LOS ANGELES — Cindy Crawford, Vince Vaughn, Rosario Dawson, Mira Sorvino, Don Cheadle and several of the film’s stars — including Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell and Brad Pitt (who cameos) — were on hand at Mann’s Bruin Theater Wednesday night for the premiere of “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” George Clooney’s directorial debut (click for photos from the red carpet ).
The movie is based on the “unauthorized autobiography” of television producer Chuck Barris, who alleges that he carried out assassinations for the CIA while producing programs like “The Dating Game” and “The Gong Show.” “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” stars Clooney pal Rockwell as Barris, Barrymore as his long-suffering girlfriend, along with Clooney himself, as the shady government agent who recruits Barris.
“We’re doing the [‘Dating Game’ host] Chuck Woolery story next,” Clooney joked on the red carpet. “I didn’t want to know, I didn’t want to ask [Chuck Barris],” Clooney offered as to whether or not the movie’s story is true. “I thought it was interesting if it was true and I thought it was interesting if it wasn’t true, either way.”
The early buzz on the film is that it’ll be a career breakout for Rockwell, who has yet to land on Hollywood’s A-list despite strong performances in such movies as “Made” and “Charlie’s Angels.” There’s even talk of him scoring an Oscar nod for his turn as Barris, “if there’s any justice,” Clooney said. “It’s just a great performance. It’s such a hard thing to do when you’re playing someone that other people know and to do it as well as he did, he’s phenomenal.”
“It’s nice to hear,” Rockwell said of the Oscar talk, “we’ll see what happens.” The actor had more to say about Clooney’s performance behind the camera. “I don’t know if people realize how really intensely smart and creative he is. This film is really beautifully crafted. He did an amazing job. It’s great because he’s an actor, he knows actors. So he created a really fun set, a really safe environment.”
Drew Barrymore gushed similarly. “[George] came so well prepared. And his cultural references and his love of film, his instincts as an actor and a director, the way that he articulately spoke to [the actors]. He trusted the actors that he cast, he let them fly free, but he also had a vision and he stuck with it consistently. He was a brilliant filmmaker.”
“I wanted to play this character for like eight years,” she continued. “And I would just beg the filmmakers that were involved, ‘Please, I have to play this part. I feel this fierce loyalty, I have to protect her! I know how she’s supposed to be played, and [George and I] totally shared a vision. And yet he did things that showed me things that I would have never seen. He opened doors and he made me so much better than I would have been.”
And what about the possibility of Barrymore, who is currently both co-producing and acting in next year’s “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” (see “Blood Oath Brings Charlie’s Angels Together For ‘Intense’ Sequel” ), ever sitting in the director’s chair herself?
“I would love to,” she said. “The way that I think is that you should accomplish first and speak about it second, but yes, secretly that is a goal.
“I would love to work with my friend Brittany Murphy,” she added, when asked whom she’d like to direct. “I had a really amazing time working with her in ‘Riding in Cars With Boys.’ We really pushed each other — and Sam [Rockwell]. I love people who ad-lib off camera. When somebody throws a curveball at you, you react and it’s so interesting on film when you catch that. I love working with actors that play and improvise and throw you off balance.”
“Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” will be released in New York and Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve, and will be released nationwide on January 10.
— Ryan J. Downey, with additional reporting by Nick Zano