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Who's Talking to Chris Wallace

Interview With Mark Cuban; Interview With George Clooney. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 18, 2022 - 19:00   ET




RENE MARSH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But it could be decades before it's available for widescale use. And by that time, the climate crisis could have reached a tipping point.


BROWN: Thank you so much for joining me this evening. I'm Pamela Brown, wishing you happy holidays. "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?" is up next.


Tonight, we're doing something different. As our first season comes to a close, we want to take a fresh look at two of your favorite guests so far and pull back the curtain even more, including something you may not have seen from actor and director George Clooney. The revelation that his career in Hollywood almost didn't happen.


GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR AND FILMMAKER: The door was open for me so I got a jump ahead of other people and I was terrible at it.


WALLACE: But first billionaire Mark Cuban tells us how his time on TV's smash hit "Shark Tank" could be running out. Tonight, more from our conversation as we dig into that moment they struck it rich.


WALLACE: How did it feel at age 41 to be a billionaire?



WALLACE: You've had a few clunkers in recent years.

CLOONEY: You think?

WALLACE: That's not perception. That's reality.

SHANIA TWAIN, SINGER: I've been feeling stronger than ever now in my life.

WALLACE: How would you rate yourself as a chef?

TYLER PERRY, COMEDIAN: Wow, I'm not doing that with you, Christopher Wallace.


WALLACE: Mark Cuban is known as a billionaire investor, a successful NBA owner and a shark on one of TV's most popular shows. Tonight we take a close look on what motivates him and the new project he says could be life-changing and life-saving for so many.


WALLACE: I have got to start with "Shark Tank," because I've got to tell you, when I'm getting ready for bed, every night, I put on "Shark Tank" and I watch at least one pitch, and I don't know, that somehow calms me down and gets me ready to go to bed. This is your 13th season. The question is, is it good for your business? Is it an ego boost? Or is it just for fun?

CUBAN: Really, the reason I do the show is it sends a message to the entire country that watches that the American dream still is alive and well. And particularly for kids. You know, there aren't a lot of business classes, particularly at the lower grades, and I can't tell you how many times people come up to me and said, you know, when I was 12 years old or 13 years old, I started watching "Shark Tank" and I've started my own business and have been successful. Or my kids and I watch "Shark Tank" because it's the only show we can watch together as a family. So just sending that message and educating kids, that's the ego boost I like.

WALLACE: You have had some interesting moments over the years. Let's take a look.

CUBAN: Sure.


CUBAN: She's a gold digger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. She's not a gold digger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you just call me a gold digger?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this going to be as fast as last season's Dallas Mavericks playoff highlight reel? I believe --

CUBAN: Can I just say that highlight reel -- oh, wait, you don't have a team, you don't have any highlights of anything, do you? You know what's going to screw you up, Kash? The fact that you believe in your own nonsense. At some point, you've got to do the work. Be somebody who doesn't get (EXPLETIVE DELETED), bro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is up with that rim?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope the league doesn't see this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow, he does suck.



CUBAN: You're killing me, Chris. You're killing me.

WALLACE: No, we had our staff go through 13 seasons and find the most embarrassing moments.

CUBAN: That's funny.

WALLACE: Over -- and you're just into your 13th season. Over these years, you say that you've invested more than $29 million in some 85 companies. What's your best investment? What's your worst investment?

CUBAN: I think my best investment is a company called Cycloramic, which did computer vision. Started off just doing panoramic video on an iPhone 5 and then expanded into computer vision. They got sold to Carvana and we killed it. It was really, really good.

WALLACE: Well, you say you killed it. What did you invest?

CUBAN: I think I invested $250,000 and ended up with $22 million.

WALLACE: You ended up --


WALLACE: Why didn't you call me?


WALLACE: And what was the worst investment?

CUBAN: There's a long list of really bad ones. Sometimes, you know, sometimes you invest in the entrepreneurs as opposed to the business. And I've had entrepreneurs take the money and not even show up from there. And so I've had a few stinkers along the way.

WALLACE: So speaking of stinkers, you've had some uncomfortable moments. Those were the comfortable moments.

CUBAN: Right.

WALLACE: You've had some uncomfortable moments on "Shark Tank." Let's look at one of them.

CUBAN: Uh-oh.


RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GROUP: Could we possibly come in with $300,000 and maybe for 10 percent?

CUBAN: No, no, no, Sir Richard Branson. It has to be 600.

BRANSON: Oh, OK, I think the water just has to --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me tell you what I think --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. I'm out of here.



CUBAN: That was a moment.


WALLACE: You looked genuinely ticked off there. Were you?

CUBAN: I was, I was.

WALLACE: You supposedly said after that that you never want to be in the same room with Sir Richard again. Is that true?

CUBAN: Not quite like that. I was just like, it's not something I'd look forward to.

