George Clooney was in London recently to talk about new movie Tomorrowland. Shelley Marsden was there for Filmjuice…
He seems to have worked through just about every role you can play in a Hollywood movie – love interest, hero, stalwart, master thief, loveable rogue… Well, now George Clooney can tick wacky inventor in a Disney film off the list.
Sci-fi adventure Tomorrowland: A World Beyond, directed by Oscar-winning Brad Bird, the man behind Ratatouille and The Incredibles, is actually based on Disneyland’s themed land Tomorrowland, which was created in 1955.
Clooney plays former boy-genius inventor Frank Walker in Disney’s new blockbuster, who joins forces with teenage science enthusiast Casey Newton to go on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space.
The actor was joined by co-stars Raffey Cassidy and Britt Anderson, director Brad Bird and writer Damon Lindelof to talk wolf jet packs, our addiction to technology and teleportation.
George, how important is it to make socially conscious films for younger generation?
I’ve done several films that probably weren’t very inspirational for 15-year-olds, but I liked the message and the idea of this one. When I was growing up, there was the ideal that your voice – not the famous person’s voice or the politician’s voice but the individual’s voice – could change the world. We saw it happen. We saw Rosa Parks on the bus, we saw things change and we believed that we had the ability to do that. I think over time we’ve lost sight of that a little bit. I think it’s really important to make a film like this just to say the future is not inevitable, and what seems very dark and gloomy doesn’t necessarily have to be. We created it, we can change it and it doesn’t have to just be the people with the greatest amount of power. It can be a 15-year-old reporter.
What was the scale of this film compared to others you’ve done?
Oh, this little independent film? (Laughs.) It’s a big one, I mean it was big. Often when you work on a film of this scale it’s all just green screen and you don’t really get any idea of the scope, but we were in places where either we had these giant beautiful sets that we actually got to see or we were in Valencia in that insane building (The City of Arts and Sciences). I’ve never seen anything like it. It was a dreamer who built that. For all of us the fun part was that we got to see some of the scope as opposed to having it put in later with CGI.
Brad, how did your previous animation work inform Tomorrowland?
I think it helps with pre-visualising stuff. In animation, you have to know what you want and it helps to be able to draw things to show people what you’re doing. So, in this film, where we were dealing with a lot of things that partially were there and partially weren’t, like the sequence where Britt touches the pin and spends several minutes with no cuts in Tomorrowland, all of that had to be planned. The camera is constantly moving from something that’s there to something that’s not and following something that’s not there and that leads you to something that is there – and animation helped with that. Definitely.
Britt, George has had massive success behind the camera too. Would you like to emulate that?
Yeah, it definitely interests me, I just feel like if I did it I would want to do it well. I need more experience and I need to work with more people like George and Brad and this whole group of people. Everyone’s so amazing. I just hope to do more things like this to gain some experience. And take it one step at a time at a time!
Brad you’re name is synonymous with family movies, which seem like a rarity these days. Is there a secret to that all-ages appeal?
If there is I wish I knew it because I have no idea. I’m just like “that seems like a good idea!” It’s not a very intellectual process. I think movies are tough because you’re trying to connect with people whose lives are very different from yours. If you thought about it logically there’s no way we’d ever try and do the job. The only thing that’s ever made any sense to me is just to make a movie that I would want to see and hope that other people connect with that.
Damon, this is such an upbeat adventure movie. Is there a greater statement embedded in it against the tent-pole dystopian blockbusters?
I don’t think that any of us set out to turn up our noses at those films. We actually love those films and I’m the first in line for the Hunger Games, I’m going to see Mad Max tonight when we’ve finished here. I love that stuff but I also feel like we’re not seeing the alternative. While entertaining to watch, though, I don’t want to live in those realities, I don’t want robots trying to kill me or zombies trying to eat me.
George, what kind of ‘tomorrowland’ would you like to see?
I grew up in a time when news was as bad. Quite honestly, if you think about the sixties there were so many things going on, with the assassinations and with the civil rights movement and with the race riots and the women’s rights movements and everything. It felt like the world was going to fall apart and still there was the Apollo mission, there was us landing on the Moon and we always thought that it was going to somehow work out. I’ve always believed in that. It was part of what attracted me to the film.
George, how strange was it to see a younger actor playing your character?
Hey, just so you know, cos probably you don’t know, but I actually played that part too. That’s how good I was! I was very convincing for that part. He was great, actually, wasn’t he? I was blonde when I was his age, strangely and now I’m getting blonde again! That’s good fun. But he was terrific. He was really fun. I didn’t get to work with him, obviously, because I would be working with myself somehow, which I don’t want to do. So I really didn’t get to see any of what he was doing until I saw the film. So it was fun to see what impersonations of me he was going to do.
George, what seems impossible today that you’d like to see in the future?
When I was growing up the future seemed like it was going to be flying cars and all that sort of thing, which didn’t happen, but on the other hand we never would have thought of smartphones either. So what you think of the future being, it never really is. It usually surprises you in better and more interesting ways. I would hope that as we get older and a little more used to our technologies that we get away from them a little bit. I think we’re losing a little bit of living our lives now, as we’re recording it. I would hope that somewhere in there we get a little bit more in touch with each other.
Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is released nationwide on 22nd May 2015.