George Clooney chats during TIME Live 10 Questions about his new political movie, "The Ides of March." Why was Ryan Gosling his choice for this movie? Plus, what does George think is the biggest mistake a politician can make when caught in a scandal?
“I was not as informed as I would liked to have been,” Gosling tells PopcornBiz of his decision to take the lead role under director George Clooney, playing a savvy campaign mastermind whose idealistic views are tested when he’s caught up in a behind-the-scenes scandal. “Part of the reason for doing the film is that it would force me to do the research and become informed. I'm Canadian and so American politics aren't really in my wheelhouse. It was just an opportunity for me to become more informed, but at the end of the day it's not really a political film and it doesn't have any kind of message. It's just meant to be a good time at the movies. It happens to be set in a political forum, but I guess it could be set on Wall Street or in Hollywood.”
Does that mean Gosling noticed a similarity between his own world and the White House? “I do think that there's a similarity in at least my character's job and my own in that it's very difficult to be honest,” he says. “You'd like to be, but it's very hard to tell the truth because everything you say gets taken out of context and chopped up for news in parts. So you have to be very careful.”
He admires Clooney’s choice to cast himself in the film as a presidential candidate, especially when the actor-co-writer-director also takes a very hands-on approach to real-life politics. “There's not really anyone like George. In some ways he seems like America's dream for president, in some way: a dreamboat president,” chuckles Gosling. “I thought that was a pretty interesting choice for him to take, considering that he's so involved in the political world. People often confuse you for your characters and so there could've been some risk involved there, but he took it.”
Clooney’s passion to bring the “Ides” story to life inspired Gosling to start shepherding his own projects to the big screen. “Part of the reason that I wanted to work with him was just to see exactly how that works up close,” admits Gosling, though he’s not sure he’s any more enlightened now. “He's a mystery to me. He's so busy all the time. He's doing so much that it's hard to understand how he's doing it, but he's doing it pretty effortlessly. He's directing, producing, writing, starring in. He's got the satellites of Darfur project. He's got all these practical jokes. I don't know how he does it. I have no idea.”
As for the practical jokes, it turns out that on “Ides,” Gosling was Clooney’s preferred victim on set, routinely receiving squirt gun blasts to the crotch of his pants after concluding a difficult scene – and now the joker has the temerity to ask not to have his tricks revealed. “He said, 'Could you cut it out with telling my practical jokes,'” reveals Gosling, “because he thinks that people are going to be looking for them now and he won't be able to use them and they're his favorites. It's like what they are specifically, like the water in the crotch. Now people are going to be watching for water in the crotch, so he can't do it.”