WALLACE: Have you been in the same room with him?

CUBAN: No, I have not. I have not. I haven't talked to him since. Not a word.

WALLACE: What's your relationship like with the other sharks, particularly Mr. Wonderful?

CUBAN: We're family. We really, really are. We get together, we go to each other's birthdays, go out to dinner, hang out. And Kevin, you know, he's a self-described Mr. Wonderful, but he's a good guy.

WALLACE: Well, let's talk about your being an entrepreneur, and I don't mean being on somebody else's back. You are famous for getting cold e-mails and your Gmail address is pretty well known.

CUBAN: Yes. Yes.

WALLACE: And you get cold e-mails, pitches, and one of them, a couple of years ago, got you going into something called Cost Plus Drugs. Now what is that? CUBAN: So there's Dr. Alex Oshmyansky who was a radiologist by trade,

who wanted to create a compounding pharmacy that would offer drugs less expensively than they could be currently bought, particularly generics. And I'm like, that's a great idea, but let's do it a little differently. So we started And the challenge with the pharmaceutical industry is the lack of trust.

It is so obfuscated, it is so dark, you know, no one really knows what anything costs, no one really knows why things are done. So I made the decision, let's create some radical transparency in Cost Plus Drugs. So if you go to and put in whatever medication that you take you'll not end up --

WALLACE: Now we're talking about generics.

CUBAN: We'll be adding branded drugs, and I expect that that's not going to stop. We'll keep on adding more and more. But initially now we're up to about 859,000 generic drugs.

WALLACE: OK. So you say you go in, you put down the drug you want.

CUBAN: We put the name in. Right. And when it comes up, then not only will you see the price that we sell it for, but you'll see the price that we pay for it. So if we pay $10, we mark it up 15 percent, so the price of the drug becomes $11.50. Then we add $3 for pharmacy handling fee and $5 for shipping. That's it. And by doing it and taking that approach, you can see what our markups are, obviously, but it ends up being so much less expensive than anywhere else. We're often saving people 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent.

WALLACE: All right. I mean, obviously I was going to ask you that. You talk about the relatively low markup. How much -- if I go to my drugstore and I want to get a generic drug, what's it going to cost me at my drugstore as opposed to getting it from Cost Plus Drugs?

CUBAN: It depends on the prescription, who prescribed it and where you're picking it up because a lot of times, you know, I said there's no transparency in the drug industry. The pharmacists often don't even know what the price is going to be when you walk in and hand them the prescription or go in to pick up your prescription. They just see the price that's being charged and they charge it to you.

And so often, particularly in the big retail chains, there's things that we'll sell for $7, $8, that they'll try to charge $300 for. I mean --

WALLACE: Not really?

CUBAN: No, for real. For real. Like there's -- I always pronounce imatinib, and imatinib, you know, as some words you can't just get them out, right?


CUBAN: But it's for leukemia. So a drug for leukemia. And the retail price is $2,000. And the discount price that a lot of major pharmacies --

WALLACE: This is, what, for a month's supply or?

CUBAN: Yes, a month's supply of pills, right, for leukemia patients.


CUBAN: And the retail price will be $2,000. Their discounted price might be $995. And ours is $39.

WALLACE: I mean, that's not just a matter of savings, that's a matter of life and death.

CUBAN: It's life changing.

WALLACE: I hear, and please tell me as a "Shark Tank" fan that this is not true, that you are so committed to Cost Plus Drugs that you are considering leaving the show?

CUBAN: Yes, and it's not so much Cost Plus Drugs as it is having a daughter who just went away to college. When they're all in high school and went to the same two schools, all of our schedules could be worked out together. But it was more a question of wanting to spend more time with my family. But they came to me, and made me promise I'd come back for at least one more season.


CUBAN: After that, I don't know.

WALLACE: I read somewhere that you said the upside of being Mark Cuban, of having my wealth, is obvious, but there's also a downside because -- get the quote right, you, quote, "kind of lost that piss and vinegar."

CUBAN: I think I said that before Cost Plus Drugs. You know, has really revitalized my energy, if you will, because as I said the opportunity to change the pharmaceutical industry in a way that makes it more affordable, so that people are healthier, that people don't have to make these choices, what's better than that? And if what I leave to my kids is just people asking them -- I remember -- or telling them, I remember when your dad started Cost Plus Drugs, and the impact it had on me. That's a piss and vinegar builder.



WALLACE: Coming up, Mark Cuban's first and most famous purchase as a billionaire and his money-making scheme back when he had nothing.



CUBAN: So literally I would go door to door with a box of garbage bags and be like, hi, my name is Mark. Do you use garbage bags?



WALLACE: Mark Cuban became a billionaire overnight after selling his online audio streaming service to Yahoo back in 1999, but getting there wasn't easy.

