Perspective 3: George Clooney

With the BAFTAs just gone and the Oscars coming up on the 26th, a lot of buzz has been circulating around the nominations and the films up for awards, as detailed here on RhettMedia at Out of the nominations, one name that resonated through both lists was George Clooney’s for his role in the acclaimed The Descendants. Having been firmly in the public eye for almost two decades now since breaking out as a TV star, Clooney is the focus of this latest edition of Perspective.


1. TV Breakout, ER

Having been involved in a list of minor roles but never quite making it into the glare of the spotlight, Clooney’s breakthrough took place in 1994 when he bagged the role of Dr Doug Ross in mega-hit medical drama ER. Portraying the handsome and assuredly confident doctor, Clooney was able to cut his teeth in the expertly written and fantastically tense series, and managed to help cultivate a following both for him and for the show which saw it last a number of seasons past his exit.

Over time, Clooney became the absolute focal point of the show, as his character’s popularity rose in parallel with the actor’s own reputation with the audience, his name becoming almost synonymous with the show. Although leaving the show to explore other options prior to the halfway point of the overarching run of fifteen seasons of ER, if you asked someone about the show, they would inevitably be reminded heavily of Clooney and probably little else. His on-screen relationship with Julianna Margulies’ character Carol Hathaway drove a lot of the drama in the early series, and helped catapult both performers into the limelight, a feat which has kept them there two decades on.


2. Suave Movie Success Story, The Perfect Storm and the Ocean’s Eleven series

Having developed a reputation as a sex symbol and a widely recognisable face on the rungs of celebrity, Clooney left ER with big things sitting on the horizon and with an enormous, particularly female following behind him, it seemed highly unlikely that his impending transition to the silver screen would warrant a failure. Picking up the lead role in 2000’s The Perfect Storm, Clooney starred in a commercially spectacular movie of epic scale, almost tripling the original budget spent in its box office reception. While the film itself was met with mixed reviews, Clooney proved his mettle as a leading Hollywood mega-star, and would lead him to a role that would perhaps define him.

Embracing the perception of the actor as a suave, charming playboy, Clooney starred as the main attraction of an ensemble cast in the 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven. Boasting a cast that featured Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon, the movie was essentially a vessel for Clooney to play a character that reflected the media outlook of him, and depicted him as the cool, suave bachelor that reports bestowed upon him. The movie received positive reviews and made a mammoth amount of money which spurned a number of sequels of decreasing quality. Clooney was a big hit in Hollywood, and had arrived as a big screen success story.


3. Directorial Maturation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night, and Good Luck

At this stage of his career, Clooney could well have played it safe and continued to accept just performing in the endless number of Ocean’s sequels and potentially accept more critical bombs similar to his turn in the interminable Batman and Robin debacle, yet something which sets the actor apart is his apparent conviction to challenge himself rather than take the easy money on the table. Briefly turning his mind to political issues of the Darfur Conflict in Sudan, Clooney exhibited that the charisma he radiates is not limited to emanating from his attractiveness to the female contingent of movie-goers, but also comes as a result of a deeper sophistication and a more impressive intellect.

Furthering this foray into projects that held more depth, Clooney displayed an interest and subsequently a talent in directing by taking on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind in 2002 as well as the lauded and critically acclaimed Good Night, and Good Luck, a 2005 hit which Clooney also wrote to add to the increasing list of talents he possesses. Perhaps recognising that his advancing age would begin to limit the amount of headlining roles that he could feasibly accept and succeed in, Clooney’s evolution into a director and writer of thoughtful and fascinating films lends itself immensely to the extension of his career, and it’s his maturation and willingness to challenge himself that perhaps guarantee him as a talking point for years to come.


4. Fountain of Youth?, The Descendants

And it’s in this context that Clooney defies the logic of normative Hollywood convention. Depicted as a sex symbol at the height of his rise to fame, Clooney is one of those rare examples of someone who actively attempts to transcend the limiting label of screen eye-candy, his enigma stemming from the simple fact that you are never quite sure what to expect from the actor. His venture into directing seven years seemed like an inclination that Clooney was perhaps wrapping up his acting career. As he was approaching 50 years old, perhaps he realised that his time as leading Hollywood heartthrob was dwindling, and that it was time to step away from the front of the camera and settle in behind it.

However, perhaps the clearest insinuation of what makes Clooney a constant in Hollywood rings is his ability to transition gracefully and learning to pick the right scripts and moreover the right roles for him. His performance in recent smash The Descendants has earned him a plethora of critical praise and a startling amount of award ceremony buzz, narrowly missing out on a BAFTA for Best Actor and awaiting a verdict at the 84th annual Academy Awards for the same category. His performance in the popular family comedy-drama has made it obvious that no actor is ever past it in a main role, and it’s abundantly clear that the fountain of youth in Hollywood lies in the wisdom of knowing which roles to accept and which to avoid.


~ by jrhett on February 17, 2012.

One Response to “Perspective 3: George Clooney”

  1. great article!!! Just did a look at his career myself at

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