The Monuments Men: a chat with the cast on the red carpet in London
The Monuments Men – the greatest heist story in the history of the world. With an emphasis on comedy, telling the arduous – and true – story of war heroes who fought for the cultural preservation of Europe, this film, written (directed, and produced) by George Clooney – who also stars as the male lead – is set to hit cinemas this Friday.
Grant, where did the idea for The Monuments Men project start?
Grant Heslov: I realized I had forgot my book at an airport, so I went to the bookstore there, where I saw this book called The Monuments Men. When I read it, I thought to myself: “This could be a great film.”
Why did it interest you so much?
It was a version that I didn’t know anything about. It had great characters, and I had always wanted to make a war film.
What was it like, getting the cast together?
Yeah, they’re not too shabby, right? When we wrote the film, we wrote these characters with all these people in mind.
Jean, what was it like working on the film, and working with George Clooney?
Jean Judardin: It was unbelievable – and very simple. As a director, George is perfect. He’s relaxed, he’s trusts his crew and his actors, and he’s incredibly open to ideas. It’s funny, because I was a “Frenchie” in the movie, and a “Frenchie” on set, which probably helped me to act, and just be me [in the film]. All the crew – and the actors – were very kind and attentive.
Bob, what did you take from the experience, working with such a phenomenal cast? Yourself included
Bob Balaban: It’s great to work with great people, and its great to work with talented people, and its great when they’re all so nice. Sometimes, the actors don’t all go together, so it’s nice that we all did.
George, how did you go about getting the cast together?
George Clooney: Well, most of them were friends of mine, so we wrote the parts with them in mind.
Speaking of the cast, did anyone need a little bit of persuasion to work on the project?
GC: Well, not more persuasion, but… y’know… Matt Damon drinks a lot – you know that. He’s hard to get on set, and its hard to get him out of his trailer sometimes.
Is that why he only did two days shooting a week?
GC: I don’t like to use the word diva, I don’t throw that around loosely – you know what I’m saying.
Do you remember the first time you met Jean Dujardin?
GC: Sure. I think it was at Telluride, or Toronto, and I had just seen The Artist. I said to him: “Listen pal, if you learn to speak English, you’ll win the Oscar.” I should have kept my mouth shut. I love that man – he’s fantastic.
What did you take away from creating the film?
GH: The biggest take away, for me, was how important art is to our culture – what it says about who we are, and what it means to be civilised.
GC: I learnt that I don’t know much about art, first of all. I wanted to learn about the story because I didn’t know the story, and I think that’s always a fascinating thing – when you get tell something like that. We do love to tell World War II stories, and so its odd when you find a new one, and that was interesting for me
Who was the most fun on set?
GH: Oh, me, for sure. Ask anybody!
JD: I think it was a battle between George and Bill.
BB: I can’t say… They were all equally fun. It was a bunch of really nice people, and I know some of them better than others, but I really enjoyed being there.
Photos: Michelle Johnson (1), Hannah Ross (2)