We continue with a fresh part of our conversation into Mark Cuban before the wealth and fame.


WALLACE: You clearly were born with the salesman gene. I've read that when you were 12 years old, that you went door-to-door selling garbage bags because you wanted to get enough money to buy a pair of sneakers you liked?

CUBAN: Basketball shoes. Yes. Absolutely. Every Thursday night when my dad played poker with his buddies at our house, there was beer everywhere, there were snacks, and one of his buddies was like, hey, I've got these boxes of garbage bags so literally I would go door-to- door with a box of garbage bags and be like, hi, my name is Mark, do you use garbage bags?


Who is going to say no, you know, to a 12-year-old? And so I probably had the world's first and only garbage bag subscription company. It was great. It literally was great.


WALLACE: So I mean, people would sign up and then the next week --

CUBAN: Yes. Yes. When they ran out of garbage bags, it was 100 of them, and they weren't very good because we kept a bunch for years. When they ran out of their 100 garbage bags, they would just call, you know, and I would go deliver some more.

WALLACE: OK. In 1995, you and a friend buy an audio online service that ends up becoming

CUBAN: Started. Yes, started. Didn't buy it. We started.

WALLACE: Really? Because I had read somewhere that you --

CUBAN: Yes. They got that wrong. I know exactly where you're going. Yes, we started it.

WALLACE: OK. What was the idea there?

CUBAN: The idea there was we -- Todd Wagner and I, who's my partner, one of my best friends, went to Indiana University, and literally to listen to an IU basketball game in Dallas, Texas, we would call somebody in Bloomington, Indiana, one of our friends that were still there, and they would hold the radio to a speaker phone and we'd be on the other side of the speaker phone listening to the game.

And when the internet started happening and I was a technology geek, I was like I can figure out a better way. So started with a computer in the second better of my house and we figured out how to do streaming. Back then we called it internet broadcasting. And it started with just on demand then it went to live, then it went to video, and the next thing you know, you know, we were dominating the multimedia on the internet business.

WALLACE: So four years later, four years later.

CUBAN: That's it.

WALLACE: You sell to Yahoo.


WALLACE: For $5.7 billion.

CUBAN: Yes. It's my favorite number.

WALLACE: So how does it feel? At what age were you then?

CUBAN: How old was I? That was -- I was 41 going on 42.

WALLACE: How did it feel at age 41 to be a billionaire?

CUBAN: Really good.


CUBAN: Really, really good. I make no apologies for it whatsoever. I mean, look, the idea that the internet stock market was going to bananas at the right time for us is certainly luck but it took a lot of work and a lot of effort to get there.

WALLACE: So one of the things that a new billionaire can do is they can buy a sports team.


WALLACE: And within months, you go ahead and buy the Dallas Mavericks, NBA professional basketball team, for $275 million.


WALLACE: And the last I saw, it is valued at $2.7 billion.

CUBAN: Not bad, is it?


WALLACE: So that's like 10 times. CUBAN: Yes, that's the way the math works. Yes, I mean, that's only if

you want to sell it, though, and I don't. I'm really hoping that it become a legacy company for my kids. Running a sports team in this day and age is not easy with social media there is as much hate as there is love if not more. But at the same time, basketball is a sport I'm passionate about. I love owning the Mavs. I love being part of the team and trying to win and the competitive side of it so hopefully that carries on to my kids.

WALLACE: Is it sort of boys and their toys? I mean is that --

WALLACE: Yes. Yes. I mean it's not a business first. I mean, I don't run it to make money. I mean, I get -- when there is a last-second shot, Spencer did when he hits a last second shot. I get to run on the floor and dog pile with everybody else. I get to go before the game, right, and I get to get shots up in any arena we're playing in but the idea that, you know, there is a basketball court that's about to play an NBA game and I get to just go out there and make 10 threes in a row. What's better than that?

WALLACE: Now that's the first thing you've said to me.


CUBAN: I love it.

WALLACE: For years you've given some money back to the NBA however.

CUBAN: Yes. Yes.

WALLACE: $3 million in fines.

CUBAN: Is that what it is now?

WALLACE: That's what our crack research team says. Complaining about the refs, complaining to the refs. Has it been worth it?

CUBAN: Yes, absolutely. There's been a lot of changes.

WALLACE: $3 million worth?

CUBAN: Yes, I mean, the therapy.


CUBAN: The yelling and the screaming. You know, I'm typically really, really calm outside of a Mavs game but for some reason, during the game, that's when all -- everything just comes out. All the stress comes right out and sometimes the things I say if we lose, the NBA doesn't like. But I'm OK with that.

WALLACE: So we're showing pictures of you here. One of the pictures is you coming out on the court after a game. I think you got fined $100,000 for that. I mean is that really worth it to you?

CUBAN: Yes. I mean, you got -- yes. (LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: But I mean, does it do any good or is it just?

