George Timothy Clooney (born May 6, 1961) is an American actor, film director, producer, and screenwriter. For his work as an actor, he has received three Golden Globe Awards and an Academy Award. Clooney is also noted for his political activism, and has served as one of the United Nations Messengers of Peace since January 31, 2008.
Though he made his acting debut on television in 1978, Clooney gained fame and recognition by portraying Dr. Douglas "Doug" Ross on the long-running medical drama ER from 1994 to 1999. While working on ER, he started attracting a variety of leading roles in films including Batman & Robin (1997) and Out of Sight (1998), in which he first teamed with long-term collaborator Steven Soderbergh. In 2001, Clooney's fame widened with the release of his biggest commercial success, Ocean's Eleven, the first of a profitable film trilogy, a remake of the film from 1960 with the members of The Rat Pack with Frank Sinatra as Danny Ocean. He made his directorial debut a year later with the 2002 biographical thriller Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and has since directed Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Leatherheads (2008), and The Ides of March (2011). He won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the Middle East thriller Syriana (2005).
Clooney's humanitarian work includes his advocacy of finding a resolution for the Darfur conflict, raising funds for the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2004 Tsunami, and 9/11 victims, and creating documentaries such as Sand and Sorrow to raise awareness about international crises. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Clooney was born in Georgetown, Kentucky. His mother, Nina Bruce (nee Warren, 1939–), is a former beauty pageant queen. His father, Nick Clooney, is a former anchorman, as well as a game show and American Movie Classics host. Clooney's ancestry includes Irish, German, and English. His paternal great-great-grandparents, Nicholas Clooney (of County Kilkenny) and Bridget Byron, immigrated to the United States from Ireland. Clooney was raised a strict Roman Catholic. He has an older sister, Adelia (also known as Ada); his cousins include actors Miguel and Rafael Ferrer, who are the sons of his aunt, singer Rosemary Clooney, and actor Jose Ferrer. He is also related to another singer, Debby Boone, who married his cousin Gabriel Ferrer (son of Jose Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney).
Clooney began his education at the Blessed Sacrament School in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. Spending part of his childhood in Ohio, he attended St. Michael's School in Columbus, and St. Susanna School in Mason. In middle school, Clooney developed Bell's palsy, a debilitating condition that partially paralyzes the face. The malady went away within a year. "That was the worst time of my life," he told the Daily Mirror in 2003. "You know how cruel kids can be. I was mocked and taunted, but the experience made me stronger."
His parents eventually moved to Augusta, Kentucky, where Clooney attended Augusta High School. He has stated that he earned all As and a B in school, and was an enthusiastic baseball and basketball player. He tried out to play professional baseball with the Cincinnati Reds organization in 1977, but was not offered a contract. He did not pass the first round of player cuts. He attended Northern Kentucky University from 1979 to 1981, majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and very briefly attended the University of Cincinnati, but did not graduate from either. He had such odd jobs as selling men's suits and cutting tobacco.
After leaving ER, Clooney starred in commercially successful projects including The Perfect Storm and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. In 2001, he teamed up with Soderbergh again for Ocean's Eleven, a remake of the 1960s Rat Pack film of the same name. As of 2011, it was Clooney's most commercially successful film, earning more than $450 million worldwide. The film spawned two sequels starring Clooney, Ocean's Twelve in 2004 and Ocean's Thirteen in 2007.
In 2001, Clooney and Soderbergh co-founded Section Eight Productions, for which Grant Heslov was president of television. Clooney made his directorial debut in the 2002 film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, an adaptation of the autobiography of TV producer Chuck Barris. Though the film didn't do well at the box office, Clooney's direction showed promise.
In 2005, Clooney starred in Syriana, which was based loosely on former Central Intelligence Agency agent Robert Baer and his memoirs of being an agent in the Middle East. Clooney suffered an accident on the set of Syriana, which resulted in a brain injury with complications arising from a punctured dura. The same year he directed, produced, and starred in Good Night, and Good Luck, a film about 1950s television journalist Edward R. Murrow's famous war of words with Senator Joseph McCarthy. At the 2006 Academy Awards, Clooney was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Good Night, and Good Luck, as well as Best Supporting Actor for Syriana. He won the Oscar for his role in Syriana.
Clooney next appeared in The Good German (2006), a film noir directed by Soderbergh that is set in post-World War II Germany. In August 2006, Clooney and Heslov started the production company Smokehouse Pictures. In October 2006 Clooney also received the American Cinematheque Award, which honors an artist in the entertainment industry who has made "a significant contribution to the art of motion pictures".
On January 22, 2008, Clooney was nominated for an Academy Award (and many other awards) for Best Actor for his role in Michael Clayton (2007). Clooney then directed his third film, Leatherheads (2008), in which he also starred. It was reported on April 4, 2008, in Variety that Clooney had quietly resigned from the Writers Guild of America over controversy surrounding Leatherheads. Clooney, who is the director, producer, and star of the film, stated that he had contributed in writing "all but two scenes" of the film and requested a writing credit, alongside Duncan Brantley and Rick Reilly, who had been working on the project for 17 years. In an arbitration vote, Clooney lost 2–1. He decided to withdraw from the union over the decision. Clooney became a "financial core status" non-member, meaning he no longer had voting rights, and cannot run for office or attend membership meetings, according to the WGA's constitution.
Clooney next co-starred with Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey in The Men Who Stare At Goats, which was directed by Heslov and released in November 2009. Also in November 2009, he voiced Mr. Fox in Wes Anderson's animated feature Fantastic Mr. Fox. The same year, Clooney starred in Up in the Air, which was initially given limited release, and then wide-released on December 25, 2009. For his performance in the film, which was directed by Jason Reitman, he was nominated for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, BAFTA, and an Academy Award.
2010 saw the release of The American, based on the novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth and directed by Anton Corbijn. Clooney played the lead role, and was a co-producer of the film.
As of 2011, Clooney was represented by Bryan Lourd, co-chairman of Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
2011 saw the release of The Descendants, in which Clooney starred as a husband whose wife has an accident that leaves her in a coma. He earned critical praise for his work as Matt King, and won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama and was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild for Best Actor. He was also nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor and the Academy Award for Best Actor.