“Letter to a celebrity” (an entry for )
Dear Mr Clooney
I think a human being is made interesting by their irrational prejudices.
One of mine is against you.
Yes, I know, perhaps an international lawyer should really prioritise war criminals, holocaust deniers, terrorists, the architects of US foreign policy or people who kick puppies.
But, some time ago, I assigned you – with good cause - the title of “the ineffably smug George Clooney” and the crown of being my least favourite actor. My ostensible reason at the time was that – well, you really do only ever play one character don’t you? It's alway just pure Clooney: invariably smug and swaggering, if occasionally with a cutesy Southern accent.
However, some of my favourite actors of the black-and-white/early colour era have this same lack of range, Humphrey Bogart or Jimmy Stewart to take two at random. Bogart, the only man alive capable of generating Raymond-Chandler-esque film noir sex appeal despite being saddled with a first name more at home in the post-World War I British Foreign Office (“I say, Humphrey, could we no move the borders of Turkey a bit to the left? I think the Kurds will be much happier over in Persia, don’t you, Bumps, old chap?”) Stewart, who despite a homespun charm that could have just become irritating, managed under Hitchcock to express a kind of suburban dread which Grant could never summon.
So why, Mr Clooney do I chose to pillory you?
I still haven’t seen “Three Kings”, for which you’ve generally been praised. I enjoyed “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, “Ocean's Eleven”, “Intolerable Cruelty” and “From Dusk ‘Till Dawn”.
But let’s face it, in one of the greatest lines of cinema review of the 1990s, you were indeed the George Lazenby of the Batman series.
Yeah, sure it’s a comic book film. But you signed on for the second Schumaker disaster – it’s not as if there was no forewarning of just how awful it would be. Sure, the prospect of snogging Uma Thurman would warp the judgement of many a better man than I but - while honestly anything would have been an improvement on Val Kilmer - even the arch campness of Adam West would have been preferable to your self-congratulatory swagger. The first two Burton films were fun, dark and creepy - if ridiculous.
You, however, were merely (and unforgiveably) ridiculous. All your acting said was: “Yup, I’m a lot cooler than you. Because, me, I’m George Clooney. You? You are not George Clooney. See anyone else on screen who’s George Clooney? Nope. It’s just me. I, Clooney. Cooler. Than. You.”
And that’s pretty much all I ever find in your acting.
On the other hand, you have had the grace to say: “Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind bombed. But I can take it. Most of the films I've done haven't done particularly well. I'm surprised I'm continuing to work.”
As I said, I have to concede, on reflection, I like everything else I’ve seen you in.
So I am, with astonishing generosity, prepared to lay down the hatchet, the bazooka, the blow-torch.
You will, forever, remain “the ineffably smug George Clooney”, but I imagine I will actually go and see (despite my better judgement) “Oceans 12”, if it survives pre-production.
George, I'm extending the olive branch here. I hope you chose to take it.