George Clooney Says Playing Sparky On South Park 'Completed' His Career

Considering that it's been on the air for more than a quarter-century now, "South Park" has been rather sparing with its use of celebrity guest stars. Though celebrity characters frequently show up in the "South Park" universe, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone just as often prefer voicing the characters themselves. This isn't to say that those few actual guest appearances haven't been memorable. For every time one of the show's creators has simply voiced a skewered version of Mel Gibson or Kanye West, there have been appearances from the likes of Malcolm McDowell or Radiohead.

But then, Stone and Parker also know how to mess with the expectations of viewers, including the very concept of the celebrity guest star. Malcolm McDowell appeared not as a named character but as "a British person." Radiohead was integral to the plot of their episode insofar as they relate to Cartman's (Parker) revenge against Scott Tenorman (Toby Morton). They only appear long enough to insult Tenorman, call him a crybaby, then leave.

And then there's George Clooney. His relationship with "South Park" goes all the way back, well before the ambitious and lucrative streaming deals with Paramount+, before "Bigger, Longer, Uncut," before anyone had any certainty that the show would even be renewed for a second season. Clooney was the very first guest voice on "South Park," appearing in Episode 4, "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride." And his part was one of the most head-scratching in the show's history: that of Stan's (Parker) gay dog, Sparky.

George Clooney had 'never played a dog before'

As loyal fans of "South Park" will know, this is a voice acting part that very deliberately turns the television trope of the celebrity guest voice on its head. The voice contributions of George Clooney — who, to reiterate, played a dog — come to little more than barking, whimpering, and panting. In fact, if not for the giant chyron informing us that the episode features guest star George Clooney, we would easily be none the wiser that this was a Hollywood A-lister appearing in this cartoon about four foul-mouthed third-graders.

Clooney, however, looks back fondly on his time in "South Park." During a Reddit AMA, one fan asked him about his portrayal of Sparky. "What was your reaction to being offered the role of Stan's dog in South Park?" asked u/popcorn38. "Did you accept right away or did you take some time to think about it?"

"It was sort of a surprise for me," responded Clooney. "I mean, here's something odd, I had never played a dog before. To finally play Sparky the dog was something that I think pretty much completed my career." While there's no way to tell how facetious Clooney is being here, it's definitely true that not every actor gets to play a canine during the course of their career.

This isn't to say that Trey Parker and Matt Stone have always been the greatest fans of Clooney. During Season 10's episode "Smug Alert!" Parker and Stone poked fun at Clooney's ostensibly self-satisfied acceptance speech at the 78th Annual Academy Awards, saying it contributed to dangerous levels of smug.