George Clooney tried to rally support for Sony in the midst of a severe cyberattack on the studio, but the actor and filmmaker says he couldn’t find anyone to stand with him.
In an interview with Deadline Hollywood, Clooney says he circulated a letter asking top Hollywood figures to show their support for the embattled studio.
The letter called for the industry to “fully support Sony’s decision not to submit to these hackers’ demands,” and to acknowledge “that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together.”
In essence, the letter was “basically saying … ‘We’re not going to give in to a ransom,’ ” Clooney told Deadline. “As we watched one group be completely vilified, nobody stood up. Nobody took that stand.”
As far as his petition, Clooney couldn’t land a single signature.
The hack of Sony Pictures first came to light in November, and in the weeks since has developed into a devastating saga that’s included leaked Social Security numbers and health information, embarrassing emails from studio execs and a threat that’s led to Sony canceling its release of “The Interview.”
The movie, which stars stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, has a plot that involves a plan to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. U.S. officials believe the attack on Sony was ordered by North Korea’s leadership.
To George Clooney, this isn’t just about Sony, or the celebrity gossip that’s emerged.
“We’re talking about an actual country deciding what content we’re going to have,” he told Deadline. “This affects not just movies, this affects every part of business that we have.”
“What happens if a newsroom decides to go with a story, and a country or an individual or corporation decides they don’t like it? Forget the hacking part of it. You have someone threaten to blow up buildings, and all of a sudden everybody has to bow down.
“Sony didn’t pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it. And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you’re going to be responsible.”
That sense of hesitation and fear was evident to the actor as he tried to drum up support for the studio. Clooney wouldn’t mention names, but he did say that “nobody wanted to be the first to sign on.”
“This isn’t finger-pointing,” he continued. “This is just where we are right now, how scared this industry has been made. Quite honestly, this would happen in any industry. I don’t know what the answer is, but what happened here is part of a much larger deal. … And people are still talking about dumb emails. Understand what is going on right now, because the world just changed on your watch, and you weren’t even paying attention.”
Clooney isn’t the only actor unnerved by the fallout from the Sony hack. As news spread Wednesday that the studio would not be releasing “The Interview,” in theaters or anywhere else, a number of celebrities came forward to express their frustration.
“I think it is disgraceful that these theaters are not showing The Interview. Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now?” actor and filmmaker Judd Apatow tweeted.
“Wow. Everyone caved. The hackers won. An utter and complete victory for them,” added Rob Lowe.
“Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin has even offered to screen the film at his independent theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico, should the movie be made available.
In a blog post titled “Corporate Cowardice,” Martin took aim at the theater chains that declined to screen “The Interview,” causing Sony to shelve the film.
“I mean, really?” Martin wrote. “These gigantic corporations, most of which could buy North Korea with pocket change, are declining to show a film because Kim Jong-Un objects to being mocked? The level of corporate cowardice here astonishes me.”
“The Interview” was intended to open Christmas Day as a lighthearted option for holiday crowds.
But while “The Interview” may once have been just “a silly comedy,” “what it now says about us is a whole lot,” Clooney said. “We have a responsibility to stand up against this.”