JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images
George Clooney may rule the movies, but he’s also a committed humanitarian, especially with his work to highlight war-torn region Darfur. But according to Clooney, that work can be a bit treacherous, as he revealed while recounting a harrowing experience he had in the region in a new interview with Variety.
Clooney, who has appeared in a documentary about Darfur, discussed one particular episode that highlighted exactly the type of violence that has defined the region for years.
“We got stopped in the middle of nowhere, where we shouldn’t have been,” Clooney told Variety. “A little 10-year-old kid came over with a Kalashnikov assault rifle to my head, basically wanted to get us out of the truck.”
Despite that experience (one which he recounted as casually as his shark attack survivor buddy Leonardo DiCaprio), which Clooney and co. escaped unscathed, he’s made repeated trips to the region and continues to advocate on its behalf.
The actor revealed that his urge to get involved with Darfur’s cause came in 2006 while promoting his film “Good Night, and Good Luck,” and wanting to do something meaningful in the world. He read a New York Times column about Darfur, and promptly called his television journalist father, asking him to shoot some footage of the actor in the region that they could then broadcast back in the States.
He’s been involved with the cause ever since, and told Variety that his platform as a star has allowed him to bring attention to issues that might otherwise be ignored by the public.
“I like the ability to shine light and make it loud,” Clooney said.
Gallery | 2014 Movies: The 44 Most Anticipated Blockbusters, Comedies, Dramas, & More
- ‘Monuments Men’ (February 7, 2014)
Originally tapped as a late-2013 Oscar contender, it just wasn’t ready in time, so George Clooney’s sprawling World War II drama about an allied group tasked with recovering and preserving art and architecture in danger of being destroyed by the Nazis, got bumped to early 2014. This doesn’t mean that the film — co-starring Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, and Jean Dujardin — won’t be any less exciting and compelling.
- ‘The LEGO Movie’ (February 7, 2014)
Because, honestly, who doesn’t want to see a LEGO movie? Especially one directed by “21 Jump Street” filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who bring the iconic building-block toy to life via an ingenious mixture of stop motion and computer animation. Oh, and did we mention it stars Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks, with appearances by Channing Tatum (as Superman), Jonah Hill (as the Green Lantern) and Cobie Smulders (as Wonder Woman)? Because it does.
- ‘Robocop’ (February 12, 2014)
Blurring the line between “excitement” and “morbid curiosity” is this newfangled “re-imagining” of the beloved 1987 original. This time out, expect a lot of computer-generated whiz-bangery to accompany the tale of an average cop (“The Killing” star Joel Kinnaman) transformed into a robotic crime fighter by a nefarious corporation. With a truly killer supporting cast that includes Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, and Samuel L. Jackson, we just hope that “Robocop” can transition to the future without losing any of its satiric bite.
- ‘Non-Stop’ (February 28, 2014)
Liam Neeson has been on something of a roll since his career-boosting “Taken,” assuming the unlikely role of action-movie icon. That continues with “Non-Stop,” which reunites him with his “Unknown” director Jaume Collet-Serra (and that film’s superstar producer, Joel Silver) and finds Neeson assuming the role of an air marshal tasked with solving a deadly mystery while traveling from New York to London. If the movie is half as thrilling as the trailer, it’s gonna be a blast.
- ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’ (March 7, 2014)
Everyone’s favorite time travelers, super-intelligent doc Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) and his pet human Sherman (Max Charles) embark on their first big-screen outing, courtesy of DreamWorks Animation. Expect the classic “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” characters to get a fresh coat of paint for their 2014 reinvention, with the classic sense of fun.
- ‘300: Rise of an Empire’ (March 7, 2014)
Remember “300,” the comic book-y historic action movie that made a star out of Gerard Butler? Well here’s the “side-quel” (yes, that’s what they’re calling it), a prequel/sequel that is mostly set on the water while maintaining the movie’s living graphic novel visual style. (Noam Murro takes over for director Zack Snyder, who was too busy with “Man of Steel,” but is a credited producer and co-writer.) Expect lots of slow-motion bloodletting.
- ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (March 7, 2014)
Wes Anderson’s latest cinematic confection looks to be the most Wes Anderson-y yet. Taking place during three time periods (each with their own specific aspect ratio), this rococo comedy stars Ralph Fiennes as a wacky hotel concierge (in a role originally meant for Johnny Depp) who befriends a young “lobby boy” (newcomer Tony Revolori). There are a whole bunch of returning Anderson players (Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, and Jason Schwartzman) comically mugging alongside a host of brand-new personalities (Mathieu Amalric, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan) inside Anderson’s exquisitely crafted dollhouses. Expect the DVD (part of the Criterion collection, no doubt) to be sold at Urban Outfitters locations nationwide.
- ‘Need for Speed’ (March 14, 2014)
With “Need for Speed,” the insanely popular video game series vrooms onto the big screen with “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul planted firmly in the driver’s seat. Paul plays a racer who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and, upon being released, seeks vengeance. Expect lots of fast-paced race sequences and be sure to drink it all in, especially since the next “Fast and Furious” installment was bumped to Spring 2015.
- ‘Veronica Mars’ (March 14, 2014)
The cherished cult television series (which ran for three seasons on The CW) makes the improbably leap to the big screen thanks to a highly publicized Kickstarter campaign and the ceaseless efforts of star Kristen Bell (who returns to star as well as produce). Instead of a high school private eye, Veronica is all grown up, returning to her hometown of Neptune, California, when her ex-boyfriend is once again accused of a murder she’s sure he didn’t commit. Expect all of the hallmarks of the original series (danger, intrigue, and adorableness) to translate well.
- ‘Divergent’ (March 21, 2014)
Gunning for the “next ‘Hunger Games’” title, “Divergent” is based on the best-selling young adult novel by Veronica Roth and stars Shailene Woodley as a young girl who bucks the trend of a futuristic society, which sorts its citizens based on five personality traits. As directed by “Limitless” filmmaker Neil Burger, it could be some nicely pulpy paperback fun, especially with Kate Winslet cast as some kind of bureaucratic heavy.
- ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ (March 21, 2014)
Downside: Walter, that super boring new Muppet from 2011’s Oscar-winning “The Muppets” is back, alongside all of your classic characters (Kermit, Miss Piggy, etc.) Upside: This movie looks much, much funnier, taking loose inspiration from “The Great Muppet Caper” and featuring Ricky Gervais as the accomplice to a Kermit lookalike jewel thief. The footage we saw at 2013’s D23 made us howl with laughter.
- ‘Noah’ (March 28, 2014)
How did filmmaker Darren Aronofsky choose to follow up his Oscar-winning psychosexual thriller “Black Swan”? With a $ 150 million biblical epic, of course! Russell Crowe stars as the titular ark-builder, with a storyline that supposedly mixes the classic mythological tale with a modern environmental message, and decidedly Aronofsky-esque visual flourishes. Expect the results to be highly controversial and totally riveting.
- ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ (April 4, 2014)
What makes this “Captain America” sequel so exciting isn’t the fact that it’s another “Captain America” movie, but that the filmmakers have promised a film that’s in the vein of ’70s conspiracy thrillers and not over-the-top superhero epics. The resulting film finds our frostbitten hero (Chris Evans, once again) battling the bureaucratic machine while also facing off against his former partner turned prime adversary, The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson return, and Robert Redford shows up as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Excelsior indeed.
- ‘Sabotage’ (April 11, 2014)
In this jack-booted retelling of Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit “And Then There Were None,” Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as the leader of an elite team of DEA agents who are being bumped off one by one. Since this thing is being directed by David Ayer, the mind behind “Training Day” and “End of Watch,” we’re sure that the high concept will be balanced out with some streetwise grittiness.
- ‘Transcendence’ (April 18, 2014)
When will Hollywood show any originality? “Transcendence” is that tired old yarn about a mad scientist (Johnny Depp) who is poisoned by a group of Luddite terrorists and chooses to have his consciousness inserted into a computer program, where his insatiable lust for information and power leads him to start a worldwide revolution. Come on guys, could you at least try something new? We’re kidding, of course, and the appealingly whacked-out concept is made even more tantalizing by the fact that it marks the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer (Nolan also serves as a producer).
- ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ (May 2, 2014)
Your favorite neighborhood wall crawler is back! This time, Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield, once again) faces a whole battery of foes that now include Electro (Jamie Foxx), Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), and the Rhino (Paul Giamatti). Just as scary as this fleet of baddies, however, is Peter Parker’s continued involvement with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Marc Webb returns as a director and, with the recently announced spin-off films, expect a fair amount of universe-building in this installment.
- ‘Neighbors’ (May 9, 2014)
If you haven’t seen the red-band trailer for “Neighbors,” a new comedy that pits Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne’s married couple against a fraternity that has taken up root next door (led by Zac Efron), then please do. Now that you’ve seen it, you can understand why this has the potential of being one of 2014’s breakout comedies. It looks funny. To the max.
- ‘Godzilla’ (May 16, 2014)
If last summer’s giant monster mash “Pacific Rim” still left you itchy for giant beasts attacking major cities, then leave it to the original King of the Monsters, “Godzilla,” to scratch that itch. Hopefully, this new interpretation of the legendary Japanese creature, which stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, and Elizabeth Olsen, will singlehandedly wash away the memory of 1998’s abysmal “Godzilla.” You know, the one where Godzilla laid eggs in Madison Square Garden and it never stopped raining? Yeah, that one.
- ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ (May 23, 2014)
This could be the year’s coolest and most confusing big-budget superhero joint: “X-Men: Days of Future Past” uses time travel and alternate reality mumbo jumbo to bring the separate casts of the two threads of Fox’s “X-Men” franchise (both 2011’s “X-Men: First Class” and the “X-Men” trilogy that formally ended with 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand”) together. Fox is betting that this is going to be huge, and, in fact, it’s got to be: “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is reportedly the second most expensive movie the studio has ever produced… after “Avatar.”
- ‘Maleficent’ (May 30, 2014)
Are fairy tales the new superheroes? The latest in the bedtime story revival is “Maleficent,” the tale of “Sleeping Beauty” as told from the perspective of the wickedly horned witch from Disney’s 1959 animated classic. This is all well and good, until you realize that Angelina Jolie is playing the titular baddie. Then it gets tipped over into a whole different realm of cool. Elle Fanning also stars as the young Aurora.
- ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ (June 6, 2014)
We still wish they had kept the infinitely cooler original title “All You Need Is Kill,” but “Edge of Tomorrow” still looks totally, totally awesome. It’s set in a future world where mankind is battling a race of invading alien beings. Tom Cruise plays a man who continually dies on the battlefield and is reborn instantly, making him humanity’s best hope for survival. Could it be confusing and unwieldy? For sure. But the trailer promises hectic fun. Even the tagline (“Live, Die, Repeat”) kicks butt.
- ’22 Jump Street’ (June 13, 2014)
2012’s most unexpectedly awesome action-comedy gets a slightly more expected sequel. In this follow-up, undercover cops / total goofballs Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum try to break up a drug ring in a local college. While it might lack some of the surprise of the original (itself based on a cult ’80s TV series), this sequel should still bring the silly in a big way, especially with original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller back on board.
- ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ (June 13, 2014)
While we haven’t exactly been wanting on the dragon front since 2011’s “How to Train Your Dragon,” what with an animated spin-off show and a flood of related merchandise invading store shelves, it’s still nice to have a proper sequel to ogle and awe over. This installment has our hero Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), now a teen, connecting with his estranged, dragon-loving mother (Cate Blanchett) and facing off against an evil dragon hunter (Djimon Hounsou). Have we said dragon enough in this blurb? How about one more? Dragon!
- ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ (June 27, 2014)
What makes “Transformers: Age of Extinction” interesting is that it seems to be an inner-franchise reboot. Michael Bay, who helmed the previous three films, returns as a director, as does Steven Spielberg in an advisory, executive producer role. But everything else about the movie is being rebuilt from the ground up — the cast has been entirely switched out (it’s now led by Mark Wahlberg) and the transformers themselves have been radically redesigned (plus, the only returning bots are Optimus Prime and Bumblebee). This time around, we get Dinobots!
- ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ (July 11, 2014)
2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was great. Like really, really great. It also made some substantial coin. So it’s not exactly a shock that Fox quickly pursued a sequel, this time set in the early days of the human/ape war. Andy Serkis returns as Caesar, the leader of the ape resistance, with Weta again providing the eye-popping visual effects. Factor in a stellar cast, including Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke, and even if we all know how these movies are going to end (considering they function as a de facto prequel), we can’t wait to see how they’ll turn out.
