George Clooney and Julia Roberts repeated kiss 80 times – 09/14/2022 – Illustrated

Julia Roberts began the interview with a question—”Is George giving enough trouble yet?”
His friend and frequent co-star George Clooney had preceded Roberts on our call, calling from his home in the Provence region of France, where he lives with his wife, Amal. But the room was streaked with sunlight, so much so that Clooney was hard to see.

“With these reflections you’re trying to bring out your inner radiance, is that it?” Roberts said. Clooney squinted at her Zoom thumbnail. “Look who’s talking, you there with that lens!”, he mocked. “My computer is 25 years old!” she said.

It is with this exchange of good-natured barbs that the two prefer to communicate. “It’s our natural rhythm,” says Roberts. This easy understanding is the basis of a partnership that spans several films on the big screen, from 2001’s “The Eleven”, to their most recent production, the romantic comedy “A Ticket to Paradise”, in which they make a divorced couple in constant dispute, but who band together to prevent the marriage of their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) to a seaweed farmer (Maxime Bouttier) she meets on a graduation trip. When divorced parents are reunited, the spark between them reignites.

When I spoke with Roberts and Clooney at the end of August, there was no light coming through the windows of the actress’ house — it was only 6 am in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband, Danny Moder, and their three teenage children.

Roberts asked that the interview start early so she could get her kids off to school later, noting that waking up too early is nothing new for her. For a scene in “A Ticket to Heaven” that takes place at sunrise, she had to report for work at 3am. It was the earliest she had ever had to appear on a set in her life.

“I had to arrive at 1 am,” says Clooney, “because of the work they do on my face before filming.” “All the duct tape, the slurry,” says Julia Roberts, letting out one of her famous laughs.

NYT: When you read the script for “A Ticket to Heaven”, did you each think of the other as the person you wanted to play opposite?

George Clooney: I was sent the script and it was evident that it had been written for Julia and me. In fact, the characters’ names were originally George and Julian. I hadn’t done a real romantic comedy since “A Special Day” (1996)—I didn’t do as well as Julia in that genre. But I read the script and thought, “If Jules is up for it, I think it could be fun.”

Julia Roberts: It just made sense to do the movie with George, because of our chemistry. We have a friendship that people are aware of, and we start the story as a divorced couple. Half of America must think we’re divorced, so we already have that as a good starting point.

Clooney: It’s really good that we’re divorced, because I’m married now, so it would suck if we weren’t divorced. Just mentioning.

Roberts: Another thing is that George and I have a lot of happiness and responsibility in wanting to do a comedy together, to give people a moment of vacation from life, after the world has been through a very difficult time. It’s like when you’re walking along the sidewalk, it’s getting cold, then you get to that nice spot where the sun is shining, the sun is on your back and you think “yum. This is exactly what I needed.”

NYT: Is it true that the two of you didn’t know each other personally before “Eleven Men and One Secret?”

Roberts: When I met George, the funny thing is that, in the press, they already identified us as friends. I had read that I had gone to a party at his house. I thought “I need to meet this guy, because he seems to be the best.”

Clooney: I’m fun.

Roberts: I think there’s some alchemy between us that people pick up from afar.

Clooney: I’ve always been attracted to Julia, for a variety of reasons. One is that she’s been a movie star for a thousand years, but still she’s always willing to not take herself seriously, and that makes a huge difference because we’ve spent a lot of time together. And she is a hugely talented actress. She works hard, but you never see her making an effort. That’s the quality I appreciate most about my favorite actors, like Spencer Tracy.

NYT: Julia, you’re an executive producer on the film alongside George and you obviously have extensive experience with romantic comedies. What is the point of view that you contribute to the film, being a veteran of the genre?

Roberts: This is a genre I love to be a part of and I love to watch. I don’t think it’s easy to get it right with a romantic comedy. There’s a very simple math to this genre, but how do you make the movie special? How to keep people interested when they can more or less predict what will happen?

NYT: There are fewer romantic comedies than before, much less, and you said that “A Ticket to Heaven” was the first screenplay of its kind since “A Place Named Notting Hill” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding” that you actually liked .

