VENICE, Italy — The most buzzed-about film going into this year’s Venice Film Festival was Suburbicon, a dark satire exploring race relations in 1950s America by juxtaposing the plight of an innocent black family—William (Leith M. Burke) and Daisy Myers (Karimah Westbrook)—moving into a Levittown-like suburb with their blundering, sinful white neighbors, played by Matt Damon and Julianne Moore. That it was co-written and directed by George Clooney, who held his star-studded nuptials in Venice, only amplified the anticipation—and paparazzi.
During the film’s post-screening press conference, the dashing Clooney was pressed on a number of topics related to the film—including its timeliness, given that the local townsfolk in the movie form a racist mob outside the Myers’ home, one eerily reminiscent of the gang of white supremacists that recently invaded Charlottesville, Virginia.
“The genesis of the screenplay [came when] I was watching a lot of [Trump] speeches on the campaign trail about building fences and scapegoating minorities, and I started looking around at other times in our history when we’ve unfortunately fallen back into these things, and I found this story that happened in Levittown, Pennsylvania.”
Indeed, Clooney based Suburbicon on the real-life story of William and Daisy Myers, a black family who moved to Levittown, Pennsylvania, in 1957, where they were terrorized by the locals for months. Bricks were thrown through their windows and a cross was burned on their lawn.
“When you talk about ‘Making America Great Again,’ America being great everyone assumed was the Eisenhower ‘50s, and it was great if you were a white, straight male, but other than that it probably wasn’t so great. It’s fun to lift up that curtain and look underneath that thin veneer and see some of the real problems that this country has yet to completely come to terms with.”
At one point during the presser, a foreign journalist asked Clooney if he’d like to run for president someday.
“Would I like to be the next president? Oh, that sounds like fun. Can I just say that I’d like anybody to be the next president of the United States. Right away, please,” cracked Clooney.