CUBAN: Yes. No. Rules have been changed. Rules have been changed.

WALLACE: Such as?

CUBAN: The game has been changed. You know, in terms of clear path foul, right? I used to always -- there is a thing where if you stop a fast break and they used to only give one shot plus the ball. Right? And I showed them the math. I used to get so mad and I showed them the math that it should be two shots otherwise you reward the defensive team for the foul. Right now there's the thing called the rip through and I'm just arguing left and right and you'll probably see me get fined again during the season because they refuse to change it yet but they will. They don't know it yet.


WALLACE: But when you do it, is it strategic, this will get the NBA's attention or you're just pissed?

CUBAN: I know when I'm going to be fined.

WALLACE: You do?

CUBAN: Yes. Yes. Because they don't care if I'm boisterous or loud or crazy on the sidelines. They care if I say something in the media that they think might make the league look bad.

WALLACE: You've gotten into something of a running battle with Senator Elizabeth Warren and it started when you took her out or took her on for what you said demonizing people who are wealthy.

CUBAN: Right.

WALLACE: And she fired back.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Mark Cuban and his kind need to pay their taxes, and we need to change the laws so they're not written just by the lobbyists for Mark Cuban and his buddies so that they don't get exploited so they don't get to take advantage of every one of the loopholes they've built in. We need to change the law.


WALLACE: You said recently, going back at her, part of this running war, that she is everything that's wrong with politics.

CUBAN: So, first of all, Mark Cuban and his buddies. My buddies aren't rich. My buddies are my high school friends, my college friends. It's not like there's a collective of people who try to change tax laws. Second, I don't lobby anybody for changing tax laws. I wrote a blog post probably almost 20 years ago saying, after military service, the most patriotic thing you can do is pay your taxes. I have no problem.

I think three, four years ago now, last time I checked I paid 19 percent in taxes and three -- the year after that I paid 29 percent in taxes. And I've said many times, if you want to take the top tax rate from 37 to 38, 39, I'm fine with that. Where she went wrong is, one, just without asking me, check with me, doing anything, right, you know, my kind. I mean, that's what's wrong with politics. When you demonize anybody.

Look, she was a waitress. She deserves all the credit in the world. She busted her ass to go from being a waitress and starting and being a single parent to being a multimillionaire. God good for her but what about her kind? Should she be judged by just based off of her pocketbook? Was it OK to listen to me when I was poor and sleeping on the floor but not OK to listen to what I have to say because I'm wealthy now?

WALLACE: And what's the point that you're pandering to a certain group of voters?

CUBAN: Yes. Right. If, you know, that's what politics is today. Who can I cash aspersion? Who can I demonize to make them look like the bad guy so I look like the good one?

WALLACE: All of which raises the question, Mark, will you consider again running for president?


WALLACE: Well, let me -- OK.


WALLACE: Wow, that was quick.

CUBAN: Yes, real quick.

WALLACE: You considered it in 2020.


WALLACE: And you did play with it.

CUBAN: Yes, for sure.

WALLACE: For a while. And your family ended up voting no.

CUBAN: Yes, 4-1.

WALLACE: And now the question is 2024.



CUBAN: Because I'd have more impact outside. I think what I'm doing with Cost Plug Drugs is just a start. I think we can truly absolutely 10 years from now, when we look back you'll say Cost Plus Drugs was an inflection point in the changing of the entire pharmaceutical industry. We just revolutionize --

WALLACE: I mean, I'm not denigrating that in any way, shape or form.

CUBAN: Sure.

WALLACE: Do you think that's bigger than being president of the United States?

CUBAN: Absolutely. Because I don't think -- you know, presidents take more credit for more thigs than they do and they're criticized for more things than they do, and I just don't think the president of the United States has near the impact as an entrepreneur in this particular industry can.

WALLACE: I think most people would say, and I think I have most people who just watch this show would say that you wear your success and your money, your wealth, lightly. That you seem to enjoy it the way they think they would enjoy it if they were this successful. Is it as cool and as fun as being Mark Cuban as it seems?

CUBAN: Ninety-nine percent of the time. Yes. The only downside is some of the pressure puts on my kids, being my, you know, being my child is sometimes not fair to them because they are already labeled as, you know, who I am as opposed to who they are and I'm sure you've dealt with the same thing in your sons. But -- you know, and then the other side is there is always a camera somewhere. I can't be that same idiot with my friends that I used to be, you know and that's sometimes --

WALLACE: Yes, but leave us on the positive side. What's the positive?

CUBAN: Oh, the positive side is everything else. Right? I mean, oh, my goodness, just being able to wake up every day knowing I can have an impact. Being able to wake up every day knowing that there is things that I can enjoy that I never dreamed I'd be able to do. I mean, look, I'm the luckiest son of a gun on the planet. You know, when I die, I want to come back as me. Let's put it that way.



