THR Actor Roundtable: George Clooney's Worst Job, Nick Nolte's Thoughts On Death, and Who Has 'Rage' Issues
THR: Was shifting from the stage to film difficult?
Plummer: Not really. As a young actor on the screen, I was very bad. One is always thinking of how you look when you're young. You're always conscious of the profile; you're so conceited. I thought that was all that movies were about. It wasn't until I hit the drunk stage of my life, in my 40s, that I suddenly had fun on film playing character roles.
Brooks: Drinking is the key?
Plummer: Yeah. John Huston's [1975 film] The Man Who Would Be King. I thought that was terrific.
Clooney: Drunk through the whole thing, were you?
Plummer: Poor John Huston. He had emphysema very badly by that time. But he was such a marvelous character. He had an oxygen tent on the set, but he always had his cigar with him.
Clooney: That always works well.
THR: George, is acting fun, or is it hard work?
Clooney: I cut tobacco for a living in Kentucky -- that was hard work. I sold insurance door to door -- that's hard work. Acting is not hard work. If you're lucky enough to be sitting at a table like this, you've been very lucky in your life. You caught the brass ring somewhere along the way. I've known a tremendous number of talented actors who didn't get opportunities. Is it hard work? It's long hours, but nobody wants to hear you complain. I remember I was selling women's shoes at a department store, which is a lousy job. It sounds like it'd be great, but it wasn't elegant shoes. It was 80-year-old women [saying], "That's a hammertoe!" You're like, "I don't want to see that!" I remember I would hear of famous stars complaining in Hollywood about how hard their life was -- I didn't want to hear that. So I don't find it difficult. I find it challenging, and sometimes I'm very bad at it, but I don't find it hard.
THR: Do you think you were bad and have become better?
Clooney: I think scripts make people better. Direction makes people better. You can find a lot of projects where actors were tremendously good in one project, but you'll see them not work necessarily well in others. I think scripts make a huge difference in that department.
THR: Did you always know you wanted to act?
Clooney: I figured it out right after I finished cutting tobacco. My uncle was an actor named Jose Ferrer. He came to Kentucky to do a movie when I was 20 with his son Miguel Ferrer, also a wonderful actor. I was an extra for about two months on the set -- they got me a gig. Then Jose said, "You ought to go to Hollywood and be an actor."