George Clooney on pranks, his “smart” Monuments Men and ditching cynical films

The writer, director, producer and star reveals he created almost every part specifically for his star-studded cast - Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban

Monuments Men creator George Clooney has a pretty stellar film CV. And no, we’re not even talking acting, although he does have two Oscars to his name. The Hollywood movie star has an impressive track record of writing, producing, even directing, a string of critically acclaimed hits with long-time collaborator Grant Heslov. Together they are responsible for awards season darlings Good Night and Good Luck, The Ides of March and Argo – all dark, cynical and often political features. Now, back in cinemas with his new film The Monuments Men, Clooney is relishing the opportunity to offer film-lovers a dash of optimism… 


“We’ve been doing so many cynical films, Grant and I,” he told at last night’s Monuments Men premiere in London’s Leicester Square. “I said we should do something nice because I don’t think we’re as mean as the films we’re making.” 

Their latest outing is set in the final throes of the Second World War with the Nazis withdrawing from their European strongholds and taking scores of prized artwork back to Germany with them. Clooney’s character Frank Stokes and his team were sent to the front line on a mission to save countless masterpieces from possible destruction – a task force that became known as “The Monuments Men”. 

On the red carpet, the 52-year-old also revealed that he and Heslov had written the characters of the six art specialists for the exact actors who went on to play the roles – Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Jean Dujardin and Bob Balaban. “We wrote them for them – almost every part we wrote for the actors we got. They’re smart guys, they know what they want. If they had an idea, it was always great.”

The Oceans star is also known in the media for his troublemaking on set, famous for cooking up extravagant pranks to play on his friends and co-stars. So, which is he most proud of? “I’ve got some that baked for seven/eight years that I’m very proud of. Some of them are still going on – I’ve got to let them ride for a while.”

Monuments Men is released in cinemas this Friday 14 February