WALLACE: Coming up, George Clooney. One of America's biggest stars on his marriage, his movies and his biggest mistakes



WALLACE: Welcome back to WHO'S TALKING. There are not a lot of people in Hollywood whose names automatically bring a smile to your face but my next guest is one of them. George Clooney is one of the world's most recognizable actors and I started our conversation with what it's like to reach that level of fame. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: I was thinking about star power and what it is that makes a movie star. Why do you think it is, seriously? Why do you think it is that makes all the rest of us feel better to watch someone like you?

CLOONEY: I don't know if that's true. But I --

WALLACE: But like you or Julia, I know Spencer Tracy.

CLOONEY: Well, Spencer Tracy is a great example.

WALLACE: Right. One of your --

CLOONEY: Absolute hero of mine. But, you know, sort of -- what was that senator who they were doing something about porn and he says I, you know, I don't know how to describe it but I know it when I see it.

WALLACE: No. It was actually -- it was a Supreme Court justice, Potter Stewart.

CLOONEY: So it's kind of that with movie stars.


I don't know why some of them are movie stars. You know, there's lots of talented actors. I don't know why some of them, if you look at Spencer Tracy, you wouldn't think -- he is not, you know, he's not Cary Grant.

WALLACE: He is not the sexiest man alive.

CLOONEY: He is not two-time sexiest man alive, and he is a movie star, you can't take your eyes off of him.

So I don't know what it is. There's something electric about that. You know, when I work with Julia, you can see it on her, you know, and it's very alive in the room, because she's sort of invested in things. And she's such a great -- she is a great friend, and I think a great person to be on the set with, too, you know.

I don't know how to describe it, though. I know what it is, I look -- you can look at some actors over the years, who weren't necessarily even the best actors of their generation, but they were stars.

WALLACE: And do you think it's just something in their personality? Something in their aura that you just can't take your eyes off of them?

CLOONEY: I think sometimes it starts with a, you know, whatever job, a really good job that someone can identify you. And for me, just -- you know, I worked for years and years and years, and then I got "ER," and suddenly, we were on a Thursday night and had a really great time slot, and it was a really great show and everything changed for me. My career changed and work changed and perceptions of me changed. That wasn't -- it wasn't like I was some genius along the way. I

finally was working in the right vehicle. So maybe sometimes it's about the vehicle.

You know, Julia, was "Pretty Woman," I think. But I can't explain it. I don't quite know how it works. I know a lot of movie stars, and you know, and you're looking at them going, you know, when they walk in the room there, you can't take your eye off of them.

WALLACE: You've made some darker movies in recent years, including one literally about the end of the world, and I know a lot of people said to you, why don't you just be Cary Grant and make romantic comedies?

Why is it after years of resistance, you have decided in this movie to be Cary Grant and make a rom-com?

CLOONEY: Well, you know, I hadn't done one a long time, since 1996. I did "One Fine Day" when I did a sort of a straight up romantic-comedy, probably not my greatest vehicles along the way.

I have to say, I got sent the script and you know, we've worked on -- there had been a lot of dark things going on in the world, and I always feel that films try to reflect that often. They're usually late because it takes a couple of years to make a film.

It felt like we all needed a break. I needed a break. I needed to -- I needed it to be a little carefree. I needed something.

You know, if you look back at during the Depression, for instance, romantic-comedies really flourished. I think people needed a break. I certainly know Julia and I were both, when we read it, we thought, "I need a breather here," and this was the perfect thing for us.

WALLACE: As I say, in the movie, you and Julia play a couple that really do not like each other. And at one point you explain why the marriage fell apart, and you say, at the beginning, it was unreal, and then it got real.


WALLACE: You've now been married just recently, eight years.


WALLACE: To your lovely wife, Amal.


WALLACE: She's not here. I even looked around.

CLOONEY: I looked around making sure she is not here.

WALLACE: This is not -- this is your life.

CLOONEY: Yes, no, she comes from behind.



WALLACE: So is that what's happened with you and Amal? And is it real yet?

CLOONEY: No. With any luck, it'll never be real. I feel incredibly lucky every day. You know, I feel like -- you know, I have in my wife someone who is my best friend and someone who I am terribly in love with.

And it's -- you know, we -- probably because it happened for me later in life. I don't take any of that for granted, any moment of any day. And, we -- I think, we both really made a commitment to make sure that we understand how lucky we are. You know, I go through this a lot, and you and I've had conversations about this before.

And I always talk about, you know, career. I cut tobacco for a living, you know. I've done you know, sold ladies shoes and insurance door-to- door and I understand what it is like to not have insurance and to, you know, live paycheck-to-paycheck or no check-to-no check.

I understand how lucky I am in this -- in my career and things. And I also -- and in doing that, I also have learned how lucky I am in love, and it took me a while, but Amal walked in and changed everything.

