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George Clooney: A Monumental Movie Star

George Clooney Monuments Men

Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor took on a surprising new role: bridegroom...

Clooney has spent the past 13 years directing five movies, writing three, and producing 29 — all while continuing to be one of Hollywood’s most sought-after leading men.

When Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw compared George Clooney to a Chanel suit, way back in 2001, she was voicing something we already knew: Like Coco’s classic designs, Clooney will never go out of style.

That was the year the erstwhile television actor starred in Steven Soderbergh’s Oceans Eleven remake, a critically acclaimed heist movie and Clooney’s biggest commercial success up to that point (it would remain his best performance at the box office until 2013’s Gravity bested it by nearly $100 million). As a newly minted member of Hollywood’s A-list, he could easily have coasted on his square-jawed good looks and two (count ’em!) Sexiest Man Alive covers. (Three other actors have had the People magazine honour bestowed on them twice — the four-man club has Clooney, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, and Richard Gere as members.) Instead, Clooney has spent the past 13 years directing five movies, writing three, and producing 29 — all while continuing to be one of Hollywood’s most sought-after leading men. 

His latest release — the Second World War drama The Monuments Men, which he directed, co-wrote, and starred in — was called “exquisite” by Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers. Clooney personally recruited co-stars Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman, and Jean Dujardin, asking each of them to work far below their usual pay scales in order to stick to the project’s conservative budget. The all-star cast plays a band of museum-curator and art-historian heroes on a mission to snatch Europe’s great artistic treasures from the claws of the plundering Nazis. 

Though a lifelong fan of the war movies Hollywood churned out in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, Clooney was determined to film a kind of story that hadn’t already been told on the big screen. When his producing partner Grant Heslov stumbled across author Robert M. Edsel’s The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History on the non-fiction shelf of an airport bookstore, the pair knew they had their material.

“I had some understanding that Hitler was stealing shit,” Clooney told Variety back in February, when the movie had its New York City premiere. “I didn’t understand he was taking all of it. They don’t teach that in school. That’s why I loved the story. We figured, at this point we’ve done so many WWII movies, there really aren’t any new ones. You have to get around to someone as smart as Quentin [Tarantino], who can burn Hitler in a movie theatre to do something different.”

The Monuments Men doesn’t run wild with history like Tarantino’s comic book revenge fantasy Inglourious Basterds. But, wrote Travers, it’s a “proudly untrendy, uncynical movie” — which is, in the critic’s opinion, enough to make it unique. (And it contains a bonus for Clooney fans: a glimpse at what he might look like when he reaches his 70s — his dad, Nick, has a cameo near the end.)

 ...the buzz around the Alamuddin/Clooney nuptials was big and loud. But the actor’s oath to never marry again after his first marriage ...combined with his colourful dating history (an Italian spokesmodel, a reality-TV star ... a WWE wrestler), drummed up a special kind of interest.

In real life, Clooney, 53, reprised a role he swore he’d never play again: that of a married man. He wed British-Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, 36, at a weekend-long wedding in Venice befitting Hollywood royalty. As with almost any celebrity wedding, the buzz around the Alamuddin/Clooney nuptials was big and loud. But the actor’s oath to never marry again after his first marriage to actress Talia Balsam ended in 1993, combined with his colourful dating history (an Italian spokesmodel, a reality-TV star ... a WWE wrestler), drummed up a special kind of interest.

So why the about-face on a second marriage? There’s speculation that Clooney’s political ambitions are the reason behind his decision to tie the knot for a second time. Certain insiders say he’s preparing for a 2018 gubernatorial campaign in California, with hopes of an eventual run for the U.S. Senate. But as a would-be politico, he’s hardly lacking in campaign-boosting connections — the man has played pickup basketball with President Barack Obama and was arrested for civil disobedience while protesting alongside Martin Luther King III against the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. We may just have to accept the improbable plot turn that Clooney, once thought to be Hollywood’s most firmly confirmed bachelor, simply found the right match.

Corrina Allen writes for Movies on TheLoop.ca.