Feature by: Jack Foley
THE George Clooney/Steven Soderbergh partnership has produced
some of the more memorable mainstream films of recent years, begining
with Out of Sight, and coming up-to-date with Solaris. At the
London press conference for their latest collaboration, the two
celebrities discussed what they think makes their relationship
Clooney puts it down to the fact that 'we're both in a place
right now where we're having fun'.
"We're playing with all the toys in the toy box, you
know, even though we realise they're going to take all the toys
away pretty soon," he explained. "But
we're having fun right now, sort of pushing the envelope, trying
to get things made within the structure of the studio system."
Soderbergh agrees, feeling that it is important to hold on to
someone within the industry who shares the same ideas and hopes
"There's something wrong with you to get into this
business," he commented. "So when you find somebody
that you feel has similar ideas about what they want to accomplish
and how they want to accomplish it, you make sure that you work
with them again, and so I think George and I just clicked.
"When I went over to meet with him, and with Jersey
Films about directing Out Of Sight, which was an open directing
assignment, I talked about the kind of films that I liked and
the kind of film that I thought Out Of Sight should be, and I
think we just sort of got each other very quickly and fell into
a sort of fluid way of working.
"When that happens, you think that 'I hope this will
continue', because there are a lot of forces in the business,
pulling you one way or the other, if you allow them, and so I
feel lucky that I've been able to surround myself with people
that are in it for the right reasons."
That said, Clooney still had to write to Soderbergh to ask for
the lead role in Solaris, a move which has earned him a reputation
within the industry as 'Hollywood's most famous letter writer'.
But the star explains: "If you're going to ask for
something, or you want to pose something to your partner, in order
to not have him look you in the eyes and go 'I don't think you're
the right guy for the job', you sort of want a buffer zone in
case it doesn't work out.
"So, first I wrote him a letter and said, you know,
'I don't know if you're thinking of me, or if I'm up to this job,
but I wanted to officially say 'no hard feelings' if not. But
if you think I could do it, I would do it for free'. I just think
letters are a good thing, they last a lot longer and they also
give everyone a time period to react."
While the Clooney/Soderbergh partnership looks set to run and
run, however, the duo are aware that in order to be able to continue
playing within the studio structure, they occasionally have to
make the odd money-spinner.
Hence, Ocean's 12 will be made next year (reuniting most, if
not all, of the original cast members), in order that another
two projects can get the green light - one of which will see the
pair reuniting with another collaborator, Matt Damon.
But it is a sacrifice the pair are willing to make if it means
bringing quality screenplays into the wider arena.