Why George Clooney stayed behind the camera for 'Suburbicon'

Posted October 25, 2017 6:55 p.m. EDT

— George Clooney took his latest turn in the director's chair for Paramount's upcoming "Suburbicon," but unlike with his previous films, the veteran actor stayed at his post behind the camera this time around.

"You know, it's really hard to direct yourself, because it's embarrassing, as you could imagine," Clooney told CNN in a recent interview. "It's bad. So it was really nice to not have to be in the film and to be able to sit back and just direct and just watch really good actors sort of make the material work really well."

Those really good actors are in no short supply in "Suburbicon."

Matt Damon, 11-year-old Noah Jupe and Julianne Moore, pulling double duty as twin sisters, play a family unit whose seemingly ordinary life in 1950s suburbia turns complicated after a series of dark twists. Think murder, hit men, and Oscar Isaac as an over-the-top insurance investigator.

Karimah Westbrook, Leith M. Burke, and Tony Espinosa play their neighbors in a parallel story inspired by real-life events that took place in Levittown, Pennsylvania.

In the film, the Mayers, who are African American, are harassed and accosted by the suburb's white residents, who don't want them in the neighborhood. Fences are erected around the Mayers' home. Others play band instruments loudly at all hours of the day, in order to unnerve the family.

The "Suburbicon" script was first written by Joel and Ethan Cohen back in the mid-80s, Clooney said. Clooney and Grant Heslov also have writing credits.

"I thought it [was] an interesting thing to remind ourselves that none of these things are new, and that this is a battle that we're going to be fighting for, we've been fighting since the beginning of our history and we'll probably be fighting for a long time afterwards," Clooney said.

"Suburbicon" premieres in theaters Friday.