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Fantastic Mr Fox - George Clooney interview

Interview by Rob Carnevale

GEORGE Clooney talks about the process of working on Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox at a press conference to start the Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival.

He also talks about which attributes he believes he shares with Mr Fox and why the festival is so important to filmmakers, including himself, as a showcase of whether a film will stand-up in the long run…

Q. What is the particular appeal of Roald Dahl and his characters?
George Clooney: I just showed up for the pay cheque, because I heard this was a big one. This is a fairly well known book for a long period of time for a lot of us, and there was an opportunity to work not only on a really interesting and fun story, but also a chance to work with Wes [Anderson]. So, I was excited about the whole process, and I think it was a very different process from what most people go through when they work on an animated film. We were out in the middle of nowhere, on people’s farms, and doing sound effects and rolling around in the fields – so it was fun to do.

Q. What did you think of your character?
George Clooney: For me, this guy was such an optimist, and I thought he was a fun character to play. I remember reading the script and saying to Wes: “Listen, I love it and I’m thrilled to do it, but I don’t know who’ll see it, because it’s sort of made for grown-ups, as well as for kids, and you never know how that plays.” And he said: “Don’t worry about it, let’s just go make the movie and have some fun!” I thought that’s kind of a great way to approach making a film. So, for me it was just about the process of working with Wes and the rest of the guys. Although I didn’t enjoy working with Bill [Murray, laughs]. We fought a lot… but I’ve let go of some of the anger and we seem to get along fine now.

Q. What other attributes do you think you share with Mr Fox other than foxiness?
George Clooney: Well, I try to daily wax. Let’s see, we have a very similar voice but I seem to be considerably taller.

Q. What is the moral lesson from this fairytale?
George Clooney: Stealing is good. It’s honouring thieving. I don’t know…. be true to your animal nature.

Q. Would you do another animated film?
George Clooney: No [laughs]. In fairness, we worked for a few days out on a farm together, and ran around and played in barns and out in fields, and Wes worked for a year and a half to two years on this project, so in some ways us being up here is a little silly. This is Wes’s job. But certainly I would do any of this again. It was incredibly fun for all of us.

Q. You have three films at this year’s London Film Festival [Fantastic Mr Fox, Up In The Air and The Men Who Stare At Goats]. Would you say you’re currently the hardest working man in Hollywood?
George Clooney: Or I have the worst timing! We did most of this film a couple of years ago, so you don’t always get to know when they’ll be complete. Obviously, it’s not ideal to have three films coming out at once but I’m very proud of all three. This one was a funny process, though… when we did the voiceovers, we were all staying at a friend’s farmhouse. We spent the night sleeping out there and running around in these barns. We didn’t have a wolf yet and Bill acted out the part of the wolf… I don’t know about other animated films, but I don’t think you usually get the chance to work with all the other guys, and it was like going to camp, it was really fun.

Q. How important is London Film Festival on the film-going calendar?
George Clooney: I was here a couple of years ago with Goodnight, And Good Luck and there’s a level of pride in film here that’s really fun. They truly enjoy it. It’s a great place to bring a movie and find out whether it’s going to hold up and last… not just for an opening weekend but whether it’s going to work or not.

Read our review of Fantastic Mr Fox

Read our interview with Bill Murray