Director’s Chair Introduction: George Clooney

by Tony Cogan · May 10, 2021 · Director's Chair · No Comments

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Deadline: 5th June 2021

Hello everyone, it’s time to reveal the featured director for May and this is another month where I have joined with Rob over at Acting School 101 to focus on an actor/director and this month we’ve decided to go for George Clooney.

As a director, Clooney made his start with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind in 2003. After multiple directors, including Bryan Singer, Brian De Palma and Curtis Hanson, all being involved at one point and the film remaining in development hell, Clooney decided to take over as director, along with co-starring in the film, in order to get the film made, taking inspiration from Steven Soderberg and the Coen Brothers, but Clooney did clash with writer Charlie Kaufman. The film was not a commercial success upon release, but Clooney’s direction was praised.

With his second film, Good Night and Good Luck, Clooney had a lot more success. Whilst he worked with a lower budget than he did on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Clooney mortgaged his house to raise the budget, Clooney’s passion for journalistic integrity shined through, with the film also marking the start of a productive behind the scenes partnership between Clooney and Grant Heslov. Upon release, the film was a critical success, with Clooney being nominated for Oscars for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for his work.

In 2007, Clooney directed his third film, Leatherheads, which had some difficulties with the writing credit. Clooney had some conflict with the Writer’s Guild of America over getting credited for his writing work, but the decision of them to credit the original writers only led to Clooney leaving the guild. The film itself got a more mixed to negative reception critically and did not make its budget back.

Clooney returned to politics with his fourth film, an adaptation of the play Farragut North, The Ides of March. This was another critical success upon release, earning Clooney his second nomination as a screenwriter. Clooney followed this up with The Monuments Men, which was a film I was looking forward to seeing prior to release but I, like a lot of other people, found it a bit lackluster.

After these, Clooney moved on to direct a script by the Coen Brothers for Suburbicon. It was a script they intended to direct themselves, after initially writing it after the release of Blood Simple, but the delays to the project led to the crime caper script of the Coen’s being combined with a historical drama about a black family in a white neighbourhood. This is a case where I admire the ambition of the film, but the two separate scripts don’t mesh together and the film ended up being a critical and commercial disappointment.

Clooney’s most recent film was The Midnight Sky for Netflix, with this being the biggest budget film that Clooney has made so far. There was an intention for the film to be released in IMAX, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to this being cancelled. Upon release, the film was praised for its ambition and received award nominations for its visual effects and music, but the reception was, on the whole, fairly lukewarm.

Clooney’s next film, which has recently finished filming, is The Tender Bar, a biopic of journalist J. R. Moehringer. At this stage though, details on the release of the film are unknown. Along with his film work, Clooney was one of the directors for the recent TV adaptation of Catch-22, to critical acclaim, and he is the process of producing a docuseries about the Ohio State University abuse scandal.

As a reminder, the films of Clooney’s you can cover are as follows:

  • Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
  • Good Night and Good Luck
  • Leatherheads
  • The Ides of March
  • The Monuments Men
  • Suburbicon
  • The Midnight Sky

I look forward to reading what you send me.