Syriana (2005) Poster



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George Clooney gained 35 pounds on a pasta-heavy diet to play CIA operative Robert Barnes. The actor also shaved his hairline for the right look.
Syriana is a term used by Washington think-tanks to describe a hypothetical re-shaping of the Middle East.
George Clooney suffered a spinal injury during a stunt. Due to the weight he gained for his role, the injury left him bedridden for a month and caused severe migraines, which prevented him from doing publicity for Ocean's Twelve (2004). The injury was eventually corrected with surgery. Clooney has since called his weight gain "pretty stupid".
Harrison Ford was the original choice to play Bob Barnes, but turned it down. He later told Empire magazine that is one of the few movie career decisions that he has regretted.
In the days leading up to the Oscar nominations, the Academy announced that the film's screenplay was considered original, not adapted. Since it had been strongly advertised as adapted, many believed the film would not be nominated. It was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, but lost to Crash (2004).
Greta Scacchi played Bob Barnes' wife and Robby Barnes' mother. Her role was cut from the final release.
When George Clooney meets his son at Princeton University, he's actually in front of Sellinger Hall at Loyola College in Maryland.
Few movie casts include more Oscar-winning or -nominated acting talent than this one. The list includes four Academy Award winners: Chris Cooper, George Clooney, William Hurt and Christopher Plummer; and three nominees: Viola Davis, Michael Fassbender and Matt Damon (although Damon had long before won a writing Oscar for his original screenplay Good Will Hunting (1997), with Ben Affleck.
The scene in the front doorway of the Whiting Sloan law firm, next to the U.S. Capitol, is actually the real-life law firm Jones Day, located at 51 Louisiana Avenue, NW.
Stephen Gaghan wanted Christian Bale to play Bryan Woodman, but Bale had to turn the part down due to his commitment to The New World (2005).
In the original script, Bob Barnes was originally named Bob Baer, after Robert Baer's father.
Michelle Monaghan originally had a substantial role in the film, playing Miss USA who becomes involved with a rich Arab oilman. But her entire sub-plot was cut when the film seemed too long and complicated for review audiences.
In two clever examples of parallelism in the script and dialogue, CIA staffer Fred Franks uses the phrase "Help me out here" in the film after it's been directed at him by his CIA supervisor, Terry. And the name "Jimmy" is one that Bob Barnes insists on using when he talks to Mussawi -who's offended by it - but it's a name that Killen CEO Jimmy Pope invites Bennett Holiday to use in addressing him.
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Though Viola Davis is uncredited for her very brief but impressive appearance as "CIA Chairwoman," perhaps she was just practicing for the similar role she played as (CIA) "Director George" years later in Knight and Day (2010).
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Barnes, Woodman, Holiday, Whiting, Pope and Janus are all surnames of principal characters here, all of them names loaded with symbolism or suggestive of specific images, qualities or faults.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

When Prince Nasir is assassinated, an actor who strongly resembles former CIA director George Tenet is milling around in the background of the CIA operations room.

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