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'Solaris' Star Bares All

Actor George Clooney's new film, "Solaris," is a love story set in space — a "2001" for 2002.

Early Show entertainment contributor Jess Cagle sat down with Hollywood's most eligible bachelor to talk about the most challenging role of his career.

The movie is set in the future and focuses on "Solaris," a mystical planet that manipulates the mind. Clooney plays a psychiatrist, unnerved when dreams of his dead wife become all too real.

Clooney says that, at first, he wasn't sure if he would be able to play the "Solaris" role.

"This one scared me to death … the idea of it," says Clooney. "But I read it and I thought, 'Man, this is a great piece and it's a great script. And I'd love to be part of it with a director who is really trying to do these kind of things.'"

Although he was drawn to the emotionally demanding role, Clooney was afraid to ask director Steven Soderbergh for the part.

"I wrote Steven a letter," recalls Clooney. "He's my partner and he's my friend, but I thought we need a bit of a buffer. I didn't want to ask him … because he'd have to look me in the eye and tell me no. And, I don't think either one of us wanted to do that."

"I was scared at first," says Soderbergh. "Because I got a call saying, 'There is a letter from George that needs to be put in your hand.' And I thought I've done something – I went on TV and said something stupid … it's coming back to haunt me. But, it turned out to be a good letter."

Soderbergh was convinced Clooney could deliver a powerful performance. However, it's not Clooney's performance that is causing a stir. The buzz surrounding this film revolves around Clooney baring his behind on screen.

Clooney explains that nudity was not an important part of the film, but it did serve a purpose.

"[Soderbergh] just wanted a moment where people are actually completely naked with one another and not focused on being naked, but on something else — on eating food and talking about something else and just laying around naked. So that you get the sense that these people are comfortable with one another."

The actor says he wasn't uncomfortable doing it.

"I've been mooning for years," says Clooney. "That didn't bother me. I was a lot more naked in moments when you have to look in the camera and pretend that it's the last 30 seconds of your life."

Clooney's career is about taking risks. He's transitioned from acting to producing. Later this year, he makes his directorial debut. Along with his partner, Clooney plans to continue pushing the envelope.

"It's a fun place to be," says Clooney. "We are going to make bad films. But, for the time that they let us do it, we are going to just try and push it … If and when we finally blow it and they won't let us do anymore, we will disappear. I will go back to Hollywood Squares."

Some Facts About George Clooney

  • Born in Lexington, Ky.
  • Was a regular on the NBC medical series "ER"
  • His father, Nick Clooney, is a broadcast journalist and on-air host.
  • His aunt, Rosemary Clooney, was a singer and actress
  • His cousin Miguel Ferrer is also an actor
  • Started working in b-movies, such as "Grizzly II-The Predator," 1984; and "Return of the Killer Tomatoes," 1988
  • His first regular series role was as a young physician working in an emergency room in the short-lived sitcom "E/R" (CBS, 1984-85)
  • Clooney has also worked on ABC's "Roseanne," NBC's "The Facts of Life," ABC's "Baby Talk," CBS's "Bodies of Evidence" and NBC's "Sisters"
  • Some films he performed in are "From Dusk Till Dawn," " One Fine Day," "Batman & Robin," "The Peacemaker," "Out of Sight," "The Thin Red Line" and "Three Kings"