One of the things journalists learn sooner or later is that if celebrities use profanity or call you names to your face during an interview, it means they like or at least respect you. Or at least that they trust you enough to take their frank words like a grown-up and not get all emotional. I’ve been yelled at by dozens of Hollywood people over the years, and I still have relations with the vast majority. It’s the ones who never talk to you straight or let you know what’s really going on in their heads — they’re the ones you need to fear.
In this interview, Charlize Theron — promoting Battle in Seattle — calls Josh Horowitz an asshole several times, and the twinkle in her eye says it all. And yet editors have bleeped out the “hole” each time — what kind of namby-pambies would so such a thing? You can say the word “ass” on TV these days. Nobody cares about mildly salty language.
Eight years ago in Cannes I was part of a round-table group speaking to George Clooney, who was promoting O Brother, Where Art Thou? I started out with a compliment about his performance in From Dusk to Dawn, explaining that I thought he had a certain edge and intensity in that 1996 Robert Rodriguez film that I quite liked. I didn’t mean that he was flat in the films he’d made after that (One Fine Day, Batman and Robin, Out of Sight, Three Kings) but that I really enjoyed what he was putting out in in Dusk to Dawn and that I kind of missed it.
Clooney frowned a bit, looked down, thought it over for five or six seconds, glanced in my direction and said “fuck you.” I’ve liked him enormously ever since. Good fellow.