George Clooney

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George Clooney
GeorgeClooneyHWoFJan12 (headshot).jpg
Clooney at a ceremony for John Wells to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in January 2012
Born George Timothy Clooney
(1961-05-06) May 6, 1961 (age 53)
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
Occupation Actor, filmmaker
Years active 1978–present
Spouse(s) Talia Balsam (m. 1989–93)
Amal Alamuddin (m. 2014)
Parents Nick Clooney
Nina Warren
Relatives
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George Clooney

George Timothy Clooney (born May 6, 1961) is an American actor and filmmaker. He has received three Golden Globe Awards for his work as an actor and two Academy Awards, one for acting and the other for producing.

Clooney made his acting debut on television in 1978, and later gained wide recognition in his role as Dr. Doug Ross on the long-running medical drama ER from 1994 to 1999, for which he received two Emmy Award nominations. While working on ER, he began attracting a variety of leading roles in films, including Batman & Robin (1997) and Out of Sight (1998), in which he first worked with long-time collaborator Steven Soderbergh. In 1999, Clooney took the lead role in Three Kings, a well-received war satire set during the Gulf War. In 2001, Clooney's fame widened with the release of his biggest commercial success, Ocean's Eleven, the first of the film trilogy, a remake of the 1960 film with Frank Sinatra as Danny Ocean. He made his directorial debut a year later with the biographical thriller Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and has since directed Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Leatherheads (2008), The Ides of March (2011), and The Monuments Men (2014). He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the Middle East thriller Syriana (2005), and subsequently earned Best Actor nominations for Michael Clayton (2007), Up in the Air (2009) and The Descendants (2011). In 2013, he received the Academy Award for Best Picture for producing the film Argo, alongside Ben Affleck and Grant Heslov. He is the only person ever to be nominated for Academy Awards in six categories.[1]

In 2005, TV Guide ranked Clooney #1 on its "50 Sexiest Stars of All Time" list.[2] In 2009, he was included in Time's annual Time 100 as one of the "Most Influential People in the World."[3]

Clooney is also noted for his political activism and has served as one of the United Nations Messengers of Peace since January 31, 2008.[4][5][6] His humanitarian work includes his advocacy of finding a resolution for the Darfur conflict, raising funds for the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2004 Tsunami, and 9/11 victims, and creating documentaries such as Sand and Sorrow to raise awareness about international crises. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[7]

Early life

Clooney was born in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1961.[8][9][10] His mother, Nina Bruce (née Warren),[11] was a beauty pageant queen and city councilwoman. His father, Nick Clooney, is a former anchorman, game show host, and hosted AMC for five years in the late 90s.[12] Clooney has Irish, German, and English ancestry.[13] His maternal four times great-grandmother, Mary Ann Sparrow, was the half-sister of Nancy Hanks (the mother of President Abraham Lincoln).[14][15] Clooney has an older sister named Adelia (known as Ada).[16] His aunt was the famed cabaret singer and actress Rosemary Clooney.[17] His cousin Gabriel Ferrer is married to singer Debby Boone.[18]

Clooney was raised a strict Roman Catholic,[19] but has said he does not know if he believes in Heaven, or even God.[20] He has said, "Yes, we were Catholic, big time, whole family, whole group."[21] He began his education at the Blessed Sacrament School in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. Spending part of his childhood in Ohio, he attended St. Michael's School in Columbus; then Western Row Elementary School (a public school) in Mason, Ohio, from 1968 to 1974; and St. Susanna School in Mason, where he served as an altar boy. The Clooneys moved back to Kentucky when George was midway through the seventh grade.[22]

In middle school, Clooney developed Bell's palsy, a condition that partially paralyzes the face. The malady went away within a year. In an interview with Larry King, he stated that "yes, it goes away. It takes about nine months to go away. It was the first year of high school, which was a bad time for having half your face paralyzed."[21]

