The Perfect Storm's George Clooney had good reason for insisting that Three Kings co-star Mark Wahlberg be cast alongside him on his latest big-budget action pic.

"He's got some pictures of me with a farm animal ? my own pig!" Clooney tells TV Guide Online. "I've gotta keep hiring him."

All joking aside, smart aleck Clooney says his real reason for rallying behind Wahlberg is the actor's innate abilities. "There's stuff that he can do that cannot be taught," he says. "You look at his face and you root for him. You can't learn it."

Clooney was initially set to play the role that went to Wahlberg but was bumped up to leading-man status after Mel Gibson dropped out. And it just so happens that Gibson's latest pic, The Patriot, is opening the same weekend as The Perfect Storm.

"I suppose it does matter, but I don't think about it," Clooney says of the competition. "I've managed to have a really fun career and I've never had a box office hit. Nice thing is, if you do one that makes money then they'll let you do another one. So, I suppose it does make a difference."

But Clooney's no slouch at the box office, either: 1997's Batman & Robin grossed more than $200 million worldwide. Then again, the movie's not his proudest accomplishment. "I thought it was a pretty bad movie. What you learn, if you survive over any period of time, is that you have to take responsibility for the part you play. I wasn't a very good Batman. Fair enough. I don't know what I could have done to make it better, but you still have to take responsibility."