This is the 25th anniversary of GQ’s Men of the Year issue. As usual, there are several covers. George Clooney has been named the magazine’s Icon of the Year. His new film, The Midnight Sky, is coming out soon. It’s good timing for him. And it’s good timing for gossips. Because George has maintained a very low profile in 2020 – not that he’s ever really up in our faces but with the pandemic, he’s been even more undercover than usual. Until now, almost the end of the year, because he needs to promote his work. By giving one of the most revealing interviews he’s given in years. This profile is so good, I’m trying not to spoil it for you because, really, it’s so good and it’s so much and you know why? I appreciate the writer Zach Baron for spelling it out like this in his piece:
“…Clooney has always seemed to understand that celebrity is a game to be played, rather than a burden to be endured. It's not a coincidence that the most successful franchise he's been a part of was the Ocean's trilogy—three films built around movie stars playing glamorous people in lavish locations. Clooney is the rare person who makes fame seem fun—an opportunity for mischief and adventure.”
YES! THAT IS CORRECT!
Most movie stars these days bitch and moan about being movie stars. George Clooney has never. Would never. That’s not to say that he pretends there’s not a downside. He doesn’t. He talks about the downside in this interview too. About the time a couple of years ago when he almost died in a motorcycle accident and people were still trying to take pictures instead of helping. It’s gross, reprehensible, he’s disgusted by it… but he doesn’t make it the only thing. In fact, he talks about it more observationally than critically. And by the time you’re done the piece, it’s not your main takeaway when assessing his relationship to his celebrity. George Clooney is not here to tell us how much he hates being a celebrity. In fact, he’s been telling us for 25 years that he quite enjoys it, actually. Thank you very much.
HOW F-CKING REFRESHING!
So to go back to why this is a great interview, a great article, a great profile? The answer: because George Clooney is GREAT at being a celebrity.
He checks all the boxes here. He gives the MiniVan Majority what they want – which is details about his kids. In fact, he cosplays the part of the Dad on the Zoom Call. That’s right, you read that right. George Clooney, who spent most of his time as a famous person known as the most incorrigible bachelor, is that guy on a Zoom call whose kid walks into the shot and he makes the person on the other side of the screen listen and be witness to the ramblings of a three year old that only their parent would find engaging. Sorry not sorry. I know you know what I mean. I know this has happened to many of you out there on Zoom calls over the last few months. George Clooney did this. During an interview. And the story is now being told in GQ. Just one of many stories George has accumulated over his career. He’s doling them out with expert precision, calibrating exactly how much detail to give so as to satisfy the audience without going too thirstily overboard.
This is a skill. It’s an increasingly rare skill, because stars like George Clooney don’t come around very often, especially not these days with the fragmentation of media and entertainment platforms. So let’s treat this as if it’s a comet, or a solar eclipse that comes around only every few years or so.
Not that George is all about the dish and no work. There’s still SO MUCH work talk that happens here, particularly during a robust section in the piece about acting, and his approach to acting as a craft, and how his skill as an actor has changed over the years. George doesn’t discuss acting in general terms either – he gives specific examples, he breaks down scenes, he recalls scenes he’s been part of in the past…
At times he sounds like an acting student. Of course we know he’s not a novice. But here’s an actor recognised to be one of the greats of his cohort engaging with acting on a nuts and bolts and practical level without mood, without romanticisation…as an explanation for why he doesn’t really want to act all that much anymore. Not because he doesn’t respect it. But because he doesn’t have to prove that he can do it and do it well anymore.
It’s exactly the kind of sh-t we deep dive on our Show Your Work podcast and I am pitching the f-ck out of this to Duana right now. Like I said, everyone gets a little something out of this piece: the MiniVan Majority gets their fix, the work and industry nerds get a taste, and the gossip is served too.
George has some words for Russell Crowe, I won’t spoil it for you. He also a big fan of Chrissy Teigen. And …
You know that story about him giving his 14 closest friends $1 million each in a suitcase? Rande Gerber has talked about it but up to this point, George has never actually confirmed it himself. And now, he doesn’t just confirm it, he gives us the play-by-play.
Like I said, this is how a celebrity profile should be. It’s the Standard. The Chairman’s Standard, if you will. From the Chairman of Hollywood. Enjoy it at GQ.com.