George Clooney

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George Clooney
George Clooney 18 10 2011.jpg
Clooney at the Paris premiere of The Ides of March in October 2011
BornGeorge Timothy Clooney
(1961-05-06) May 6, 1961 (age 52)
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
OccupationActor, director, producer, screenwriter
Years active1978–present
Spouse(s)Talia Balsam
(m. 1989–1993)
ParentsNick Clooney
RelativesRosemary Clooney (aunt)
Miguel Ferrer (cousin)
Rafael Ferrer (cousin)
 
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George Clooney
George Clooney 18 10 2011.jpg
Clooney at the Paris premiere of The Ides of March in October 2011
BornGeorge Timothy Clooney
(1961-05-06) May 6, 1961 (age 52)
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
OccupationActor, director, producer, screenwriter
Years active1978–present
Spouse(s)Talia Balsam
(m. 1989–1993)
ParentsNick Clooney
RelativesRosemary Clooney (aunt)
Miguel Ferrer (cousin)
Rafael Ferrer (cousin)
This article is part of a series on
George Clooney

George Timothy Clooney (born May 6, 1961) is an American actor, film director, producer, and screenwriter. 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 is also noted for his political activism and has served as one of the United Nations Messengers of Peace since January 31, 2008.[1][2][3]

Clooney made his acting debut on television in 1978, and later gained wide recognition in his role as Dr. Douglas "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-term 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 a profitable film trilogy, a remake of the 1960 film which starred members of the Rat Pack with Frank Sinatra as Danny Ocean. He made his directorial debut a year later with the 2002 biographical thriller Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and has since directed Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Leatherheads (2008), and The Ides of March (2011). He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the Middle East thriller Syriana (2005) and subsequently gained Best Actor nominations for such films as 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 to ever be nominated for Academy Awards in six different categories.[4]

In 2005, TV Guide ranked Clooney #1 on its "50 Sexiest Stars of All Time" lists.[5]

Clooney's 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.[6]

Early life

Clooney was born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1961.[7][8][9] His mother, Nina Bruce (née Warren, 1939–),[10] is a former beauty pageant queen. His father, Nick Clooney, is a former anchorman, as well as a game show and American Movie Classics host. Clooney's ancestry includes Irish, German, English, and more distant Scottish and Dutch roots.[11][12] His patrilineal line traces back to Nicholas Clooney (of County Kilkenny) and Bridget Byron, his great-great-grandparents, who emigrated to the United States from Ireland.[13] His maternal four times great-grandmother, Mary Ann Sparrow, was the half-sister of Nancy Hanks (Nancy Hanks was the mother of President Abraham Lincoln).[14] Clooney has an older sister, Adelia (commonly known as Ada); his cousins include actors Miguel and Rafael Ferrer, who are the sons of his aunt, singer Rosemary Clooney, and actor José Ferrer. He is also related to another singer, Debby Boone, who married his cousin Gabriel Ferrer (son of José Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney).

Clooney was raised a strict Roman Catholic.[15][16][17][18] 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 between 1968 and 1974 Western Row Elementary School (a public school) in Mason, Ohio and St. Susanna School in Mason, where he also served as an altar boy, before the Clooneys moved to Kentucky when George was midway through the seventh grade. “George and his sister were always very conscious of social issues, and his parents were strong influences on the person he is today,” said John Romer, who served as a St. Susanna altar boy alongside George. “George would strongly defend his positions and argue logically and passionately . . . But George was never combative. He was the person you wanted to be with and laugh with.”[19]

In middle school, Clooney developed Bell's palsy, a debilitating condition that partially paralyzes the face. The malady went away within a year. "That was the worst time of my life," he told the Daily Mirror in 2003. "You know how cruel kids can be. I was mocked and taunted, but the experience made me stronger."[20]

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,[21] and was an enthusiastic baseball and basketball player. He tried out to play professional baseball with the Cincinnati Reds organization in 1977, but was not offered a contract. He did not pass the first round of player cuts.[22] 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.[23] He had odd jobs such as selling men's suits and cutting tobacco.[24]

Career

Early work, 1978–93

Clooney's first role was as an extra in the TV series Centennial in 1978. The series was based on the novel of the same name by James A. Michener, and was partially filmed in Clooney's hometown of Augusta, Kentucky. 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 significant break 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.