- ‘Jupiter Ascending’ (July 18, 2014)
The Wachowskis return to the science-fiction genre in earnest after redefining it more than a decade earlier with 1999’s “The Matrix” (although they dabbled in it via “Speed Racer” and their sections of “Cloud Atlas”). This time, the duo takes on a more mythological approach, with a fairy tale-ish yarn about a young human girl (Mila Kunis) who is spirited away by a werewolf-y bounty hunter (Channing Tatum) and told that she is the queen of the universe. You know, typical first date stuff.
- ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (August 1, 2014)
Get ready for the Marvel galaxy to get weird. Although the characters, a ragtag band of intergalactic misfits that includes a green girl, a talking raccoon and a sentient tree creature, are largely unknown to the world at large, they’re about to become everyone’s favorite superheroes. This is basically the Marvel version of “Star Wars,” except every character is Han Solo. Based on what we’ve seen (and much of we can’t spill until much closer to release), it’s easy to say that this is the most exciting Marvel project since “The Avengers.”
- ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (August 8, 2014)
Heroes in a half shell, turtle power! That’s right — your favorite karate-chopping, pizza-loving teenage reptiles are back, this time powered by producer Michael Bay. Not a whole lot is known about this remake, besides the fact that the turtles will be computer-generated (by the folks at Weta) and that Megan Fox will play the iconic role of reporter April O’Neil, with “Lone Ranger” baddie William Fichtner signed on for serrated villain Shredder. As long as it’s better than that awful animated movie from a few years ago, we’ll be happy.
- ‘The Expendables 3′ (August 15, 2014)
Yes, the Medicare-with-muscles franchise is back for another bullet-riddled go around. This time, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Kelsey Grammer, and Harrison Ford join the old timers-with-firearms club that already includes Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Patrick Hughes, who helmed the nifty Australian thriller “Red Hill,” directs the carnage this time around, which is reason enough to get jazzed.
- ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ (August 22, 2014)
Well, it looks like they finally got around to making a sequel to 2005’s graphic novel adaptation “Sin City.” Original co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller are back for another stylishly film noir exercise, complete with fast cars, tough guys, and dames worth killing for. Returning cast members Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, and Bruce Willis are joined by Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Eva Green (as the titular dame), with the first film’s rotating anthology format intact.
- ‘Gone Girl’ (October 3, 2014)
For anyone over the age of 12, “Gone Girl” is probably their most anticipated movie of 2014. An adaptation of the best-selling thriller by Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl” stars Ben Affleck as a man whose wife goes missing, putting him in the center of furious media speculation and a criminal investigation. Rosamund Pike plays his missing wife. But it’s who is behind the camera that is even more exciting, since the film will be helmed by “Social Network” and “Zodiac” director David Fincher, as the high profile follow-up to his “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” adaptation.
- ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ (October 10, 2014)
Walt Disney Pictures and the Jim Henson Company bring the beloved children’s book by Judith Viorst to life, with 11-year-old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould, pictured) going through the worst day of his life and not finding sympathy with his parents (Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner). Children’s book-to-feature film adaptations are always a dicey proposition, but this seems to have the star power and the creative drive to get the job done.
- ‘The Judge’ (October 10, 2014)
It’s hard to imagine Robert Downey Jr. outside of his Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes personas, but here he is, playing a small town lawyer who returns home to discover that his father (Robert Duvall) has been accused of murder. The comedy/drama is directed by “Wedding Crashers” filmmaker David Dobkin, and features a starry supporting cast that includes Vera Farmiga, Vinent D’Onofrio, Billy Bob Thornton, and Dax Shepard. Not included: Victorian-era intrigue or robotic suits.
- ‘Dracula Untold’ (October 17, 2014)
The world’s most famous bloodsucker gets the “Batman Begins” treatment in “Dracula Untold,” which dramatizes the way that Vlad the Impaler, a real-life historical figure, was transformed into the Dracula of legend. Luke Evans, from “Fast & Furious 6,” plays the ferociously fanged Vlad, under the direction of Irish filmmaker Gary Shore. It could be a scream.
