George Clooney claims that out of all of his movies, Batman & Robin made the biggest impact on his career. Prior to his breakout role on E.R. Clooney had been a jobbing actor for much of his career, jumping from TV pilots to roles in various b-movies like Return Of The Killer Tomatoes. The huge success of the show caused movie offers to flood in, leading him to star in movies like From Dusk Till Dawn, One Fine Day and – most infamously – Batman & Robin.
Clooney took over the Batman/Bruce Wayne part from Val Kilmer, who played the character in Batman Forever. The huge success of Forever – especially in regards to merchandise - caused the studio to rush another movie into production, with a focus on selling more toys. The end result was a garish nightmare of a movie, loaded with tacky visuals, hammy overacting and a dreadful script. It's still considered one of the worst comic book movies ever, and it stalled the movie series until Christopher Nolan rebooted it with Batman Begins.
Clooney has made no secret of his embarrassment over the final product, often joking about Batman & Robin in interviews and even offering refunds to people when they tell him they watched it. Now in a new interview with THR, the star has credited the film with having the biggest impact out of his entire filmography on the direction of his career.
It’s really easy to pick: Batman & Robin. That’s not a joke. Up until that moment, I was an actor only concerned with finding work. After the failure of that film creatively, I understood that I needed to take control of the films I made, not just the role. My next three films were Out of Sight, Three Kings and O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Following the reception to Batman & Robin there was a noticeable uptick in the quality of the projects he signed up for. It's hard to blame the actor for jumping onto Batman & Robin when it was offered since it was a chance to be the lead in a massive franchise. That said, he didn't seem terribly comfortable in the role and even admitted as much in interviews promoting the movie. If nothing else, it taught the star not to sign on for something he didn't really believe in.
Had Batman & Robin been a bigger success, Clooney was set to reprise the role for Batman Unchained, which promised to be a much darker movie. Batman would have faced off against the Scarecrow and Harley Quinn, who would have been the daughter of Jack Nicholson's Joker. The movie was set to feature a hallucination sequence where Batman is faced with various illains from his past, including Nicholson's Joker and Danny DeVito's Penguin, but the lingering stink of Batman & Robin caused the project to be shelved – likely to the relief of Clooney himself.