After his parents moved to Augusta, Kentucky, Clooney attended Augusta High School. He has stated that he earned all As and a B in school,[23] and was an enthusiastic baseball and basketball player. He tried out to play professional baseball with the Cincinnati Reds in 1977, but he did not pass the first round of player cuts, and was not offered a contract.[24] He attended Northern Kentucky University from 1979 to 1981, majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and very briefly attended the University of Cincinnati, but did not graduate from either.[25] He made money selling women's shoes, insurance door-to-door, stocking shelves, working construction, and cutting tobacco.[20][26]

Career

Early work, 1978–93

Clooney's first role was as an extra in the television mini-series Centennial in 1978, which was based on the novel of the same name by James A. Michener, and was partly filmed in Clooney's hometown of Augusta, Kentucky.[27][28] Clooney's first major role came in 1984 in the short-lived sitcom E/R (not to be confused with ER, the better-known hospital drama, on which Clooney also co-starred a decade later). He played a handyman on the series The Facts of Life, and appeared as Bobby Hopkins, a detective, on an episode of The Golden Girls. His first prominent role was a semi-regular supporting role in the sitcom Roseanne, playing Roseanne Barr's supervisor Booker Brooks, followed by the role of a construction worker on Baby Talk, a co-starring role on the CBS drama Bodies of Evidence as Detective Ryan Walker, and then a year-long turn as Det. James Falconer on Sisters. In 1988, Clooney also played a role in Return of the Killer Tomatoes.[29] During this period Clooney was a student at the Beverly Hills Playhouse acting school for five years.[30]

Breakthrough, 1994–99

Clooney rose to fame when he played Dr. Doug Ross, alongside Anthony Edwards, Julianna Margulies, and Noah Wyle, on the hit NBC drama ER from 1994 to 1999. After leaving the series in 1999, he made a cameo appearance in the 6th season and returned for a guest spot in the show's final season.[31] For his work on the series, Clooney received two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series in 1995 and 1996.[32][33] He also earned three Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor – Television Series Drama in 1995, 1996, and 1997 (losing to co-star Anthony Edwards).[34][35]

Clooney began appearing in films while working on ER. His first major Hollywood role was in From Dusk till Dawn, directed by Robert Rodriguez. He followed its success with One Fine Day with Michelle Pfeiffer, and The Peacemaker with Nicole Kidman. Clooney was then cast as Batman in Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin, which was a modest box office performer, but a critical failure (with Clooney himself calling the film "a waste of money"). In 1998, he co-starred in Out of Sight opposite Jennifer Lopez, marking the first of his many collaborations with director Steven Soderbergh. He also starred in Three Kings during the last weeks of his contract with ER.[citation needed]

After ER; 2000–10

George Clooney cast his hands and shoes in the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 2007.[36]

After leaving ER, Clooney starred in the commercially successful films The Perfect Storm and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. In 2001, he teamed up with Soderbergh again for Ocean's Eleven, a remake of the 1960s Rat Pack film of the same name. As of 2011, it was Clooney's most successful film, earning more than $450 million worldwide.[37] The film spawned two sequels starring Clooney, Ocean's Twelve in 2004 and Ocean's Thirteen in 2007.[citation needed]

In 2001, Clooney and Soderbergh co-founded Section Eight Productions, for which Grant Heslov was president of television. Clooney made his directorial debut in the 2002 film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, based on the autobiography of TV producer Chuck Barris. Though the film didn't do well at the box office, Clooney's direction showed promise.[38]

In 2005, Clooney starred in Syriana, which was based loosely on former Central Intelligence Agency agent Robert Baer's memoirs of his service in the Middle East. He suffered an accident on the set of Syriana, which caused a brain injury with complications from a punctured dura.[39] The same year he directed, produced, and starred in Good Night, and Good Luck, a film about 1950s television journalist Edward R. Murrow's famous war of words with Senator Joseph McCarthy. At the 2006 Academy Awards, Clooney was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Good Night, and Good Luck, as well as Best Supporting Actor for Syriana. He won the Oscar for his role in Syriana.[citation needed]

