In “Our Brand Is Crisis,” a brilliant political strategist (Sandra Bullock/Jane) is coaxed out of self-imposed retirement and back into the game when she’s offered the opportunity to lead an elite American management team going up against her professional nemesis (Billy Bob Thornton/Pat). David Gordon Green directs the satirical comedy from a screenplay by Peter Straughan inspired by Rachel Boynton’s documentary about the American political campaign marketing tactics used in the real-life 2002 Bolivian presidential election. Produced by Bullock, Grant Heslov and George Clooney, the movie also stars Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan, and Reynaldo Pacheco.
At the film’s recent press day, Bullock, Thornton, Mackie, Kazan, McNairy, Clooney, Heslov and Green talked about the characters, the rivalry between Jane and Pat, striking the right balance between the dramatic and comedic opportunities, capturing the tricky emotional tone of the film, what the movie allowed them to do by setting it in Latin America, Clooney and Bullock’s reunion, the strategy of releasing the film in the middle of an election cycle, how their perception of roles written for men and women has changed, what inspired their political views at an early age, and their belief in the power of politics.
Check it all out in the interview below:
QUESTION: With the amount of time it takes for films to be made, it’s impossible to be purposefully timely. Did you guys ever have in your mind that you would want this film out right in the middle of an election cycle? Was that the plan?
GRANT HESLOV: Yeah, we actually knew that Trump was running.
GEORGE CLOONEY: I actually called him and asked him to run. No. When we talked about release dates, we knew that we wanted it to come out sooner rather than later, because we figured as time goes on, people are going to get really tired of talking about any form of election politics. But that’s about it. The rest of it was just luck.
Q: Once the film was done, it could have come out this fall or it could have come out next spring. Did you guys push for now because we’re early on in this process?
CLOONEY: Yeah. Later would not have been as good. People would be angry later it seems. You could just see the anger building as the months go on.
Q: David, you’ve made so many different kinds of films, from really intimate character pieces like “Undertow” and “All the Real Girls” to insane comedies like “Pineapple Express” or “Your Highness.” Do you feel like this movie combines so much of the different kinds of movies that you’ve been able to make?
DAVID GORDON GREEN: Yes. I think that’s what attracted me to it was that it had a great emotional core to it, but yet it didn’t limit the wit that was possible, and we could really try to find that balance of something that felt like it had dramatic weight but also comedic opportunity.
Q: Billy Bob and Sandra, your characters, Jane and Pat, have such a great relationship. It’s kind of a “Did they ever?” or “Didn’t they ever?” thing, but it’s also a great rivalry. How did the two of you try to keep things unpredictable and keep each other on your toes while you were filming, even though you were sticking to the screenplay?
BILLY BOB THORNTON: We had a relationship in real life, so we chose in the movie to say that we didn’t as those characters.
SANDRA BULLOCK: What we did is we just allowed certain awkward and uncomfortable moments from obviously the demise of that relationship to seep into various moments that were pivotal to the script. We said, “Is this appropriate to allow in what happened when you did that really horrible thing to me that time into this moment and then remember when I got revenge and really fucked you. Is that appropriate to bring in now?” We found a good balance with that which I think kept it alive. Look, the sexual tension was just palpable. You can’t manufacture that. Either it is or it isn’t, and it was, and I think what you see is the end result of our power. Am I right on that?
Q: Can you recall a moment on set where Billy Bob did something that threw you off?
BULLOCK: Yeah. He opened his mouth. If you did not know, there’s about 2-1/2 hours of footage where David had us behind that screen say the most bizarre things and just let us go and it just became more and more creepy.
THORNTON: It was just weird. It was really weird. It was helpful, but he did have us do a lot of things that weren’t scripted I guess just to wind us up. First of all, to be serious for a moment, the script is so well written that we essentially just had to do what was there. She’s so not only talented but easy to be around…
BULLOCK: …and easy on the eyes.
