernment in Berlin. \‘oices anti-war opinion at press conferences and premieres. and there isn't a whiff of trite sentiment or self-promotion.
Bttt (ieorge (‘looney doesn't so much ttse his fame as build on it in two ways. l‘irstly. he motivates people. llis directorial debut. ('onli'syions of'u Dangerous Mind. was languishing on a Hollywood studio shelf attd that upset ('looney. Warner Brothers had commissioned writer-of—the- moment (‘harlie Kauftnan to adapt the ‘unauthorised autobiography" of 7()s gatne show host (‘httck Barris. btit it simply wasn't being tnade. It was thoroughly tmcony'entional (a manic tri-polar biopic of an American TV luminary who claims to have led a dottble life as a ('l:\ hittnan. taking ottt 33 commies in the name of patriotism); it had already cost the studio 55m in fees (Johnny l)epp. Ben Stiller. Sean Penn and .lolm ('tisack were tipped to play the lead at various stages: Brian Singer. l’.l llogan. (‘urtis Hanson and Day-id l-‘incher approached to direct): and the narratiye was just too darn unreliable -— how palatable would Joe Normal find the fruit-loopy admissions of a household name. which may. or may not. be trtte‘.’
Next thing you know. (‘looney jumps on board as director. offers his sery'ices for a relatiy'e pittance and the wheels are set in motion. The hip Hollywood .-\- list is ousted in fayour of relatiy‘e nobody Satn
Rockwell. an independent film actor of Boy of
.llounltgltl and 1mm Docs eminence. .lulia Roberts and Drew Barrymore are cast as the two loye interests in Barris' liy'es. thus hoisting the film's profile and the curiosity of filmgoers. lleck. (‘looney' ey'en wangles a tasty bit-part for Blade Runner legend Rutger llauer and non-speaking cameos for Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. liy'ery'one works for ‘minimum wage'. all completely trusting of ('looney's ability and Vision. And that‘s the second method (‘looney uses. perhaps unknowingly. to apply his celebrity.
lit the years since leaying the scrubs of ER behind. (‘looney‘ has become a major Hollywood player. routinely offered $20111 per flick. capable of creating box office belters on the strength of his name and heart-throbbing good looks.
()nly. fame doesn't seem to interest him. '\\‘ould yott like a cup of tea." he asks as l steady my self on a cottch in his London hotel rootn. Must not melt. I think; intist regain composure. I ask after his health
the (‘unri'w‘uns tour has been plagued by a nasty fltt bttg. Not to mention his publicist's good-natured tales of shooters and beautiful women at the launch party the night before.
'I wasn’t drinking as much as I would haye normally.’ he says. ‘I had to pace myself . although. I did get to hang out with 'l‘om .lones last night. Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey » how cool is that'.’ 'l‘hat's a big night: those guys really know what's going on.‘
I was half-expecting a bear with a sore head. I wasn't prepared for a llolly wood se\ symbol in awe of two \Velsh warblers most of its take for granted.
'.\ly aunt Rosemary and Shirley sang together and they were friends.’ he continues. ‘so I was really happy to meet her.’ llis fainous aunt's .\'B(‘ show is name-checked in Kaufman's screenplay.
and. when she died of lung cancer during filtning of
('on/i'ss-imn. ('looney' included a fitting tribute the final "l‘hcre's \o Business l.ikc Showbusiness'. sung by his late aunt. 'l‘he fragile sensation in my knees has returned.
.-\I this point I shottld probably mention what he was wearing. The thing is. I can't for the life of me remember. The camera I Used to take his photo as the interyiew drew to a close bears testament to facial hair. “as there'.’ .-\rticles l'ye read in the hast state he's greying. badly. .\'ope. didn't see a wisp. Yes. he‘s magnificent to behold. and his huge dark eyes haye a beautiful. hypnotic quality. but it was his innate intensity that flttmmosed any other obsery'ations I could make. lle possesses a belief. a cony'iction and determined seriousness about filtmnaking that captiyates and inspires.
‘I spent nine months. eyery day. learning about it before I started.‘ he says of the eyperience inyolyed in directing his first moxie. ‘l story boarded eyery shot in ey'ery scene. I drew Wt) cartoons coyering each shot. I had to go and learn about lenses. 1 had to learn about colour palettes and things I didn't haye any understanding of before. Then you haye to be able to Use all that and not let it get in the way of telling a fttnny story'
(‘huck Barris' career history is a wildcard choice for a first time director. bttt it was a challenge ('looney felt capable of rising to. "l‘his one had to be horse-whipped] he laughs. ’This is about schi/ophrenia. You had to build a world inside this guy 's head: you had to make it a little bit claustrophobic. So it became about trying to keep all that moy ing and still tell the story'
Confessions spans 40 years of Barris’ life. from his unstable upbringing in the 40s. the 'enterprising‘