Clooney next appeared in The Good German (2006), a film noir directed by Soderbergh that is set in post-World War II Germany. In August 2006, Clooney and Heslov started the production company Smokehouse Pictures. In October 2006, Clooney received the American Cinematheque Award, which honors someone in the entertainment industry who has made "a significant contribution to the art of motion pictures".[40] On January 22, 2008, Clooney was nominated for an Academy Award (and many other awards) for Best Actor for Michael Clayton (2007). Later that year, he directed his third film, Leatherheads, in which he also starred. On April 4, 2008, Variety reported that Clooney had quietly resigned from the Writers Guild of America over a dispute concerning Leatherheads. Clooney, who is the director, producer, and star of the film, claimed that he had contributed in writing "all but two scenes" of it, and requested a writing credit alongside Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly, who had worked on the screenplay for 17 years. Clooney lost an arbitration vote 2–1, and withdrew from the union over the decision. He became a "financial core status" non-member, meaning he no longer has voting rights, and cannot run for office or attend membership meetings, according to the WGA's constitution.[41]

Clooney at the 2012 National Board of Review Awards

He next co-starred with Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey in The Men Who Stare At Goats, which was directed by Heslov and released in November 2009. Also in November 2009, he voiced Mr. Fox in Wes Anderson's animated feature Fantastic Mr. Fox. The same year, Clooney starred in Up in the Air, which was initially given limited release, and then wide-released on December 25, 2009. For his performance in the film, which was directed by Jason Reitman, he was nominated for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, BAFTA, and an Academy Award.[citation needed] 2010 saw the release of The American, based on the novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth and directed by Anton Corbijn. Clooney played the lead role, and was a co-producer of the film.[citation needed]

2011–present

As of 2011, Clooney is represented by Bryan Lourd, co-chairman of Creative Artists Agency (CAA).[42]

In 2011 Clooney starred in The Descendants as a husband whose wife has an accident that leaves her in a coma. He earned critical praise for his work, and won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama. Also, he was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild for Best Actor, the BAFTA Award for Best Actor, and the Academy Award for Best Actor. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Ides of March.[citation needed]

In 2013, Clooney won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama, the BAFTA Award for Best Picture and the Academy Award for Best Picture for producing Argo. He is the only person in Academy Award history to be nominated for Oscars in six different categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay.[citation needed]

Clooney co-starred with Sandra Bullock in Gravity (2013), a science fiction film directed by Alfonso Cuarón.[43] He co-wrote, directed and starred in The Monuments Men, an adaption of The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel.[44] Clooney also produced August: Osage County (2013), an adaptation of the play of the same name. The film stars Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.[45]

Political views

In the US

Clooney supported Barack Obama's campaign in the 2008 presidential election[46] and in the 2012 presidential election.[47] He is a supporter of gay rights.[48] In 2003, he opposed the Iraq war, saying, "You can't beat your enemy anymore through wars; instead you create an entire generation of people seeking revenge... Our opponents are going to resort to car bombs and suicide attacks because they have no other way to win... I believe [Donald Rumsfeld] thinks this is a war that can be won, but there is no such thing anymore. We can't beat anyone anymore."[49]

Humanitarian work

Clooney in Abéché, Chad, in January 2008 with the UN

Clooney is involved with Not On Our Watch Project, an organization that focuses global attention and resources to stop and prevent mass atrocities, along with Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, David Pressman, and Jerry Weintraub.[50]

In February 2009, he visited Goz Beida, Chad, with NY Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof.[51] In January 2010, he organized the Telethon Hope for Haiti Now,[52] which collected donations for the 2010 Haiti earthquake victims.[citation needed]

In March 2012, Clooney was featured with Martin Sheen and Brad Pitt in a performance of Dustin Lance Black's play, '8'—a staged reenactment of the federal trial that overturned California's Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage—as attorney David Boies.[53] The production was held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre and broadcast on YouTube to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.[54][55] In September 2012, Clooney offered to take an auction winner out to lunch to benefit the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). GLSEN works to create a safe space in schools for children who are or may be perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.[56]