THORNTON: …and easy on the eyes, so there’s not much of a way to be anything other than natural around her anyway. I mean that sincerely. It was just great writing, and we both know those people. I mean, we’ve been around that type. So, between that, the writing, and David’s wonderful direction, it was a snap.
Q: For Anthony and Scoot, your characters, Ben and Buckley, have different ways of dealing with ethical dilemmas. When you think about the characters, what’s a trait that each of your characters has that you wish you had, and what’s a trait that your characters have that you’re happy you don’t?
ANTHONY MACKIE: Well, it’s 2015, so David put an underlying layer of sexual tension between us as well.
SCOOT MCNAIRY: One of the things is Buckley is sort of a fish out of water. He gets into this thing as if it will just be like an advertising [campaign] and branding something. But when he gets down there, he realizes that he’s very much a fish out of water in this environment, as well as he has a really difficult time keeping up with Jane’s pacing. For me, one of the things about his character that evolved once I got there, and from working with David as well, he does take these scenes so far left field. It’s almost this sort of exercise that you find so much through taking these scenes in these directions. Also, as an actor, it’s so pleasant and so much fun to just explore and play around on those days. That was one of the things that I wish I could do more on films, to just have that ability and that time to really explore and take things in directions that you know it’s not going there, but in doing that you do find something about the character, about the scene, or about the film.
MACKIE: I definitely enjoyed the moral aspect of Ben. I felt like there was a tranquil idea of humanity that was in him. He never allowed his outside relationship with the world to influence exactly who he was in a negative way. I feel like that’s something I always wish I had about myself instead of just going around cursing people out and wanting to punch them in the face. And the way we worked on this movie was so interesting. Believe it or not, Sandy is a very humble person, and if there’s a way of saying this, just such a normal person and a positive person inside. Her heart is so neutral. So, it makes it easy to work with her and enjoyable to be around.
Q: Zoe, when I think about you in this movie, I think about the line I love so much from “Broadcast News” where Albert Brooks says to Holly Hunter, “It must be so nice to always think you’re the smartest person in the room,” and she goes, “No, it’s awful.”
ZOE KAZAN: Actually her boss says that to her, which is a lot worse.
BULLOCK: There’s Zoe!
MACKIE: There she goes! Boom!
Q: You’re so right. In a cast of characters as intelligent as the ones in this movie, what is it like to be the smartest?
KAZAN: Well honestly, LeBlanc is a person who keeps her opinions to herself a lot of the time, so it’s easy for her to look like the smartest person in the room because she’s not saying what she’s really thinking. I think a lot of these other characters take a much bigger personal risk. They put themselves out there more and risk looking stupid even if they’re not.
Q: George and Sandra, what was the best part about reuniting and doing another movie again?
Q: Did you guys learn anything new about each other this time around?
CLOONEY: No, no.
BULLOCK: Same shit.
CLOONEY: Sandy and I and Grant, the three of us, have known each other…
BULLOCK: Too long.
CLOONEY: Yeah, long before this, because Sandy is 64 years old. She was much older than me.
BULLOCK: Hey George, don’t poke the bear!
CLOONEY: Okay. Yeah, you’re right. You’re right about that. We have a long history together. I don’t know if we learned anything else. It’s just always fun to work together.
BULLOCK: It’s nice just to be able to work together. You grow up, you think. You share life experiences. You share your mellowing out. You share your new sense of self like you’ve learned something hopefully. It’s nice that we work in a place where you’re allowed to keep coming back and have new experiences. I don’t think any of us take that for granted. But, it’s to be able to sit with Grant and George and argue about what we’re all passionate about. We might all come from different places, but we all ended up with the same end result, which was what was best for the movie. We’re good at arguing our points of view and never feeling like it got personal. So, that’s what I really appreciate about the opportunity to do it.
CLOONEY: There’s also something great about the idea that when we first met, we literally couldn’t get hired for the most part.
BULLOCK: Grant was the only one working at the time. He was making video tapes, audition tapes.
