He’s not about to “stay in his lane” or “stick to acting.”
George Clooney may not serve as everyone’s barometer for the political climate in America, but when speaking to journalists at the Toronto International Film Festival, the typically composed actor let fly his feelings on his vilification by the right as well as his own opinion of Steve Bannon.
To that last point: He’s not a fan.
In speaking to the press about his racially charged drama “Suburbicon,” Clooney used his time in the public eye to explain why he doesn’t “stay in his lane” or “stick to acting” as so many vocal opponents suggest outspoken celebs do. In doing so, the Hollywood star set his sights on media outlet Breitbart and Bannon, whom he dismissed as a “failed fucking screenwriter.”
His words, which straddled the line between “speech” and “rant,” ran to the profane early on, but as he regained his composure, he explained why even he, a man of immense privilege, fame, and wealth, has a right to share his thoughts just as everyone else does, “Hollywood liberal” designation be damned.
These were some of his comments, as transcribed by Entertainment Weekly:
“I like picking fights. I like that Breitbart News wants to have my head. 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]. Steve Bannon is a failed f***ing screenwriter, and if you’ve ever read [his] screenplay, it’s unbelievable. Now, 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.
Hollywood is being quite well represented right now in the West Wing somehow. You know, they say I’m out of touch. You want to call me a Hollywood liberal? Come at me. I sold ladies shoes, I sold insurance door to door, I worked at an all-night liquor store, I cut tobacco for a living. I can change the fan belt on my car. I grew up in that world in Kentucky. I know every bit of that world, and I know my friends and what they believe. And I know this is not a moment in our history that we’ll look back and be proud of. So if I’m not standing on the side I believe to be right, I’d be ashamed.
The reality is there are many more people who are much better qualified than me. I think the reason people talk about is that our bench [in the Democratic party] doesn’t seem very good right now, it doesn’t seem very exciting. By this time eight years ago we had already heard Obama give a speech at the convention and there was something going on. But right now nobody really sees anybody out there, so that’s when the Rock or whoever comes into play. For me, I will support whomever I can by doing fundraisers or whatever and helping in ways I’m probably better at than in making policies. ... I say just try to find a candidate that excites you, and it shouldn’t be me.”
While Clooney’s list of blue-collar accomplishments may have bolstered some support, it rings as unnecessary. He’s an American citizen, which is all the explanation required to speak to the state of American politics, good, bad, or otherwise.
Lest one thing that the moment got the better of him in his digs against Bannon, Clooney again offered up some profane characterizations in a subsequent, adding “pussy” to the list of names befitting Bannon.
“Steve Bannon is a pussy,” Clooney said to The Daily Beast. “Steve Bannon is a little wannabe writer who would do anything in the world to have had a script made in Hollywood. He wrote one of the worst scripts I’ve ever read — and I’ve read it. His fake Shakespeare-rap script about the L.A. riots. Oh, you’ve gotta read it! It’s just fuckin’ terrible.”
He later took a pragmatic approach to Bannon’s screenwriting, seeing the right-wing icon as a far more innocuous presence as a Hollywood scribe than a political operative. “Someone in Hollywood should’ve given him a script — or approved one of his scripts — just to keep him out of the right wing,” Clooney added.
Choose your poison: Steve Bannon, the shady alt-right political operative, or Steve Bannon, the brain trust behind a racially conscious Shakespearean rap musical film. Both sound unappealing, but Clooney’s supposition rings true for many fearing for the state of American politics these days.