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THE IDES OF MARCH

About The Production
Filming on The Ides of March began during late winter in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky (not far from Clooney's hometown of Lexington). On location in and around Cincinnati, the production shot at such notable spots as Fountain Square, Roebling Bridge, Xavier University's Cintas Center and Miami University of Ohio. Shooting in the location where the vast majority of the film actually takes place was a luxury.

"It makes all the difference,” says Grant Heslov. "You get to have some feeling of place.”

In addition, "George is from the area, so he really knows it,” continues Heslov. "He knew the locations. He knew the people. It actually made it a lot of fun.”

Shooting in an area where he is considered a beloved native son was a unique experience for Clooney. Interest in the production definitely ran high – over 23,000 locals, for example, responded to an extras casting announcement.

"It was fun, and it made it easier for us,” he says. "I was around my family for a while.

As director, producer, co-writer and key actor, Clooney didn't have much time for family reunions. On set, "He had so much to do,” says Paul Giamatti. "But George was strangely relaxed about it. I love the way he did it. It was very straightforward and simple – he doesn't overwork things and doesn't overshoot things. You trust everything he's saying. He's a smart guy, and he wants to make good movies.”

Clooney encouraged his actors and creative team to prepare for shooting by watching various campaign documentaries, such as The War Room, which traced Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential bid; Journeys With George, about George W. Bush's 2000 campaign for the White House; and By the People: The Election of Barack Obama. The filmmakers even watched Primary, a groundbreaking 1960 documentary which followed presidential hopefuls John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey during that year's Wisconsin primary.

Stuart Stevens – a Republican campaign strategist, political advisor and media consultant who has worked on a number of presidential campaigns – also helped the filmmakers prepare. "Stuart was a really valuable voice,” says Clooney. "We would send him things and say, tell us where we're going wrong. Tell us what you would do in this situation. What's your pitch? Stuart's the perfect example of a guy who believes in the things that he says. He could work for anybody – he worked for George Bush, he could have just as easily worked for John McCain in that same primary.”

About three weeks into shooting, the production moved to Detroit. Here, all of the interiors in the Pullman and Morris headquarters would be shot. Several downtown and suburban locations were used; the unit also shot for four days at the University of Michigan, including at sites such as the Arthur Miller Theater, Power Center and Michigan League ballroom. The production was a welcome presence in the area.

"Detroit's had it hard,” says Clooney of the location. "They lost most of the music industry, and they lost a lot of the car industry. And now they may be losing their film industry. I hope for them because they're going through a tough time right now.”

Although Clooney has directed himself before in Leatherheads, Good Night, and Good Luck., and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, it's not a chore he relishes. "Directing yourself is not a fun thing to do,” he confesses. For example, during the large Morris speech scenes, "All I'm considering, all I'm thinking about while I'm speaking and can feel the camera moving this way and knowing that it's moving too soon is, ‘I'm going to have to do this again.'”

The cast, however, was generally in awe of Clooney's relaxed manner on set despite juggling multiple duties. "I don't know how you do it as an actor to be in the moment and also be outside the moment at the same time as a director, but he handles it very well,” says Jeffrey Wright. "I guess he does everything with one eye on the other, but it doesn't show.”

"As an actor he's very present and very professional,” echoes Ryan Gosling. "As a director he's got a great visual eye, and he knows how to communicate what he wants. He knows what he's talking about.”

"I don't think all actors should direct,” adds Philip Seymour Hoffman. "But I think George is the kind of guy that should and did, and should keep doing it.”

"George makes it a very comfortable set,” agrees Marisa Tomei. "I feel very safe to screw up, basically. You feel like he's got you there in his hands. He's in control of it all, but loosely. His mind can handle lots and lots of things at the same time.”

Clooney's jokes and occasional pranks were also welcome on set, keeping smiles on the faces of extras and crew alike.

"George is hilarious,” says Frogley, the costume designer, who has worked with Clooney on six films, including The Ides of March. "He's a very nice person to work with.”

***

Ultimately, the filmmakers hope that audiences are entertained by a compelling story in "The Ides of March” and riveted by the strong performances of a top flight cast.

"I think that the movie will surprise people, in the sense that it's not exactly what people think it is,” says producer Brian Oliver. "It's a lot more, and I think that when people see it and they see the performances, they're going to be impressed.”

Furthermore, audiences don't have to be politically savvy to get caught up in the film's tangled web of behind-the-scenes manipulations. "It's very much a human drama,” says Jeffrey Wright. "It's a play about interactions, desires, ideas and emotions that I think all of us as audience members will get wrapped up in. It's a very intense and moving ride.”

But Clooney wouldn't mind if the movie prompted viewers to ask themselves a few questions about the democratic process, too.

"Do we want to make every candidate have to be shiny?” he asks. "Is this really what we're going to do? Is this how we're going to elect people, the process that we're going to use? To me, it's an indictment on all of us.”

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