CLOONEY: That’s right. And he did an episode of “Joanie Loves Chachi” and loaned me a hundred bucks for headshots, which is true. There’s something really fun about being able to experience these years of change in your life and being able to come up and say, “Now we’re in the middle of an incredibly creative period of time in our lives,” and have Sandy call up and say, “Let’s make this movie. How about if I do it and I play the part?”, and us going, “Well let’s sit down and figure it out.” That’s really exciting, because when you’re doing a guest shot on “Joanie Loves Chachi,” you don’t really think that’s going to be the next thing that happens in your career. So, it’s a really fun experience I think we’ve always had together.
Q: When Grant and you are producers and Sandy is an executive producer, who’s the boss of who?
HESLOV: Sandy’s the boss.
CLOONEY: Sandy’s the boss.
HESLOV: No matter what.
CLOONEY: Honest to god, she’s the boss.
Q: For George, Anthony, Sandy and Billy, the political junky tends to start early in life. Maybe early in their twenties someone makes an impression on them and it helps shape their political views. Did that happen to any of you very early in life?
MACKIE: I had an 8th grade civics teacher named Greer Rollin. That was her real name. She was really into making sure that we were politically aware of what was going on. It was just all white noise to us. Then, all of a sudden, everything just exploded in New Orleans with the Mayor and the Governor. The World’s Fair had just left New Orleans and there was all this turmoil about what were we going to do with all this shit. Then, all these people got arrested. That’s when the Mayor got caught with some stuff that he shouldn’t have gotten caught with and someone he shouldn’t have been with. Then, police started arresting police. Politics became extremely interesting to me because no one had any moral boundaries. There was this case where this police officer was robbing drug dealers and selling drugs to drug dealers in the neighboring neighborhood, and one of the people in the neighborhood told the police that the police was robbing drug dealers, and he came and killed the person.
And literally, ten years later, it was like, “Oh, you’re arrested!” By that time, he was retired and tenured and it went all the way back up to state reps and everybody. I always found that interesting with politics how, when you go to the bar at night and the mayors in there having a seedy conversation, it’s just New Orleans.
CLOONEY: I think if you’re our age, not Sandy’s age, but our age… Sandy’s much younger. I have to amend my statement. We grew up in a time where you had the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-Vietnam movement and the drug culture/counterculture. You had the assassinations. If you weren’t somehow politically involved then, all of us were. That was just part of your makeup. It was part of your DNA. And then, Watergate came around. It just all lived with us. So, from a very early age, we were indoctrinated into the idea of being involved and being socially aware. By the time we were aware of Mandela and Apartheid in the early-80s when it really started to catch on, that was something that you could get involved in and be a part of. It just was part of our DNA of a certain age when you weren’t able to duck into a cell phone or watch TV to get out of it.
THORNTON: I think the Kennedy assassination probably. George and I are probably the closest in age. The Kennedy assassination was so devastating to so many people when we were little, and George is probably younger than I was. I was 8 years old when Kennedy was assassinated. They let us out of school, and then we came back to school, and there were televisions in every classroom, and we watched the funeral on television. I think, as an 8-year-old seeing that, and you see how the adults are reacting to it and people crying in the streets and everything, that had such a profound effect on all of us Baby Boomers. Then, as George said, that decade carried on with more of the same with Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. Kent State, Vietnam, and all of those events, and then Watergate. So we had no choice but to be aware of the political climate and things dealing with the government and everything. It made me read about it. I know that much.
