Entertainment & Arts

George Clooney: 'I won't run for office'

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Media captionGeorge Clooney talks to the BBC's Lizo Mzimba about mixing politics and film

George Clooney, whose new film The Ides of March has had its UK premiere, has said he has no plans to enter politics.

However, the Hollywood star said he would continue to be involved on the sidelines.

Clooney, 50, admitted that getting involved in political issues sometimes made him "very unpopular".

In The Ides of March, which he co-wrote and directed, he plays governor Mike Morris, a candidate running in a US presidential primary race.

"I grew up in a time when most people had a social and political conscience," the actor told a London Film Festival press conference on Wednesday.

"Some of the biggest changes in our country's history happened when I was growing up, so I was raised to participate and I will continue to do that."

Yet he said he had no desire to run for political office. "I have a very comfortable existence," he told reporters.

"I am able to dip my toe into issues involved in politics, like in Sudan or Darfur. Where I can have some involvement then I'm happy to do it, and I don't have to compromise as a politician."

The film industry, Clooney continued, did not have much influence over political change. "It usually reflects things," he said.

Image caption Clooney's co-stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Evan Rachel Wood are with him in London

"It takes us two years to catch up, to write a script and shoot a film. We usually hold a mirror up to it after it's happened. We don't really lead the way."

The Ides of March also stars Ryan Gosling as Morris's press spokesman and Philip Seymour Hoffman as his seasoned campaign manager.

The story sees Morris and his team become embroiled in sex scandal and dirty tricks as the campaign trail reaches a crucial stage.

Asked if Hollywood was as Machiavellian as the world of politics, Clooney said: "The business can be that way, there's a certain cut-throat element.

"But there's a certain generosity in most actors that I don't see in politics.

"I'm sure you guys have all met a few actors you'd like to take their heads off, but most of them are pretty kind to one another," he went on.

"Because you're so lucky when you get to be in position where you get to be in a film. You're very privileged and you understand that it's not just your brilliance that got you there.

"You're sitting on the shoulders of a lot of happy accidents along the way."

The Ides of March is based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon, who co-wrote its screenplay.

The play premiered in New York in 2008, moving to Los Angeles the following year.

Clooney had planned to shoot the film version in 2008, but the production was put on hold following the election of President Obama.

Image caption Ryan Gosling also appears in the film, out in the UK on 28 October

As the actor and director puts it, "people were too optimistic for such a cynical film."

The Ides of March is so-named because the presidential primary in the story takes place on 15 March - the day on which Julius Caesar was stabbed to death, as dramatised in Shakespeare's play.

"We thought it was an interesting idea about a good friend and an enemy conspiring to take you out," said Clooney.

"We weren't really trying to tell anyone that this was Shakespeare, but it is about back-stabbing."

The Ides of March had its British premiere in London on Wednesday and is released in UK cinemas on 28 October.

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