It’s not just his looks, or fabulous gift for bullshit, but his political stands, evident in the movies he makes. He was at the awards for Syriana, a Stephen Gaghan picture in which Clooney played (get this) a conscience-ridden C.I.A. agent lost in a hall of mirrors. He got fat to play the role, and acted up a storm, and cast down his eyes, and let himself be tortured. He got the award for that one—best supporting. That's the sparkling actor we see on screen.
It can and has been argued that Clooney is the last of the old-time movie stars, a throwback to Jimmy Stewart or Gregory Peck, or the master himself, Cary Grant, the only American actor who radiates a calming sense of adulthood, the only grown-up in the room. It’s this persona—the decent man in a cockeyed world gone wrong—that he carries from role to role and that makes you cheer him the way the studio audience used to cheer every time Fonzie came on the set. Maybe he’s a doctor, maybe he’s a convict, but Clooney is always Clooney the way Gable was always Gable.
Off screen, Gorge Clooney lives in Studio City, just over the ridge from Beverly Hills. To get there, you drive on big roads and small, and, for a time, hug the rocks along Mulholland, the world spread below, all those neighborhoods and fields glowing beneath a chemical fog. It feels as if you are ascending, higher and higher, up to a Shangri-la, where the master, sits cross-legged and drinks herbal tea...
Pictures via Vanity Fair