BULLOCK: I was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Arlington, Virginia in a household where one was Republican and one was Democratic. So, I got both sides. The thing that I remember the most is not understanding if you were doing the right thing, why did people want to kill you? That was the question I remember asking my parents that they couldn’t answer. Why is it when people are trying to help other people and they’re stepping forward, why do they get killed? I remember not getting an answer for that. I know that they couldn’t answer that because I was too young to understand the bigger picture of it. I’m not politically vocal. I just want what’s best for our country. I would like my rights represented and those of my son, those very selfish views, but I think everyone else has them. This film came along at a time when I was having that internal discussion with myself about who in our country would step out of their comfort zone to help others for the greater good. I’ve watched the Freedom Riders documentary many times. There’s one story that just really affected me about this young woman who was the first to go to college. She went and told her parents, “I’m going to leave college in order to ride and to represent the future.” I was so moved by that. Who would do that now? Who would do that for my son? I would, but I would do anything for my son. But like what people would still get together and peacefully protest for the greater good? And then, this came along. I went, “Wow, it’s really interesting that this is what I’ve been thinking about.” The universe gives you something that might be set in Bolivia, but it could be set anywhere, about who’s willing to get off the carousel of success and winning and making money, and how they look to let that go and put their neck out for the greater good. Have we all gotten too scared and too safe? I don’t know. That all stemmed from how I grew up. My parents broke the mold. They did things that were not fashionable. My mother was definitely ahead of her time as a woman. I never realized I was a woman and that there were… I mean, I knew I was female… I mean, I never realized that there were limitations where I was looked at as less than until I was actually pretty deep in this business and I had a pretty unsettling moment. I went, “Oh my god. I’m being treated this way because I’m a female.” So, a lot of things started bubbling up or were allowed to blossom in me. I don’t know if it’s politically, Republican or Democrat. I don’t know. But, I grew up to be exactly who I was supposed to be and have the opinions I wanted to have and didn’t realize that there were limitations to that until then. I thought politically I was pretty open minded and could speak my mind, and then I realized I wasn’t supposed to.
Q: For Grant or George, obviously you’re fans of political movies. What did this movie allow you to do by taking it to Latin America?
HESLOV: I think it was that we could comment about how we elect our officials without having to hit it over the head and do it here. It’s based on a true story though we’ve taken a lot of license.
CLOONEY: Loosely based.
HESLOV: The documentary is set in Bolivia. It was very funny. It was absurd and ironic, and that was really attractive to us.
CLOONEY: Grant and I did a TV series that we produced with Steven Soderbergh called “K Street” where we basically for 14 weeks shared an office with Mary Matalin and James Carville and Michael Dever and Ken Adelman and Stu Stevens. Literally, Mary at the time was Chief of Staff for Dick Cheney. We were in the office when the Justice Department came in and taped up our computers because of the Scooter Libby thing. So, we were around watching really interesting things happen on the ground as they were happening. It’s really funny to watch political operatives. It’s really interesting to watch that process and the behind the scenes conversations and how we take things much more personally than they do. These guys could work for other sides and they do often. I’ll get really angry at something that somebody says, and the politician won’t be angry at all. It’s just part of the game that they play, and they’ll go out later and have a drink and laugh about it. So, it’s so much more fun to watch how it works as an industry and see that it actually is an industry and it isn’t all just this passionate belief system. I always thought that that was fun. It’s not that Mary and James aren’t passionate about what they believe in, but that there were a lot of people there that really just did things because they liked the idea of winning.
Q: Did you ever drop anything that you saw from the political world into one of your projects? Was there anything crazy or insane?
HESLOV: Oh yeah.
CLOONEY: Yeah. Plenty of things. “The Ides of March” is bulleted. We can’t tell you which ones because we’d get sued.
Q: Sandra, this part was originally written for a man. At what point in your career did you start looking at roles that were written for men and say, “I want to approach these”?
BULLOCK: I want to be a man?
Q: And then, for David, Grant and George, what was it like when Sandra stepped up and approached you about wanting to play this role, and how did it change your perception of how roles for men and women were written?
BULLOCK: My quest started before this film when I was looking at comedies. I was like, “Why is the only comedy that’s available for women romantic comedies?” I was so done, but I yearned for comedy, so I started going, “Can I look at every script that Jim Carrey didn’t want to do?” It just seemed that could be switched. It started a while ago when I was just looking. Nothing really popped up that I felt was extraordinary. And then, “The Heat” showed up, which I felt out of the need for women to have a comedy that wasn’t centered around getting a man. Nothing wrong with that, Anthony. Getting men is great. I love men. I don’t need to always be talking about you. I’ve learned that you can’t worry about getting a no. I think as actors we’re pretty used to getting no’s in this business, but you have to keep going forward or you’d never work again. I learned that sometimes just asking, it can’t hurt to ask, and I’m glad I asked. They could have said no, but they didn’t.
