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The Untold Truth Of George Clooney

Movie stars come and go in Hollywood, but throughout the years, one actor has remained at the top of the A-list: George Clooney. The multitalented writer, actor, and director seems like the closest thing the industry has to a classic movie star like Humphrey Bogart or Jimmy Stewart, even though he was born far from California in Lexington, Kentucky. And for years, he's dominated the film industry with award-winning films, great performances, and of course, his endlessly charming public persona.

After getting his start on E.R., Clooney successfully made the jump from television to film, and by the time he left the series in 1999, he was a bona fide movie star. Considering that Clooney has been famous for several decades, his fans and followers might think they know everything about the megawatt star, but there are probably still a few fun facts you've never heard about this leading man. From alternate career paths to his proclivity for pranks, here's the untold truth of George Clooney.

George Clooney almost played for the Cincinnati Reds

It seems impossible to imagine that George Clooney, with his acting chops and effortless good looks, could've been anything other than a famous movie star. However, Clooney almost took another high-profile job, but in the end, he didn't make the cut.

During an interview with late-night host David Letterman on the icon's Netflix series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Clooney revealed that he actually tried out for the Cincinnati Reds in 1977, which was later reported by MLB.com. Apparently, Clooney was such a solid high school ball player that he was asked to try out for the team. However, after faring fine with a few fastballs, Clooney couldn't handle any of the pitcher's curveballs, and ultimately, he didn't make the team. In the end, Clooney clearly ended up just fine, and filmgoers and fans of the movie star should probably be grateful that he couldn't deal with the curveballs and turned to acting, instead.

He has some huge show business names in his family

Clooney may have been born in Kentucky, but he definitely came from a Hollywood family, and he grew up surrounded by relatives in show business. Clooney's father, Nick Clooney, is a well-known television anchor and personality, famous for his work on the AMC network, as well as for his time working as a local news anchor in Los Angeles. The senior Clooney then ran for Kentucky's seat in the House of Representatives in 2004, though he lost to the Republican candidate. But he still makes television and film appearances, even popping up in the 2014 film The Monuments Men, where he played the older version of his famous son.

Meanwhile, Nick Clooney's sister was the famous crooner Rosemary Clooney, known for songs like "Tenderly" and "Mixed Emotions," and through her, George Clooney is related to the late Miguel Ferrer, the product of Rosemary's marriage to actor José Ferrer. The younger Ferrer was also an actor, and you've probably caught him in projects like Iron Man 3, Twin Peaks, and NCIS: Los Angeles.

George Clooney is a famous prankster

You might know Clooney best for his leading roles in movies like Ocean's Eleven and Michael Clayton, but the star has an unofficial, secondary calling aside from acting: pranking. Throughout the years, Clooney's affinity for pranks has been well-documented, and from his friends to his costars, it seems that nobody in Clooney's life is safe.

Throughout his pranking career, Clooney has done pretty much everything, from posting salacious bumper stickers on Brad Pitt's car to trapping Julia Roberts inside of her trailer to addressing a particularly rude thank-you note to one Steven Spielberg. However, there's no doubt that Clooney's good friend Richard Kind — Clooney was the best man at Kind's wedding — has suffered the most at Clooney's tricky hands. 

For example, one of these pranks involved a particularly hideous painting that Clooney got Kind to hang in his house. How did he do that? By claiming that he'd painted it after weeks of art classes. He also once tricked Kind into pulling his pants down at a celebrity birthday party by telling his friend that everyone was doing it as a joke. In other words, Kind has definitely been the victim of many, many Clooney pranks ... though they're clearly out of love. In any case, Clooney's co-stars have learned to be careful. The late Bernie Mac once told About, "You gotta watch Clooney."

Some high-profile royals count George Clooney as a close friend

In 2018, the entire world watched as Prince Harry, the second grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, followed in his older brother Prince William's footsteps and walked down the aisle at England's Windsor Castle to marry his bride, American actress Meghan Markle. Royal weddings in England are fairly high-profile affairs, but Clooney and his wife, international human rights attorney Amal Clooney, were among the guests at Harry and Meghan's legendary wedding, alongside other American superstars like tennis pro Serena Williams.

After the wedding, it's clear that the Clooneys and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have remained good friends, even as the Duke and Duchess stepped down from their royal commitments in 2020. In fact, Clooney has actually gone to bat for Markle. In 2019, in the wake of constant bullying at the hands of the British tabloids, Clooney told Good Morning Britain that her mistreatment by the media "seemed to be a little unjust since she hadn't done anything except just happen to live her life."

