George Clooney is a man so successful that he can give his closest friends million dollars and not break a sweat. Clooney has been in so many great movies, has been nominated for and won Academy Awards, and has generally been one of the biggest stars on the planet for the past 25 years. Batman and Robin is one of his most notorious films, maligned by fans, critics, and Clooney himself. But the actor recently recalled how the movie’s failure indirectly led him into becoming a movie star.
Believe it or not, the fallout from Batman and Robin actually played a part in George Clooney’s rise to movie stardom. It’s fascinating to think that a flop could actually be the thing that helped Clooney’s career the most. Flops usually make things much harder, especially when you are trying to establish yourself in the movie world like Clooney was. While speaking on BAFTA’s Life in Pictures, he described his experience after Batman and Robin and what he learned from it, saying:
It had been a year and I’d gotten killed for doing Batman and Robin. I got Batman and Robin and I understood for the first time, because quite honestly when I got Batman and Robin, I was just an actor getting an acting job. And I was excited to play Batman. What I realized after that was that I was going to be held responsible for the movie itself, not just for my performance or what I was doing. And so I knew that I needed to focus on better scripts. The scripts was the most important thing. You can’t make a good film out of a bad script. It’s impossible.
George Clooney talked about his experience in the aftermath of Batman and Robin and how he realized that he would bear the brunt of the criticism because he was the star of the film. At that point in his career, he was just an actor that got a role, and he quickly realized that his choices could make or break him. Clooney says he shifted his focus to finding better scripts to try and better carve out his career in movies. He continued by saying that if your script is bad, then your movie doesn’t have a chance, meaning that the quality of the scripts would guide his choices.
George Clooney was a major television star off the back of one of the most popular shows of its era, ER, but his jump to movies didn’t go as smoothly as he had hoped. Clooney says he came across the script for Out of Sight, thought it was great, and ultimately became attached to the project. Clooney and the film’s producers, which included Danny DeVito, met with Steven Soderbergh to gauge his interest in directing Out of Sight. Clooney says that both he and Soderbergh were coming off projects that didn’t turn out the way they wanted and that they both needed a win, as he further explained:
We both needed this to be a success and it was. It’s funny, people look at it now and think it was a hit. It didn’t make a dime, lost money. They tried to release it in the summer and it was a bad release strategy. It was a critical darling and everybody loved it and it changed my career from that point on I was going to be allowed to make movies and I wasn’t before that. It was all up in the air whether I was allowed to move from TV to film.
George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh ended up making Out of Sight, which provided for a great showcase for Clooney and would result in the pair collaborating many times throughout their careers. Out of Sight didn’t do well at the box office, but it was a hit with critics and became a beloved movie that is still one of the best of his career. Out of Sight established George Clooney as a true movie star, and the lessons he learned from Batman and Robin played a big part in molding the decision-making approach that led to him take on the project. Clooney says the cache he built up with Out of Sight proved he belonged in the movie world and that he could cast aside the implications of his TV stardom.
George Clooney is currently spending his time getting real about turning 60 and making commercials where he buys Batman toys and obsesses over Brad Pitt. Clooney is also directing The Tender Bar, which stars Ben Affleck and, during the shoot, he even popped up a few times to meet with eager onlookers. Needless to say, a flop really did turn George Clooney into one of our biggest stars.