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Beginnings: The Breakthrough Moment

George Clooney, Actor

I was the comedy relief, believe it or not.

Original program for Vicious at 2nd Stage Theatre in Santa Monica; Clooney had just started doing guest spots on The Facts of Life.  

It’s always bad to say you did a play in Los Angeles, because people just look at you and laugh. But I did it a play called Vicious, about Sid Vicious. It was an incredibly brutal play about the last night of Nancy’s life, and it inspired the movie Sid and Nancy. I played a male prostitute drug dealer and I was the comedy relief, believe it or not. It’s not often you get reviewed it was really nice just to be reviewed. You do all these little plays and then you get reviewed! It was the first play where I was singled out in reviews. Both Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.

I’d been doing the circuit of all the equity-waiver plays on Melrose Avenue for a couple of years, mostly building our own sets, so this was a real departure we moved all the way up to Santa Monica Boulevard! In those days, most small theater was as much a showcase as anything else. No one would have tape of themselves unless they’d gotten work on a show or a film. So agents and casting directors would come to the plays regularly to look for actors that’s how it worked. I got an agent from it. I got guest shots on TV shows from it. I got my sag card from it. I always look back at that play as the turning point for me. Later we took it to the Steppenwolf Theatre. It was really a terrific play! That was the first time I really felt like, Okay, I’m in the right business, and I shouldn’t be embarrassed about everything I do.