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George Clooney

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George Clooney

Clooney at the 2009 Venice Film Festival
Born George Timothy Clooney
(1961-05-06) May 6, 1961
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
Occupation Actor, director, producer, screenwriter
Years active 1978–present
Spouse(s) Talia Balsam (1989-1993)

George Timothy Clooney (born May 6, 1961) is an American actor, film director, producer, and screenwriter. For his work as an actor, he has received two Golden Globe Awards and an Academy Award. Clooney is noted for parlaying his celebrity into social activism and has served as one of the United Nations Messengers of Peace since January 31, 2008.

Though he made his acting debut on television in 1978, Clooney gained fame and recognition by portraying Dr. Douglas "Doug" Ross on the long-running medical drama ER from 1994 to 1999. While working on ER, he started attracting a variety of leading roles in films including Batman & Robin (1997) and Out of Sight (1998), where he first teamed with long-term collaborator Steven Soderbergh. In 2001, Clooney's fame widened with the release of his biggest commercial success, Ocean's Eleven, the first of a profitable film trilogy, that is a remake of the movie from 1960 with the 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) and Leatherheads (2008). He won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the Middle East thriller Syriana (2005).

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.

Early life

Clooney was born in Lexington, Kentucky. His mother, Nina Bruce (née Warren), was a former beauty pageant queen, and his father, Nick Clooney, was an anchorman, as well as game show and American Movie Classics host. Clooney is of Irish descent on his father's side; his paternal great-great-grandparents, Nicholas Clooney (of County Kilkenny) and Bridget Byron, immigrated to the United States from Ireland. Clooney was raised a strict Roman Catholic. He has an older sister, Adelia (also known as Ada), and 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 José Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney's son Gabriel. From an early age, Clooney would hang around his father's sets, often participating in shows, where he proved to be a crowd favorite.

Clooney 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, and St. Susanna School in Mason, Ohio. 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."

His parents eventually moved to Augusta, Kentucky, where Clooney attended Augusta High School. He has stated that he earned all As and a B in school, and was an enthusiastic baseball and basketball player. He tried out with the Cincinnati Reds in 1977 to play professional baseball, but was not offered a contract. He did not pass the first round of player cuts. He attended Northern Kentucky University from 1979 to 1981 majoring in History and Political Science and, very briefly, the University of Cincinnati, but did not graduate from either. He had such odd jobs as selling men's suits and cutting tobacco.


Early work, 1978-1994

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 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 costarred 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 overbearing boss Booker Brooks, followed by the role of a construction worker on Baby Talk and then as a sexy detective on Sisters. In 1988, Clooney also played a role in Return of the Killer Tomatoes.

Breakthrough, 1994-2001

Clooney achieved stardom when he played Dr. Doug Ross, alongside Anthony Edwards 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.

Clooney began appearing in movies 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 the new Batman in Batman & Robin, which was a moderate box office success, but a critical failure (with Clooney himself calling the film "a waste of money"). In 1998, he 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.

International success, 2001-present

George Clooney cast his feet and hands in the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 2007.

After leaving ER, Clooney starred in commercially successful projects such as 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. It remains Clooney's most commercially successful movie, earning more than $444 million worldwide. The film spawned two sequels starring Clooney, Ocean's Twelve in 2004 and Ocean's Thirteen in 2007.

In 2001, Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh co-founded the Section Eight Productions, for which Grant Heslov was president of television. He 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 movie didn't do well at the box office, Clooney's direction was praised among critics and audiences alike.

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. Clooney suffered an accident on the set of Syriana, which resulted in a brain injury with complications arising from a punctured dura. 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. Both films received critical acclaim and decent box-office returns despite being in limited release. 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 became the first person in Oscar history to be nominated for directing one movie and acting in another in the same year. He won the Oscar for his role in Syriana.

George Clooney at the premiere of The Men Who Stare At Goats in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival

Clooney next appeared in The Good German (2006), a film-noir directed by Soderbergh that is set in post-World War II Germany. Clooney also received the American Cinematheque Award in October 2006, an award that honours an artist in the entertainment industry who has made "a significant contribution to the art of motion pictures". In August 2006, Clooney and Grant Heslov started a new production company: Smokehouse Pictures.