CLOONEY: We couldn’t say no really.
HESLOV: We wanted to.
CLOONEY: We tried.
BULLOCK: He jokes, but this was something they’d developed for a long time. They don’t haphazardly develop anything. So, it could have been very precious. I could have changed the tone that you guys were looking for. I could have.
CLOONEY: But, there’s another part of this, which is that we wanted to work with you, and the minute that you suggested the idea, we looked at it and we thought, ”Well this is silly that we would even think that it wouldn’t work.” It made total sense. I think that was a natural progression. We talked about it. It gets talked about a lot lately about why don’t more roles get switched. There are a lot of roles that could be. There are a lot of reasons why. It was mostly women that were starring in movies in the 1930’s and leading the films. There’s been a great change in the mentality, maybe because most of the studios are run by men. I have no idea. But, I do believe that somewhere in here everybody could look at their development a little bit and say, “Well, you know, it doesn’t have to be all the guys.” We develop things because I might want to work on it as an actor, but it doesn’t mean that it has to be me that does it. It makes more sense with her in it, and she’s so wonderful in the part that there wasn’t a moment’s doubt, I don’t think.
HESLOV: I had a few moments’ doubts. Now that I saw the film, I feel better about it.
GREEN: I remember the first film I made, “George Washington,” in 2000. It dealt with mostly young people of various races and various ages, and I made a point not to ever refer to age or race. So, it’s like a 30-year-old white guy is having a conversation with an 11-year-old African American kid, but even the dialogue wasn’t mannered. It was just two people having a conversation. I’ve really taken that philosophy because I had that as a kid. It was a very naïve part of my upbringing in a very diverse economic and cultural part of Dallas, Texas where I grew up. I think it’s nice to look at story, to look at character, and not have to necessarily fall into the clichés, and just look at people as people. There are so many lovely, amazing varieties of people who are strange and off putting as well. I just like looking at people and not necessarily tending to address the stereotypes and clichés as they can often be portrayed in movies.
Q: George, the Mirror-Times yesterday ran a piece about movies with impact for maybe Hillary Clinton for the coming election such as the Benghazi movie that Michael Bay has got coming out in January.
CLOONEY: My friend, John Krasinski, is in that. Good. I hope it does very well then.
Q: It said about this movie that you changed all the names and airbrushed all the Clinton associations out.
CLOONEY: Well that’s not true. We changed the names because we weren’t doing the exact same story. That will get you in trouble anytime you keep the real names and change the story. We didn’t change it to disassociate from anybody.
HESLOV: I don’t think we ever mentioned the Clintons once in the eight years that we worked on this film.
CLOONEY: The reality was it was a documentary that we knew we were going to fictionalize some pieces of it. We were going to have to change the name like we did on “Michael Clayton” where it was clearly about a much different industry than what we were doing. And so, because of that, we had to change the names. You do that so you don’t get sued a lot.
HESLOV: If they had asked us, we would have told them.
Q: Sandra, since this movie is about the interaction with Latin America, what is your personal opinion about the Hispanic community in the United States? What would your character say to Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton during this campaign?
BULLOCK: It depends on who my character was working for and who was paying her. It depends on where the money’s flowing from. My character only goes where the money goes at the beginning of the film. So, whoever was paying her, she’d have whatever advice. I think they’re actually doing really well on their own. I think they’ve got pretty good people working behind them, so she doesn’t need to step in. I never separate the Hispanic community from America. My friends, my family, are from the Hispanic community. I’ve never looked at that as a separate thing to address and what I would say to them. If it’s a good person, come into my fold. If you’re not a good person, stay out of my house.
Q: What do you think then of Donald Trump and what he is saying?
