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George Clooney reveals he was shunned by Hollywood after disastrous 1997 movie ­Batman & Robin

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HE is now one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, yet George Clooney says his disastrous 1997 movie ­Batman & Robin nearly ruined his career as people refused to work with him.

The 59-year-old heart-throb actor also says film industry types looked down on him because he spent years in TV drama ER.

George Clooney starred in flop Batman & Robin with Alicia Silverstone and Chris O'Donnell

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George Clooney starred in flop Batman & Robin with Alicia Silverstone and Chris O’DonnellCredit: Reuters

It was only when he and director Steven Soderbergh landed the 1998 crime comedy Out Of Sight that his fortune changed.

Speaking from his Los Angeles home, George told The Sun on Sunday: “Steven was coming off a couple of flops and I was coming off Batman & Robin and we both needed a success. Our backs were against the wall, in a way.

“I was still doing ER at the time and there were always these conversations about whether you can go from television to film.

“It was a big deal — and I was losing that argument.

The 59-year-old with human rights lawyer wife Amal Alamuddin

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The 59-year-old with human rights lawyer wife Amal Alamuddin Credit: Getty – Contributor

“After Batman & Robin I realised I was going to be held responsible for the movie, not just for the performance. And so we waited, and when I found that movie (Out Of Sight), we chased Steven down to direct it.

“There was a director attached and he walked away because he said I wasn’t a movie actor.

“It all worked out. Steven directed the hell out of that movie — he did a beautiful job with it.”

George says he has always been grateful for any job he landed. He grew up in Kentucky, with dad Nick, an anchorman and TV host, and mum Nina, a former beauty queen.

George Clooney with co-star Julianna Margulies in TV drama ER

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George Clooney with co-star Julianna Margulies in TV drama ERCredit: Getty – Contributor

WORLD’S SEXIEST MALE

He said: “I cut tobacco for a living for three dollars and 33 cents an hour. And I knew one thing when I left Kentucky, which was I didn’t want to be a tobacco cutter — I was pretty sure of that. So everything on top of that has been gravy for me.

“That’s why I tend to find it silly when people are tortured by it. It doesn’t mean they don’t have rough times and something doesn’t make somebody mad, but the general overall spirit should be exciting.

“I was a struggling actor for 15 years. Any job you got, it was, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’. And you’d show up and some guy is a jerk and you’re like, ‘I don’t care. I got a job. I’m getting paid and paying the rent. I’m thrilled to be here. I’m lucky’.”

George has mixed luck with a huge amount of talent. He is now also a director, producer and screenwriter. He has four Golden Globes, two Oscars and has been awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award.

The actor reveals he feared that his career was over after Batman

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The actor reveals he feared that his career was over after BatmanCredit: Getty – Contributor

He spent years being voted the world’s sexiest male before he married international human-rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin in 2014.

They went on to have twins Ella and Alexander, now three.

The couple now split their time between Los Angeles, their Berkshire home and their 25-room mansion on Lake Como in Italy, where they have hosted friends including the ­Beckhams, Cindy ­Crawford, Stella McCartney and Harry and Meghan.

Even so, George — who joked during our group Zoom interview that he was “wearing nothing from the waist down” — does still get impressed by some famous people.

Clooney in 1998 crime comedy Out of Sight with Jennifer Lopez

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Clooney in 1998 crime comedy Out of Sight with Jennifer LopezCredit: Alamy

He said: “I’m still star-struck by certain actors. I got a note from Robert Redford the other day and I went upstairs and showed Amal: ‘Look, a note from Robert Redford’.

“Paul Newman was a big influence on me. He was really funny and, because we had a very funny relationship late in life, we were going to do [2004 film] The Notebook together. We’d been sent the script and we were like, ‘This is the one. We can do this together’. I would play him as a young man.

“It was funny. We met and we were like, ‘OK, this is it. We’re going to do this. It’s going to be great’.

“Then I went home and I was watching The Sting or Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, where he’s the handsomest guy you’ve ever seen, with these bright-blue eyes. And he’s my age.