On January 22, 2008, Clooney was nominated for an Academy Award (and many others awards) for Best Actor for his role in Michael Clayton (2007). Clooney 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, stated 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 project for 17 years. In an arbitration vote, Clooney lost 2–1 and ultimately decided to withdraw from the union over the decision. Clooney is now technically a "financial core status" nonmember, meaning he loses his voting rights, and cannot run for office or attend membership meetings, according to the WGA's constitution.

Clooney next co-starred with Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey in The Men Who Stare At Goats, which was directed by his friend Grant Heslov and released in November 2009. Also in November 2009, he voiced Mr. Fox in Wes Anderson's 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.

Clooney is represented by Bryan Lourd, Co-Chairman of Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

Humanitarian work

Clooney in Abéché, Chad in January 2008 with the UN

Clooney has been active in advocating a resolution of the Darfur conflict. His efforts include appearing on an episode of Oprah and speaking at the Save Darfur rally in Washington, D.C., on April 30, 2006. 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 in the face of Omar al-Bashir's failure to respond to the UN resolutions.

In April 2006, he spent ten days in Chad and Sudan with his father to make a film in order to show the dramatic situation of Darfur's refugees. In September of the same year, he spoke in front of the Security Council of the UN with Nobel Prize-winner Elie Wiesel to ask the UN to find a solution to the conflict and to help the people of Darfur. In December, he made a trip to China and Egypt with Don Cheadle and two Olympic winners to ask both governments to pressure Sudan's government.

After making his first trip to Darfur in 2006 with his father Nick, Clooney made the TV special "A Journey to Darfur", and advocated for action in the US. 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 proceeds from its sale being donated to the International Rescue Committee.

Clooney is involved with Not On Our Watch, an organization that focuses global attention and resources to stop and prevent mass atrocities, along with Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, and Jerry Weintraub. He narrated and was co-executor producer of the documentary Sand and Sorrow. Clooney also appeared in the documentary film Darfur Now, a call to action film for people all over the world to help stop the ongoing crisis in Darfur. The film was released on November 2, 2007. In February 2009, he visited Goz Beida, Chad with NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. In January 2010. he organized the Telethon Hope for Haiti Now, which collects donations for the 2010 Haiti earthquake victims.

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

On December 13, 2007, Clooney and fellow actor Don Cheadle were presented with the Summit Peace Award by 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." On January 18, 2008, the United Nations announced Clooney's appointment as a United Nations messenger of peace, effective from January 31.

Personal life

Clooney and Elisabetta Canalis at the 66th Venice International Film Festival

Clooney was married to Talia Balsam from 1989 to 1993. Since then, Clooney has said that he will never marry again. After meeting on the set of a Martini advert in 2000, he had a five-year on/off relationship with British model Lisa Snowdon. In 2007, he started dating Sarah Larson and the couple broke up in May 2008. Since 2009, Clooney has been in a relationship with Elisabetta Canalis.

Clooney's main home is in Los Angeles. He purchased the 7,354 square feet (683.2 m2) house in 1995 through his George Guifoyle Trust. His villa in Italy is situated in the village of Laglio, situated on Lake Como, near the former residence of famous Italian author Ada Negri.

On September 21, 2007, Clooney and then-girlfriend 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 on the right, while Clooney stated that the driver signaled left and then decided to make an abrupt right turn and clipped the motorcycle. He was treated and released from the Palisades Medical Centre in North Bergen, New Jersey. On October 9, 2007, more than two dozen hospital staff members were suspended without pay for looking at Clooney's medical records in violation of federal law. Clooney himself quickly issued a statement on the hospital records matter, saying no one should be punished. He said "This is the first I've heard of it. And while I very much believe in a patient's right to privacy, I would hope that this could be settled without suspending medical workers."

Clooney owned a 280-pound Vietnamese black-bristled pot-bellied pig named Max, which lived with him for eighteen years, until its death in December 2006. 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.

Awards and honours

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