BULLOCK: I don’t agree with that at all. That is not a statement that I can get behind. I don’t agree with that statement.
Q: What stands out in this film is the satire and the emotion. You could have gone so far left or right that you really could have gone off the rails, but you don’t. For Grant, George and David, how did you find that sweet spot in the emotional, tonal bandwidth of the film and what were your considerations in executing that on screen?
HESLOV: Peter Straughan, who wrote the script, deserves a lot of the credit for that. He captured the tone that we had hoped for and that we had talked about. Then, the rest goes to David and the actors. Those are the guys who really executed. It is a really tricky tone.
GREEN: It’s interesting. If you look at every cast member in the movie, they’re incredibly dramatically and comedically capable, and the environment in making the movie was very playful. There were really long hours, and you’re making a movie where there are certain frustrations and obstacles, but there was a great vibe and a great energy. When there’s that kind of positivity, you’re inclined to have as much fun as possible, push some comedic buttons, and play with the wit, and exaggerate that to some degree. And, with that script, we had a great foundation for all that. Then, it’s a matter of trying to find the restraint and heart. We did takes that were outrageous and ridiculous and others that were poignant and tender. To me, that’s just a playful part of the process. Then, you get to the editing room and you really start to sculpt and try to find how far you can go without losing the foundation of emotion that I felt was very important. So, it becomes the collaboration of sitting in the room and trying things out, putting it in front of audiences and seeing how people respond, and if you can get away with a llama being hit by a car. We filmed it and didn’t know.
Q: Did you film a llama being hit by a car? I just wanted to make sure. I wanted to clarify.
CLOONEY: No llamas were hurt in the making of this film.
GREEN: It is that thing where we film a lot and we roll and we try it and it’s a very bold cast that are fearless. We trust each other and we challenge each other and then we figure it out later.
Q: George, after so many years of making movies related to politics, do you still believe in the power of politics or are you disillusioned?
CLOONEY: Of course, I still believe in the political process. I believe that government at its best is designed to look after the people that can’t look after themselves. I think that’s our responsibility to hold our government to task for that, and I consider that part of each of our responsibilities as citizens. I’m always frustrated by it, but it moves incrementally forward. Sometimes it’s three steps backward, but I still very much believe in the process, and I will continue to be as much a part of it as I can be because I’m a citizen of the country.
Q: Will you run for office?
HESLOV: He’s running right now.
CLOONEY: I just ran. No. I’ve been asked that for almost 20 years now, and the answer is just no. Who would ever want to live like that? I mean, I’m friends with a lot of those guys. I just think it’s hell. I commend people who go into public service because it’s just such a horrible way to get elected. It’s such a horrible time while you’re in office. It’s more polarized now than probably, arguably, since the Civil War in many ways. People will argue over things that they believed in six years ago, or eight years ago, because it’s not their guy saying it. So no, I wouldn’t want to be in politics. I have no interest in it. I have every interest in being involved from the outside and trying to get things done that are important to me and are important to the things that I care about.
Q: What is your coping mechanism for disillusionment?
CLOONEY: Yeah, drinking. Thank you, Grant.
Q: For Sandra and Billy Bob, who needs a Jane and a Pat in this year’s election?
BULLOCK: I think the beauty about this day and age is that I’d rather no one have a Pat and Jane. Because of the way that the world is today, you can’t live a hidden life. If someone is running for office, everything is going to be found out. I’d rather everyone mess up and present exactly who they are and it not be so well oiled and run and manipulated, so we can make a decision about who we really want based on who the people truly are. It’s gotten really difficult to hide. Even the masterminds and the puppeteers now can’t hide this stuff anymore. They can’t control, as we’ve seen, either side. It’s all going to come out. The dirt just keeps resurfacing and mud keeps getting flung. I want to see the people be as genuine and authentic as possible, no matter how unraveled that might be, no matter how together that might be. I don’t want them to have a Jane and Pat. I want to see the mess unfold so I can make at least some kind of honest decision on who’s going to be in charge of everything.
