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George Clooney on Thursday lost his cool with a reporter in Berlin when asked to detail what the actor and activist was doing, beyond making movies, to ease Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis.
“I spend a lot of time working on these things, and it’s an odd thing to have someone stand up and say, ‘What do you do?’ That’s fine, knock yourself out,” an annoyed Clooney shot back during a Berlin Film Festival press conference to promote his latest movie, Hail Caesar!. “I have gone to places that are very dangerous and I work a lot on these things.”
The actor said he is meeting Friday with German chancellor Angela Merkel and some recently arrived refugees to highlight the issue. “I’d like to know what you are doing to help the situation?” Clooney at one point asked the Mexican journalist.
The Hollywood actor and activist, who is accompanied in Berlin by his wife, Amal Clooney, sparked global interest in Sudan’s Darfur crisis with a 2006 visit to the war-torn country. The Coen brothers and the cast of Hail Caesar!, including Channing Tatum, Josh Brolin and Tilda Swinton, are in Berlin to promote their homage to Hollywood’s golden age just as Germany is consumed in debate over the country taking around one million refugees from a war-torn Middle East, the most of any European country.
Joel Coen, co-helmer of Hail Caesar! along with brother Ethan, told the refugee-focused fest that the timely issue wasn’t likely to figure in any of their movies anytime soon. “You’re right — it’s a very important issue,” he said when asked whether he’d ever, as a celebrated director, make a movie about how people become refugees.
“It’s something I’d be very interested to see movies address … but it’s absurd to say that anyone who happens to be in public life or in some creative endeavor, to point a finger at them, and say, ‘You should be telling this particular story,'” Coen added, noting that Hollywood doesn’t just make subject movies because they’re politically important, they need to be the right creative vehicle.
“It’s a misunderstanding of how stories get written and made,” he told a reporter. “Are those stories important? Yes. Does it make sense to say, ‘You’re a public figure, tell these stories — why aren’t you telling them?’ It’s a funny question, frankly.”
Clooney also turned aside a request by another reporter who hoped to see a sequel to his 2005 thriller Syriana produced. “There’s a lot that has gone wrong, and we all know there’s a lot of conversations that should be had and continue to be had,” he conceded, before insisting the news media was best placed right now to address the European refugee issue.
“The unfortunate thing about the film community is we react to situations much more than we lead the way,” said Clooney. News event happen, scripts are written and movies aren’t made for a couple of years, he pointed out.
“I’ve often struggled to make a film about Sudan, about Darfur, a subject that’s very close to me. But I haven’t been able to find the proper script,” he told the press conference.
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