King George and I
I tend not to capture my ideas or seize upon them, especially the good ones, when they reveal themselves to me. I’ll either store it away in my strangely powerful aural and photographic memory, or I’ll just remember the situation or event and I’ll tag the idea somehow to it.
This post is written in retrospect and it’s really a pivotal blog post. The contents that will be explored here is perhaps that first flash of an idea that got me to set up this blog.
It started in a very humane place: the bathroom. I like to read while I’m in there and I picked up a magazine from the stack of many, and it turns out to be the American Express magazine my parents get in return for lining the credit monster’s stomach.
The cover story (King George, Expressions Magazine, Issue 2/2006) is about George Clooney, a man I really respected after Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and more recently, Syriana. Both films are not ones I always put down when I’m filling out a social networking profile or in conversation about film, but images from both films sit somewhere silently in my memory. And when I do think or talk about them, those images jump out as if summoned by a angry despot to show themselves.
It’s a regular cover story that overall touches all the bases for an interview with a celebrity: the customary introduction where they will be witty and give you a quick character analysis, then the discussion about where they met for the interview, and then the rest of the interview is (most usually) a set of interesting questions to give you an insight into the person covered.
I think it was mostly the setting in which I first read this article. I mean, one of the most human things we as a species do. From that place, I categorically was captured by the story, mostly because I could see myself reflected in a lot of things.
“Clooney creates a subtle screen of smoke and mirrors to make sure you don’t get too close to the bone. Most of the interview segues into one big entertaining joke.”
“In hindsight, I realise what he actually does is deflect, deflect, deflect. Every personal question is answered with rapid-fire banter. Heaven forbid he should lower his groomed guard and show any real emotion.”
I was watching an old video of my sister’s naming ceremony, filmed in 1985 in our old apartment in Egypt, and I, in between laughing at my antics and how much hair I used to have, observed my behaviour at that stage. Man, I craved attention. And man, I was just one big walking joke. It was sobering, to know that some things are permanent, and sad, to realize that the permanence can be destructive later on, to see myself doing anything to keep eyes transfixed on me. Looking into my child eyes, I could see I really just didn’t feel comfortable and by acting like a court jester, it kept people focused on me.
I related to George Clooney. I’m not going to go out now and pitch a tent in his garden though.
As I grew up, perhaps especially now, I do that too – deflect with verbal dexterity, talk my way out of awkward situations or lame discussions by deflecting insults, witt-izing, and keeping myself always mysterious by being so loud and larger-than-life it drowns out the possibility that I’m just a regular, simple guy.
Back to that moment reading the article, the words themselves or the concepts covered weren’t groundbreaking or new. But it spoke to me.
“[George] allegedly came to physical blows with David O’Russell, the director of Three Kings, when Clooney caught him verbally abusing a member of staff.”
“It’s about a career, building a set of films you’re proud of. Period.”
Not just someone I can personally relate to, but someone who shares the principles I’m putting into place now, at the beginning of my film career, and the ones I communicate when people ask me about my aspirations for film. On another level, as if George Clooney formalizing a whole bunch of thoughts and words I’d said before, but not in that concise elegance.
“I’m a hybrid. I try to succeed in all worlds.”
“[Ed. quoting Matt Damon] … Look at what that Clooney did and we didn’t even realize it was happening.”
“He was so poor he slept in a friend’s cupboard”
As I read more, I grew more fascinated with this guy. That second quote really came to me. I learned after all these years, people’s affirmation and agreement is not what should drive me. It’s my own vision and commitment to whatever I want to achieve. I want people to say that same line for me.
I put in that third quote because it wraps up in one dramatic image what it’s like to be in this business. Maybe it will never be like that for me, but I’ve had a different kind of stark poverty which has brought me to this point today. And rather cosmically, summarized in the following quote:
“[Ed. quoting Joel Schumacher] I think anyone who has been locked out for a while, who’s been rejected, suffers. […] And I think that kind of suffering doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”
That quote, when I read it first time, consoled me.
I read on and it says Clooney took $2 as fees on Good Night and Good Luck, one dollar for writing the script and directing each. Phenomenal. With all this celebrity glut and one of the glut’s distinguished members able to take symbolic compensation for his efforts. And signing away all his rights to get the film out there in the market. And doing anything to be plain and regular with his posse of guy friends.
“I’m afraid that if you put the bubble around yourself believing in the myth of a movie star, then you lose touch with everything else going on. And that is not living to me.”
With the author of that article, I agree and say I like this king. I want to work with him, sooner rather than never.
And this is the story of why I started this blog.
I read one article one day while in the bathroom, doing what a lot of comedians pay their bills making fun of, and I wanted to set something up where I can show my film credentials and reveal the mind of an aspiring filmmaker in a tangible way to a guy like George Clooney.
Without having to pitch a tent in his garden or sifting through his sewage looking for clues to his success.