“The only failure is not to try”. And nobody could say that George Clooney fails to practise what he preaches. Clooney, the Hollywood star with the roguish smile, opened 2016 with the elegantly ironic and intelligent film Hail, Caesar! – his fourth collaboration with the Coen brothers.
Although his intention was to continue in his father’s footsteps and become a television journalist, he initially pursued a career in baseball; but despite his brilliant performances, this was cut short due to injury. At the age of twenty-one George discovered his vocation – acting – when he was given a small part in a movie. And from then on there was no holding back – he moved to Los Angeles to study at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.
Just like any respectable rise to fame, Clooney’s successes were gradual to begin with. He finally exploded onto the small screen in 1994 as Dr. Ross, a womanizing paediatrician in the TV series E.R., produced by Steven Spielberg. Leading roles arrived thick and fast: big screen parts in thrillers and war movies, dramatic roles, as well as more demanding projects.
In 1997 People magazine crowned him the “Sexiest Man Alive“, a title which was bestowed on him again in 2006. He certainly lived up to his title, dating a steady stream of girlfriends until he met the charming lawyer Amal Alamuddin, who he married in 2014 in the beautiful city of Venice.
He made elegant suits cool, dispelling the idea that jeans are acceptable for any occasion. Away from the red carpet, he replaced the shirt and tie with t-shirts for a more casual look. And his natural salt-and-pepper style became a distinctive element of his laid-back appearance.
Given the circumstances, Clooney was the obvious choice for the role of Ocean, the tuxedo-clad crook who masterminds a momentous Las Vegas heist in Ocean’s Eleven (2001), a remake of the film of the same name. The movie, also starring Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia, was a resounding success – so much so that it was followed by two sequels. A few years later, in 2006, George won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role as an out of shape CIA agent in Syriana.
Clooney is equally at home behind the camera as he is in front of it. This is another facet of the actor, and the reason he defines himself as a hybrid. His directorial debut was in the 2003 film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which gives us a glimpse into Clooney’s well-defined identity, with political messages that are anything but hidden.
Is it enough to make him an icon?