VENICE, Italy — George Clooney for president?
That was the final question put to the U.S. actor and director during the Venice Film Festival press conference for his dark comedy “Suburbicon.”
“Would I like to be the next president? Oh, that sounds like fun,” he said. At which point Matt Damon, who stars in the film, interjected: “Can I just say that I’d like anybody to be the next president of the United States. Right away, please!”
Clooney, whose father ran for Congress in 2004, repping Kentucky’s fourth district — he lost by a 10 percent margin — has been fielding that question for years. And in the past his answer has been a more clear-cut “no.”
“Who would ever want to live like that?” Clooney said in 2015, putting a freeze on the notion that he’d go into politics. “I’m friends with a lot of those guys and I just think it’s hell.”
Clooney has repeatedly slammed Donald Trump since he announced his presidential candidacy, but in Venice he was quite subdued on that front.
Not that he didn’t mention Trump. In fact Trump indirectly inspired the 1950’s-set “Suburbicon,” in which a black family which moves into an idyllic suburb and is violently attacked by an angry mob. That part of the plot is based on a well-known 1957 incident that happened in Levittown, Pa., which, in turn, conjures recent race riots in Charlottesville, Va. The film is directed by Clooney and written by Joel and Ethan Coen along with Grant Heslov and Clooney.
“I was watching a lot of [Trump] speeches on the campaign trail about building fences and scapegoating minorities and I started looking around at other times in our history when we’ve unfortunately fallen back into these things,” Clooney said, talking about how the pic germinated.
“When you talk about ‘Making America Great Again,’ America being great, everyone assumed was the Eisenhower ‘50s, and it was great if you were a white, straight male; but other than that it probably wasn’t so great,” he added.
“It’s fun to lift up that curtain and look underneath that thin veneer and see some of the real problems that this country has yet to completely come to terms with.”
Perhaps not to give the U.S. president too much importance, the “Suburbicon” director also underlined that his film “isn’t a movie about Trump. …This is a movie about our coming to terms constantly with the idea that we have never fully addressed our issues with race.”