In 1962, future Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alex Haley sat down with jazz musician Miles Davis for what would become an institution of American journalism—the Playboy Interview. To celebrate the Interview’s 50th anniversary, Playboy has culled 50 of its most (in)famous Interviews and will publish them over the course of 50 weekdays (from September 4, 2012 to November 12, 2012) via Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. Here, a glimpse at our conversation with actor and film director George Clooney from the July 2000 issue.
“Filming Three Kings was a dangerous time. I was trying to make things work with David Russell, so I went over and put my arm around him. I said, “David, it’s a big day. But you can’t shove, push or humiliate people who aren’t allowed to defend themselves.’’ He turned on me and said, “Why don’t you just worry about your fucked-up act? You’re being a dick. You want to hit me? You want to hit me? Come on, pussy, hit me.’’ I’m looking at him like he’s out of his mind. Then he started banging me on the head with his head. He goes, “Hit me, you pussy. Hit me.’’ Then he got me by the throat and I went nuts. One of the boys grabbed me by the waist to get me to let go of him. I had him by the throat. I was going to kill him. Kill him. It was truly, without exception, the worst experience of my life.”
“If you look at rock stars who have survived over 20 or 30 years, they stayed thin and sort of sexual in a weird way. The Stones, Bowie. They still look good. The guys who kind of got fat get a little sad. It happens with leading men, too. The secret to me is you have to look your age. But you have to look the best you can at your age. You don’t want to try to look younger, because you’ll look wrong. You dye your hair, you look wrong. You wear a bad toupee, you look wrong. You wear makeup to hide things, you get your eyes done, you look wrong.”
“I have several advantages over lots of people who get famous. I didn’t get famous until I was 33. Also, I’ve seen how temperamental an audience can be, how you can be famous one day and then lose it the next. I saw it close-up with my aunt, Rosemary. She was a huge star and then it all went away. What happened? She was still as good a singer as she ever was, but things changed. It had nothing to do with her talent. She didn’t handle it well. Now she has made a great comeback, but she was angry and hurt and messed up for a long time. When she was 19 years old, everybody told her she was brilliant. But when she was 28, suddenly it was over. Rock and roll came in and pop music went out. Eight out of ten of the top singers were women, but then they all were men. So things changed. But because she believed them when they said she was brilliant when she was 19, she also believed them when they said she was terrible when she was 28. Of course, neither was true. So I learned from that.”
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*Or read the interview with access to all Playboy interviews on iPlayboy.*