George Clooney on Charlie Hebdo Attack: ‘We Have to Stand Up Together’

Filmmaker, actor and activist George Clooney faced some serious questions backstage at the Golden Globe Awards after receiving his lifetime achievement Cecil B. DeMille Award. Wearing a “Je Suis Charlie” button in tribute of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, he closed his acceptance speech by saying, “Today was an extraordinary day. There were millions of people that marched, not just in Paris but around the world. And they were Christians and Jews and Muslims. They were leaders of countries all over the world, and they didn’t march in protest. They marched in support of the idea that we will not walk in fear. We won’t do it. So je suis Charlie. Thank you.”

Backstage, he was asked if there were plans to tackle this new reality on screen. “It’s a tricky thing,” he noted. “Films usually fall a couple years behind a news story, it takes a couple years to write a screenplay. Right now we are all trying to process the idea of what the world is going to look like next.”

He did caution for people to not overreact. “There’s a lot of anti-Muslim fervor in parts of Europe and we have to make sure that doesn’t get grouped into this horrible act of violence.”

Asked if he had plans to be involved with a charity telethon the way he did for the earthquake in Haiti or the tsunami in South Asia, he responded, “I am sure there will be a world outpouring for that. I haven’t thought about that yet. The ones we have done, the Haiti telethon, the tsunami, those were such overwhelmingly poor people in desperate situations. Who knows? Maybe there will be some event.” He added, “This is an important point in time. We have to stand up together or we end up falling apart.”

During his acceptance speech, he joked about the Sony hack, saying, “Now that everybody’s been hacked, it’s also a good chance for us to meet face to face and apologize for all the things we said about each other.” But backstage, he was more serious about the scandal. When it was said he criticized the press’ handling of the Sony hack, he clarified, “I didn’t attack reporters. I did discuss the coverage that was going on because there were an awful lot of things going on — including the largest computer hack in U.S. history — and no one was writing about it. What they were really enjoying were little snippets of gossip, and that felt irresponsible, everybody needed to join together. The studios, the MPAA, everybody got a good learning lesson on this one.”

On the lighter side, Clooney talked about how much harder it is for women then men to prepare for awards shows. “I’m wearing my wedding tux!” he admitted.

He was also a good sport about hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler opening the show with a joke about how he was getting a Lifetime Achievement  award despite the amazing accomplishments of his new wife. “I didn’t even think that was a joke,” he said, before adding, “Listen, Tina and Amy kill me. I think they’re the best hosts of this show I’m sorry they’re not going to do it again.”

Watching a clip package of much of his work, Clooney said it was a bit surreal. “They’re all times in your life,” he said. “It was a little like watching the director’s cut of ‘Boyhood.’”

Asked where he goes from here, Clooney quipped, “Nothing but down, apparently. It seems like straight down from here.”

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