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The Last Movie Star

Ian Parker has a very good (and very long) profile of George Clooney for the New Yorker. I've never been in the same room as Clooney, but Parker does a great job of capturing the star's extreme, almost studious, sociability, which is evident even from a great distance:

[Longtime Clooney friend Richard] Kind told me, “I’m very protective of him. When I’m staying with him, I will never bring anyone to the house while he’s there. The reason? This is almost pathological: he has to entertain that new person. Even if he doesn’t want to, he will draw that person in with stories, and will entertain him. He could have been working all day, he could have a headache, it doesn’t matter, when he’s at that dinner, he’s got to talk to that person, and make that person . . . I don’t know whether it’s make that person like him, but he wants to make him feel at home.” ...

[H]e has taken the trouble to think his way into the mind of the person inching up to his restaurant table for an autograph, or the friend of a friend who has become a little dizzy in his presence. (“Your job is to find the best way for those people to hold on to their dignity,” he explained to me. “For a second, they have thrown it out. They got what they came for”—the autograph, the handshake—“but then they’re standing there feeling, God, that horrible taste in their mouth: ‘What now, how do I walk away?’ ” As Clooney described it, they have to be shown a path back to their normal selves.) 

There's also an interesting bit on something I noted in my Leatherheads review last week, Clooney's delight in being able to make the movies he wants to make, regardless of their box-office appeal:

Clooney is one of a very small group of people who, when asked to consider the most satisfying parts of their lives, begin to describe business meetings: “Sitting in a room with a bunch of people who don’t want to make a film that you know is the right film to make. You’ll say, ‘You guys are going to hate this.’ I never thought I’d be in a position to say to someone, ‘I know you don’t want to make this movie, but if I’m doing it for free I can get it done somewhere.’ ” One can imagine the avidity with which Clooney began a career in film directing. He said to me that directing was “a thousand times” as satisfying as acting; “I consider my life as being a director.”

You can read the whole thing--including Clooney's thoughts on Barack Obama (“I love that guy, I love him") and desire to be Javier Bardem--here.

Christopher Orr