As you may have noticed throughout the last two decades, George Clooney’s stance on his experience making Batman & Robin hasn’t softened much over the past quarter of a century. He knows it was a terrible film, and he’s fully aware that he wasn’t a great Caped Crusader, but it also proved to be a hugely invaluable experience in the long run.
At the time Clooney was first cast as Bruce Wayne, there was still something of a stigma surrounding TV actors. Before the Golden Age we’ve been living through for a long while now, talent with an episodic background faced a much tougher time in making the permanent jump to the big screen, while on the other side of the coin, any recognizable star to head to television was viewed as either washed up or on the decline.
It was Steven Soderbergh’s sleek and stylish crime caper Out of Sight that finally set Clooney on the path to movie stardom a year after Batman & Robin, and in a recent interview the 60 year-old admitted that both he and the filmmaker approached the project as being hugely pivotal to their long-term prospects.
“It had been a year and I’d gotten killed for doing Batman & Robin. I got Batman & Robin and I understood for the first time, because quite honestly when I got Batman & Robin, I was just an actor getting an acting job. And I was excited to play Batman. What I realized after that was that I was going to be held responsible for the movie itself, not just for my performance or what I was doing. And so I knew that I needed to focus on better scripts. The scripts was the most important thing. You can’t make a good film out of a bad script. It’s impossible.
We both needed this to be a success and it was. It’s funny, people look at it now and think it was a hit. It didn’t make a dime, lost money. They tried to release it in the summer and it was a bad release strategy. It was a critical darling and everybody loved it and it changed my career from that point on I was going to be allowed to make movies and I wasn’t before that. It was all up in the air whether I was allowed to move from TV to film.”
Out of Sight drew rave reviews from critics and wound up with two Academy Award nominations, and Clooney was off to the races at last. Batman & Robin is always going to be something he looks back on with a mixture of regret and apathy, no doubt, but it also turned out to be one of the most important moments of his entire life.
Having learned the difference between being a studio gun for hire and controlling his own destiny, Clooney has been a major player in the industry almost ever since, winning two Academy Awards and further proving his multiple talents by earning additional nominations for acting, writing, directing and producing.