George Clooney's presidential candidate in "The Ides of March" is an ideologically pure liberal Democrat from the midwest. And while the film is a work of fiction, Clooney had some intimate real life inspiration for his character.
Mike Morris, the Ohio Governor looking to clinch the Democratic nomination, believes in ending the addiction to oil, stopping war and economic equality. Clooney's father, longtime journalist Nick Clooney, long preached those ideals in the Clooney household, which informed his son as he penned the script to the film.
"Believe me, if he's written about it, he's talked about it hundreds of times," the actor told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "A lot of those ideas were a big part of my growing up."
For all the candidate's idealism, though, the film examines the dark side of politics, grappling with the struggle of power against loyalty, secrecy against transparency and personal damage against the greater good. Clooney, no political naif himself, also took from his father the sense of disappointment with the system and its requirement that one grovels for donations. Nick Clooney ran for Congress in Kentucky in 2004 (though his campaign website is now controlled by Chinese squatters).
He saw his "father really fight it, and lose pretty terribly," Clooney said of the embarrassing struggle to avoid such political patronage. "No matter how pure you try to keep it, you're always going to have to take meetings with people you don't like. I got a real sense of how ugly it is - and that was just for a congressional seat."
Clooney's father lost that 2004 election by a wide margin, in part because of attacks on his son; his opponent equated NIck to a Hollywood elitist, which could be pegged to both his activist days and, obviously, George's stardom. The younger Clooney actually went so far as to pen an editorial in the Enquirer defending his dad and asking for him to be judged on his own merits.
"My father has dedicated 50 years to living and working in your community," George wrote. "Anyone who knows him (and that's a lot of Kentuckians) knows that he is his own man and always has been. Politically, my father and I certainly disagree on some issues. But what we don't disagree on is this: We should be judged as a country by how we take care of those who can't take care of themselves. Senior citizens, veterans, the poor, the uninsured ... this list goes on."
For more on the film, click over to the Cincinnati Enquirer.