George Clooney Achieves Excitement in ‘The Boys in the Boat’ Rowing Film

George Clooney Achieves Excitement in ‘The Boys in the Boat’ Rowing Film: One might picture George Clooney, not as the renowned Hollywood figure but as he appeared during his “Facts of Life” era, taking up an oar, entering the water, and portraying a member of an American rowing team challenging a group of adversaries on the cinematic stage.
While Clooney would have eagerly embraced such an opportunity in the past, now as the director of the forthcoming period sports drama “The Boys in the Boat” (hitting theaters Monday), he contemplates whether he could have truly fit the role.

George Clooney Achieves Excitement in 'The Boys in the Boat' Rowing Film:


“I stand at 5-foot-11, so participating would have been quite challenging for me. These individuals are towering figures,” Clooney remarks. The genuine rowers from Oxford University whom he selected for supporting roles were often taller than 6-foot-8, “thus, I might not have met the height requirement.”

“Indeed, I cherished those experiences during my early acting days. That’s one of the joys of being in this profession: I filmed in Bratislava, Slovakia, a destination one might not typically choose for leisure. Acting allows you to explore unique places, acquire new talents, and gain insights into lives and cultures that might remain unfamiliar otherwise.”

Adapted from Daniel James Brown’s 2013 book, “Boys in the Boat” features British actor Callum Turner in the role of Joe Rantz. Rantz, a destitute student at the University of Washington in 1936, joins the school’s rowing team initially with the primary goal of financing his education and securing a place to reside. However, his talent becomes evident as he excels in the sport. Similarly, his junior varsity team shines brightly. After surpassing the expectations by defeating the UW varsity team, these young Huskies, under the guidance of Coach Al Ulbrickson (portrayed by Joel Edgerton), progress to compete against various colleges. Their journey culminates at the Berlin Olympics, where they face formidable German opponents.

Clooney captures it succinctly, stating, “First, you have to surpass the senior members, then outdo the esteemed institutions, followed by overcoming the privileged elite, and ultimately confronting Hitler. Hitler stands as the ultimate adversary.”


From the onset, Turner felt a deep connection with the character of Joe. He recalls being profoundly moved by a particular passage in Brown’s book, wherein he learned about Rantz’s resilience from a young age. Turner recounts a poignant moment: “What deeply moved me was reading about how the actual Rantz, from the age of 15, faced adversity. He returned home from school one day to discover his family packing their belongings into a car. He asked, ‘Where are we headed?’ to which his father replied, ‘We’re leaving, but you’re staying.'” Turner reflects, “The pivotal moment for Joe, choosing not to be defined by such circumstances and resolving to thrive despite them, served as a significant source of inspiration for me.”

Regarding Clooney’s motivation, he expressed a desire for another opportunity to delve into a sports film from that era, admitting, “I believe I didn’t fully capture the essence of what I aimed for” with his 2008 football comedy, “Leatherheads.” Additionally, Clooney noted the absence of a truly captivating rowing film in the cinematic landscape, stating, “I’ve never come across a truly exhilarating rowing movie.” He added, “While it presented its challenges, it also signaled a niche waiting to be explored.”

Clooney effectively captures the dynamism of the sport, employing cinematic techniques that enhance its intensity. The camera captures exhilarating angles during races, accentuated by the rhythmic cadence of the coxswain striking the boat’s side while synchronized oars cut through the water. Drawing inspiration from the Netflix series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” Clooney emphasized the need to convey the sheer velocity of the rowers. He remarked, “The challenge was capturing their incredible speed. At times, even with our camera-equipped speedboat, we struggled to keep pace.”
Furthermore, Clooney faced the task of transforming his cast into elite rowers within a brief five-month period. The rigorous training regimen involved four hours daily on the water and an additional hour in the gym. Turner reflects on this intensive preparation, stating, “We operated like a seasoned sports team. Every effort, every moment was shared, forging a bond amongst us that will endure a lifetime.”

Clooney’s Strategic Filming Approach for Olympic Race

Clooney strategically scheduled the filming of the climactic Olympic race towards the end of production, ensuring his cast was at peak training levels. Turner and his fellow actors successfully matched the impressive pace of 46 strokes per minute, mirroring the real-life rowers from the past. Clooney observed, “While our actors maintained this pace for about 30 seconds, compared to the original rowers who sustained it for over five minutes, achieving such precision was undeniably challenging.”

Clooney’s Spectator Role and Athletic Prowess

When asked if Clooney ever ventured into the boat for a lighthearted rowing experience, the notion elicits laughter from him.
“No chance,” Turner reveals. “Instead, George would prefer to stand ashore, savoring his glass of wine.”
Clooney jests, “I’d opt for a fine pinot or a cabernet. Sometimes even lifting the bottle felt like a workout!” Reflecting on his evolving perspective on physical roles, he remarks, “Back in the day, we’d immerse ourselves in roles like war films, enduring intense training in remote locations. But at 62, I’ve learned to choose my battles. It’s all about perspective.”


However, Clooney’s athleticism didn’t go unnoticed. Turner reminisces, “George truly shines on the basketball court. There was a day when a hoop stood next to his trailer, and he displayed some impressive skills.”
With a hint of pride, the director chimes in, “That’s my game right there.” Clooney is set to feature alongside Brad Pitt in Jon Watts’ anticipated thriller “Wolfs” releasing on Sept. 20 and will also lead in an upcoming Netflix film by Noah Baumbach.

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