When Meryl Streep accepted her Cecil B. DeMille award at this year's Golden Globes, the legendary actor shared a political message. At the Césars Awards on Friday, the torch was silently passed to George Clooney. During the 42nd annual ceremony in Paris, Jean Dujardin (of The Artist fame) presented Clooney with an Honorary César, a national film accolade that recognizes his impact on Hollywood. In this foreign environment, Clooney took this opportunity to share some political thoughts about his homeland. Borrowing words from the great Edward R. Murrow, Clooney spread a potent and politically charged message, the kind we've come to expect from such an outspoken and influential actor.
As a good friend of Clooney's, Dujardin helped the star "translate" his speech to the French audience, according to Deadline. Let's just say it wasn't word for word. For instance, Clooney said, "Over the course of my career, I’ve had the great fortune of working with some incredible filmmakers who have protected me and inspired me and taught me what an honor it is to work in film." Dujardin recited the following to the French audience instead: “Donald Trump is a danger for the world, and I will do everything to oppose the fear and hate that has settled in."
Though Dujardin appeared to be serious about the message, some of his delivery was done with comical intent. (Dujardin inserted the message that he himself was "a great talent" and "very handsome.") In doing so, he added levity to an otherwise weighty moment.
Then, things became serious again. "I was thinking about Edward R. Murrow as we find ourselves nostalgic for when America was great and when the news wasn’t fake," Clooney shared, referencing the broadcast journalist he played in the 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck. The actor began to directly quote Murrow. "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must not walk in fear of one another. We must not be driven by fear into an age of unreason," Clooney announced. "If we dig deep in our history and remember that we are not descendants from fearful people, we proclaim ourselves indeed as we are the defenders of freedom wherever it continues to exist in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."
Turning his attention to President Donald Trump, Clooney said,
“The actions of this president have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies, and whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear, he merely exploited it. And rather successfully."
Before the César Awards, Clooney sat down with French journalist Laurent Weil to discuss Hollywood's activism, starting with Streep's Golden Globe speech. According to Entertainment Weekly, he said, "When Meryl spoke, everyone on that one side was, ‘Well that’s elitist Hollywood speaking.’ Donald Trump has 22 acting credits in television... He collects $120,000 a year in his Screen Actors Guild pension fund. Uhh? He is a Hollywood elitist.” Whether or not you agree with his viewpoint, Clooney remains unafraid to say what some prominent stars in Hollywood might hesitate to say. You've got to give him credit for that at least.
“Cassius was right: The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves," the actor announced on stage at the Césars. In the words of Murrow again, Clooney concluded, "Goodnight and good luck."
After hearing all of that, good luck to the presenters and award winners at this year's Oscars. Clooney's powerful message won't be easy to trump. (Eh, you know what I mean.)