The Making of HAIL, CAESAR!
Interviews with George Clooney, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill
By Ben Kayser
At a recent press conference for the new Coen Brothers movie HAIL, CAESAR!, George Clooney shared how the production came to be, even before the script was written.
George Clooney: After finishing O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?, they pitched me a movie called HAIL, CAESAR!, basically about a fixer, but one of the characters was an idiot actor (Clooney’s character), I wonder why they thought of me, who gets kidnapped by a bunch of Communists. The only line they pitched was Alden’s line, “This is bad for movie stars everywhere,” which killed me, and then they never wrote the script. Every time I did press, I would say, “I’m doing a Coen brothers movie next, called HAIL, CAESAR!,” and then Joel and Ethan would call me and say, “Stop saying that! We haven’t written it.” Then, they called a couple years ago and said, “Okay, we wrote it, so let’s go do it.”
Both Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, who star in multiple movies together, had small roles in the movie, one as a tap dancing movie star and the latter as a not-so-bright individual attempting to help Mannix (Brolin) solve an issue with one of his actresses.
Jonah Hill: They had written me an email together. It was one email from both of them, and it was so beautifully and hilariously written… They said, “It’s a very, very small part.” I just said, “Yes,” right away, without even reading it. I can’t speak for other actors, but I can’t imagine an actor who wouldn’t die to work with the Coen brothers.
Channing Tatum: I got an email from them, and you don’t even read the script before you say, “Yes.” You can’t type, “I’m in!” quick enough.
Hill: We were on tour promoting a movie and it was funny because we were both trying to humblebrag to each other that we were going to be in a Coen brothers movie.
Tatum “Dude, it’s crazy, I just got a Coen brothers email.”
Hill: “Yeah, I got one too. I think I’m going to do it.” We were both trying to brag to each other, but it was the same movie, and Channing’s part was quadruple the size of my part.
Tatum: I didn’t know that, actually. We both thought we had small parts. In the script, it only says, “Mannix walks into a big song-and-dance. Then, they dance and Burt Gurney does a knee slide to a bucket.” I thought you might see an eight-count, and then a knee slide to a bucket.
Hill: I got an email saying, “Are you interested in playing a bucket?” So, I was like, “I don’t want to brag, but I’m probably going to play the bucket.”
Tatum: They asked me, “Do you know how to tap?” I was like, “No.” They were like, “Well, we’re thinking about tapping. Do you think you could learn it?” I was like, “Yeah.” Then, they asked, “Can you sing?” “No, I can’t do that.” “Can you try?” “Yeah, I can try.” I was so scared that I was going to screw up this movie because I couldn’t do either of the things that they asked me to do. I’m sure they were like, “Oh, he can figure it out.” I was terrified of ruining the movie. Auto-tune is amazing!
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