George Clooney, could we adore you any more?
"The Monuments Men" actor-producer-director and "Gravity" star, 52, opens up about his celebrity in the December issue of Esquire and, a rarity in the celebrity-profiling sphere, opens his home — the same house that legendary actor Clark Gable lived in — to writer Tom Junod.
Here are a few of our favorite quotes and insights from their interview:
On family and comedy: "The first thing that I learned — and I understood it at a really young age — was that I could get a laugh. Really early. Because my mother and father are funny. My father's a really funny man, and at the time we were growing up, in the mid-sixties, and I was like 7 years old, they always had dinner parties. ... And my dad would tell, you know, a story, something a little risqué — nothing dirty at all, just a little risqué. And I knew that I could take the next step, right? The little-bit-dirtier version. You know — 'and deep, too!' And the place would explode! And Dad would kick me under the table — but I always knew that I had that in my arsenal."
On being a star: Since Clooney's career catapulted at a relatively later age, he likes to say he "came from somewhere" and "can still fix a fan belt" on a car.
"I had my Aunt Rosie, who was famous and then not, so I got a lesson in fame early on. And I understood how little it has to do with you. And also how you could use it."
On the Russell Crowe "feud" that Matt Damon apparently embellished: "The truth is that [Crowe] did send me a book of poems to apologize for insulting the ... out of me, which he did. He picked a fight with me. He started it for no reason at all. He put out this thing saying, 'George Clooney, Harrison Ford, and Robert De Niro are sellouts.' And I put out a statement saying, 'He's probably right. And I'm glad he told us, 'cause Bob and Harrison and I were also thinking about starting a band, which would also fall under the heading of bad use of celebrity.' And that's when he really went off on me. 'Who the ... does this guy think he is? He's a Frank Sinatra wannabe.' He really went after me. And so I sent him a note going, 'Dude, the only people who succeed when two famous people are fighting is People magazine. What the ... is wrong with you?'
"But then I had a year. Then I had 'Syriana' and 'Good Night, and Good Luck,' and he was gonna see me at the Golden Globes 'cause he was nominated for 'Cinderella Man.' So he sends me a disc of his music and a thing of his poetry. I think he said, 'I was all misquoted,' and I was like, 'Yeah, yeah. Whatever.'"
A bit of insight from the $15-million Obama reelection fundraiser that took place at his Los Angeles home in 2012: "The president came here and there were some people who wanted to meet him. And the president and I are talking to them and they're holding their smartphone cameras up like this. And I'm holding my hand out trying to shake their hand, and they’re like, 'Smile.' And I said to the president, I said, 'You know, the oddest thing about what's happening right now is that we’ve stopped living our lives and we’re just recording them.'" (He also likes to hand-write his scripts and doesn't allow cellphones at dinner)
On his big dislike/disapproval of celebrities on Twitter: "If you're famous, I don't — for the life of me — I don't understand why any famous person would ever be on Twitter. Why on God's green earth would you be on Twitter? Because first of all, the worst thing you can do is make yourself more available, right? Because you're going to be available to everybody. But also Twitter. So one drunken night, you come home and you've had two too many drinks and you're watching TV and somebody pisses you off, and you go 'Ehhhhh' and fight back.
"And you go to sleep, and you wake up in the morning and your career is over. Or you're [a jerk]. Or all the things you might think in the quiet of your drunken evening are suddenly blasted around the entire world before you wake up."
On Brad Pitt: "For a long time now, Brad has been the biggest movie star in the world," Clooney said. "He's bigger than me, bigger than DiCaprio. And I really admire how he deals with that. It's not easy for him. But he tries to be the most honest version of Brad Pitt that he can be. And he also remains unavailable. He's still a giant movie star because you can't get to him. That doesn't mean that I don't think of him as incredibly talented and smart and all those things. But you also can't get to him."
On "ER," which kick-started his career at age 33:
"It was a hard, hard job, 'ER.' We were working 16-hour days, five days a week. We were learning Latin, you know, to do the show. But you knew that you were never going to get a second chance to introduce yourself to a wide audience. And I was 33. I wasn’t the young one there; I was the oldest one there. So I knew this was my opportunity. I think all the actors were given a bit of an opportunity that summer on a film. I think every one of them was given an opportunity. And I think most of them were so exhausted from the work that they wanted their summer off.
"In fairness, they were also doing a lot. I had the smallest part in the show. And when [Robert Rodriguez's] 'Dusk Till Dawn' came around . . . well, it was a great part for me, because it was a complete departure. And that movie changed everything for me ... ."