WALLACE: You said at some point, suddenly, someone else's life becomes more important to you than your own. Is that -- is that it?

CLOONEY: Sure. Now, I've got two kids, so it's even worse as you know, you've got kids. It's -- yes.

WALLACE: You've got all of these people whose lives are more important than your life.

CLOONEY: Listen, my wife showed up, she screwed up my whole life. Everything has gone wrong since -- yes, no, look, I think that it's a really exciting thing in life to care more about -- particularly, if you're an actor which basically the focus is usually on you.


CLOONEY: It's really an exciting thing in life to be able to say and feel, really earnestly feel that their lives, my wife's life, my kids' life, is infinitely more important than mine and what they're doing in their lives and I know, parents all -- I'm not -- this is not a unique thing. I understand that.

But, it is also important to always acknowledge it, you know.

WALLACE: These are pictures of you with your dad...

CLOONEY: With my dad.

WALLACE: ... Nick Clooney who was a newsman.


WALLACE: And a very successful and able and crusading newsman. I'm going to ask this next question with full sense of the irony of me asking this of you. Was he a hard act to follow?

CLOONEY: Yes, yes. Yes. And, and you know, and I know that my advantage over yours is I didn't follow him in somewhat of the same profession. So I could -- you know, actually, when I was very young, I studied journalism in college, and I wanted to be a journalist. I thought it was a really noble profession.

And then early on, I got a couple of opportunities because I was Nick Clooney's son, to do just live remotes from you know, Bengals' football games and I was terrible at it. The door was open for me because my father was an anchorman. And so I got to jump ahead of other people, and I was terrible at it.

And I realized I was always going to be compared to my father, and I needed to find something else besides that profession, because I was never going to -- I was never going to catch him. He was really good at it.

And I admire so much the fact that you've taken on the job that you've taken on for so long because you know as I know, it is a hard act to follow.


WALLACE: Coming up, George's first big break and what he has learned from the big misses along the way.


CLOONEY: I've been -- you know, I was kind of hailed as the worst Batman in the history of time. Fair enough, I was.




WALLACE: George Clooney has won two Academy Awards and countless other accolades, but it is likely none of it would have happened, except for a critical decision not to star in his own show.


WALLACE: In 1994, your age 33, you get your part as Doug Ross, Dr. Doug Ross, in the show "ER," and we're going to show two scenes first of all you in the ER saving somebody's life and then you saving a kid who has been trapped in a flooded tunnel.





ROSS; And clear. Okay, he's stabilized. Let's go.

You hold on, damnit. You hold on. You hold on. You hold on.


WALLACE: So, I like that, you emerging from the water as the savior with this kid.


WALLACE: That's a --

CLOONEY: I asked for that in my contract.

WALLACE: Did you say "I wanted to come out as the savior."

CLOONEY: I mean, we were shooting that in Chicago, and you know, Chicago, how the weather is. It was in October, and we got there and it was daytime and we're shooting during the day, 70 degrees, and I was like, "This is going to be a cakewalk tonight when we're shooting out in the water."

And it started snowing by the time we got there that night and it was just -- we were all wearing wetsuits and that poor kid was suffering like crazy for it, you know.

WALLACE: Beyond the story, this is in real life. If you could say something to that 33-year-old George Clooney, what would you say to him?

CLOONEY: I would say -- well, you know, I don't know. I don't know that I'm any wiser than I was, you know, 25 years ago. I'm not quite sure I am. I wouldn't, you know, I would say to make sure that you enjoy it. I did, quite honestly.

So, you know, I worked hard through that period of time. I worked seven days a week for five years, because I was doing films while I was doing the show. And I needed to because that's how I ended up having success in other parts of the industry.

So, you know, now I can look back and say, maybe slow down or enjoy it, but at the time, it was really fun.

WALLACE: At that moment, I did a little research, at age 33, you had been offered your own show.


WALLACE: And you decided to turn that down to do -- CLOONEY: Yes.

WALLACE: To work with Steven Spielberg and to be part of an ensemble.


WALLACE: I mean, there were a lot of other big stars on that show, and as someone who I know, is so smart and so strategic about your career. Why?

CLOONEY: Well, the first thing is I'd been -- I had done seven television series at this point, and I had been kind of the second banana on most of them and none of them were very good, quite honestly and I wasn't very good and I'm not here to crap all over the shows. I wasn't particularly good.

I needed to work, and you know, there's a funny thing actors do, which is when you're a young actor, particularly before -- television has changed a little bit. But when you're a young actor when I was growing up, everybody -- we're all movie actors. I'm a movie actor. I just happen to be doing television.

WALLACE: But this is a waystation to --

CLOONEY: Even though I'd never done a film, I'm a movie actor.


