Here’s some fun, highly obscure trivia: George Clooney was once Batman! Yes, all the way back in 1997, when the actor was still playing Caesar-coifed Dr. Doug Ross on ER, the future Oscar-winner was the Caped Crusader in Batman & Robin, a movie despised by just about everyone except Michael Medved, right-wing film critic and co-creator of the Golden Turkey books, in which he mocks bad cinema classics that are more entertaining than Batman & Robin.
Anyway, Clooney only embodied Bruce Wayne once, in a movie where he was second-billed to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze. (To be fair, Jack Nicholson scored top billing over Michael Keaton in 1989’s Batman.) Clooney was pretty bland and forgettable in it, and that’s okay because a year later he was on the cusp of doing Out of Sight and Three Kings and O Brother, Where Art Thou? The experience wasn’t good for him either, so much that, as he recently alleged, he told Ben Affleck not to do it either.
Clooney apparently wasn’t convincing; Affleck wound up playing Bats a mere three times before bailing. But he tried, as he claims on a recent Hollywood Reporter podcast. What, specifically, did Clooney not enjoy about doing the movie where the Caped Crusader has rubber nipples? Well, let’s start with his paycheck.
“[Arnold] Schwarzenegger was paid, I think, $25 million for that, which was like 20 times more than I was paid for it — and, you know, we never even worked together! We worked together one day. But I took all the heat … Now, fair deal: I was playing Batman and I wasn’t good in it, and it wasn’t a good film. But what I learned from that failure was, I had to rethink how I was working. Because now I wasn’t just an actor getting a role, I was being held responsible for the film itself.”
So, in a sense, it was a good experience: It’s good to get failure out of the way early in one’s movie stardom, to learn from it and ensure it never happens again. (Clooney has not been in any further comic book movies, which is impressive.)