When George Clooney Lost His Cool Over a Bad Review at Berlin

Natascha McElhone, Ulrich Tukur, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh
Kurt Vinion/Getty Images

"You make a lot of films yourself? Yeah, I’d like to see you make a film first before you get to talk about it. What a jerk!" said the star after a journalist found 'Solaris' "boring."

Steven Soderbergh's three-year, self-imposed exile from filmmaking is coming to an end with the news that the director is teaming with Channing Tatum and FilmNation for a hillbilly heist movie. But in 2003, the director was steadily churning out pictures.

At the 53rd Berlin Film Festival, Soderbergh screened his latest — a remake of the 1972 Andrei Tarkovsky science-fiction film Solaris, itself based on a 1961 Stanislaw Lem novel — starring George Clooney. (It was a busy Berlin for Clooney that year, who also was there to premiere his directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.)

In the film, Clooney plays Dr. Chris Kelvin, a psychologist dispatched to an orbiting space station to investigate strange deaths among its occupants. Once there, he encounters a woman who looks identical to his long-dead wife, which in turn stirs up all kinds of unpleasant memories from his past.

The languid movie, which narrowly avoided an R-rating in the U.S. over two unimpeded shots of Clooney’s bare behind, became the source of some controversy at the festival. Not over Clooney’s bottom, however, but over a startling confrontation the star had with a reporter at a news conference following the screening.

After a Turkish journalist rose in the crowded room and announced that he found the film “boring,” Clooney, then 41, dropped his famously cool facade and became visibly agitated.


"I find you fascinating," Clooney told the man. "You crack me up, man. You just wanted to get up and be a rat, you know that? You just wanted to get up and say something rotten. What a jerk! I mean honestly, you know, what a shitty thing to say!"

And he wasn’t finished. "You make a lot of films, do you?" Clooney continued. "You make a lot of films yourself? Yeah, I’d like to see you make a film first before you get to talk about it. What a jerk!"

Publicly lambasted by arguably the biggest movie star on
 the planet, the Turkish reporter did not flee the room in shame. Rather, he posed a follow-up query, asking Clooney if he himself was happy with the film. "Yes, I am," the actor replied. "And thanks for the question."

Alas, the Turk arguably had the last laugh: The $50 million film left Berlin empty-handed and grossed a paltry $15 million at the U.S. box office.

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