Of the five most recent projects listed on George Clooney’s IMDb page, three are ads for the espresso machine company Nespresso. The most recent one was his only project in 2018—though that didn’t stop him from becoming the year’s highest-paid actor. Clooney simply hasn’t been stepping in front of the camera as of late. And according to a new interview with GQ, the 59-year-old doesn’t plan on changing things up.
Part of the reason is simple: He’s completely smitten with Amal Clooney, and above all only wants to spend time with his wife and their twin children. But he’s also realized that the acting careers of those he most admires—“the Spencer Tracys or the Cary Grants,” as he put it to GQ—only lasted for around 20 years. His, on the other hand, is going on 40, spanning hundreds of TV episodes and dozens of films. “If you’re lucky enough to be able to pick and choose, you can say no to crappy ones and say yes to the good ones, and I’ve done both,” Clooney said. “But as time goes on, it’s boring to just be an actor.”
That’s a big statement from one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and one that Clooney immediately (sort of) took back. “I’m not saying ‘boring,’” he clarified. “It’s hard to find 10 films that you go, ‘Wow, I get it, man. This is great.’ There are moments in films, lots of ’em, but a full film that you just go, ‘Wow, this is great’?” Over the past two decades, he’s only found a handful worthy of starring in: Michael Clayton; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Up in the Air; The Descendants; and Out of Sight. “And I’d like to work a little more than that,” he said. “Look, it’s less about being bored about something and much more about loving the other elements. You know?”
Since Clooney still “love[s] this business,” he’s simply found another way to get involved: directing. To make that happen, he knows he still has to appear on-screen; otherwise, there wouldn’t have been as much immediate interest in his projects like The Midnight Sky, the upcoming film he also directed and produced. (The same can’t be said for Brad Pitt, whose career has followed a similar trajectory. “I’m behind the camera on the producing side and I enjoy that a lot. But I keep doing less and less,” Pitt said last year. “I really believe that overall it’s a younger man’s game—not that there aren’t substantial parts for older characters—I just feel, the game itself, it’ll move on naturally. There will be a natural selection to it all.”)
There’s another way Clooney’s reflections on life have manifested in recent years: It turns out he really did give a suitcase filled with $1 million in cash to 14 of his friends. In 2013, fresh off a paycheck from Gravity, he was thinking about how he didn’t have a family—but what he “[did] have are these guys who’ve all, over a period of 35 years, helped me in one way or another … And we’re all really close, and I just thought basically if I get hit by a bus, they’re all in the will. So why the fuck am I waiting to get hit by a bus?”
The logistics were surprisingly simple. Clooney found a place in Los Angeles with “giant pallets of cash,” turned up in a beat-up van that said “Florist,” and organized a get-together with his friends. “I just held up a map and I just pointed to all the places I got to go in the world and all the things I’ve gotten to see because of them,” he recalled. “And I said, ‘How do you repay people like that?’ And I said, ‘Oh, well: How about a million bucks?’”