CLOONEY: I'm just doing TV. And so you just kind of took jobs, you know.

And finally I got to a place where I said, well, I'm a TV actor, and so I better try to do better television. And this was for a lot less pay, but it was working with Spielberg and Creighton and Spielberg was just coming off of "Schindler's List" and "Jurassic Park" and it was a really good script, the part was a smallest part of all of the parts.

But I, over my career fared very well in ensembles, quite honestly, and I like them. I think they work really well.

WALLACE: Then, at the depths of the Great Recession, you have another movie where you play a guy whose job it is to go around the country, laying people off in "Up in the Air."



NATALIE KEENER, FICTIONAL CHARACTER: We prepared the newly unemployed for the emotional and physical hurdles of job hunting while minimizing legal blowback.

RYAN BINGHAM, FICTIONAL CHARACTER: That's what we're selling. That's not what we're doing.

KEENER: Okay. What are we doing? BINGHAM: We are here to make limbo tolerable, to ferry wounded souls

across the river of dread until the point where hope is dimly visible, and then to stop the boat, shove in the water and make them swim.


WALLACE: So I want to ask you a technique question.


WALLACE: How do you, in such a minimal way, so subtly communicate, frankly, so much? I mean, humor, cynicism, self-awareness, and you're not doing much, but it's all there.

CLOONEY: I think sometimes, actors get too much credit for things and I can prove it to you, because, for instance, it's script and director. That's all it is. It really is.

I've been -- you know, I was kind of hailed as the worst Batman in the history of time. Fair enough, I was.

The next film I did was "Out of Sight" which is probably the best reviewed film I've ever done and I'm good in it because the film was good and the script was good and the director was great.

WALLACE: You've had -- these are questions you ask and you think, "Jesus, how am I going to say this?" You've had a few clunkers?


WALLACE: In recent years.

CLOONEY: You think?

WALLACE: Well, okay, and you once said about Hollywood at some point, they're going to take away the toys. I know how this ends, I know how this works.

Have you, in the course of your career ever been worried, maybe after one of those clunkers? They're going to stop letting me play with the toys.

CLOONEY: Well, not yet. I will say this, I've had moments in my life, I did a TV show that I quit when I was a younger actor. I quit for the right reasons, the guy was a jerk, the producer, and was yelling to babies, you know, and I quit, and I sort of thought my career was over then.

And someone who I'd been nice to years earlier, called me up and said, I've got a job for you, and sort of, you know, living well was kind of the best revenge in that. There have been plenty of times where you make mistakes, sometimes it's your own mistakes. Sometimes it's, you know, you'll get in a film that you think is going to be great and it doesn't work.

Sometimes, you know, that's your own fault and sometimes it's other people's fault. You know, I've been lucky enough to still be allowed to do what I like to do.

WALLACE: Is that one of the reasons though, that you went into directing early on because if the acting thing doesn't work out, I've got another skill set here?

CLOONEY: I started by producing and writing and directing because I thought, I don't want to worry about what some casting director thinks about how I am aging, you know, and be like, "Oh, he looks pretty old. Don't put them in this anymore." I knew that would come.

So I did want to be in the industry that I love doing something different. But also, I'm more curious than that. You know, when you're acting in a film, you're basically one of the paints and when you're directing the film, you're the painter, and you get to pick and choose and it's infinitely more exciting and I've succeeded wildly and I've failed terribly at that as well.

I've never learned anything from succeeding, ever. I've learned a lot from failing, and so I don't mind all of that. I like getting in and say well, let's muck it up a little bit.

WALLACE: Which lasts longer for you? The successes or the failures?

CLOONEY: The failures.


WALLACE: Up next, we get a little personal. George opens up about his life after Hollywood and his proudest moment as a parent, which I promise will have you cracking up.


CLOONEY: I couldn't celebrate enough, I would have done an endzone dance, so happy.




WALLACE: In recent years, George Clooney has gone from one of Hollywood's most eligible bachelors to a happily married man with young twins. I asked him about life as a parent, but first his life outside Hollywood fighting for causes he hopes will make the world a better place.


WALLACE: I try tried to get behind things that I think I could have, at least I can help bring attention to it. I can't change things. You know, I'm not -- we're another government, my wife and I. We try to get involved in things that we think we can bring, we can -- you know it's rolling that ball uphill towards that arc of justice, you know, and we fail, I fail most often. We've failed a lot in Darfur, failed a lot, quite honestly, but it's worth the journey and worth you know trying to --

You look at the world and you go, look, we're all going to have -- we're all in this together now and we have to figure out ways to stand up for justice, which has to be waged. My wife and I talk about it all the time.

It doesn't just happen, it has to be treated like war. Go to war, you arm yourself, you collect allies, you build an army. Well you have to do that with justice and peace as well.

And so I'm a big believer in getting in and getting your -- getting up to your knees and trying to figure out where you can fit in in trying to help.

