George Clooney is one of the most recognizable movie stars in the game and has a few Oscars to his name, but there was once a time when he was arguably the worst Batman to grace the silver screen. Actually, he was the worst Batman to grace the silver screen. Now, Clooney credits his time as the Caped Crusader in Batman & Robin as being the biggest influence over his career.
Clooney, who is being presented with the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award on June 7, and ahead of that honor the actor opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about the parts of his career that have had the biggest influence on his work. Not to my surprise, he credited Batman & Robin.
“It’s really easy to pick: Batman & Robin,” he said. “That’s not a joke. Up until that moment, I was an actor only concerned with finding work. After the failure of that film creatively, I understood that I needed to take control of the films I made, not just the role. My next three films were Out of Sight, Three Kings, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Clooney taking the failure of Batman & Robin as a lesson makes a lot of sense. When Clooney took over Batman from Val Kilmer in 1997, there was a lot of expectation. Batman Forever may have been met by mixed critical response, but the film was a box office hit with fans going into Batman & Robin excited for the next chapter.
The film “Batman & Robin” became something that even Clooney himself has joked about and apologized for over the years. Clooney even once said that he was the “least qualified” person to comment on another much-criticized take on Ben Affleck as Batman, saying that he “so terribly destroyed the part” that his opinion wasn’t important.
Of course, Clooney didn’t actually destroy the role of Batman. While it would be eight years before Batman returned to live action films, return he did with Christian Bale as the hero in Batman Begins. Clooney’s time as Batman also allowed him to give Affleck a bit of advice about the role for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
As for Batman & Robin itself, it’s had a positive impact outside of just helping Clooney to become a better actor. The film, which is now 21 years old, has a particularly strong following with the LGBTQ community, so much so that the film’s director Joel Schumacher noted last year that while it wasn’t his intention, he’ll take that positive legacy.
“I never thought of that,” Schumacher said. “I do know that there is definitely a large gay audience for all of the Batman films. But yeah, I tried to put in something for everyone. I never thought it was an important moment in gay cinema but hey, I’ll take it.”
What did you think of George Clooney’s performance as Batman? Let me know on Twitter @BlueJayHJB and follow SEVNetwork on Instagram @sevnetwork