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Music Of Leatherheads
One of the highlights for the cast and crew occurred when filming a scene in a speakeasy. The set, literally underground, was in the basement of a sprawling government building called the Millennium Center in Winston-Salem, NC. The low- ceilinged, dark cavern with brick walls and exposed pipes was dressed with beaded chandeliers, filigreed, bronze sconces and the random deer head…all based on photographs of an actual Midwestern speakeasy, down to the mounted animals. This would be the beginning of the end for Lexie and Clooney’s attempt to fight their affections.

Add a bandstand and an upright piano, and the Roaring ’20s were back on stage for LEDISI YOUNG, a jazzy R & B singer whose vocals became the soundtrack for the speakeasy scenes. As in his film Good Night, and Good Luck., Clooney filmed Young’s live performance—here the classic tune “The Man I Love”—and used that as the playback for the rest of the scene. During the morning hours, the cast and crew crowded in the bar and listened as she performed.

The keyboard was for legend Randy Newman, who played an old-time, bar-room piano man. Newman’s job was to play ragtime as a bar fight raged around him, occasionally taking a break by blasting a roughneck on the head with a beer bottle. It was Newman’s pleasure, as the performer notes, “This period’s music is one of my favorites.”

Clooney also had an ear for serendipitous moments, such as Matt Bushell’s drunken, but heartfelt rendition of the popular WWI anthem “Over There.” For his character, the short-fused, pugnacious Curly, Bushell’s refrain is uncommonly sweet. “We were singing the song in between shots during a big scene where the team goes to a bar,” the actor explains. “Naturally, they get into a big, funny, drunk fight. George heard us and asked which one of us could really sing. One of the guys told him that I was the best singer. George said, ‘Get out of here!’ He then asked me if I could sing. I’m definitely not a professional singer, but I can carry a tune. We shot the scene right after that.”

The result was an unscripted, plaintive solo that caught the flavor of the time and the bond between the teammates. The director recalls, “I said to Randy Newman, ‘What if we just taper everybody out and do the last line with one guy?’ We did it in one take; it’s just stunning. You hear Randy end as the last, beautiful voice [Bushell’s] finishes the song out by itself: ‘We’re coming over, and we won’t come back until it’s over. Over there…’ All of a sudden, you felt like these are guys who were at war together. You hear Randy on the track say, ‘Man that’s beautiful.’ It’s such a great moment, and it came about because there’s something really beautiful about that camaraderie.”


Production wrapped, tendons bruised and bruises tended to, the filmmakers know the physical pain that was shooting Leatherheads was worth it. As prepped as they were for the inclement weather, hundreds of gallons of mud and an exhausting shoot schedule, however, they couldn’t plan for the aches and pains that came next. Dodge Connolly/Director George Clooney concludes with a sentiment shared by many of the thirty-and forty-something Duluth Bulldogs: “There’s just no way you could prepare for getting hit by a 21-year-old football player. Nothing you could do. It’s just, ‘Ow. That really hurt.’”

Universal Pictures Presents A Smokehouse Pictures/Casey Silver Production: George Clooney and Renée Zellweger in Leatherheads, starring John Krasinski and Jonathan Pryce. Casting is by Ellen Chenoweth; music is<


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