George Clooney's new series Catch-22 reflects on 'insanity' of war

George Clooney, who returns to TV for the first time in 20 years with an adaptation of the classic 1961 novel Catch-22, said on Monday that the Hulu series set in World War II aims to tell a timeless story about the "insanity" of war.

At a preview for reporters, the 57-year-old US actor said he initially resisted the idea of taking on Joseph Heller's 1961 book about a member of a US bomber squadron fighting the higher-ups in the military bureaucracy.

"It's a beloved novel," said Clooney, who also served as executive producer and directed two episodes.

"I didn't want to get into the middle of that."

He said he was drawn in because the writers "did an amazing job unspooling these characters" for the six-episode series that will premiere on Hulu on May 17.

That allows it to expand on Heller's story, which Clooney said was meant "to make fun of all the red tape and bureaucracy of war and the ridiculousness of war".

He said: "All of us spend our days and nights worrying about those situations. This story is just reflecting on the insanity of it."

Christopher Abbott stars as protagonist Yossarian and Kyle Chandler plays his commander Colonel Cathcart, a role Clooney planned to play but instead took a supporting role as training commander Scheisskopf.

He said he was happy to come back to television after last appearing as Dr Doug Ross in hit medical drama ER.

"I don't care about the medium," he said. "I just care about the quality of the work and what we're able to do." - REUTERS