Darfur

Clooney has advocated a resolution of the Darfur conflict.[57] He spoke at a 2006 Save Darfur rally in Washington, D.C. In April 2006, he spent ten days in Chad and Sudan with his father to make the TV special "A Journey to Darfur" reflecting the situation of Darfur's refugees, and advocated for action. The documentary was broadcast on American cable TV as well as in the UK and France. In 2008, it was released on DVD with the sale proceeds being donated to the International Rescue Committee.[58][59][60][61] In September of the same year, he spoke to the UN Security Council with Nobel Prize-winner Elie Wiesel to ask the UN to find a solution to the conflict and to help the people of Darfur.[62] In December, he visited China and Egypt with Don Cheadle and two Olympic winners to ask both governments to pressure Sudan's government.[63]

Clooney discusses Sudan with President Barack Obama at the White House in October 2010.

On March 25, 2007, he sent an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling on the European Union to take "decisive action" in the region given the failure of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir to respond to UN resolutions.[64] He narrated and was co-executive producer of the 2007 documentary Sand and Sorrow.[65] Clooney also appeared in the documentary film Darfur Now, a call-to-action film released in November 2007 for people all over the world to help stop the Darfur crisis.[66] In December 2007, Clooney and fellow actor Don Cheadle received the Summit Peace Award from the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome. In his acceptance speech, Clooney said that "Don and I … stand here before you as failures. The simple truth is that when it comes to the atrocities in Darfur … those people are not better off now than they were years ago."[67] On January 18, 2008, the United Nations announced Clooney's appointment as a UN messenger of peace, effective January 31.[4][5]

Clooney conceived of and, with John Prendergast, human rights activist, co-founder of the Enough Project, and Strategic Advisor for Not On Our Watch Project, initiated the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), after an October 2010 trip to South Sudan. SSP aims to monitor armed activity for signs of renewed civil war between Sudan and South Sudan, and to detect and deter mass atrocities along the border regions there.[68]

Clooney and John Prendergast co-wrote a Washington Post op-ed piece in May 2011, titled "Dancing with a dictator in Sudan", arguing that:[69]

President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, is escalating bombing and food aid obstruction in Darfur, and he now threatens the entire north-south peace process ... the evidence shows that incentives alone are insufficient to change Khartoum's calculations. International support should be sought immediately for denying debt relief, expanding the ICC indictments, diplomatically isolating the regime, suspending all non-humanitarian aid, obstructing state-controlled bank transactions and freezing accounts holding oil wealth diverted by senior regime officials.

On March 16, 2012, Clooney was arrested outside the Sudanese Embassy for civil disobedience.[70][71] He intended to be arrested when he planned the protest.[71] Several other prominent participants were also arrested, including Martin Luther King III.[71]

Comments in 2003 on Heston and gun control

In January 2003, Clooney made a controversial joke about the fact that Charlton Heston was suffering from Alzheimer's, and Clooney initially refused to apologize.[23][72][73] While speaking at a National Board of Review event as he accepted an award on television, Clooney said: "Charlton Heston announced again today that he is suffering from Alzheimer's."[74] When syndicated columnist Liz Smith asked Clooney whether he wasn't "going too far" with his remark, he responded: "I don't care. Charlton Heston is the head of the National Rifle Association; he deserves whatever anyone says about him."[73][75]

Heston himself commented, "It just goes to show that sometimes class does skip a generation," referring to Clooney's aunt, Rosemary Clooney.[75] Clooney later said, "It was a joke... They got the quote wrong. What I said was 'The head of the NRA announced today ...' (Filmmaker) Michael Moore had just gotten an award. Anyway, Charlton Heston shows up with guns over his head after a school shooting and then says in the documentary it's because of ethnic diversity that we have problems with violence in America. I think he's going to have to take whatever hits he gets. It was just a joke."[76] Clooney said in 2008 he subsequently apologized to Heston in a letter, and that he received a nice response from Heston's wife.[23]

