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George Clooney Sent a Letter to Critic Who Claimed Soderbergh Directed ‘Dangerous Mind’

The Washington Post's review of "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" got Clooney fired up.

George Clooney

George Clooney in “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” (2002)

Miramax/courtesy Everett Collection

George Clooney has been named GQ magazine’s Icon of the Year ahead of the upcoming Netflix release of his new directorial effort “The Midnight Sky,” and the accompanying cover story reveals the Oscar winner once wrote a letter to a film critic who shaded his filmmaking skills. Clooney made his directorial debut with the 2002 biographical spy film “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” written by Charlie Kaufman and starring Sam Rockwell as Chuck Barris, a popular game show host who claimed to be a CIA assassin. Clooney had a supporting role in the film along with Drew Barrymore and Julia Roberts.

While The Washington Post gave “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” a positive review, it also expressed disbelief that Clooney could be responsible for such a strong outing in his first time as a feature filmmaker. A critic for The Post suggested that “Dangerous Mind” must’ve really been directed by Steven Soderbergh, Clooney’s collaborator on career highlights “Out of Sight” and “Ocean’s Eleven.” “Dangerous Mind” was released the year after “Ocean’s Eleven” made a big splash for Soderbergh and Clooney.

According to GQ, the claim that Soderbergh must’ve directed “Dangerous Mind” made The Post a temporary enemy of Clooney’s, who wrote a letter to the critic addressing the matter. Clooney teased about the message: “At the end of the letter, I said, ‘Letter actually written by George Clooney.’” The actor-director did not name the critic, nor is The Post’s “Dangerous Mind” review available online, but Rotten Tomatoes excerpts critic Desson Thomson’s Post review, which called “Dangerous Mind” a “darkly enjoyable roller-coaster ride.”

Clooney dropped the tidbit while listing some of his former enemies in the industry, which GQ reports: “TV Guide, for its habit of omitting Eriq La Salle, ‘ER’s’ most prominent Black cast member, from its covers back in the day; Russell Crowe (‘Just out of the blue, he’s like, ‘I’m not some sellout like Robert De Niro and Harrison Ford and George Clooney.’ I’m like, ‘Where the fuck did that come from?”); and a Washington Post film critic, for suggesting that Clooney’s ‘Confessions of a Dangerous’ Mind was actually directed by Clooney’s friend Steven Soderbergh.”

Next up for Clooney is “The Midnight Sky,” an adventure epic he directed and stars in opposite Felicity Jones, Kyle Chandler, and David Oyelowo. The film begins streaming December 23 on Netflix.

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