The real story behind George Clooney's tequila brand

In 2013, George Clooney and close friend Rande Gerber — husband to famous supermodel Cindy Crawford — came up with a pretty amazing business idea in Mexico, and they decided to start their own tequila brand. Once they launched Casamigos, which was named for the estate that spawned the idea, Clooney and Gerber's product became a top-shelf liquor before long, but it seems the two were just in it for fun. As Gerber told Business Insider, "Casamigos really started by accident as far as a company. As you do in Mexico, we would drink a lot of tequila. ... There came a point where George turned to me and said, 'Why don't we create one that's perfect for us?'"

Create one they did, and in 2018, Casamigos turned out to be a great investment when Gerber and Clooney sold the business to liquor conglomerate Diageo for $1 billion. In an email to CNBC in 2018, Clooney told the outlet, "If you asked us four years ago if we had a billion-dollar company, I don't think we would have said yes. This reflects Diageo's belief in our company and our belief in Diageo. But we're not going anywhere. We'll still be very much a part of Casamigos. Starting with a shot tonight. Maybe two."

George Clooney does international commercials for a really good reason

If you live abroad or have traveled in recent years, you might've noticed that George Clooney represents the international coffee brand Nespresso, which he's done ever since 2006. As it turns out, the actor has made over $40 million from the endorsement, and he's put that money to good use.

In 2012, in an Oscar roundtable with Newsweek (via Yahoo! Entertainment), Clooney revealed his reasons behind the Nespresso ads. "I'm trying to make movies in my life ... that last longer than opening weekend," Clooney admitted. "That's it, that's my whole goal. I don't have to make money, I do films for scale and then, you know, I go do coffee commercials overseas, and I make a lot of money doing those, so I get to live in a nice house." With residences in London and Lake Como, among others, his coffee deal has obviously paid off handsomely.

However, there's another reason Clooney is out there shilling for a coffee company. As he explained, "Most of the money I make on the [Nespresso] commercials I spend keeping a satellite over the border of North and South Sudan to keep an eye on Omar al-Bashir." For those who don't know, up until he was deposed 2019, al-Bashir was the president of Sudan ... but really, he was a violent dictator. In fact, he'll most likely be prosecuted in the Hague for the deaths of 300,000 people. And while he was in power, Clooney was using his Nespresso money to keep al-Bashir in check, using his satellite to focus attention on the tyrant.

He had a huge feud with a famous director

George Clooney might be known throughout Hollywood as a handsome, charming prankster, but when it comes to one director, he lost his temper in a big way on set ... and the two ended up seriously at odds. It all went down when Clooney was playing in the 1999 war satire Three Kings. As producer Charles Roven told The Hollywood Reporter, director David O. Russell's budget for the film was being slashed, and he was behind schedule. As for Clooney, the overworked actor was also starring in E.R. at the time. In other words, both men were at the breaking point.

As a result, Russell and Clooney, regrettably, ended up butting heads. So how did the fight happen? As Roven explained, they were filming the climax of the movie when Clooney saw Russell yelling at an assistant director. However, according to Roven, Russell was just yelling so he could be heard over all the pyrotechnics and gunfire going down that day on set. However, Clooney misunderstood the situation — in fairness to Clooney, Russell has a reputation for his tyrannical, tense movie sets — and decided to get involved.

As Roven put it, "And George comes running over and goes, 'I told you, motherf****r, if you're going to pick on somebody, pick on me.' And David goes, 'Why don't you just f*****g remember your lines for once?' And boom! They grab each other, and they're tussling. And so I pulled George away. That was it. But David is always only about the movie. And you have to respect that." Russell and Clooney haven't worked together since, and it's easy to see why.

Getting married lost a bet for George Clooney

For years, it seemed like Clooney would be Hollywood's eternal bachelor. Though he dated (and even married) several high-profile women throughout his career, nothing seemed to stick, and some of his films, including 2009's Up in the Air, even seemed to riff on his reputation by casting him as an anti-marriage, eternally single man. However, Clooney eventually settled down with British international rights lawyer Amal Clooney. After a wedding in Venice in 2014, the two had twins, Ella and Alexander, in 2017. While this is all good news, it ended up losing a pretty big bet for Clooney.

Over the years, Clooney made bets with both Nicole Kidman and Michelle Pfeiffer to the tune of $10,000, with both actresses guessing he'd be married with children by the age of 40. When that milestone passed and Clooney remained single, he reportedly challenged them to make it "double or nothing" until he turned 50 and to keep it going after that. But when he married his wife at 52, he was probably forced to pay up, and after inflating the bet year after year, it seems that he owed considerable sums to both Pfeiffer and Kidman.