The actor in 2001 with Ocean's 11 co-stars Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt

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The actor in 2001 with Ocean’s 11 co-stars Julia Roberts and Brad PittCredit: Warner Bros

“So we met up, had dinner and I said, ‘I can’t play you as young, everybody knows what you look like. I don’t look anything like you. This is insane’. 

“We just wanted to do it because we wanted to work together. It ended up not being the right thing for us to do. I think it was Ryan Gosling and James Garner who did it many years later.” 

Besides acting, George’s passion now lies in directing.

His latest movie is Netflix Christmas blockbuster The Midnight Sky, a space adventure he stars in as well as being behind the camera.

George Clooney as Augustine in his forthcoming film, The Midnight Sky

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George Clooney as Augustine in his forthcoming film, The Midnight SkyCredit: � 2020 NETFLIX, INC.

He plays an elderly scientist stranded in the Arctic who is racing to stop an astronaut returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe — a character played by British actress Felicity Jones, who was Jane Hawking in 2014’s The Theory Of Everything.

Tonight George is promoting the film with a Screen Talk on the BFI London Film Festival’s YouTube channel. One location for The Midnight Sky was Iceland and temperatures dropped to -40C, with 70mph winds. George had to be bald and grow a huge beard for his part. He said with a laugh: “My wife was really happy when the movie was over.”

It is the seventh film that George has directed, and he has appeared in a host of hit films including ­Gravity, the Ocean’s trilogy and O Brother, Where Art Thou?

KEEP MESSING AROUND

But he said: “I’ve had incredible successes and incredible failures as a director and as an actor.

The heart-throb says film industry types looked down on him because he spent years as TV's Doug Ross

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The heart-throb says film industry types looked down on him because he spent years as TV’s Doug RossCredit: Alamy

“And the funny thing about that is it actually puts you in a position where you don’t get pigeonholed. I was never a big action guy, I never was a huge comedy guy.

“So because none of them ended up being gigantic hits, it allowed me to just keep messing around and being able to do very, very different kinds of performances. And directing has been the same.

“Some of the less successful films, in a way, have allowed me to continue to try other things, which has been fun. This is pretty different from anything I’ve done before.”

George considered casting other actors in the lead before himself, such as Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, but decided they were too young.

Amal and George Clooney at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

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Amal and George Clooney at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan MarkleCredit: AP:Associated Press

He said: “I’m only a couple of years older than them but I’m a little well worn, I suppose. And it just felt like there really weren’t many other people that were at the right age for this and in the right place in their career to do it.”

George admits it can be a “drag” and a “horrible, egotistical thing” to direct himself but he feels fortunate to be in the ­position he is in. He said: “If you get lucky enough to be able to pick and to be part of the process and eventually to be the leader of the process, it’s lucky — you should be celebrating. 

From ER to Oscar

AFTER Nineties TV fame as dishy doc Doug in US hospital drama ER, George’s film breakthrough was 1996 horror flick From Dusk Till Dawn.

Then came 1997 flop Batman & Robin. But he had a 1998 hit in crime comedy Out Of Sight with Jennifer Lopez – and in 1999 starred in Gulf War film Three Kings. In 2001 he triumphed in thriller Ocean’s Eleven with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.

He has directed spy caper Confes-sions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Good Night, And Good Luck (2015), sports comedy Leatherheads (2008), political drama The Ides Of March (2011) war epic The Monuments Men (2014) and comedy Surbubicon (2017).

This December, he directs and stars in Netflix sci-fi film The Midnight Sky. He has two Oscars, for Best Supporting Actor in 2005 thriller Syriana, and Best Picture as a producer on 2012 drama Argo.

“Anybody who’s angry or upset in that position needs some therapy. We get to play make-believe and somebody pays us to do it.”

Now he just wishes we could all get back to the cinemas and watch films together again.

He said: “It is a fantastic thing to sit in that theatre with everybody and watch movies. And I miss that. And I wish we were all able to do that right now.”

George Clooney pays tribute as he presents Ocean’s Eleven co-star with award

GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL exclusive@the-sun.co.uk

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