George Clooney Recalls Most "Moving Moment" of Obama's Presidency
The star was hosting a special screening of Netflix's Syrian civil war doc 'The White Helmets' in London.
George Clooney jetted to London just two days after attending Barack Obama's farewell celebration at the White House, and he used the opportunity on Monday evening to pinpoint the most memorable moment from the outgoing POTUS' two terms in office.
"The idea that the president of the U.S. can show up in South Carolina after nine people in a church had been shot and sing 'Amazing Grace' – and the way he sang 'Amazing Grace' – was one of the most moving things I've ever seen in my life," he told The Hollywood Reporter, speaking of Obama's response to the deadly Charleston church shooting in 2015.
"I couldn't imagine any other president in our history doing that. He moved us in a way, and those family members moved us by not retaliating and keeping the city calm. It was such a moving moment that I'll always remember."
Clooney was talking on the sidelines of a special screening of the Netflix documentary The White Helmets, which he was hosting in London alongside his wife, Amal Clooney, for The Clooney Foundation for Justice.
Directed by British filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2015 for the documentary Virunga, The White Helmets tells the emotionally hard-hitting story of a group of volunteers in the Syrian Civil Defense, a now 3,000-strong search-and-rescue organization founded during the Syrian civil war to protect civilians from the bombing campaigns of pro-government forces. Often first on the scene after an air attack, the White Helmets have helped save the lives of more than 60,000 people since their inception but have also seen more than 150 of their own killed in the process.
Clooney praised the film – which he is set to adapt into a narrative feature after recently optioning the rights – and the filmmakers, saying that it helped display the goodness of humanity.
"If you look on the internet, you think that the world is filled with hate. It all just seems terrible," he said. "And the reality is, the vast majority of human beings are kind and good. They want what’s best for themselves and their children and their family, but they also want what’s best for their neighbors, and for people that know them. What is extraordinary is these people put on these white helmets and run toward violence while everyone else is running away from it. Where there is no other structure or society, they are there to protect. And they risk their lives to do it. First and foremost they are heroes."
Clooney also told THR about his plans to turn The White Helmets into a feature, claiming his team was now looking for someone to write the screenplay.
"I spend a lot of time in Darfur and Sudan, and people often say, 'Why don't you make a movie about that?', and the reality is because we don't have a good script," he said. "So it's about finding the right story. You can't just find the subject and make the movie. Because if you get it wrong, you've really done it a terrible disservice."