Compiled by Jack Foley
SAM Rockwell stars as TV game show host, turned CIA assassin, in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Speaking at Londons Claridges Hotel recently, he revealed what it was like to meet the real-life Mr Barris, as well as his deep-felt admiration for director and co-star, George Clooney:
Q. What was it like to get close to Chuck Barris, a rather extraordinary and unique individual?
A. It was great. Chuck's a really warm guy. He's a very funny guy to hang out with, so I spent about two-and-a-half-months with him. He taped my lines and we hung out a lot and did dinner. He was really generous with himself and he was really sweet about hanging out. And he trusted George implicitly and George trusted me - so Chuck trusted me too.
Q. And what did you come away with?
A. As George says, we had to act as his defence attorney. We didn't want to know too much about the CIA stuff, you know, because we wanted to tell his story. We didn't want to be biased. We wanted to tell [scriptwriter] Charlie Kaufman's version of his story, too, which takes a little poetic licence.
Q. How did it feel for you to know that you had the support of George Clooney to get you in this role?
It was kind of moving. It's really amazing. It's rare in Hollywood that someone will go to bat for you in the way that George did, so I didn't want to disappoint him. It was a big thrill, though. I can't go on enough about what George did for me. It's pretty phenomenal.
Q. Chuck Barris has been accused of taking American television into the gutter. What do you think of the state of television in your country today?
A. The Gong Show and The Dating Game were the seed for a lot of the reality shows today, but these shows now are much more mean-spirited. The Gong Show is a much more innocent kind of show. Although he did exploit people, I think it was a funner atmosphere. It was entertainment, it was like a big party. I think the shows now are a little meaner.
Q. What was George like as a boss?
A. He's phenomenal. We were at the Berlin Film Festival the other night and there's all these people screaming for George, and he's got a really bad chest cold and it's cold out there, and he went out and signed all these autographs. It says a lot about George, he has a great generosity of spirit and he brings that to his work. He's very compassionate to all the actors on the set. He's really smart. He came in very well prepared and he didn't leave any rock unturned. He did his homework.
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