George Clooney opens the door of the Berlin hotel lounge and shakes hands like an ambassador. “Come on in,” says this paragon of modern Hollywood: a proper, old-fashioned movie star; a producer and occasionally director of interesting, intelligent films; and a furrowed-brow liberal political activist of not inconsiderable achievement. Who else would spend the morning after the premiere of his new film, the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!,confabbing with Angela Merkel about the international refugee crisis? He should be running for president, surely?
Clooney chuckles indulgently. “I am a Hillary supporter. I am doing a fundraiser for her.” That’s a big endorsement; Clooney’s 2012 event for Obama raised more than $12m (£8.5m) in a single night. But he has conciliatory words for her main Democrat opponent. “I really love Bernie Sanders, and am really glad he is in the debate. He is forcing the conversation to things that never get talked about in US politics: disparity between the rich and the poor, which is getting worse and worse every day.” He says he admires Sanders’ singlemindedness on the topic, but suggests it is the same character trait that is his “downfall” on the national stage.
Donald Trump’s increasingly likely elevation to Republican candidate is, he says, crazy; but course, being Clooney, he has had words with and been personally insulted by the other side. “I met Donald once. I was sitting in a booth and we talked for a while. Then he did Larry King, and he said I was very short. And I was like: ‘I was sitting down the whole time, Donald!”
However, Clooney’s geniality doesn’t extend to Trump’s political aspirations. “He’s just an opportunist. Now he’s a fascist; a xenophobic fascist.” But he is not entirely despondent. He repeats the old saw, usually ascribed to Winston Churchill: “You can count on Americans to do the right thing after they’ve exhausted all the other possibilities.”
“Let’s put things into perspective. You know, the truth of the matter is, in election season, things go crazy, and the loudest voices are the furthest and most extreme. So you hear a massively stupid idea, like we’re going to ban Muslims from the country. Now, we’re not ever going to do that.” He shrugs. “It says in the Statue of Liberty, bring us your huddled masses. It’s not what’s going to happen.”
Read more: The Guardian