Breakthrough, 1994–99

Clooney achieved note 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.[25] For his work on the series, Clooney received two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series in 1995 and 1996.[26][27] 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).[28][29][30]

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.

2000 – present

George Clooney cast his hands and shoes in the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 2007.[31]

After leaving ER, Clooney starred in commercially successful films, including 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 commercially successful film, earning more than $450 million worldwide.[32] The film spawned two sequels starring Clooney, Ocean's Twelve in 2004 and Ocean's Thirteen in 2007.

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, an adaptation of the autobiography of TV producer Chuck Barris. Though the film didn't do well at the box office, Clooney's direction showed promise.[33]

In 2005, Clooney starred in Syriana, which was based loosely on former Central Intelligence Agency agent Robert Baer and his memoirs of being an agent in the Middle East. He suffered an accident on the set of Syriana, which resulted in a brain injury with complications arising from a punctured dura.[34] 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.

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 also received the American Cinematheque Award, which honors an artist in the entertainment industry who has made "a significant contribution to the art of motion pictures".[35] On January 22, 2008, Clooney was nominated for an Academy Award (and many other awards) for Best Actor for his role in Michael Clayton (2007). He then directed his third film, Leatherheads (2008), in which he also starred. It was reported on April 4, 2008, in Variety that Clooney had quietly resigned from the Writers Guild of America over controversy surrounding Leatherheads. Clooney, who is the director, producer, and star of the film, claimed that he had contributed in writing "all but two scenes" of the film and requested a writing credit, alongside Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly, who had been working on the screenplay for 17 years. In an arbitration vote, Clooney lost 2–1. He decided to withdraw from the union over the decision. Clooney became a "financial core status" non-member, meaning he no longer had voting rights, and cannot run for office or attend membership meetings, according to the WGA's constitution.[36]

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. 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.

As of 2011, Clooney was represented by Bryan Lourd, co-chairman of Creative Artists Agency (CAA).[37] 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 and was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild for Best Actor. He was also nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor and the Academy Award for Best Actor. He was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film The Ides of March.

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 the film 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.

Clooney co-starred with Sandra Bullock in Gravity (2013), a science fiction film directed by Alfonso Cuarón.[38] He will co-write, direct and star 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.[39] Clooney also produced August: Osage County (2013), an adaptation of the play of the same name. The film starred Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.[40]

Political views

In the US

Clooney supported Barack Obama's campaign in the 2008 presidential election[41] and in the 2012 presidential election.[42] He is a supporter of gay rights.[43]

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.[44]

In February 2009, he visited Goz Beida, Chad, with NY Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof.[45] In January 2010, he organized the Telethon Hope for Haiti Now,[46] which collected donations for the 2010 Haiti earthquake victims.

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.[47] The production was held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre and broadcast on YouTube to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.[48][49] 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.[50]

Darfur

Clooney has advocated a resolution of the Darfur conflict.[51]

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.[52][53][54][55] 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.[56] In December, he visited China and Egypt with Don Cheadle and two Olympic winners to ask both governments to pressure Sudan's government.[57]

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.[58] He narrated and was co-executor producer of the 2007 documentary Sand and Sorrow.[59] 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.[60] 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."[61][62] On January 18, 2008, the United Nations announced Clooney's appointment as a UN messenger of peace, effective January 31.[1][2]

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.[63]

Clooney and John Prendergast co-wrote a Washington Post op-ed piece in May 2011, titled "Dancing with a dictator in Sudan", arguing that:[64]

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, during a protest.[65][66] Clooney had intended to be arrested when he planned the protest.[66] Several other prominent participants in the protest were also arrested, including Martin Luther King III.[66]

Controversy

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.[21][67][67][68] 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."[69] 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."[68][70]

Heston himself commented, "It just goes to show that sometimes class does skip a generation," referring to Clooney's aunt, Rosemary Clooney.[70] Heston further commented on the Clooney joke: "I don't know the man – never met him, never even spoken to him, but I feel sorry for George Clooney – one day he may get Alzheimer's disease. I served my country in World War II. I survived that – I guess I can survive some bad words from this fellow."[71] 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."[72] Clooney said in 2008 he subsequently apologized to Heston in a letter, and that he received a nice response from Heston's wife.[21]

On January 16, 2006, during his acceptance speech for the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Syriana, Clooney paused to sarcastically thank disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff before adding, "Who would name their kid Jack with the word ‘off’ at the end of your last name? No wonder that guy is screwed up!"[73] Abramoff's father wrote a letter to The Desert Sun, calling Clooney's comment "glib and ridiculous".[74] Larry King asked Clooney on CNN if he would apologize, but Clooney declined.[74]