Personal life

Relationships

Clooney and Elisabetta Canalis at the 66th Venice Film Festival in 2009

Clooney was married to actress Talia Balsam from 1989 to 1993. He also had a relationship with actress Ginger Lynn Allen. After meeting British model Lisa Snowdon in 2000, he had a five-year on-again, off-again relationship with her.[77] In June 2007, he started dating reality personality Sarah Larson, but the couple broke up in May 2008.[78] In July 2009, Clooney was in a relationship with Italian actress Elisabetta Canalis until they split in June 2011.[79][80] In July 2011, Clooney started dating former WWE Diva Stacy Keibler,[81] and they ended their relationship in July 2013.[82] Clooney has also dated actresses Kelly Preston (1987–1989), Renée Zellweger (2001) and Krista Allen (2002–2008) as well as French reality TV personality Céline Balitran (1996–1999).[83][84]

Despite his highly publicized relationships with women, Clooney's sexual orientation has been the subject of media scrutiny. When asked about the subject in an interview with The Advocate, Clooney stated, "The last thing you’ll ever see me do is jump up and down, saying, ‘These are lies!’ That would be unfair and unkind to my good friends in the gay community. I’m not going to let anyone make it seem like being gay is a bad thing."[85]

Clooney became engaged to British-Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin on April 28, 2014, as confirmed by a representative at Alamuddin's chambers Doughty Street Chambers.[86][87]

In July 2014, Clooney publicly criticized the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail after it claimed his fiancée's mother opposes their marriage on religious grounds.[88] When the tabloid apologized for its false story, Clooney refused to accept the apology. He called the paper "the worst kind of tabloid. One that makes up its facts to the detriment of its readers."[89] On August 7, 2014, Clooney and Alamuddin obtained marriage licenses at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea of the United Kingdom.[90] Alamuddin and Clooney were officially married on September 27, 2014 at Ca' Farsetti.[91] They were married by Clooney’s friend Walter Veltroni, the former mayor of Rome.[92]

Real estate

Clooney's main home is in Los Angeles. He purchased the 7,354-square-foot (683.2 m2) house in 1995 through his George Guifoyle Trust. His home in Italy is in the village of Laglio, on Lake Como,[93] near the former residence of Italian author Ada Negri.[94] Clooney also maintains a home in Los Cabos, Mexico that is next door to the home of Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber.[95]

In 2014, George Clooney and his new British wife Amal Alamuddin bought the Mill House on an island in the River Thames at Sonning Eye in England[96] at a cost of around £10 million.[97]

Motorcycle accident

On September 21, 2007, Clooney and then-girlfriend Sarah Larson were injured in a motorcycle accident in Weehawken, New Jersey. Clooney's motorcycle was hit by a car. The driver of the car reported that Clooney attempted to pass him on the right,[98] while Clooney said that the driver signaled left and then decided to make an abrupt right turn and clipped his motorcycle. On October 9, 2007, more than two dozen staff at the hospital were suspended without pay for looking at Clooney's medical records in violation of federal law.[99]

In the media

Clooney has appeared in commercials outside the US for Fiat, Nespresso, and Martini vermouth.[100][101][102] Clooney was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2007, 2008, and 2009.[103][104][105]

He was parodied in the South Park episode "Smug Alert!", which mocks his acceptance speech at the 78th Academy Awards. However, Clooney has also lent his voice to South Park as Sparky the Dog in "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" and as the emergency room doctor in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Clooney was caricatured in the American Dad! episode Tears of a Clooney, in which Francine sees her plan to destroy him materialize.[106]

Awards and nominations

Throughout his career, Clooney has won two Academy Awards, one for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Syriana[107] and one for Best Picture as one of the producers for Argo, as well as a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. For his role in The Descendants, he won a Golden Globe Award[108] and was nominated for an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Satellite Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards: Best Lead Actor and Best Cast.[109]

Filmography

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External links

Preceded by
Val Kilmer
Batman Actor
1997
Succeeded by
Christian Bale