Clooney, George


Clooney, George
▪ 2007
 American actor and filmmaker George Clooney took on his most personal role—that of an unapologetic liberal—to make a pair of politically charged movies that earned him the best reviews of his career. In 2006 he won his first Academy Award, a best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of a cynical CIA agent in Syriana (2005). The complex thriller took a critical look at the oil industry and its impact on international affairs. Clooney was also nominated for best director and best screenwriter (with Grant Heslov) for Good Night, and Good Luck (2005). The film—shot in black-and-white and featuring actual newsreel footage—documented journalist Edward R. Murrow's confrontation with Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Although set in the 1950s, it had present-day relevance with its examination of journalistic integrity and the use of fear as a political tool. Both films reflected Clooney's growing political activism. He was involved in causes to end world poverty and to stop the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of The Sudan. His liberal views, however, made him a frequent target of conservative pundits.

      George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Ky. Although his family had a show-business background—his father, Nick Clooney, was a broadcast journalist, and Rosemary Clooney, his aunt, was a famous singer and actress—he initially wanted to be a baseball player. After a tryout with the Cincinnati Reds was unsuccessful, he moved to Los Angeles in 1982 to pursue an acting career. Two years later he began appearing in television sitcoms. Although Clooney soon had recurring roles on the popular series Facts of Life and Roseanne, most of his early television work was forgettable. In 1994, however, he earned his big break when he was cast as Dr. Doug Ross on the drama ER. The show was a hit and established the handsome Clooney as a heartthrob.

      After having starred in a series of films, including Batman & Robin (1997), The Peacemaker (1997), and Out of Sight (1998), Clooney left ER in 1999 to concentrate on his movie career. Later that year he appeared in the critically acclaimed Three Kings. The comedy-drama centred on U.S. soldiers at the end of the First Persian Gulf War. Clooney next starred in the quirky O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and earned a Golden Globe for his performance as an escaped convict. He scored a major hit with Ocean's Eleven (2001), which followed a group of con artists as they robbed a casino. In 2001 Clooney helped organize a star-studded telethon for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks; it raised some $150 million. The following year he made his film directorial debut with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which was based on the life of Chuck Barris, a television host who claimed to have been a hit man for the CIA. Clooney next starred in several box-office hits, including Ocean's Twelve (2004). In 2006 he began filming Ocean's Thirteen.

Amy Tikkanen

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▪ American actor and director
in full  George Timothy Clooney 
born May 6, 1961, Lexington, Ky., U.S.
 
 American actor and filmmaker, who emerged in the 1990s as a popular leading man, known for his good looks and versatility, and who later became a respected director and screenwriter.

      Although his family had a show-business background—his father, Nick Clooney, was a broadcast journalist, and Rosemary Clooney (Clooney, Rosemary), his aunt, was a famous singer and actress—Clooney initially wanted to be a baseball player. After an unsuccessful tryout with the Cincinnati Reds, he moved to Los Angeles at age 21 to pursue an acting career. Two years later he began appearing in television sitcoms. Although Clooney soon had recurring roles on the popular series The Facts of Life and Roseanne, most of his early television work was forgettable. In 1994, however, he earned his big break when he was cast as Dr. Doug Ross on the drama ER.

      After starring in a series of films—including Batman & Robin (1997), The Peacemaker (1997), and Out of Sight (1998)—Clooney left ER in 1999 to concentrate on his movie career. Later that year he appeared in the critically acclaimed Three Kings. The comedy-drama centred on U.S. soldiers at the end of the Persian Gulf War. Clooney then starred in the quirky Coen brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and earned a Golden Globe for his performance as an escaped convict.

      Clooney's next film, Ocean's Eleven (2001), followed a group of con artists as they robbed a casino. His portrayal of Danny Ocean, the group's ringleader, continued throughout the movie's sequels, Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007). Clooney made his film directorial debut during one of the breaks between shooting for the Ocean's trilogy with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), which was based on the life of Chuck Barris, a television host who claimed to have been a hit man for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

      In 2006 Clooney won his first Academy Award, as best supporting actor for his portrayal of a cynical CIA agent in Syriana (2005). The complex thriller took a critical look at the oil industry and its impact on international affairs. Clooney was also nominated for best director and best screenwriter for Good Night, and Good Luck (2005). The film—shot in black-and-white and featuring actual newsreel footage—documented journalist Edward R. Murrow (Murrow, Edward R)'s confrontation with Sen. Joseph McCarthy (McCarthy, Joseph R.). Both films reflected Clooney's growing liberal political activism. He was involved in causes to end world poverty and to stop the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of The Sudan. In 2007 Clooney starred in the critically acclaimed Michael Clayton, portraying a corporate attorney who pushes ethical boundaries. In 2008 he directed and starred in the 1920s football film Leatherheads and then reteamed with the Coen brothers for Burn After Reading, a CIA comedy in which he played an adulterous federal marshal.

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Universalium. 2010.

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