The Dark Knight has always been one of the most coveted roles in cinema, with the potential to change an actor’s life and career for the better, but it didn’t quite work out that way for George Clooney. Not only did he have to share title hero duties with Chris O’Donnell’s Boy Wonder in Batman & Robin, but he didn’t even take top billing in the promotional or marketing materials.
Similar to how Jack Nicholson overshadowed Michael Keaton in the buildup to Tim Burton’s Batman, Arnold Schwarzenegger was positioned as the main drawing card of Clooney’s flick, having his name first in the credits and picking up the biggest paycheck after pocketing $25 million for his troubles. It made sense on a commercial level to have the most famous face as the main selling point, of course, but the Austrian action icon’s performance was nothing short of dire.
For some reason, it was decided that the script would be crammed with as many eye-rolling puns as possible. Schwarzenegger was no stranger to dropping a one-liner throughout his career, but his turn as Mr. Freeze was really pushing it. In fact, the villain only has 23 minutes of screentime in the movie but still manages to drop 27 puns, meaning that the Terminator star was collecting close to a million dollars every time he cracked an awful joke.
Unsurprisingly, Clooney was no fan of this, either, and in a recent interview, he blasted the movie, his performance and the script in one fell swoop.
“The only way you can honestly talk about things is to include yourself and your shortcomings in those things. Like, when I say Batman & Robin‘s a terrible film, I always go, ‘I was terrible in it’. Because I was, number one. But also because then it allows you the ability to say, ‘Having said I sucked in it, I can also say that none of these other elements worked, either. You know? Lines like, ‘Freeze, Freeze!’.”
Batman & Robin will always be used to show future generations how not to make a comic book blockbuster, but at least it didn’t have a detrimental effect on Clooney’s career prospects in the long run.