Up in the Air is a movie in large part about traveling in the 21st century. So it’s only fitting that when the stars of director Jason Reitman’s acclaimed film — George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick — get together on a mid-December morning in Los Angeles, they compare notes on who’s been logging the most air miles in the weeks surrounding the movie’s release. Kendrick has been doing double PR duty for Up in the Air and New Moon, and believes she has a leg up on Farmiga: ”I definitely made one extra round-trip from New York to L.A. that you didn’t make,” she says. ”Yes, but my 11-month-old has been with me and I’m taking his points,” says Farmiga, who’s heading back home to New York with her son as soon as this interview is over. ”He has the nastiest carbon footprint of any 11-month-old you’ve ever met.”
Clooney, meanwhile, is strangely silent. ”I was in Italy the whole time working,” admits the actor, who conveniently avoided much of the Up in the Air press tour. ”It worked out so nicely for me!”
All three of them had better keep their frequent-flier numbers handy: They’ve got countless awards ceremonies to attend. Thanks to its irresistible mix of Hollywood gloss and timely corporate-downsizing themes — including testimonials from real-life firees — Up in the Air is a surefire nominee for the Best Picture Oscar (see our predictions on page 35). The R-rated comedic drama, which arrived at Paramount via DreamWorks, won Best Picture honors from the National Board of Review and scored the most nominations at the Golden Globes. Its three main cast members all earned Globe and SAG award nods: Clooney for his breezy turn as a high-flying consultant who fires people for a living, Farmiga as a fellow traveler with whom he starts a steamy affair, and Kendrick as his type A young colleague who’s been pushing their boss to save money by sacking people via videoconference. We quizzed the three likely Oscar nominees on awards campaigns, body doubles, and their preferred airplane seats.
EW: George, you play a guy who’s a lifelong bachelor and enjoys playing the field. When you took the role, you must have known people would compare it to your real life.
George Clooney Jason came to my house and brought the script and I read it. There were some things that sounded like they were taken from a Barbara Walters special that I had done. I’m not completely unaware of people’s perceptions of me. I sort of felt like, if you were ever going to deal with it, this is probably the best way to do it and the best person to do it with. If you can’t point at what people think are your shortcomings, then you’re boxing yourself in.
EW: Your performance has such an effortless quality to it. Did it feel that way or did you actually have to work at it?
Clooney I remember I did Batman & Robin, and the next film I did was Out of Sight. Batman & Robin is not a very good film, and I’m not very good in it. Out of Sight’s a very good film and I’m good in it. I wasn’t that different as an actor. It was a couple of months later. I didn’t learn everything you need to learn. It was about the rest of the elements. Sometimes you get way too much credit when everything else is so well choreographed that your job is to not bump into the furniture.
EW: Anna has a great line about you in the film: Someone asks her if she’s interested in you, and she says, ”I don’t even think of him that way — he’s old.” Is this the first time you’ve been described as old in a movie?
Clooney No, I even wrote a line in one of the Ocean’s films. I’m like, ”You think I’m 50?” And Casey Affleck says, ”52?” I wrote that. I actually don’t mind it. If it’s coming from Anna, it’s even funnier.
EW: Anna, did you feel bad delivering that line?
Anna Kendrick No! Are you kidding? After the crap that I took from this guy? Jesus! [To Clooney] How’s your hip, old man?