Interviews


George Clooney


Occupation: Actor
Date of Birth: May 6, 1961
Place of Birth: Lexington, Ky., USA
Sign: Sun in Taurus, Moon in Aquarius
Relations: Former companion: CÚline Balidran; father: Nick Clooney (broadcast journalist); mother: Nina; older sister: Ada; aunt: Rosemary Clooney (jazz singer and occasional guest star on E.R.); cousin and best friend: Miguel Ferrer (actor); ex-wife: Talia Balsam (actress)
Education: Northern Kentucky University

 

AFTER nearly ten years spent prospecting for the mother lode as a Warner Bros. TV contract player, hunky sitcom vet George Clooney finally hit pay dirt in 1994 with his dramatic role as ER's dreamy pediatrician Dr. Doug Ross. Setting a previously unmatched standard of excellence for soulful small-screen bedside manner, it wasn't long before the major Hollywood studios were clamoring to bring Clooney's talents to the big screen.

Though Clooney started work at age 5, on his father's talk show, The Nick Clooney Show, he returned to acting at the relatively late age of 21, and only after his tryout for a Cincinnati Reds center-fielder slot didn't pan out. With the casual self-confidence of one born into a showbiz family, Clooney moved to Los Angeles, where he landed his first professional gig in a stereo commercial after arriving at the audition with a six-pack of beer under his arm. "If you sit in on auditions, the best actor never gets the job," Clooney later said. "Especially in TV. You get the job when you walk in the door. Because in a weird way, we're not selling acting. What we're selling is confidence."

But Clooney's confidence subsequently took a real beating through some 15 dead-end TV pilots and a number of undemanding series roles  including stints on the terminal sitcom E/R (as a hospital intern), The Facts of Life (as a carpenter), Roseanne (as Roseanne's womanizing boss), Sunset Beat (as a detective), Baby Talk (as a construction worker), Bodies of Evidence (as a detective), and Sisters (again as a detective)  before his gurney rolled in. Michael Crichton's ER, the show that upgraded Clooney from "world's richest unknown actor" to world's latest media darling, won praise for its presentation of the emotional, mental, and physical tolls emergency-room medicine takes on doctors and nurses. The show's departure from the disease-of-the-week, Marcus Welby, M.D. formula worked  ER became the most popular program on television, and its stars rose with the tide.

In short order, Clooney became a hot commodity and high-priced film offers rained down on him. His appearance as a dashing robber-cum-vampire slayer in Quentin Tarantino's 1996 orgy of violence, From Dusk Till Dawn, gave him an even higher profile in Hollywood. Clooney has been pushing his work-endurance limits ever since, on both the small and big screens. In late 1996, he charmed Michelle Pfeiffer in the single-parent romantic comedy One Fine Day and wrapped production on pal Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks flagship action venture, The Peacemaker, in which he played a maverick colonel on the hunt for nuclear-warhead hijackers. Clooney scored another career coup when he was chosen to replace Val Kilmer in the Batman franchise, donning cape and mask for the 1997 installment, Batman & Robin. As for his big-screen outings in 1998, he scored a double-whammy with a sexy starring turn as a thief-on-the-lam in director Steven (sex, lies, & videotape) Soderbergh's adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel Out of Sight, and a small cameo in The Thin Red Line, director Terrance Malick's ambitious adaptation of James Jones' novel of the campaign to take Guadalcanal. He leveraged his rising-star status by inking a three-year movie-development deal with Warner Bros., and by taking a firm stand against exploitative journalism, when he boycotted Entertainment Tonight (its sister program, Hard Copy, aired an unauthorized clip of him and his then-girlfriend, CÚline Balidran) and abdicated People's "Sexiest Man Alive" title. The magazine slapped his mug on the cover anyway. In 1999, the soulful-eyed actor co-starred with Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze in Three Kings, the tale of American soldiers in Iraq at the end of the Gulf War who set out to steal a cache of gold reportedly hidden somewhere near their desert base.

Though Clooney checked out of ER after his fifth season on the series (he plans to make occasional guest appearances), there will be no dearth of sightings of the actor in the years to come. He has signed a development deal with CBS, and his Maysville Productions has a full slate of projects in development. Among the more notable are: Metal God, the story of a traveling salesman who nurtures his creativity by singing in a Judas Priest tribute band; the snowboarding comedy Zig Zag; the neighborhood secessionist comedy How To Start Your Own Country; the romantic comedy A Thousand Kisses; Heat Score, a political thriller about DEA agents who uncover a CIA conspiracy; Move!, the true story of some prison inmates who have an undeniable urge to groove; and His Promised Land, a Civil War-era drama based on the autobiography of John P. Parker, a freed slave who worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Clooney will likely headline a fair number of the films in the eclectic lineup. He returned to the small screen in early 2000 in a live remake of the classic Cold War thriller Fail Safe that he both produced and starred in.

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