George Clooney is angry. The hack of Sony’s computer systems and the following terrorist threats have the A-list actor up in arms not just at North Korea, but at his fellow actors and Hollywood types. In an interview with Deadline Hollywood, Clooney went off on those in his profession and the media for the way they’ve handled the crisis.
“A good portion of the press abdicated its real duty,” Clooney said. “They played the fiddle while Rome burned.”
“Here, we’re talking about an actual country deciding what content we’re going to have,” he said. “This affects not just movies, this affects every part of business that we have. That’s the truth. What happens if a newsroom decides to go with a story, and a country or an individual or corporation decides they don’t like it? Forget the hacking part of it. You have someone threaten to blow up buildings, and all of a sudden everybody has to bow down.”
Clooney pointed fingers at lawyers for Sony canceling the release of “The Interview,” the comedy behind the controversy. “Sony didn’t pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it. And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you’re going to be responsible.”
The veteran actor and his agent, Bryan Lourd, circulated a letter of support for the First Amendment and defiance in the face of terrorist threats against showing “The Interview.” They sent the letter to “a fairly large number” of people in the entertainment business in the hope of getting signatures of support. They got zero.
Clooney’s letter read:
On November 24 of this year, Sony Pictures was notified that it was the victim of a cyber attack, the effects of which is the most chilling and devastating of any cyber attack in the history of our country. Personal information including Social Security numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and the full texts of emails of tens of thousands of Sony employees was leaked online in an effort to scare and terrorize these workers. The hackers have made both demands and threats. The demand that Sony halt the release of its upcoming comedy The Interview, a satirical film about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Their threats vary from personal—you better behave wisely—to threatening physical harm—not only you but your family is in danger. North Korea has not claimed credit for the attack but has praised the act, calling it a righteous deed and promising merciless measures if the film is released. Meanwhile the hackers insist in their statement that what they’ve done so far is only a small part of our further plan. This is not just an attack on Sony. It involves every studio, every network, every business and every individual in this country. That is why we fully support Sony’s decision not to submit to these hackers’ demands. We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together.
Clooney was exasperated at the willingness of his fellow celebrities and executives to accept what we’ve been witnessing this last week. “Quite honestly, this would happen in any industry. I don’t know what the answer is, but what happened here is part of a much larger deal. A huge deal. And people are still talking about dumb emails,” he said. “Understand what is going on right now, because the world just changed on your watch, and you weren’t even paying attention.”
“Everybody was doing their jobs, but somehow, we have allowed North Korea to dictate content, and that is just insane,” Clooney concluded. “I wanted to have the conversation because I’m worried about content. Frankly, I’m at an age where I’m not doing action films or romantic comedies. The movies we make are the ones with challenging content, and I don’t want to see it all just be superhero movies. Nothing wrong with them, but it’s nice for people to have other films out there.”
Read the entire interview here.