Has any movie star in the history of movie stars ever been more perfect than George Clooney? Look at him now, sitting in his house high up in the Hollywood Hills, off-white khakis, matching socks, spotless tan desert boots, natty blue polo shirt, dreamy, chocolaty-brown eyes, broad shoulders, a straight line of white (but not too white) teeth, hair graying distinguishedly, legs crossed confidently, the easygoing smile and aura of calm assurance. He is talking about something or other – maybe the failure of politicians these days ("We're living in a time where we're so fucking polarized, it's insane"), maybe the atrocities in Darfur, maybe he's even saying a few words about his latest two movies, a political drama called The Ides of March ("It's not designed for everybody to see, but I don't give a shit. I don't need to be more famous and we shot it for $12 million, so anything we do is nice") and a darkly amusing family drama called The Descendants ("If it's not nominated for Best Picture, I'll be shocked. It's that good"). In truth, however, it's exceedingly difficult to hear anything over the blare of how perfect everything is, both him and his entire orbit. This house, for instance, isn't just a house; it's an English Tudor kingdom, with a basketball-and-tennis court, a swimming pool, wet bars, waterfalls, a stainless-steel grill ("I do a mean lamb chop! I'm a master griller!"), a 3D screening room and a Louisville Slugger baseball bat, model C271, hidden under the master-suite bed, for Clooney to use on intruders should anyone ever intrude (which no one ever has). Then there's his lush 18th-century villa on Lake Como, in Italy, where famous folks like to gather, get down, and jump off a wall into the lake ("I got Charlie Rose to do it a few weeks ago, after chumming the water with Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood"). And then there are the girlfriends, always beautiful, always leggy ("I've always been kind of a leg man"), and when it's time for them to go, they always go without fuss or harsh public comment. Really, it's almost unbelievable and nearly too much.
And so here he sits, at his leisure, smoothing down his trousers, saying, "I think one of the major misconceptions about me is that I live my life the way people think I lead my life, with hot and cold drinks running everywhere and a party all the time. They think of my life in terms of certain excesses that don't really exist. Things are actually fairly simple." Case in point, how today started: "Let's see," he says. "Up at 7:30, with my damn dog at the bedroom door. Einstein. He's a shelter dog. His name should be Jackpot. Anyway, I put on a robe and came down and fed the dog. I brushed my teeth and took a leak – simultaneously, if you can, would be a very good move, but if I did that, I'd get toothpaste on my balls. Then I took a shower, worked up a good sweat on the stationary bicycle, and I took another shower. After that, a doctor came over for this physical I get every six months. He took blood, cans of blood. He also took my blood pressure, which was very low, by the way, 98 over 68."
Of course it was. How could it be otherwise? The looks, the money, the fame, the charm, the women, the sheer decency of the guy, the doctor who makes house calls – you name it, he's got it, and now the low blood pressure, too, by the way. It's not fair. It's just not fair that it should all happen to one guy. What about the rest of us? Achoo, gesundheit, bubkis? At the very least, however, he must have paid a price for it. And it must have been a very dear price, indeed.
All the time he gets compared to the greats Steve McQueen, Cary Grant, Gregory Peck – and the theorizing about him is endless. He's the Last True Movie Star. He's the Last American Man. He's Hollywood's perennial bachelor prankster and its most powerful silver-haired statesman. He's among the very few who can do comedy (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Intolerable Cruelty), action (Three Kings, The Perfect Storm), drama (Up in the Air, Michael Clayton), voice-over (Fantastic Mr. Fox), public service (Syriana, Good Night, and Good Luck), feel-good (The Ocean's series) and feel-bad (The American), as well as make the leap from lots of TV (five seasons on ER) to movies while surviving any number of bombs (Batman & Robin, One Fine Day). Furthermore, he's known as the king of schmooze and the definition of class. To the left, he's kind of an angel; to the right, he's more like an idiot. He's certainly a guy you can count on. "One quality that really sets him apart," says Steven Soderbergh, who has directed him in six movies, "is that he only picks fights with people who are as powerful as he is, and that's rare in this business." So, he's all this disparate stuff. But the one unifying element you consistently hear about Clooney is, he is always himself. The Clooney you see in the movies is the same Clooney you read about, is the same Clooneywho goes to Darfur, is the same Clooney who is sitting here right now saying, "I really am very much what people assume." There is no separation, and pretty much he hides nothing.
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