He's honest about his turn as Batman

There's no question that George Clooney's campy turn as the Caped Crusader in 1997's Batman & Robin is regarded as one of the worst Batman depictions of all time, and apparently, Clooney agrees. In a 2020 feature in GQ, Clooney owns up to it entirely. "The only way you can honestly talk about things is to include yourself and your shortcomings in those things," Clooney admitted. "Like, when I say Batman & Robin's a terrible film, I always go, 'I was terrible in it.' Because I was, number one. But also because then it allows you the ability to say, 'Having said I sucked in it, I can also say that none of these other elements worked, either.' You know? Lines like 'Freeze, Freeze!'"

With that said, Clooney did manage to mark a milestone amongst the many actors who've played Batman over the years as the first Batman actor to win an Academy Award ... though it certainly wasn't for Batman & Robin. Clooney took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2006 for Syriana, narrowly beating The Dark Knight's Christian Bale — who won the same award for 2010's The Fighter — to the punch.

Surviving a motorcycle accident changed George Clooney's life

Over the years, Clooney has spent his time off-screen pursuing his own interests, one of which is riding motorcycles, and he's had a few accidents. However, as he told GQ, a 2018 motorcycle accident in Sardinia left him with a new lease on life.

When GQ writer Zach Baron asked if, during a collision with a car that left Clooney shoeless and knocked to the pavement with a mouth full of glass, Clooney had any profound thoughts, the actor considered the question carefully. "You know, not really," Clooney began, though it seems that he did think about his family, as he added, "Although my kids were like a year old, and mostly it was just the thought that this was it and that I wasn't gonna see them again."

Clooney noted that his wife, Amal Clooney, has banned him from riding anymore, and it doesn't seem like he's eager to get back on the bike, especially as people took photos of him lying on the ground after the accident. "It's a funny thing," Clooney told Baron. "I'm not a cynical guy, and I really tend to look at life and try to find the good in everything. But I'll never forget the moment that what I thought might be my last few moments was for everyone else a piece of entertainment."

He was once arrested for a good cause

Beyond his acting career, Clooney has made quite a name for himself over the years as a philanthropist, humanitarian, and supporter of important causes, and every now and then, it's gotten him in a bit of trouble. Once, he was even arrested during a protest in a foreign country.

In 2012, Clooney — along with his father, Nick Clooney, and a few United States congressmen and political figures — was arrested at the Sudanese embassy during a protest against the country's then-president, Omar al-Bashir, whom Clooney and his group alleged was a war criminal. At that point, Clooney was working hard to help with human rights abuses in Sudan, and he'd even testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and spoken privately to President Barack Obama. Clooney was fighting for justice, but apparently, the road to justice was a bit bumpy for the star.

George Clooney had a pretty interesting pet for almost two decades

Between his love of pranks and his quick-witted public persona, Clooney has definitely shown his quirky side off to the general public. But there's no better example of his quirkiness than his longest-running relationship ... with Max, his pet pot-bellied pig, whom Clooney owned for 18 years.

Max passed away in 2006, but the two shared an amazing time together over nearly two decades. After Clooney bought Max as a gift for his then-girlfriend Kelly Preston in the late 1980s, he kept the pig in the aftermath of the breakup, and they were buds for 18 years. During that time, according to a piece in The Guardian, Max broke up at least one of Clooney's relationships when a girlfriend offered an ultimatum — her or the pig. Max even got to ride on John Travolta's private jet, following Clooney around the world as he worked on major projects. Losing Max was clearly hard on Clooney, but at least the two shared a long, happy relationship together during Max's life.

George Clooney's acting skills don't extend to his vocal stylings

Though it might seem that George Clooney, with his easy charm and effortless acting style, can do anything, apparently even his talents have their limits, a fact he discovered while filming the 2000 Coen brothers comedy classic, O Brother, Where Art Thou?

In the film, Clooney's character, Ulysses Everett McGill, and his buddies break out of prison, and along the way, they form a country band called the Soggy Bottom Boys. And as the film is filled with songs, it stands to reason that Clooney, whose aunt was a famous singer, wanted to perform a few himself. However, as Clooney recalled during a 2015 New York Film Festival event celebrating the film's 15th anniversary, his voice didn't make the cut. 

As reported by the CBC, Clooney asked for a chance to record some of the film's numbers — like the beloved "Man of Constant Sorrow" — himself, but when he left the recording booth, he saw that music supervisor and producer T Bone Burnett was simply hanging his head. In the end, Clooney delivered the film's central performance, but his vocal stylings were supplied by bluegrass musician Dan Tyminski.