- ‘Interstellar’ (November 7, 2014)
Considering this is the newest film by notoriously protective filmmaker Christopher Nolan, not a lot is known about “Interstellar,” besides the cast (Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Michael Caine) and the fact that the movie deals with, in some way, interstellar travel (including time travel and alternate universes). Best case scenario: it’s the trippiest, most existential science-fiction film since “2001.” And, even if it’s not, chances are it will still be pretty cool.
- ‘Big Hero 6′ (November 7, 2014)
Disney’s first animated Marvel movie is “Big Hero 6.” Based on an obscure, manga-inspired series, it features a rag tag group of teen heroes and is directed by Don Hall, who helmed the deeply underrated 2011 animated feature “Winnie the Pooh.” Based on the footage we’ve seen, this is going to be a lively, kaleidoscopic romp, and the perfect follow-up to both Disney’s “Frozen” and Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And come Christmas, everyone is going to want an inflatable robot (this will make a lot of sense later, we promise).
- ‘Fury’ (November 12, 2014)
Brad Pitt stars as a tank commander in “Fury,” a World War II drama that costars Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, and Jason Isaacs. It’s the second film in 2014 to be directed by David Ayer (the first is “Sabotage”), and sounds like a cracking, super suspenseful, man-on-a-mission drama. At this point we’d watch Brad Pitt eat a ham sandwich for two hours, so consider our tickets already purchased.
- ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ (November 14, 2014)
A staggering 20 years after the original comedy classic, “Dumb and Dumber To” finally stumbles onto the big screen with original stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, and original filmmakers Bobby and Peter Farrelly. Not a whole lot is known about the plot of this one, although you can probably bet that it’s fairly stupid. Hopefully, it will teach us that while you may grow older, but you’ll always stay dumb.
- ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1′ (November 21, 2014)
After this year’s exemplary “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” this new installment (the first of a two-part finale) could be footage of an icicle melting for two hours it would still be one of our most anticipated movies of the year. Jennifer Lawrence is back, of course, as Katniss Everdeen, who in this film begins to lead the revolution on a grand scale. Yes please.
- ‘Horrible Bosses 2′ (November 26, 2014)
Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis all return in the sequel to 2011’s surprise sleeper smash, only this time they’re the bosses. After being played by a charming investor (Christoph Waltz), they hatch a plot to kidnap the investor’s son (Chris Pine). Expect a whole bunch of shenanigans, including appearances by the first film’s Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx, who returns playing a character whose name we can’t print here.
- ‘Paddington’ (December 12, 2014)
Everyone’s favorite adorable British teddy bear makes his big-screen debut in this feature, from “The Mighty Boosh” director Paul King. Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, and Jim Broadbent play the movie’s human characters, while Colin Firth lends his voice to the titular cuddly bear. This could be just the right holiday entertainment to melt your entire family’s hearts (and sell a whole bunch of plush toys).
- ‘Exodus’ (December 12, 2014)
After tackling Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the new world, the crusades, and whatever the heck “The Counselor” was about, director Ridley Scott now takes on a biblical epic with “Exodus,” the story of how Moses (Christian Bale) led the Jews out of Egypt. If there’s one filmmaker who can conjure genuine awe out of hugely scaled historical recreations, it’s Scott. Another reason to get amped: it marks Scott’s third collaboration with Sigourney Weaver after “Alien” and “1492: Conquest of Paradise.” Ridley and Ripley, together again!
- ‘The Hobbit: There and Back Again’ (December 17, 2014)
The saga that began with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” has finally reached its end with this, the third installment of the series based on the slender novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s unclear what, exactly, this film will entail but you can probably wager that a majority of the film’s running time will be spent linking “The Hobbit” films with the more expansively scaled “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Hopefully, by the end of this one, we’ll finally be able to tell all of those dwarves apart.
- ‘Into the Woods’ (December 25, 2014)
Disney and “Chicago” director Rob Marshall finally bring James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s beloved Broadway musical to the big screen, with a cast that can charitably be described as the best thing ever assembled. The fairy-tale mash up features Meryl Streep as the Witch, Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf, Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, Chris Pine as the Prince, and Christine Baranski as Cinderella’s evil stepmother. Like we said: the best thing ever assembled. This might have been a long time coming, but it also seems like it will be worth the wait.
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