Millennials would probably talk of two things that define George Clooney: ER and "Batman & Robin", arguably the highest and lowest points, respectively, in the 55-year-old actor’s career.
As Dr. Doug Ross in ER, the TV medical drama that aired from 1994 to 1999, Clooney gained a high level of popularity that reached its zenith with him receiving two Primetime Emmy Award and three Golden Globe Award nominations, both for best actor in a television drama series. He was also swamped with leading role assignments in successful movies such as "From Dusk Till Dawn", "One Fine Day", and "The Peacemaker. But then, in 1997, he joined an all-star cast that included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, Chris O’Donnell, and Alicia Silverstone for Director Joel Schumacher’s "Batman & Robin", which, while not a box-office flop, was critically maligned for its storyline, characterization, writing, and for the superheroes’ costumes that for whatever reason, decided to include nipples. Almost 20 years after the movie’s release, Clooney is still apologizing to fans for its numerous “sins.”
While ER and "Batman & Robin" do stand out (for the abovementioned reasons), it would be a great disservice to Clooney to make them the signposts to his bodies of work. For not only is he an award-winning actor and producer, he is also a political activist, a humanitarian, and one of the United Nations Messengers of Peace since 2008.
Born on May 6, 1961 in Lexington, Kentucky to Nina Bruce, a beauty queen and city councilwoman, and Nick Clooney, a former anchorman and game show host at AMC, Clooney played baseball and basketball starting in his high school days, and even tried out with the Cincinnati Reds in 1977 but did not qualify. He attended college but did not graduate, and made money selling women’s shoes and insurance door-to-door. He also stocked shelves, worked in construction, and cut tobacco. His acting career started with an extra role in the TV mini-series "Centennial" in 1978 before landing a major role in 1984 in the sitcom E/R. Ten years later, he would star in another show that eerily resembled the name of his first major TV series, without the slash. ER would run for five years, paving the way towards movie superstardom for Clooney.
In 2001, after starring in the commercially successful disaster drama "The Perect Storm", Clooney appeared in the remake of the 1960s film "Ocean's Eleven" with an ensemble cast that included Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts. It is so far his biggest hit to date, earning $450 million worldwide, and spawning two sequels. He made his directorial debut in 2002’s CONFESSIONS OF "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", and then in 2005, played the lead role in "Syriana", a movie loosely based on the memoirs of a former CIA agent, then directed, produced, and starred in "Good Night, and Good Luck", for which he received Academy Awards nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, as well as Best Supporting Actor trophy for "Syriana". He would be nominated again for an Oscar in 2008, this time for Best Actor, for the film "Michael Clayton". Several more awards went his way for the films "Up in the Air" (2009) and "The Descendants"(2011). In 2013, he produced the Oscar-winning film "Argo". As a result, Clooney holds the distinction of being 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.
Even as Clooney remains active in the world of make-believe, he is also much into world affairs. He has backed President Obama in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, and has endorsed Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidential elections. He is a vocal supporter of gay rights, and opposed the Iraq War in 2003, believing wars don’t beat enemies anymore. He organized the telethon Hope For Haiti Now in 2010 to help the victims of the deadly Haiti earthquake.
Clooney is involved with the Not On Our Watch Project, an organization that calls attention and resources to stop and prevent mass atrocities. He has also advocated a resolution of the Darfur conflict in Sudan, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, as well as the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. And just recently, he and his wife Amal Clooney met with Syrian refugees who have been displaced by the war against Isis.
With all the things that Clooney has done and achieved as an actor and as a human being, he need not apologize anymore for his Batman fiasco, and we would be well to heed the words of this brilliant and humane human being:
On being a good listener:
"You never really learn much from hearing yourself speak."
On trying to look younger:
"You don't want to try to look younger, because you'll look wrong. You dye your hair, you look wrong. You wear a bad toupee, you look wrong. You wear makeup to hid things, you get your eyes done, you look wrong."
On directing movies:
"Directing is really exciting. In the end, it's more fun to be the painter than the paint."
On "Batman & Robin":
"I watch "Batman & Robin from time to time. It's the worst movie I ever made, so it's a good lesson in humility."
On his private life:
" I don't like to share my personal life...it wouldn't be personal if I shared it."
On life in general:
" I don't believe in happy endings, but I do believe in happy travels, because ultimately, you die at a very young age, or you live long enough to watch your friends die. It's a mean thing, life."
On getting old:
"I find that as you grow older, you start to simplify things in general."
On having children:
"I love children and I get along with them great. It's just that I believe if you're going to be a parent, there has to be something inside you that says, 'I want a family.' I don't feel that sense of urgency."
"Failures are infinitely more instructive than successes."
"I was politically active long before I was famous, but I don't want to go into it--would you? It doesn't look appealing."
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