Q: Can you talk about the experience of working with Reynaldo Pacheco who plays Eddie? How was it working with him and what do you think of him? How did you choose him for the role?
CLOONEY: He was great.
GREEN: We did some substantial outreach trying to find the perfect Eddie. In a lot of ways, he’s the heart and soul of the movie and a pivot point for Jane Bodine’s character. And so, he represented a lot. It was the one substantial role that I felt needed to be Bolivian, and when I met Reynaldo, he had that energy and that innocence. There’s something about Eddie that’s very optimistic to the point of being naïve, to the point of being frustrating sometimes. I think Reynaldo is very savvy and educated and knew how to navigate some of those difficulty detours and was able to use those looks in the eyes and those little moments and those slivers of a smile that can transform someone that’s in that difficult position that Jane is in. It was great working with him and being able to spend time in Bolivia with Reynaldo and his family. I went to this weird rock doctor down there with him. He’d put all these stones on you and take you on strange journeys. Reynaldo’s a guy that you want to live the adventure with a little bit.
Q: Sandra, did he seem intimidated at all?
BULLOCK: No, not at all. As smart and sharp and savvy as he might be, he did possess still the remnants of innocence. I mean, I don’t think I can look at anyone’s eyes here and say there are remnants of innocence in any of our eyes. But he had that thing that you look at him and you go, “Oh my god, he doesn’t know” or “Oh my god, he doesn’t think that or feel that.” He still comes at you with, “What if this is possible?” and you’re like, “Oh honey, it’s not.” But I love that he hasn’t gotten there yet. He hasn’t allowed life to chip away at that beautiful hopefulness, and that was needed. You don’t get that in a lot of actors, because we all come in and it’s a game and that gets lost very quickly. But he had that and that’s what you see. That’s why you could hang so much of the movie on his moments of loss and grief, and you feel it because he is, to a certain degree, a lot of the character.
Q: For George and Grant, even with your track record doing social and political movies, is it difficult still to get these kind of projects off the ground? Is there a resistance to movies that might have some kind of consequential message?
CLOONEY: Yes. It’s never been easy.
Q: How do you guys fight that?
HESLOV: We get Sandy to do the movie.
CLOONEY: Yeah. It gets a lot easier…
BULLOCK: And I’m a woman.
CLOONEY: It gets a lot easier when you get Sandy in it. That’s the truth. Look, it’s very hard. You’ve got to keep the budgets down on these things. You have to work really quickly, and you have to try and get it finished before everybody figures out what you’re doing. That’s the truth.
Q: What effect do they have?
CLOONEY: Remember that films aren’t designed to lead. Films reflect on things. It takes you two years to make a film. So, we’re reacting to things that have happened before and holding a mirror up to society and saying, “This is what happened. It’s a record of what we’ve been doing.” So, our job isn’t to tell people what to do. It’s to have them reflect and say, “This is what you did. Isn’t that interesting?” It’s social at times, it’s political at times, although that’s not necessarily our whole MO.
HESLOV: We do want to entertain.
CLOONEY: We try to. “Good Night, Good Luck” was pretty overtly political, but we’ve done quite a few that were focused on entertaining as well.
Q: Knowing you all as well as you do, could each of you tell me who would make the best political consultant of the eight people at this table.
HESLOV: Grant Heslov.
Q: You would make the best?
HESLOV: Oh, I thought you just wanted my name.
CLOONEY: No one said the brightest consultant.
HESLOV: Grant Heslov.
CLOONEY: Grant Heslov.
KAZAN: Grant Heslov.
MACKIE: I would say Zoe.
BULLOCK: I would say Zoe as well.
THORTON: Grant Heslov.
MCNAIRY: I would say Grant.
GREEN: I’ll go Zoe.
Q: The tribe has spoken. Five votes Grant, three votes Zoe.
GREEN: It means the other eight of us are shit.
MACKIE: If you want to lose, hire me. I’m your guy.
“Our Brand Is Crisis” opens in theaters October 30th.