Getting well-deserved Oscar buzz for his role as a corporate hatchet man who flies around the country pink-slipping employees in Up in the Air, George Clooney burns up less fuel on terra firma. “I ride a motorcycle almost everywhere I go, so that helps,” he told MNN at the movie’s premiere. “And I have electric cars -- I have the Tesla.”
Clooney was drawn to the role of Ryan Bingham, a commitment-phobe who re-evaluates his lifestyle when he meets a female road warrior (Vera Farmiga) and finds his own job jeopardized by a teleconference termination program introduced by a young newbie (Anna Kendrick). He empathized with those Bingham fired, having faced that “a few times. The worst is when we do a pilot for a TV series and it gets picked up, and they don’t pick you up,” he confided to us. “They say, ‘We like the show, but we don’t like you.’ That hurts.” That, of course, was pre-ER. The Dec. 4 limited release of Up in the Air is Clooney’s third movie in theaters now, joining The Men Who Stare at Goats and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
While the Jason Reitman-directed production air-hopped to five different cities and airports (standing in for almost three times as many), there was a concerted effort to reduce, reuse and recycle, according to producer Dan Dubiecki. In addition to hybrid vehicles, some recycled woods were used in construction, paper was recycled in the production office, and the cast and crew received refillable water bottles. Figuring that he alone consumed the equivalent of 12-18 liter bottles a day, Dubiecki noted a major savings in cost and plastic over a 50-day shoot.
Chris Lowell, who plays Clooney’s assistant, reduces his own carbon footprint by recycling and driving a Prius. When he travels by plane, he especially tries to avoid Dulles airport in Washington, D.C. “Better to fly to New York and take a train to D.C.,” he warns. Known best as Private Practice’s Dell, who recently reunited with his wife against his coworkers’ advice, Lowell confirms their instincts were right, and that taking her back was a “huge disaster. Anyone who watches the show could have seen that coming.”
Eric Roberts (pictured right) and his wife Eliza shared a recent airborne horror tale, involving an engine fire that required their plane to return to the gate. “We had to change planes, and when we got our luggage -- we had eight pieces because we were gone for four months -- it was soaking wet.” Not surprisingly, they’re staying home for the holidays this year, and plan to decorate the fake tree he took from the set of his old series Less Than Perfect. “We reuse it every year,” said Eliza. Avid recyclers, animal rights activists and vegetarians, the Roberts “spared a turkey” on Thanksgiving, she added. Eric, now starring in Crash on Starz, has several films coming out next year including The Expendables with Sylvester Stallone and Jet Li.
“I stopped eating meat. I’m phasing it out slowly. I’m a pescatarian right now,” Brendan Hines of Fox’s Lie to Me told us, adding that he recycles and is considering a hybrid for his next car. Not a big fan of flying or airports, he says plane travel makes him “really crotchety. I age about 50 years when I’m flying.” We can relate …
Cheryl Hines (pictured left) is thinking about having a greener Christmas this year. “Maybe I’ll get a potted tree and replant it,” says the Prius-driving actress, who makes her feature directorial debut with the movie Serious Moonlight, opening in limited release Dec. 4. Starring Meg Ryan as a cheated-upon woman who holds her husband (Timothy Hutton) hostage to convince him he belongs with her, not his young mistress (Kristen Bell), the movie was written by the late Adrienne Shelly, who wrote and appeared in Waitress with Hines. While it was a time-intensive experience with greater responsibility than acting demands, Hines hopes to direct again, but she hasn’t given up acting. She’ll begin a guest arc on Brothers & Sisters in January. As for Curb Your Enthusiasm, “I hope we do another season. I haven’t heard anything definite one way or another, “ she says, “but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”
American Idol alumna Kimberley Locke brings her own bags to the supermarket and is conscientious about recycling, including her Christmas tree -- she’ll have it turned into mulch and donate it to friends who have a garden. Locke told us about her holiday plans at the Holiday of Hope Tree Lighting and benefit for One Heartland, an organization for children impacted by HIV/AIDS in Hollywood, where she performed the classic Christmas tunes Holly Jolly Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and crowd-pleaser Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
While she’ll be traveling over the holidays on a Hawaiian vacation, a visit to her mom in Tennessee, and a trip to Chicago for New Year’s and her birthday, Locke has two big projects for 2010: she’s recording songs for a new album with Randy Jackson and will produce and host Making the Curve, a TV show about putting together a plus-size singing group. “The girls who don’t get the fair shot in this industry, we’re going to give them a shot.”
Also performing at the event (his own composition called Another Christmas) was Idol alumnus and Australia native Michael Johns (pictured at right with Locke), who plans to stay in Los Angeles for the holidays this year. But whether he’s home or traveling, he makes a point of saving energy. “No matter what room I’m in, I always make sure the lights are off when I leave, not just in the house but hotels,” he said.
Also staying in L.A. this year is Olesya Rulin, the High School Musical actress who has a recurring role on Greek. “I usually fly to my hometown in Utah or go to a tropical area like Mexico, but this year I’m going to stay home, decorate the tree and get a fireplace going,” she told us. An avid recycler, Rulin also pays her bills online and walks to get her Starbucks (and brings her own coffee mug to the store). She’ll be in two more episodes of Greek when it returns in January, and is awaiting word on the pickup of a Fox pilot she did called Keep Hope Alive in which she plays an iHop waitress. “It’s really funny but has a real edge to it,” she described.
The new drama Brothers features stellar performances across the board, including those by child actors. Bailee Madison (left) is a standout as the daughter of Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire, but at 10 she’s a Hollywood veteran with four other movies awaiting release including Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, a thriller with Katie Holmes due out next summer. She’s also eco-conscious. “Whenever I go to the supermarket I bring my own bags,” she says. “My mom is really big on recycling and carrying our own water bottles.”
Tune In: Neve Campbell and Bradley Whitford star in Burn Up, a British-made thriller involving the oil crisis, global warming and international conspiracy that will have its U.S. premiere on Planet Green with the first two hours on Dec. 6 at 9 p.m. EST. Part one will encore Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. EST prior to the conclusion at 9. Also on Planet Green, the four-part series Ultimate Power Builders, focusing on eco-friendly engineering projects involving alternative energy sources, premieres Dec. 3 at 10 p.m. EST, and Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez, a documentary about the enduring effects of the catastrophic oil tanker spill, debuts Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. EST.
Additional photo credits: Eric Roberts by Graham Whitby Boot-Allstar-Globe Photos; Cheryl Hines by Gerri Miller; Kimberley Locke and Michael Johns by FayesVision/WENN; Bailee Madison by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.