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“There’s not going to be a President Donald Trump,” declared Clooney. “It’s not going to happen, because fear is not going to be something that drives our country.”
He later added: “Trump is actually a result of the news programs [that] didn’t follow up and ask questions. It is so easy because your numbers go up when you can just show an empty podium and say, ‘Trump is about to speak.’ Twenty-four-hour news doesn’t mean you get more news — it means you get the same news more.”
A reporter from Iran told Clooney that when he looks at him, he sees the next president of the United States. “And this from the guy from Iran!” the actor joked.
Money Monster, directed by Foster, stars Clooney as an investment pundit on a financial TV show similar to Jim Cramer’s Mad Money, who (along with his producer, played by Julia Roberts) is taken hostage on-air by an angry investor (Jack O’Connell).
“This is sort of reflecting what we’ve gotten used to: the idea that some schmuck can get on TV and tell you where to put your money and then people listen to him and lose money in real life,” said Clooney, talking about his character in the film, Lee Gates. “This film reflects where we have gotten to, at the dangerous point when news stopped being a loss leader, where you didn’t expect to make money on it but just wanted to inform people. It then became part of entertainment programming, designed to make money.”
Clooney said Gates is similar to the less-than-fully-aware characters he’s played in Coen Brothers movies such as Hail, Caesar! and O Brother, Where Art Thou? “Where you think you are the smartest person in the room when you suddenly realize you are the stupidest person in the room,” he said.
Foster, Roberts, O’Connell and Money Monster co-stars Caitriona Balfe and Dominic West all joined Clooney onstage for the Cannes press conference. The film is screening out of competition at the festival.
While Foster acknowledged the political dimensions of her movie, she said she didn’t agree with one reporter’s description of Money Monster as “essentially Bernie Sanders’ platform.”
“Jack’s character Kyle does represent a kind of rage that a lot of people feel about the abuses of technology and the abuses of the financial system and being left behind,” said the helmer. “But I don’t know if that is a Bernie issue. If anything, more of a Trump issue.”
Foster went out of her way to thank Sony Pictures for backing the pic, noting how rare it is to be able to make a movie that tries to be both intelligent and mainstream.
“Those films aren’t being made much anymore,” the two-time Oscar winner said. “I think people still want to see movies that make them think and make them feel, but there aren’t many of them. But you don’t have to choose between being a mainstream movie and being an intelligent movie. You can do both.”
For her part, Roberts said that while making the film, “I was just trying to impress Jodie Foster all the time.”
The stars shared that Foster and Clooney didn’t expect to get Roberts for the movie. “I asked George, ‘Can you please send it to Julia, so we can get a quick ‘no’?” recalled the director.
Roberts heaped praise on Foster but said she had no ambitions to follow her path and try directing movies herself.
“I consider it hugely complimentary that people ask me if I want to be a director. But I know my intellectual limitations and my limitations of patience because I can’t have more than four people in an hour to ask me a question that needs an immediate answer to,” the actress said. “It’s something like playing the cello or painting that I envy and would like to learn to do in my next life. But in this life, it’s just something I want to admire from a distance.”
West said he jumped at the opportunity to appear in a film that confronted the story of the financial crash head on.
“I hadn’t seen much response from Hollywood to the financial disaster, so that was what interested me about it,” said the actor. “It was holding evil, holding the bankers, to account. Then I learned I was going to be the evil banker. I didn’t initially have that in mind.”
O’Connell said he was confident he had to the stuff to play hostage-taker Kyle when he read the film’s script, written by Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf.
“I learned that I’d be holding George Clooney hostage and would be going after Dominic West with a gun, bomb vest and detonation that I would yield. And I thought that was well within my capabilities,” the British actor joked.
Foster is in Cannes for the fourth time as a director, and exactly 40 years after she first stepped foot on the Croisette with Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.
“It was much more chaotic back then, there were photographers everywhere,” Foster recalled. “There was no Palais [where the festival is now headquartered]. The red carpet, was at the Carlton, I think. I had been doing movies for a while, but Cannes was really the beginning of my life as an actor. … To return here 40 years later is the greatest honor because it is the place for auteur film. To be here with the likes of Pedro Almodovar and Jim Jarmusch is really an honor.”
Roberts, making her first-ever appearance on the Croisette, called Cannes “crazy and wonderful and such a wild celebration of cinema.”
Sony is releasing Money Monster in the U.S. on Friday.
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