Roberts: I think we didn’t appreciate the great crop of romantic comedies we had at the time. The viewer doesn’t see all the work, the effort, the puppet strings, because it’s fun, it’s sweet, people are laughing, kissing and being playful. Another thing is that I think it’s different reading these scripts at 54 years old. I can’t face a story like “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” where I fall out of my chair and everything, because…

Clooney: Because you would break your hip.

Roberts: I would break my hip! Oh, George. But it was nice to read an age-appropriate script where the jokes made sense and I appreciated and understood what these people were going through. That’s what people want to see on screen: they want to see the actor’s connection to the work. They want to see the space you have in your heart for that material. They don’t just want us to do something funny because they enjoy it.

NYT: But the funny is important. There’s a scene in “A Ticket to Heaven” where its characters are drunk and dancing to “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”, making the daughter and friends uncomfortable. Was that choreographed to be embarrassing as possible, or did you improvise?

Roberts: People always want to choreograph, but you can’t determine the steps. You have to open the box and let the magic fly away.

Clooney: I remember early in my career I had to do a kissing scene with a girl and the director said “not like that”. And I was like, “Man, this is how I do it in real life!” It was more or less the same here, because everyone had suggestions for how we should dance, but we said, “We actually have some really awful real-life dance moves.” And the worst part is, Julia and I have done all these steps before.

Roberts: We dance around the world.

Clooney: And Kaitlyn and Max were truly horrified, weren’t they?

Roberts: It was too much, they were speechless. If Danny and I did that in front of our kids, they’d say, “Oh shit, I want a hole to open up here so I can disappear into it.” George, I’m still stunned by this whole thing about the director criticizing your kissing. I don’t know how he managed to recover from that. And we kiss in this movie. But I don’t want to reveal everything here.

NYT: It’s a romantic comedy. I think audiences expect a kiss.

Roberts: A kiss. And we spent six months rehearsing.

Clooney: That’s right. I told my wife, “We had to do 80 takes.” And she was like, “What is this, what do you mean?”

Roberts: There were 79 takes of the two of us laughing and one of us kissing.

Clooney: We needed to get it right.

NYT: You shot the movie in Australia, right?

Clooney: We started on Hamilton Island, with a lot of wild birds. Julia had a house very close to mine, where I was with Amal and the kids. I’d go out very early in the morning and call “Huh-dah,” and Julia would come out and say, “Huh-dah.” Then we would bring her a cup of coffee. To my children, she was Aunt Juju.

Roberts: The Clooneys saved me from total loneliness and despair. We were in a bubble, and that was the longest period I’ve ever spent away from my family. I don’t think I’ve spent that much time alone since I was 25.

Clooney: Another thing—when Danny and the kids came to visit Julia, they had to go to Sydney and spend two weeks in isolation alone before Julia could see them.

Roberts: So close and so far. When we first arrived in Australia and we all quarantined, I got a little crazy. I remember around the 11th day thinking, “Who am I? Where am I? What is this room I never leave?” It’s a strange thing. I hadn’t really anticipated all this.

Clooney: That’s why they invented alcohol.

Roberts: Or chocolate chip cookies.

Clooney: This too.

NYT: Julia, this is your first film role in four years. You’ve said that you see yourself as a mother and housewife, but your children are all teenagers. Do you think the division of work and life in your life will change when they get older and leave home?

Roberts: I’ll see how it goes when the time comes. I try to be super present and not make plans. I don’t have any work in sight at the moment as an actress. Getting back into a routine is really good. And I love being at home, I love being a mother. Staying in Australia was really complicated due to all the Covid regulations, and the fact that it wasn’t even harder than it was I think is a real testament to the value of friendship and the creative environment we were in, because I don’t know how to be anymore. one person. It is not part of my cellular data.

NYT: George, you’ve also recently gone a few years without acting. When you spend such an extended period between roles, is there any anxiety when you’re going to start over?

Clooney: If you don’t feel that butterflies in your stomach every time you start working, it’s because you’re already too confident for this job, and that will be evident in your performance. The moment you think you’ve got it all figured out or that you know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t be doing it anymore.

Translation by Clara Allain

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