THE owner of the George in Rye has spoken of what it was like playing host to some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Alex Clarke and his team had to adopt a hush-hush policy when he learned that George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville and Jean Dujardinm were going to be residents during the filming of Mumuments Men.
Alex said: “Before they arrived we a series of had long meetings with the film’s management to discuss how the hotel could best be arranged to host this group with maximum comfort and security.
“We were not allowed to tell anyone they were coming, not even the staff – we referred to special guests as “GC”, “MD” and so on. The group was actually referred to “Lil and Kate” internally, which didn’t detract from the intrigue generated across the team.
“Special requests started to pour in: a treadmill was delivered from George Clooney’s suite in Claridge’s, enormous fruit baskets with blenders for making smoothies, and Agave syrup from Mexico (which Rye Health Store was able to source) – it was clear something different and amazing was coming to the George, not anything like we had dealt with in the past and the excitement grew as the arrival date drew nearer.
“The guests arrived and were shown to their bedrooms. Matt Damon, who was staying in our wedding suite, exclaimed “this room is massive!” – something Richard Burton may have agreed with when he stayed in the same suite for the filming of Cleopatra in the 1960s. George Clooney and Jean Dujardinm were staying in the Hayloft rooms, so we closed off our terrace to give them privacy.
“As the actors all wanted to eat in the Grill each night, we were concerned how we could manage this while still welcoming our regular and local guests. But this was fortunately an unnecessary concern as the actors appeared very relaxed to sit with other restaurant diners.
The actors mainly stuck to healthy options such as fillet steak, oysters, scallops, grilled local fish and salads. The Grill team even volunteered to stay up into the early hours to keep the restaurant open after night filming.
“After a couple of days, word got out about where the stars were staying, and we had a hundred fans (mainly female!) lining the pavements outside the hotel for a glimpse of the actors. George and Bill chatted with them, shaking hands with them. The crowd commented how generous they had been and heard them say “how Rye had been good to them.” John Goodman and Matt Damon were walking around Rye themselves, evidence of how relaxed the town and community had made them feel.
“George Clooney left saying how “his room was lovely, very comfortable and we were all amazing.” The George had a fantastic week, the staff have been totally enthused by the situation. Not our average week in quiet old Rye, but certainly one to remember.”