Superstar George Clooney gave his 14 closest friends a million dollars each as a way of thanking them for their support while he was a struggling actor.
Repaying the debt he felt he owed entailed driving around Los Angeles with the money in the back of a florist’s van, Clooney told GQ magazine as he confirmed a story that had been the subject of Hollywood gossip for years.
Clooney was flush with money, having just starred in Gravity, the 2013 sci-fi thriller, for which he agreed to accept a percentage of box office takings rather than a fee.
The film was a runaway success and Clooney, who was single at the time, pondered what to do with his windfall.
“I thought, what I do have are these guys who’ve all, over a period of 35 years, helped me in one way or another,” he said. “I’ve slept on their couches when I was broke. They loaned me money when I was broke. They helped me when I needed help over the years.
“We’re all good friends. And I thought, you know, without them I don’t have any of this.”
The 59-year-old actor had already left his friends a bequest in his will, but asked himself why they should have to wait until he was hit by a bus.
However, the logistics of saying thank you could have been turned into a screenplay of a Clooney blockbuster.
Finding $14m in cash was trickier than it might seem but after some research, he discovered a place in downtown Los Angeles where the cash was stored on pallets.
He got hold of an old florist’s van and went to fetch the cash. Clooney bought 14 holdalls, packing $1m into each of them.
He then invited his friends over to his house. “And I just held up a map and I just pointed to all the places I got to go in the world and all the things I’ve gotten to see because of them,” he recalled.
“And I said, ‘How do you repay people like that?... Oh, well: How about a million bucks?’”
Clooney also told the magazine how he bet his Ocean’s 12 co-stars Brad Pitt and Don Cheadle $10,000 to stay in a “haunted house” opposite his home on Lake Como.
Having been given a candle, six matches and a bottle of wine. Pitt and Cheadle took up the bet while Clooney and actor Matt Damon rowed back to the middle of the lake to see how long their co-stars would last. The answer was not very long.