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George Clooney And Joel Edgerton Made The Studio ‘Panic’ With The Boys In The Boat [Exclusive Interview]

Were you able to get into the groove, the rhythm of your character immediately when filming began? I’ve heard a lot of actors say, “Oh, in the last week of filming, that’s when I really locked in.”
Edgerton: Oh, yeah. I think that’s a universal thing. I wish, as an actor, you were able to take your character for a walk well ahead of shooting. And rehearsal sometimes does that. But, there’s nothing like being on set to really put the bear chasing you or the fire under you. And the trouble is, sometimes it is a little bit of a clunky process in the beginning. What I loved about this film is it has such an old school film quality to it. Not just in the way it looks, beautiful cinematography, and some of the story elements and the romance is very old Hollywood movie romance, but even in the cadence of the dialogue. One of the things we talked about early on is taking away a lot of the air and things out of these exchanges so there’s a real rhythm to it that conjures up that feeling of watching an old movie, too. Just having some of those tasks in my head allowed me to get into step.
Clooney: But you also … it’s an interesting thing, because the very first thing we shot was, I think, you coming out and telling the guys … wasn’t that [what we shot first]?
Edgerton: I think it was that day at the school when we tell them that the junior team is going to take over.
Clooney: Yeah. That was early on. So, part of it is also you have to commit early to doing a character that we don’t see until the very end that he’s — we don’t see this journey. And it’s hard to commit to doing that and not breaking and not going, “I’m really a good guy and I really want the best for my team,” and stuff like that. It’s hard to do it. Trust me: When studios see those dailies, they panic. “Oh, he’s not likable!” And I’m like, “That’s right, he’s not. That’s the whole point here.”
Edgerton: The great thing in the script, too, is that all of these speeches, which usually, a lot of times in sports movies, are filled with morale boosting, inspirational words, were all just about numbers and facts and statistics and very dry factual speeches that also are infused with the, “You’re probably going to lose, but if you do this, this, and this, you might win.” And it’s like, “Oh, well, how inspirational is that?” Rather than freak out about that, we wanted to really lean into … And that’s why there’s that whole schtick about, “Great speech, Coach.” It’s not a great speech.
Clooney: If you remember that last bit we had where you say, “For what it’s worth, I’m proud of you,” wasn’t in the script. You said, “I think we’re going to have to let the air out of the balloon somewhere in here and show that.” And it’s a funny thing because as an athlete — I was a jock, played all these sports in school and stuff — that moment when the guy says, “I’m proud of you,” it still chokes me up, because it’s like that moment where I’m going, “Yeah.” And it’s not much. It’s not like, “You guys are the best,” It’s simple.
Edgerton: It reminded me, actually, and when I was doing that, I was thinking about a moment I had with my dad, who … my dad’s a pretty warm guy, but he’s not outwardly effusive. Just the moment I had at the end of high school where I was trying to lie to him about what I was going to do with my life and when he found out I was going to try and be an actor, and he said something just really succinct and really beautiful to me, that was basically saying to me that he had faith in me.
Clooney: Wow.
Edgerton: And it was unexpected and it had a lot of impact, but it was barely a few words. And I knew that I had his blessing.
Clooney: Oh, it kills you.

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