Classic Rewatch

Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind

George Clooney’s directorial debut pays homage to a TV producer turned CIA hitman. 

Today’s Lockdown Rewatch delves deep into the dangerous mind of Chuck Barris – American game show host by day and CIA hitman by night… or is he? You’ll have to watch George Clooney’s (who turns 59 today) directorial debut, 2002’s biographical comedy Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind to find out the truth… maybe. Starring Clooney, Sam Rockwell, and Drew Barrymoore, the script was written by Charlie Kaufman and is based on Barris’ autobiography of the same name. 

But did you know…

1) Kaufman drafted the first script of Dangerous Mind in 1997, but it would take several years (and a fair number of directors) for the film to come to fruition. Directors attached included Curtis Hanson, P.J. Hogan, Darren Aronofsky, Sam Mendes, David Fincher, Brian De Palma, and finally Bryan Singer. Singer had originally cast Johnny Depp in the lead role, who left the project after delays in development and complications amid funding. Singer ultimately moved onto X2 and handed the reins over to Clooney. 

2) Sam Rockwell was Clooney’s first choice to play Chuck Barris, ever since they worked together on Welcome To Collinwood, and thought he bore an uncanny resemblance to the TV persona-turned-hitman. He was also on the cusp of success. “I didn’t want someone too famous to play the role. In my opinion, you cannot have famous people playing famous people. It doesn’t work. Sam was the guy for the part, ready to break and hadn’t yet,” recalls Clooney.

3) In 1984 Chuck Barris admitted that the story of being a CIA assassin was made up, but Clooney never asked about it outright, and said that he didn’t actually want to know the answer. “I don’t know how much I believed it,” he said. “I wanted to tell the story and I thought, how interesting if it was all made up, why someone as wealthy and as successful as Chuck Barris, would have to do that. I thought that was an interesting person to explore, and that’s what we wanted to do with the film.” Barris actually did apply for the CIA – he just never made it in.