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Clooney calls this Paul Newman role one of the best performances ever

George Clooney has had highs and lows in his career, but he went through a stretch of choosing some brilliant drama movies, and being inspired by the best.

Paul Newman and George Clooney

Before writing Star Wars movie Rogue One and Star Wars series Andor, Tony Gilroy was known for some of the best thriller movies, including Matt Damon’s Bourne Trilogy. And Gilroy made his directorial debut with thriller Michael Clayton starring George Clooney. While discussing the role with Time magazine in 2008, Clooney said that he took inspiration from Paul Newman‘s best performance – in 1982’s courtroom drama The Verdict.

George Clooney was asked by Time about being attracted to the theme of exploring morality and conscience, and he brought up two of the best movies ever in response; “There isn’t any actor who doesn’t like a role in this. These are the characters that, if you caught the movie 10 years earlier in their life, they’re the bad guy.”

“Like Paul Newman in The Verdict — I’m certainly not comparing my acting, just talking about those kinds of characters — or Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven. Those characters did a lot of terrible things and now they’re searching for some sort of redemption.”

Clooney returned to Paul Newman later in the interview; “I’ve certainly ripped off Paul Newman three or four times, though not as well. Watch him at the end of the monologue in that film [The Verdict], where he’s talking to the jury. Actors usually load up for a monologue. He finishes it and he starts to talk again, and then he walks away. To me, it’s one of the great performances in any film, ever.”

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Paul Newman never thought of himself as one of the best actors – knowing his wife Joanne Woodward was so much better than him – and continued to challenge himself throughout his career. He always worked hard at the craft, and never rested easy thinking that he’d mastered it, even with all of his huge success in the 60s and 70s.

George Clooney’s next project as a director is sports movie The Boys in the Boat starring Joel Edgerton and Callum Turner, about the 1936 gold medal winning men’s rowing team. He recently appeared in Julia Roberts rom-com Ticket to Paradise.

Check out our guides to the other new movies still to come in 2024.