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Best Performances: George Clooney

In The Descendants and The Ides of March.

What’s harder to do—a death scene or a sex scene?
Love scenes, just because they’re embarrassing. I did a love scene in The American, which was challenging, especially when you’re 50. I died in The American, though you don’t really see it. And I was blown to bits in Syriana.

Did you cry when you saw yourself die?
No. The last time I really cried at one of my movies was at the premiere of Batman & Robin. I thought that might be the end of my career and I might have brought down a franchise, and I wept.

You cry over your soon-to-be-dead wife in The Descendants, and it’s very touching.
You know what? I covered that poor woman in ­onions, and when I went down to kiss her, massive tears. That’s how I roll [laughs].

Did you cry when you were on The Facts of Life?
Let me tell you—I was on the show a year and a half, and there was one scene where Tootie and Jo were having an argument with Natalie, and I had to break it up. That’s easily some of the best work I’ve ever done [laughs]. I was fired from The Facts of Life. They did a reunion show and asked if I wanted to come do it, and I said, ‘You know, you did fire me.’

You did a lot of TV before starring in ER.
On ER I had, by far, the smallest part. But I knew that if you play a pediatrician, it automatically makes you likable. In the first scene, I’m drunk. In the second scene, I’m hitting on the ­nurses. But at the end, I’m like, “Don’t touch that kid—not tonight, not ever,” and everybody says, “Ohhh, he’s a good guy.” You can do anything you want as long as you’re nice to kids.

In The Ides of March, you play a candidate for president, which raises the inevitable question: Will you run for elected office?
No. The truth is, I really enjoy my life. And it doesn’t look fun to be in politics right now. I couldn’t imagine living under that kind of microscope, where not just things you do but things you don’t do are held against you. So, no.

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