Movies are a huge money-making industry — but they also offer moments of spiritual uplift. Actors often play noble, inspiring characters — but they serve the visions of artists and businessmen who sometimes treat them like cogs in a machine.
These and other tensions are captured in the first clip from Hail, Caesar!, a film that was once described by its directors, the Coen brothers, as a film about “the movie business and life and religion and faith. Faith and the movie business.”
In the clip below, posted today by Yahoo! Movies, Josh Brolin plays a 1950s movie studio “fixer” named Eddie Mannix who takes offense when an actor named Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), who is starring in a Bible epic for the studio, says films are just a corporate product and don’t have any “artistic” or “spiritual” value.
Mannix slaps Whitlock around for a bit, and gives him this order while doing so:
You’re going to go out there, and you’re going to finish Hail, Caesar! You’re going to give that speech at the feet of the penitent thief and you’re going to believe every word you say. You’re going to do it because you’re an actor and that’s what you do, just like the director does what he does, and the writer and the script girl and the guy who claps the slate. You’re going to do it because the picture has worth, and you have worth if you serve the picture, and you’re never going to forget that again.
And then, the final irony: after slapping Whitlock around and reminding him of the subservient role he plays within the studio system, Mannix says, “Be a star.”
Incidentally, while I don’t believe either Brolin or Clooney have ever been in a Bible movie before, Brolin’s father James played the apostle Peter in The Visual Bible’s Acts, and Clooney’s uncle Jose Ferrer played Herod Antipas in The Greatest Story Ever Told. (Ferrer also starred in several Bible-themed television productions.)
One other funny coincidence: Hail, Caesar!, which seems to be riffing in part on 1950s Bible epics like The Robe, co-stars Ralph Fiennes as a movie director — and it is coming out two weeks before Risen, which stars Fiennes’ younger brother Joseph as a Roman soldier who is involved with the crucifixion of Jesus, just like the Clooney character’s character in Hail, Caesar! and the main character in The Robe.
The second trailer for Hail, Caesar! focused on the Ralph Fiennes character:
Check out earlier trailers and other videos here: