The film is an adaptation of Homer’s classic “The Odyssey” based in Depression-era, 1930s Mississippi. Clooney plays a silver-tongued criminal who busts out of jail with his chain gang cohorts Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and Pete (John Turturro). And according to the “Perfect Storm” star, he would have done anything to work with the Coen brothers –including taking the job without reading the script.
“We had been talking about another movie where I literally had two scenes, and I was excited to do that [just to work with the Coen brothers],” said Clooney. “Then I was on the set of ‘Three Kings‘ in Phoenix and they showed up, handed me the script and asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said yes. Then I took it back to my room and I couldn’t wait to read it. When I saw it was Homer’s “Odyssey” and I was going to play Ulysses, I couldn’t believe my luck. I still can’t. I can’t believe I got to do this movie.”
“O Brother” is quite a departure from Clooney‘s blockbuster fare. There are no explosions, no cascades of water, no shoot-’em-up gun scenes. In fact, most of the movie is set to bluegrass music and Clooney‘s character is quite the singer, a quality Clooney wasn’t quite able to perfect — he had to lip-sync his solos. But he wasn’t too upset about it.
“I was thrilled. If you’d heard my voice, you’d be thrilled as well,” he jokes. “I thought I could pull it off. And they thought I could pull it off, which was even funnier. When I didn’t, we all kind of looked at each other and thought, ‘Uh oh.’ But T-Bone Burnett, who is a great producer, was well-prepared and sort of thought I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Actually, Clooney says he doesn’t have a whole lot in common with his character, who among other things, goes to great lengths for love. “I’ve never really done anything crazy for love,” he admits. “I got married in Vegas once. And they said that wouldn’t last. What do they know, eh? Nope, I’m not all that crazy.”
One thing Clooney is crazy about, however, is his upcoming flick “Ocean’s Eleven.” Clooney and an amazing roster of Hollywood heavy-hitters, including Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Alan Arkin, Andy Garcia and more, are ready to start shooting the highly anticipated remake of the 1960 classic starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson and Sammy Davis Jr.
“I’m pretty excited about that,” he says. “It’s been very hard to pull together … but we’ve all come together and said we’ll all take a cut because we can’t all make a lot of money on a film like this. But everybody came on board with the kind of feeling of ‘Let’s go make a movie that’s going to be really fun.'”
“O Brother” hits theaters in some markets this month and goes wide in early 2001.