Personal life

Relationships

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

Clooney was married to actress Talia Balsam from 1989 until they divorced in 1993. In 2007, he said that he will never marry again.[75] After meeting British model Lisa Snowdon on the set of a martini advertisement in 2000, he had a five-year on-again, off-again relationship with her.[76] In June 2007, he started dating reality personality Sarah Larson, but the couple broke up in May 2008.[77] In July 2009, Clooney was in a relationship with Italian actress Elisabetta Canalis until they split in June 2011.[78][79][80] In July 2011, Clooney started dating former WWE Diva Stacy Keibler,[81] and they ended their relationship in July 2013.[82][83] 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).[84][85][86][87][88]

Often featured in People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" issue, Clooney's marital status and availability are a running joke among female fans who still fantasize they have a chance to bring him to the altar. Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Las Vegas has a "Marrying George Clooney" photo-op, in which museum visitors can put on a wedding gown and stand next to a wax statue of the actor in a tuxedo.[89]

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."[90]

Homes

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,[91] near the former residence of Italian author Ada Negri.[92] Clooney also maintains a home in Los Cabos, Mexico that is next door to the home of Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber. [93]

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,[94] while Clooney said that the driver signaled left and then decided to make an abrupt right turn and clipped his motorcycle. Clooney was treated and released from the Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, New Jersey.[95] 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.[96] Clooney said: "[W]hile I very much believe in a patient's right to privacy, I would hope that this could be settled without suspending medical workers."[97]

Pets

"Max" (1987–December 1, 2006) was Clooney's pet Vietnamese black bristled potbellied pig, often referred to as "Max the star" by Clooney.[98] The pig shared Clooney's Hollywood Hills home, as well as Clooney's bed, and frequently made cameos in interviews, mostly because of his enormous size.[99] He is often credited with saving Clooney's life by waking him up before the Northridge earthquake on January 16, 1994.[98] In 2006, the pig was taken for a flight on John Travolta's private jet.[100]

Max was bought by Clooney in 1988 as a gift for his then-girlfriend Kelly Preston, who later became Travolta's wife.[101] The pig used to have a special cattle-pen and his own corner in the garage of Clooney's manor.[102] Max was seriously injured in 2001 when one of Clooney's friends accidentally ran him over with his car.[103] Weighing ca. 300 pounds (over 130 kg), Max died in Los Angeles of natural causes, as has been stated by Clooney's press secretary Stan Rosenfield. Because he was known to have arthritis, and was partly blind, the animal was falsely reported to have died in January 2005. Clooney dotingly recalls that Max would squeal every morning until he was fed.[100] A column on Max by Clooney's father, Nick, appeared in The Cincinnati Enquirer.[104]

He also owned two bulldogs, named Bud and Lou, after the famous comedy team Abbott and Costello. Both dogs have died; one from a rattlesnake bite.[105][106]

In the media

Clooney in January 2012

Clooney is one of three people to have been given the title of "Sexiest Man Alive" twice by People Magazine; first in 1997 and again in 2006.[107] He appeared in commercials outside the US for products such as Fiat, Nespresso, and Martini vermouth, and lent his voice to a series of Budweiser ads beginning in 2005.[108] Clooney was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2007, 2008, and 2009.[109][110][111]

South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker lampooned Clooney, among other stars, in their feature film Team America: World Police. Clooney later said that he would have been offended if he hadn't been made fun of in the film.[112] He was also mentioned in the South Park episode "Smug Alert!", which mocks his acceptance speech at the 78th Academy Awards. Clooney has also lent his voice to South Park, however, appearing in the episode "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" as Sparky the Dog, and as the emergency room doctor in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Clooney was also caricatured in the American Dad! episode Tears of a Clooney, in which Francine sees her plans to destroy Clooney materialize.[113]

Director Alexander Cartio made his debut feature film entitled Convincing Clooney about a Los Angeles artist, who faced with rejection as an actor and screenplay writer, arrives at his master plan to get Clooney to star in his first-ever low-budget short film. The story was released on DVD in November 2011.[114][115]

Awards and honors

Filmography

References

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External links

Preceded by
Val Kilmer
Batman Actor
1997
Succeeded by
Christian Bale