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Receiving an honorary award at the 42nd annual Cesar ceremony in Paris on Friday night, George Clooney used the occasion to speak out against the “hate” and “fear” promulgated by U.S. President Donald Trump, warning the audience “not to confuse dissent with disloyalty” and asserting that “we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”
In a speech that was both serious and sometimes humorous, the actor was accompanied onstage by Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist), who offered up an impromptu, sometimes off-kilter translation of Clooney’s words.
After thanking the French Academy and speaking about his “fascination” for the French cinema, Clooney quickly switched to politics, starting that “as citizens of the world, we’re going to have to work harder and harder not to let hate win.”
He added, “love Trumps hate, courage Trumps fear and always right Trump’s wrongs.”
Clooney then addressed his wife Amal, who was seated in the audience, saying how proud he was to be her husband and that he was “excited about the years, and especially the months, to come,” in allusion to the twins they are expecting this June.
After a few more mistranslations by Dujardin, Clooney concluded by citing Good Night, Good Luck‘s Edward R. Murrow, who attacked Joseph McCarthy and his Communist witch hunts in an impassioned speech from 1954: “We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.”
He then concluded with a quote from Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
In an interview published earlier this week in the French tabloid Paris Match, Clooney discussed the situation of director Roman Polanski, who stepped down as this year’s Cesar Awards president amid controversy and planned protests from French feminist group Osez le Feminism.
In the interview (translated into French), Clooney said that “Polanski needs to put an end to this story so that it can finally be behind him.” He continued: “I don’t know enough about the Polanski affair to talk about it in detail. But what I understand is that he had an agreement with a judge and that the judge didn’t respect. I also know that the victim now supports him.” And he concluded: “When you think about all that this 83-year-old man has been through, it’s awful to imagine that they’re still after him.”
The honorary Cesar Award traditionally has been handed out to Hollywood stars in years past, with Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Scarlett Johansson and Kevin Costner receiving it during the last four editions.
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