Clooney vs. Baio on Trump

May 22, 2016

In the midst of an election season like no other in the history of this country, two Hollywood heavyweights have stirred controversy with their opposing points of view. The first shot across the bow came from George Clooney while speaking with reporters at the Cannes Film Festival when he said, “Trump is actually a result in many ways of the fact that much of the news programs didn’t follow up and ask tough questions. That’s the truth. It’s really easy because your numbers go up…because they can show an empty podium saying that Donald Trump is about to speak.” In turn, Scott Baio in an interview on Fox News replied, “I think Clooney lives in an alternate universe. I don’t know what questions haven’t been asked of Donald Trump. On the flip side, what’s been asked of Hillary Clinton? Nothing.” Clooney went on to say that Donald Trump will not be president of the United States because “We’re not going to be scared of Muslims or immigrants or women. We’re not actually afraid of anything. We’re not going to use fear. So that’s not going to be an issue.” When asked about the same topic in an interview on Fox News, Baio stated, “Of course we [Trump supporters] are a racist, I’m a racist, you’re a racist, everybody’s a racist; I could fall asleep listening to the same exact argument from every liberal about every conservative…it’s boring, it’s old, and I hope soon the American people will go, ‘Ya know what? It just doesn’t fly anymore.’” And in an interview with the Guardian magazine, George said he was indeed a Hillary Clinton supporter but “really loves” Bernie Sanders. The Oscar-winning actor went on to add, “[Bernie Sanders] is forcing the conversation to things that never get talked about in US politics: disparity between the rich and the poor which is getting worse every day.” Conversely, when asked about Democratic values and income inequality, Baio said, “I don’t know what [Clooney’s] obsession or what their obsession is with socialism…If this is what they believe, just sell your home in Italy, sell your homes in LA, sell your cars and stuff, give it to the government and live on a hundred grand a year, and the ten million you make a movie, just give that to the government.”

Regardless of how you feel about these inflammatory issues, it’s important to keep a level head and try to listen respectfully to opposing points of view. When asked if George Clooney should be getting involved in politics, Scott Baio replied, “Yeah, he should be getting involved if he wants to, that’s his choice. I’m getting involved, and that’s my choice.” And for his part, George Clooney quoted Winston Churchill saying, “You can count on Americans to do the right thing after they’ve exhausted all other possibilities.”


The Power of Baring Your Face

December 22, 2013

sandra-bullock-no-makeup-gravity.jpgAlfonso Cuaron’s vision for Gravity was for the actors to wear no (or minimal) makeup. It’s a logical decision being that the movie was to take place in outer space, and Sandra Bullock’s character is consumed with survival amidst shooting space debris–and applying glamorous eye-shadow and lipstick doesn’t quite fit into the scenario. Cuaron’s decision wasn’t intended to make the characters appear unattractive compared with standard movie stars we’re used to seeing onscreen; rather, it was made for the sake of realism. When in production, Bullock said, “God help us all when my face comes rushing at you with no makeup on. I’m going to apologize now, but Alfonso, in a brilliant move, said, ‘No makeup.'” George Clooney likewise was required to go sans makeup, and he wasn’t so thrilled with the prospect either. “Our vain little heads are going to be some massive 17-foot image. You are going to see details because it’s shot on this digital film that shows everything. It’s so scary. There are scenes where you say, ‘This is where you have to let go and let God.’ And, thank God, there are no nude scenes.” Well, when the movie was all said and done, it’s clear that Cuaron’s cosmetic ban was one of the masterful ingredients he poured into the project. Not only did it add to the verisimilitude of the story, but it also managed to draw the audience in by accentuating the humanity and vulnerability of the characters.

Bullock and Clooney are certainly not alone for feeling trepidation at the thought of acting with little or no makeup. But it’s fair to say that modern actors who are required to play sans cosmetics are venturing into new territory due to the high-def craze in theaters and home-movie systems alike. As much as our culture is crazy over beauty products, the truth is we all know what we look like without makeup whether we’re brave enough to step outside without it or not. But for an actor, the simple act of not wearing makeup can be quite compelling.

Drea de Matteo, the sexy siren who played Christopher Moltisanti’s girlfriend, Adriana, in the HBO juggernaut, The Sopranos, was often seen on the show with little or no makeup. These scenes took place when she was at home ironing or just hanging out, and it lended an authenticity to the show as well as making her character more relateable than the typical gun moll. Adriana got whacked in season five, and there was an outpouring of sympathy by Sopranos fans who felt like they knew her intimately, and could relate to her struggles. The fact that she laid her face bare in the show may have played a part in the audience empathizing with her plight. Likewise, Anne Hathaway singing I Dreamed a Dream with minimal-to-no makeup in Tom Hooper’s musical, Les Miserables, renders such pathos and empathy, one is left wondering if makeup would have been a barrier to the integrity of the performance.

And so here’s to you, brave actors, for daring to venture into the land of taboo exposing your bare face on enormous high-def screens for the sake of art!



How Fun Are You to Work With?

December 21, 2011


“Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down.” — Jimmy Durante

We’ve all heard the stories of enfant terrible movie directors storming on set and making it a living hell for the entire cast and crew. Or an A-list star who won’t leave the trailer unless his latte is foamed to perfection. We’ve heard about the sleazy producer who thinks sexual harassment is funny, and the drug addled DP who can’t show up for work without a morning bump. These stories have been around since movies were called flickers and since starlets were strictly under contract. Some of these stories may be accurate, and some have been inflated through word of mouth with a dose of magnificent hyperbole.

But, the reality of the day-to-day Hollywood machine is often quite different. For instance, The Descendants‘ newcomer Shailene Woodley says she was nervous about meeting costar George Clooney. “And then he came up to me, gave me a big hug, and said, ‘Welcome, sweetie.’ And immediately the intimidation factor went away…George is the least intimidating person on the planet. He’s always on the set hanging out with transportation guys or craft service guys or the dolly grips, playing basketball with the dudes. He’s just a normal guy…from Kentucky with a heart of gold.”

Hollywood is a very competitive and challenging place. Before one actor speaks a single line, there are writers, producers, development folk, research teams, and location scouts working around the clock to prepare for production. It takes an enormous amount of time, effort, resources, and money to turn the magical words on a page into magical images on the big screen. So, Hollywood power brokers have little time for actors who can’t show up to work on time and with a good attitude. It’s an enormous privilege to be cast in a feature film or TV show. If you are so honored, be sure to make the most of it. By greeting people warmly or making an effort to remember others’ names, you will not only be regarded as a pleasure to work with, but you’ll increase your chances of working with members of that team in the future. As big as it is, Hollywood is a small town, and people tend to work with those they’ve had good experiences with in the past. Empowering yourself with positive social skills could make all the difference in your career.