Saturday 3 December 2016

Life lessons with George Clooney

Patricia Danaher

Published 14/06/2015 | 02:30

George Clooney: she looks at me confused, about my sense of style and at times she says 'are you going to wear that tequila t-shirt again?'
George Clooney: she looks at me confused, about my sense of style and at times she says 'are you going to wear that tequila t-shirt again?'
The look of love: George with Amal

Actor and director George Clooney (54) hails from Kentucky. He first came to international prominence in 1994 as Dr Doug Ross in long-running drama series ER. Since then he has gone on to play the lead role in a host of movies and made his directorial debut in 2002 with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. He won an academy award for best supporting actor for his role in Syriana and a second Oscar for best picture for his role as a producer on Argo. Off-screen, he is a UN Messenger of Peace and is known for his political activism, particularly in relation to the genocide in Darfur. In September 2014, he married human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. They live between Italy and London.

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When I asked Amal to marry me, we had never talked about it. So it was one of those moments where she could say, "what? Are you crazy? I thought we were just having fun here."

I wasn't looking to get married. Then I met someone who I realised I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I hoped she felt the same way.

We have never had a disagreement. We really get along really, really well. The only adjustments are figuring out our lives.

The deal is that we are never apart for more than one week. As a barrister, she's independently employed and I am mostly sort of on the road. When I knew I was going to be working on a Jodie Foster movie in New York, she said "well, I'll go and teach at Colombia". Not an option for me, but she's the smart woman in the family and our biggest adjustment since being married is figuring out our schedules.

If you look around and your office is only filled with men, that's a problem. With my company, I didn't say "let's go out and only hire women". The best people we happened to meet when we were hiring were women and I do believe you have to pay attention to those things.

There is still unfortunately so much sexism ingrained in our culture. The only good thing that came out of the Sony hack was exposing the fact that even in supposedly very liberal Hollywood, that women are getting paid 78 cents on the dollar and I think that's a mistake.

I'm glad to see films that are women-centric and I think it's time. The only reason that films are run in the majority by men is because the majority of men run the studios. Isn't it interesting that the only person to really take a hit at Sony was the female head of the studio along the way?

I was single for a long time so I know how to cook. My wife makes reservations! Her mother makes reservations! It's a generational thing. I am a decent chef. I spend a lot of time in Italy and I can make all kinds of good pasta. I also make good breakfast food and I'm great at Thanksgiving.

I've become a bit of a connoisseur at tabbouleh. Amal's family makes a lot of tabbouleh (a Lebanese salad dish) and we have a good amount of it. They are a very big family and boy do they show up. I knew nothing about it before, but now I find it to be fantastic. But for my birthday, we had steak and cake and all the aches!

Amal has her own sense of style. She doesn't have a stylist or anything like that. She has clothes that she loves to wear and she knows exactly what they are. She has a great sense of style. She looks at me, confused, about my sense of style and at times she says, "are you going to wear that Tequila T-shirt again?" Every once in a while she will ask me to put on a nicer shirt and I go, "OK, you're right".

The greatest pub in the world is a nice walk from our house in London. Amal and I walk over a bridge and through a graveyard to get there. Going in is fine, but coming back is a little bit, eh…

I have an island on the Thames. I have a boat and we ride around. I share the island with a dinner theatre, so I'll have work there later when I need it. I'll be able to do the one-man show of 12 Angry Men, with me playing all the parts!

Every week we all see a story saying George is going to run for governor. Or that we got married for political reasons - because marrying someone with the last name Allah in it is going to be very good for the political spectrum in America!

I find that politics and I are better served separate. I am friends with a lot of politicians who I like and respect very much and I think the world of them, but I don't envy them for a moment. I truly feel I can be more effective if I do what I do without having to make compromises. In the world that I work in, I can say what I feel without worrying that I'm going to tick off the guy who raised half a million for my political campaign.

Amal continues to work on the things that matter. She's at the International Court of Appeals talking about the Armenian genocide and what happens now is that it gets covered on Entertainment Tonight and it brings things that would otherwise fall away, into the popular culture in a way that wouldn't necessarily have happened before. It's not something she seeks, because she's just going to work, but it's a side benefit that I don't necessarily think is bad.

There are a lot of places I haven't been in the world which would be so much fun to be in with Amal, including Ireland. Our goal is finding the time to visit all these places.

If I could go to one place right now, this instant? She and I on a motorcycle in the middle of the French Alps, near a town called Barcelonette, a Mexican village in the French Alps. Actually, I wouldn't mind being there right now.

From the moment I met her until now, spending the rest of my life with her has become the most important thing. That brings me the most joy in the world. I couldn't be happier and my life is really great. I have a great partner in life and it's fun. I didn't think I was ever going to have that.

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