The one thing George Clooney regrets most about his new film, "Intolerable Cruelty," is that he didn't have time to pull one of his usual pranks.
"I feel really ashamed of myself," he says. "I'm thinking of a lulu when we start my next film, 'Ocean's Twelve.' "
Instead of putting vaseline on doorknobs or requesting ungodly wake-up calls for his co-stars, as he is rumored to have done on other shoots, Clooney was hard at work, juggling several projects at once.
He started filming "Intolerable Cruelty" the day after the science fiction remake "Solaris" wrapped. Meanwhile, he was still editing last year's "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," which he also directed.
"I rented a trailer, parked it on the studio lot, and continued editing," says Clooney. "I lived there 4-1/2 months, acting in ['Cruelty'] in the daytime, and editing 'Confessions' at night."
Clooney says the romantic comedy "Intolerable Cruelty" appealed to him because he respects the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan. In the film, Clooney plays a divorce lawyer who falls for a gold digger (Catherine Zeta-Jones).
"Their sets are just great places to be," Clooney says. "They've had almost 20 years of really beautiful filmmaking. You get on the set and you're working with friends - people you want to be with - it's all part of their process."
The Kentucky-born Clooney, who started his career nearly 20 years ago in television, became a household name when he starred as Dr. Doug Ross on "E.R." He left the show in 1999 to pursue movies, and has since starred in almost 20 films including "Batman & Robin," "Three Kings," and "The Perfect Storm."
While not all of his films were huge moneymakers, he kept working hard. He credits his parents for helping him get through the highs and lows of Hollywood stardom. His father, Nick, was a popular newscaster in Cincinnati, so he can speak from experience.
"Dad says, 'You're never as good as they say you are, and you're never as bad,' " says Clooney. "Mom is much more direct, she'll say, 'Don't do that. It is dumb.' It's a lot quicker and more pointed."
Growing serious for a moment he continues, saying, "I owe so much to my aunt, Rosemary Clooney. She'd always say when she was on top, she made all the mistakes, believed all the big stories told her, and wound up the worse for it. She said she had lost everything but her voice. When I look back, the most beautiful song I ever heard Rosie sing was 'The More I See You.' It would tear your heart out."
When people comment on how well Clooney has handled success, he points to a picture of Rosie and his parents and says, "Look who taught me."
He thinks that Brad Pitt, his buddy, handles success better than anyone he knows. "If you want to see adulation, you should have been with Brad and me at the airport in Italy," he recalls. "The press started for me and then they saw Brad Pitt. I was never dropped so fast."
For "Ocean's Twelve," Clooney, Pitt, Anthony Garcia, and Matt Damon filmed on location in Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome. The entire cast has agreed to take 5 percent less pay. "We figured if it is a success, we'd all make our money later. If it bombs, we'd at least have had a lot of fun."
Clooney is currently working with his partner, Steven Soderbergh, and their company, Section Eight, on the HBO series "K Street," about a fictitious political consulting firm that interacts with actual people. Clooney says he's a politician at heart. "You just can't stop an old dog," he says, jokingly.