WALLACE: You say that your dad had one rule for you, which was take on the people who are more powerful than you and comfort, support, defend the people who are less powerful than you.


WALLACE: Is that where your sense of outrage comes from?


CLOONEY: Sure. My family -- look, I -- you know, we're about the same age. I grew up in the 60s.

WALLACE: No, we're not.

CLOONEY: We're not?

WALLACE: No, we are not.

CLOONEY: Okay, good.

WALLACE: I am considerably older than you.

CLOONEY: Oh, well --

WALLACE: Which is why we ran through these movies of you, not TV shows of me.

CLOONEY: Well, that's good. But I mean, growing up in a certain period of time, the 60s and 70s, particularly, you know, there was the Women's Rights Movement, the Civil Rights Movement. There was -- you know, there were so many things going on -- the anti-Vietnam movement -- there were so many things going on that you had to be involved. My parents were deeply involved.

And, as I was growing up, I was taught, you know, if you're not in it, then you're not participating.

WALLACE: How worried are you about our democracy?

CLOONEY: I'm worried about it. I'm worried about the course name of America. I'm worried about how we celebrate unkindness now. So, I look at where we are at this sort, of course, of our discourse, and I find it to be worrying.

WALLACE: How do you feel about the likely prospect of a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024?

CLOONEY: Well, look, it's all scary, right? Just because there is a there is a world where we could go back to where we were. I don't think it's as likely as people think, but I was wrong about the first election. You know, I didn't think people would -- I didn't think people would vote for someone who was so deeply flawed, you know?

I mean, I know, Donald Trump. You know, I mean, that's the thing is people -- you know, I have his phone number in my phone book. He was the guy that came to the bars and asked me about which cocktail waitress was single, you know, that's who he was.

WALLACE: This was back in the 90s.

CLOONEY: It wasn't that long, no. Back in the 2000s, quite honestly, and so there's this part of you that just goes, well, that guy shouldn't be President, but I was wrong, and he was and our democracy, I believe, paid a price, certainly around the world.

And I worry about the possibility. I don't think it's as good as some people are afraid of, but I do worry about it. I think we're in a time where we need to -- we need some interesting candidates all around the board, you know.

WALLACE: Democratic side as well.

CLOONEY: Sure. Yes. We need interesting candidates out there.

WALLACE: You are now 61 years old.


WALLACE: I read somewhere that you have talked about how many summers you have left? What do you want to do with the summers that you have left?

CLOONEY: It's interesting. Well, my wife and I've had this conversation about, you know, we call it our Halcyon years. I said, listen, I'm 61, I can still play a little basketball, I can still hang you know, play sports and run around. But in 20 to 25 years, I'll be eighty, eighty-five years old. And then that's a real number. I'll be with a walker.

I said, so we have to make sure that while I'm young, not her, that we're able to spend time doing other things besides just work, just trying to simplify to spend time with our kids, to spend time with our family.

WALLACE: You talk about your kids, Ella and Alexander, five years old.


WALLACE: You are a notorious prankster, and I read somewhere -- CLOONEY: What are you talking about?

WALLACE: I read somewhere that he has learned from the master.


WALLACE: So, here's the question, what's the best prank he has pulled? Either on you or his sister or his mom or somebody?

CLOONEY: The really good one was the I do a lot of like peanut butter and Nutella jokes, which just work great.

WALLACE: Is it true that you used to put Nutella in a diaper and then you'd sit there and eat it?

CLOONEY Well, I wouldn't eat it. He would eat it, which is fantastic. I mean, that was a really good play. But now he has one where --

WALLACE: I don't think Amal -- I know Amal. I wouldn't think she would have found that enormously funny.

CLOONEY: She doesn't find it nearly as funny as I do.

WALLACE: Or Alexander.

CLOONEY So Alexander walked in the other day, and he has put crunchy peanut butter on the side of his tennis shoes. And he comes he goes, "Pop." And he goes, "You smell poopoo," and I'm like, "No." We have a giant dog. And he looks at his shoe and he's got crunchy peanut on the side of the shoe and goes, "uh-oh," and I go, "uh-oh." And he reaches down and he goes like this. He goes "Oh, it's poop."

Literally I wanted to -- I couldn't celebrate enough. I would have done a endzone dance. I was so happy.

WALLACE: Well, you may be 61, but you act more like 14.

CLOONEY: Well, isn't that the way? Is that the way you're supposed to do it?

WALLACE: Yes, it is.


WALLACE: And that wraps up the first season of who is talking.

We'll be back in the New Year with brand new conversations, including with actor, Hugh Jackman, the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, and many more.

Until then, thank you for watching. You can catch all our episodes anytime you want on HBO Max and we're back in early January, every Sunday night on CNN, so you can find out WHO'S TALKING next.