As George Clooney tells it, his latest film, Suburbicon, is “less funny and a lot angrier” than how it was conceived two decades ago by Joel and Ethan Coen. “It seems like a good time for a film that feels angry,” Clooney exclusively tells Yahoo Movies about the release, which stars Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac, and is being positioned for awards contention with a prime October release date.
Early descriptions of the film said Suburbicon focused on a seemingly typical family forever changed by a deadly home-invasion incident. Paramount has since released a new, more vague synopsis:
Suburbicon is a peaceful, idyllic suburban community with affordable homes and manicured lawns… the perfect place to raise a family, and in the summer of 1959, the Lodge family is doing just that. But the tranquil surface masks a disturbing reality, as husband and father Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) must navigate the town’s dark underbelly of betrayal, deceit, and violence. This is a tale of very flawed people making very bad choices.
Clooney prefers to keep the details of his film under wraps, but he is happy to talk about the genesis of Suburbicon, how it has transformed over two decades, his dream cast, and why he’s not starring in the film. Here’s what he needs you to know.
Suburbicon was conceived as a very different movie.
“This was a film they [the Coens] kept trying to get made for quite a few years. I was offered to play the role that Oscar is playing back in 2001. There are some similar themes to Fargo and Burn After Reading. Hapless characters making really bad decisions. The original script took place in the 1980s and didn’t have the Mayer family as neighbors so it was more of a comedy-thriller. We [Clooney and producing partner Grant Heslov] thought we’d like to make something a little less funny and a lot angrier. It seems like a good time for a film that feels angry.”
Clooney convinced the Coens that he should direct the film, and wound up channeling their style.
“I’ve learned a lot from working with the boys. They only shoot what the need. They’re really efficient. They storyboard all of their shots. They just do takes until they get what they need and then move on. I try to do all of those things. I’ve been lucky that I’ve had Steven Soderbergh and Alexander Payne and the Coens to watch up close and learn from.”
But Clooney is glad he’s not on screen.
“Thankfully, I didn’t have to be in it. I really haven’t acted in a film in a couple of years [he most recently appeared in 2016’s Money Monster and the Coens-directed Hail, Caesar!]. I’ve been a lot more focused on writing and directing as of late.”
Clooney doesn’t traffic in spoilers.
“Well, it’s tricky not to give too much away. It takes place in 1959 on the East Coast. A suburb like Levittown, Pennsylvania. Matt Damon and Julianne Moore get into a great deal of trouble and make some terrible decisions. Oscar Isaac comes in and sets into motion a series of pretty horrendous crimes. Basically, Oscar gets to come in and steal the movie.”
Clooney adores his entire cast, especially the one member you’ve never heard of.
“Matt is a very dear friend. I love working with him because he’s a great guy and a consummate pro. But more than that he’s a world-class actor. I think Julianne can literally do anything. We’ve been friends for a long time and I always wanted the chance to work with her. She classes up any film she’s in. Oscar is someone I’ve been blown away by in the last few years. Watch him in Ex Machina, he’s a whole other level of good. The real discovery is our kid Noah Jupe. I played a pediatrician on ER so I worked with hundreds of kid actors, and I’ve never seen anybody as good at his age.”
Suburbicon opens Oct. 27.
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