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George Clooney discusses The Monuments Men

George Clooney chats about his latest Blu-ray release.

The Monuments Men

Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

This incredible story focuses on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt with the seemingly impossible mission of going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners.

They find themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, risking their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

George Clooney (Gravity, The Descendants) makes a return to directing as well as starring alongside Matt Damon (The Bourne Trilogy, The Adjustment Bureau), Bill Murray (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Lost in Translation), John Goodman (Monsters Inc., Argo), Jean Dujardin (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Artist), Bob Balaban (Moonrise Kingdom, Gosford Park), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Notting Hill), and Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) in this action-drama.

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Below, George Clooney talks about the making of the film and how he got his team assembled.

Tell us about the extras on the Blu-ray?

Well because of the time and the film we cut the two biggest scenes out of the movie, our two biggest production scenes out of the movie.  One is with Bob and Hugh running through all these buildings being blown up, and one we had about three thousand extras, and all the guys are riding in with everybody celebrating.  We cut them all out.

What was it about this project that spoke to you?

Well, a couple of things.  I didn’t know the story, and, you know, when you’re doing World War II, which Hollywood does have a fascination with…

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We have kind of seen all of them, all the stories.  We kind of know them all.  So to have a new story that’s this big, because it really is a huge story, I thought that was fascinating.  Grant and I both have been such big fans of all those war films that I loved so much, that had a little bit lighter touch.  Unlike Saving Private Ryan, and the war films where everybody’s blown to bits, and which were masterpieces, but these were the films like The Great Escape.

With an ensemble like that, that’s going to be important.  Were these your guys from the word go?

We wrote for Bill [Murray].  We wrote for Matt [Damon].  We wrote for Jean [Dujardin].  We wrote for Hugh [Bonneville] and Cate [Blanchett] and John [Goodman], and myself.  The only one we didn’t write for was Bob Balaban.

We didn’t know who was going to play the part opposite Bill.  We were trying to figure out who would be the right kind of foil for Bill.  And then we were at a party for Argo, Grant and I, and Bob Balaban was there and he said something, because Bob’s very smart, you know.  He’s a smart, artsy guy.  He knows everything about art, and he said something about the art, and it was a bunch of 20 dollar words he was using, and it was really good.  And I looked over at Grant and I went, Bob Balaban.  And Grant’s, like, Bob Balaban.  And from that moment on, we knew we had the right guy.

What kind of atmosphere do you like to create on set?  Having been an actor and becoming a director…

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Well, I’ve only been on a couple of bad sets.  I haven’t been on very many bad sets.  But they’re the least creative thing in the world, when it’s an angry actor, or an angry director, or something like that.  It just doesn’t work.  It closes down creativity.  So from the Cohen brothers to Stephen Soderberg, to Alexander Payne, to Alfonso Curone, the best directors in the business create a space to just have fun, and play, and to enjoy themselves.

And I tried to mimic that kind of feeling.  I want it to be people laughing and having fun, and doing their work serious.  You know, work, seriously.  When we did Good Night and Good Luck, it’s a pretty heavy subject matter, but we just laughed and laughed and laughed the whole time we shot it. It’s important to do that.

monuments men

The Monuments Men is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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