Among the myriad dispatches George Clooney has offered out of the Toronto International Film Festival while promoting his new Coen brothers film Suburbicon, the actor returned again to one of his favorite objects of criticism: the former White House chief strategist and “failed f—ing screenwriter” Steve Bannon. (Among the other choice invectives Clooney used to describe Bannon were “pussy” and “little wannabe writer.”)
Clooney spoke with a group of journalists on Friday, weighing in on the recently ousted Breitbart executive ahead of Bannon’s 60 Minutes interview on Sunday. Apparently Clooney got ahold of Bannon’s screenplay for his hip hop adaptation of Coriolanus, set in Los Angeles in the midst of the 1992 riots. Clooney described it as “unbelievable” (and, given the context, not in a good way). “If he’d somehow managed miraculously to get that thing produced, he’d still be in Hollywood, still making movies and licking my ass to get me to do one of his stupid-ass screenplays.”
Apparently thrilled by his earlier caucus with the press, Clooney repeated the sentiment in an interview with the Daily Beast. “Someone in Hollywood should’ve given him a script—or approved one of his scripts—just to keep him out of the right wing,” he said. (It’s not the worst proposition, though Donald Trump’s own Hollywood experiences only worked to his advantage when it came to the election.)
The actor, by his own admission, relished the chance to roast his apparent nemesis; he’s been an outspoken critic of Trump and his lackeys since the dawn of his candidacy (and, by contrast, is basketball buddies with former president Barack Obama): “I like picking fights. I like that Breitbart News wants to have my head,” he said, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I’d be ashamed 10 years from now if those weaselly little putzes, whose voices are getting a lot higher every week as this presidency starts to look worse and worse weren’t still [after me].” (Breitbart responded to Clooney’s gleeful tirade by spinning his remarks as a “full-blown meltdown.”)
Shortly after the Trump inauguration, Clooney weighed in on the president and his top adviser, blasting their Hollywood connections (and Trump’s tweets describing beloved actress Meryl Streep as “overrated”). “Steve Bannon is a failed film writer and director,” he said in an interview ahead of France’s César Awards, according to Variety. “He made a lot of money off of ‘Seinfeld.’ He’s elitist Hollywood, I mean that’s the reality.” (In fact, though Bannon’s apparent Seinfeld connections were widely reported at the time, a later story by New Yorker writer Connie Bruck highlighted some inconsistencies—including that co-creator Larry David had not “ever heard of him until he surfaced with the Trump campaign”—while Businessweek’s Joshua Green suggested Bannon does in fact continue to receive some royalties from the series.)
For all his criticism of the current sentient spray tan-in-chief and his Breitbart proxy, Clooney has no political aspirations himself. (And, according to Julianne Moore, his Suburbicon co-star, that’s probably for the best.
“I think that having a celebrity as president who has a star on Hollywood Boulevard will exorcise our need to have someone famous in office,” Clooney said, according to Variety. Plus, as he admitted to the same group of journalists Friday, “The reality is, there are many more people who are much better qualified than me.”
Portraits of George Clooney, Elle Fanning, Claire Foy, and More Stars of the 2017 Toronto Film Festival
Andrew Garfeld, Breathe
Claire Foy, Breathe
Annette Bening, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Glenn Close, The Wife
Annie Starke, The Wife
Dominic Cooper, The Escape
Michiel Huisman, Indian Horse
Adèle Exarchopoulos, Racer and the Jailbird
George Mackay, Marrowbone
Bella Heathcote, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women
Javier Bardem, mother!
Christoph Waltz, Downsizing
Edie Falco, Outside In
Wim Wenders, director, Submergence
Andy Serkis, director, Breathe
Justine Bateman, director, Five Minutes
Michael Haneke, director, Happy End
Ellen Wong, TIFF Rising Stars
Melissa Leo, Battle of the Sexes
Brooklyn Prince, The Florida Project
Miranda Richardson, Stronger
Daniela Vega, A Fantastic Woman
Hong Chau, Downsizing
Julianne Nicholson, Who We Are Now
Diane Kruger, In the Fade.
Kate Mara, Chappaquiddick
Sarah Gadon, Alias Grace.
Margaret Qualley, Novitiate
Matthias Schoenearts, Racer and the Jailbird.
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
George Clooney reveals his cinematic crush: