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BBC TwoNewsnight Review
Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 16:25 GMT
Talking to Clooney
Kirsty Wark and George Clooney

One of the most enjoyable aspects of presenting Newsnight Review is the range of material - from opera to the Arctic Monkeys, from Schiller's Mary Stuart to the first production of Romans in Britain in 25 years.

When I announced that he was to make a special appearance, Sarah Churchwell, who was seated on my left, started to make small strangulated sounds
On occasion we take a different approach altogether - so this Friday night Newsnight Review is devoted to a man who is now one of the most powerful players in Hollywood: George Clooney.

When I announced on last Friday's edition that he was to make a special appearance on Newsnight Review, Sarah Churchwell, the academic and writer who was seated on my left, started to make small strangulated sounds.

I thought she was going to have a seizure, but that has been the widespread reaction among many smart sane women. Perhaps he's the thinking woman's crumpet?

In fact, when I met him last week he arrived with a minimal entourage - on time - and made no demands. (When I interviewed Oliver Stone in the same location for BBC4 he insisted the room be so cold I could almost see my breath.)

Clooney was relaxed and straightforward, had given up his lunch in order to give us more time to talk, and was keen to engage in a debate about star studded political activism.

'He puts his career on the line'

David Puttnam had referred to Clooney in his speech at this year's BAFTAs, saying he was disappointed that Clooney had not won any awards:

George Clooney

"He puts his career on the line. He's been politically committed and has taken big cuts in his salary to make these kinds of films."

I discussed these films with him - specifically Syriana, the political thriller about the global oil industry, and Good night, and Good Luck, about the American CBS journalist Ed Murrow's conflict with senator Joe McCarthy.

We talked about politically active actors being open to the charge that they enjoy the power without the responsibility of having to make tough political decisions. He was also very critical of Michael Moore's style of film making, saying that he, Clooney, tries to find common ground rather than polarisation.

He also talks about the war in Iraq, and what's on his iPod.

I hope you enjoy it.


Kirsty Wark's interview with George Clooney was shown on Newsnight Review on Friday, 24 February, 2006.

Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana are both on UK DVD release from July, 2006.

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