Interview with George Clooney

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Is there anything not to like about George Clooney - Canadian Hairdresser magazine decided to investigate. George Clooney, the silver-haired, multi-millionaire, Oscar-winner and debonair playboy should be startlingly easy to hate.

The envy of men and the most eligible of bachelors, he's outspoken, political, improving with age, and increasingly celebrated as an actor. It turns out, though, behind the good looks, the sharp, designer suits and neatly crafted hair do is humility, humour and - of course - charm. George Clooney is a genuinely nice guy, who's open and honest.

Now, 52, he's back from outer space in the Oscar-hopeful Gravity. It extends a run of cerebral and engaging films Clooney has produced or appeared in recently including The Descendants, Up in the Air, Michael Clayton, Good Night and Good Luck, and Syriana. He is the only person to ever be nominated for Academy Awards in six different categories.

He talks often of "legacy" and there seems a genuine determination to be remembered as a great - he may not possess the acting prowess of, say, a Daniel Day Lewis, but he has all of his ability to know not only a fine script, but the right one.

"This is the point in my life where I can get a lot of interesting films made, and that window can close very fast if you're not careful," he tells us. "I feel I understand the process that goes into making films that will stand the test of time and I'm more determined than ever to take advantage of the opportunity I have... I want to be able to leave some sort of legacy and not have any regrets down the road that I didn't do my best to make interesting films."

When not making these films, Clooney spends much of this time in his Italian villa on Lake Compo - the ultimate playboy pad.

"Life doesn't get much better than that," he says with a cheeky grin. "It's a place where I can get away, read scripts, do some writing, and invite friends over to have a good time.

"It's really nice to sit down and have a two-hour lunch, which the Italians do. I realised that I had spent probably 20 years standing up and shovelling food down my throat - that's not the way to behave now, is it?

"And all this isn't about wealth; it's about taking time and actually enjoying things. What I love about Italy is being able to feel very free there. The Italians have a great joie de vivre and way of looking at the world. Very little bothers them except when their local football team loses. So that kind of spirit is incredibly stimulating.

"As soon as I set foot in Laglio, I feel truly at home and at peace... And no-one cares about the film business there. It's all about food and wine and the beauty of being there. I get to do some work; I get to ride my motorcycle, and that still leaves plenty of time for food and drink. Mostly drink."

The Clooney you get in real life is often not far removed from the Clooney you get in movies: suave, sophisticated, cool under pressure and, of course, well dressed. You rarely see him as a 'down-and-out' or anything other than a ladies man: he's not typecast, but he knows his strength.

He may have come to prominence as Dr Doug Ross on the long-running television drama ER, but his most iconic role is as Danny Ocean in Ocean's Eleven, plus its two sequels... the slicked back hair, the tuxedo - tie open around neck - the sunglasses.

It's difficult to remember a role - ER aside - where Clooney doesn't rock a tailored suit. In Up in the Air, a recent effort, he plays a suave, smartly dressed businessman in his forties, who does more air miles than an albatross and wears better suits than Tom Ford. He's a throwback to that Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart era of actor - there's never a hair out of place.

His style is never flashy or complicated: it's traditional, smart, and well executed. Scour the internet and you'll find countless fashion blogs and magazines urging you to get 'the George Clooney look'.

"I've heard about this George Clooney look," he says, with more than an air of sarcasm. "It's something I've been trying to replicate for years!

"It's great that people respect how you look, but I really think the media believes I pay more attention to my appearance than I actually do. I've spoken in the past about my hair - okay, the grey thing is something people recognise, but I didn't have too much choice on that one! But I'm happy with how I look, I'd definitely say that."

All that's missing for Clooney - as so often is written - is a partner. He split with his girlfriend of the past two years, Stacey Keibler, and recently made the following observation: "Anyone would be lying if they said they didn't get lonely at times... I have been infinitely more alone in a bad relationship; there's nothing more isolating."

Today, he's chirpier. He says he takes nothing for granted but is in a happy place. Indeed, his career couldn't be going better.

"Things are easy when you've figured out how to live. You're able to cut through all the crap that tends to weigh people down and you just focus on what you want out of life and pursue that.

"For me, the key to life is knowing what you want and being able to go out and get it. It takes hard work, but once you get to the point where you're achieving your goals and not wasting time, everything in life becomes much easier.

"I'm pretty close to where I want to be. I'm doing the kind of work I want to do and I still have a lot left to accomplish, and that keeps driving me. You have to be willing to work hard to create your own sense of freedom and that's where the real art of living comes in."

One of the most disarming things about Clooney is that he knows he's lucky and he counts his blessings. Whether it's contrived or not, it's still endearing. He's comfortable with fame - his dad was a celebrated journalist and grew up use to it - so you won't catch him complaining about media attention.

"The problem with famous people in general is that they actually think they're geniuses," he says. "You get famous and you think, 'Yes, of course I should be famous and I've earned it all'.

"You haven't, though. You got lucky. I got lucky. I was in a TV show that got a Thursday night time slot at 10pm and it was a massive hit, and we were drawing 40million viewers each episode. Because of that success, I was able to work in film and eventually get to do the movies I wanted to do.

"But remember," he says, "I'm also the guy who nearly killed Batman for good. So I never take anything for granted."

Written by Anthony Pearce 

Editorial supplied by Interview Hub

Images courtesy of Shutterstock Images

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