George Timothy Clooney (born May 6, 1961) is an American actor, director, producer and screenwriter. Clooney has balanced his performances in big-budget blockbusters with work as a producer and director behind commercially riskier projects, as well as social and liberal political activism. On January 31, 2008, the United Nations named Clooney a "Messenger of Peace."
Clooney was born in Lexington, Kentucky. His mother, Nina Bruce (née Warren), was a former pageant queen, while his father, Nick, is a journalist, anchorman, game show and American Movie Classics host, and an aspiring politician from the state of Kentucky. Clooney is of Irish and German descent. He has an older sister, Adelia (aka 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 and Rosemary's son, Gabriel Ferrer. 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, St. Susanna School in Mason, Ohio.
In middle school, Clooney developed Bell's palsy, a debilitating condition that partially paralyzes the face. While suffering from the malady—it went away within a year—his left eye closed and he was unable to eat or drink properly, earning the nickname Frankenstein. "That was the worst time of my life," he told the Mirror in 2003. "You know how cruel kids can be. I was mocked and taunted, but the experience made me stronger." In 2004, Clooney injured himself on Syriana's set during a torture scene. He had some excruciating headaches and suffered short term memory loss. It took a few weeks for his doctors to find the reasons for his health problems. During The Good German's promotion (two years afterwards), he revealed that he still had to wear a back brace due to this injury.
His parents eventually moved to Augusta, Kentucky. He went to Augusta High School. Clooney has stated that he earned all As and a B in school, and was an enthusiastic baseball and basketball player. He had considered a career in Law at this time, but later retracted. 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 and, very briefly, the University of Cincinnati, but did not graduate from either.
His first major role came in 1984 in the sitcom E/R. It should not be confused with ER, which Clooney more famously starred in a decade later. Additionally, he played a handyman on the series The Facts of Life. He played Bobby the detective on one 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 minor role in Return of the Killer Tomatoes.
Clooney achieved stardom when he was selected to play Dr. Doug Ross on the hit NBC drama ER from 1994 to 1999 and returned for a guest spot in the show's 15th and final season. Clooney was also partnered with Deborah Leoni in their production company Mirador Entertainment.
Prior to his success on ER, he met Grant Heslov, a later close friend with whom he co-wrote Good Night, and Good Luck. Clooney said in an interview that he was driving an RV through the country with Heslov, who, at the time, was getting over a broken engagement, when he got a phone call from his agent telling him that NBC just picked up ER for a full season. Clooney said, "Acting is not my life; acting does control me, but acting is what leads me."
Clooney started in movies while appearing in ER, his first major Hollywood role being 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, the latter being the initial feature length release from Dreamworks SKG studio. Clooney was then cast as the new Batman (succeeding Val Kilmer, who in turn, had succeeded Michael Keaton) in Batman & Robin, which was a box office success, but a critical failure. In 1998, he starred in Out of Sight, opposite Jennifer Lopez. This was the first of many collaborations with director Steven Soderbergh. He also starred in Three Kings during the last weeks of his contract with ER.
In 1999, George Clooney left the cast of ER to pursue his film career full-time. However, in 2009, Clooney returned to ER for one episode during its 15th and final season.
After leaving ER, George Clooney starred in major Hollywood successes, 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. To this day, it remains Clooney's most commercially successful movie, earning approximately US$444,200,000 worldwide. The film spawned two sequels starring Clooney, Ocean's Twelve in 2004 and Ocean's Thirteen in 2007. In 2001, Clooney founded the production studio Section Eight with Steven Soderbergh. Clooney is generally considered Chief Actor.
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. 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 would go on to win for his role in Syriana.
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. He must continue to pay his dues, but gets a break on "non-germane" WGA activities, such as political and lobbying efforts. His decision is also irrevocable. Beforehand, Clooney was an active member of the WGA, even receiving an Academy Award-nomination for writing Good Night and Good Luck. He is currently writing two screenplays with Grant Heslov.
Clooney appeared in The Good German, a film-noir directed by Soderbergh. The film is set in post-World War II Germany.
Clooney also received the American Cinematheque Award in October 2006, an award that honors an artist in the entertainment industry who has made "a significant contribution to the art of motion pictures". On January 22, 2008, Clooney was nominated for Best Actor for his role in Michael Clayton, but lost to Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood.
After the success of Good Night, and Good Luck, Clooney said he planned to devote more of his energy to directing. He said that the directing industry is "a great industry to grow old in." Clooney directed the film Leatherheads, in which he also stars.
Clooney is self-deprecating in interviews, telling STV in April 2008 that Leatherheads, one of his lightest movies, is a "cry for peace." In the same interview, when asked about reconciling George Clooney the actor and George Clooney the director, he said "there's a lot of ego there... so I just take it out on the actors."
Clooney is currently working on his next project, Men Who Stare At Goats, which is being directed by his best pal Grant Heslov and is set for release in 2010. Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey have also signed on to star. Another project Clooney has signed on for is Up in the Air which is set for a 2009 release. It is being directed by Juno director Jason Reitman.
Clooney is represented by Bryan Lourd, Co-Chairman of Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, invited Clooney to play a role in the show as the voice of Stan Marsh's gay dog Sparky in the episode "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride", a role with no dialogue except normal dog noises. He later appeared in the film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Despite their history, the show's creators, Parker and Stone, lampooned Clooney for his outspoken political views in their feature film Team America: World Police. However, Clooney later said that he would have been offended if he hadn't been made fun of in the film. He was also mentioned in the episode "Smug Alert!", which mocks his acceptance speech at the 78th Academy Awards.
On July 8, 2005, news reports said that Clooney would be working with Cindy Crawford's husband Rande Gerber to design and build a new casino hotel in Las Vegas. On August 29, the same year, Clooney officially announced his involvement with the Las Ramblas Resort project. However, the project never came to fruition, and the property on which the resort was to be built was sold in June 2006.
After serving as pitchman outside the US for products like Fiat and Martini vermouth, Clooney lent his voice to a series of Budweiser ads beginning in 2005 (which were still running as of September 2007). In September 2007, Clooney defended his work when asked by an Italian journalist how he reconciled working in a Nestle advertisement for Nespresso with his criticism of multinational companies.
In August 2006, Clooney and Grant Heslov started a new company: Smokehouse Pictures. Heslov was the president of television at Section Eight Productions, Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh's production company.
Clooney is creating and producing a television series for Showtime titled The Fall of Bob. The Fall of Bob is a half-hour, single-camera black comedy-drama about a man who is committing suicide while a lengthy flashback occurs of what happened before his death.
Clooney is one of only two people to have been given the title of "Sexiest Man Alive" twice by People Magazine, first in 1997 and again in 2006.
In July 2008, George Clooney was declared the worst Batman portrayed onscreen. "Batman should be obsessed and blindered but Clooney is all cool, ironic detachment and self-awareness." No comment has been heard from the actor. However, he has publicly criticized his own portrayal of Batman several times.