George Clooney on the Monuments Men

March 11, 2014
A scene from The Monuments Men.

A scene from The Monuments Men.

George Clooney, 52, recently put in his fifth directorial attempt with The Monuments Men, a caper-style action-and-comedy film that takes place in World War II.

The salt-and-pepper haired actor was all smiles inside the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills recently as he answered questions while clad in a leather jacket, jeans and a T-shirt printed with the face of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (“I like to wear shirts that bring attention to things that don’t get attention sometimes,” he said of the choice).

George Clooney took time to take a picture with the Korea Times movie columnist Park Heung-jin after the interview.

George Clooney took time to take a picture with the Korea Times movie columnist Park Heung-jin after the interview.

In Germany during WWII, art treasures from the West were stolen and stashed by the Nazi party under Adolf Hitler. Attempts to recapture these pieces were partially successful, thanks in part due to “Monuments Men” comprised of museum directors, curators and art historians.

Based on a book written by Robert M. Edsel, the film stars an A-list cast comprised of Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin.

According to Clooney, about 90 percent of what’s shown in the film is true, although the names of the characters were changed to add flaws to them.

The focus was more on the art than anything else in the film, he said. In order to capture the right tone and pacing, he took inspiration from caper movies in the likes of John Sturges’ The Great Escape and Battle of the Bulge, as well as advice from Ocean’s Eleven director Steven Soderbergh.

Unlike his character in the film, Clooney said he wouldn’t run into a burning building to pull out an object in real life — that same thought was also the concern he had about conveying the intended message to audiences.

“That was the difficulty of telling this film… it’s not [about] the piece of art, it’s the culture,” he said. “We kept focusing on the idea that this is the timeline of our culture and that’s what’s important about saving it and not letting it go away.”

He will tell you himself that he’s no serious art collector. It’s more of a personal thing to him — he would save a binder with a collection of handwritten letters from Paul Newman, Walter Cronkite and Gregory Peck over anything he owns if he had to choose.

The art collection in his home, which he said an interior decorator once called “terrible,” is comprised of paintings from his trips around the world, from Paris to Madrid, that remind him of the experiences he had at those places.

For Clooney, who worked on another film until Mid-February, rest is the biggest thing on his mind. He said he hasn’t been able to stay in his LA home for more than two weeks in the past year and a half and is looking forward to a break.

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