The man, the myth, the legend! George Clooney is a cut above the rest when it comes to Hollywood greats — but his success wasn’t overnight.
The Oscar winner broke into the entertainment industry in 1978 and was always focused on booking the next gig from the very start. Luckily for him, that included small parts on hits such as The Golden Girls and Murder, She Wrote.
“I mean, when you’re a young actor you just want a job,” Clooney confessed to Australia’s 9Honey Celebrity in October 2021 of his early career. “I got a call that they said, ‘Do you want to do The Golden Girls?’ and I was like, ‘Are you kidding?’ I got to work with Bea Arthur and Betty White. That was the time of my life, it was so much fun.”
“Certainly, ER was the game-changer for me,” the BAFTA winner told The Hollywood Reporter in June 2018. “I’d done seven TV series and 13 pilots, and nothing stuck. ER was such a phenomenon that it swept all of us up in it.”
Despite hitting it big with the medical drama, Clooney recalled being “objectified” and seen as only a sex symbol when he was getting started as an actor.
“Quite honestly, I was objectified,” he told The Washington Post in December 2022 of working on shows like Sisters and Roseanne in the 80s and 90s. “I remember doing scenes on Roseanne and I’d drop a clipboard and bend over, and they’d all slap me on the ass.”
The Money Monster star noted that it wasn’t until a few of his bigger movie roles came along that he started to feel like he’d made it.
“It’s really easy to pick: Batman & Robin. That’s not a joke,” Clooney told THR in June 2018 when asked to choose the role with the “biggest influence” on his career. “Up until that moment, I was an actor only concerned with finding work.”
While the movie was a flop at the box office, it made the producer take stock on his career path.
“After the failure of that film creatively, I understood that I needed to take control of the films I made, not just the role,” the SAG Awards winner recalled. “My next three films were Out of Sight, Three Kings and O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
In 2005, the star stepped behind the camera to cowrite and direct Good Night, and Good Luck. He also played Fred Friendly in the film, which he described as an ah-ha moment as it earned him his first Oscar nomination.
“You had to establish yourself as more than that [piece of eye candy] … Good Night, and Good Luck did that for me, in every sense of the word,” Clooney told the Washington Post in December 2022.
Since then, the Suburbicon producer has cemented himself as one of the biggest names in Hollywood. In fact, he is only one of three people who have been nominated for an Academy Award in six different categories.
“I was like, ‘I’m never getting married. I’m not gonna have kids,’” he told GQ in his 2020 Icon of the Year profile, published in November 2020. “‘I’m gonna work, I’ve got great friends, my life is full, I’m doing well.’ And I didn’t know how un-full it was until I met Amal.”
In that moment, the Midnight Sky director — who shares twins Alexander and Ella with his wife — realized he had been missing out.
“I was like, ‘Oh, actually, this has been a huge empty space,’” George recalled. “I’d never been in the position where someone else’s life was infinitely more important to me than my own, you know? And then tack on two more individuals, who are small and have to be fed.”
He joked: “For 36 years, I was the guy that if some kid popped up and started crying, I’d be like, ‘Are you f–king kidding me?’ And now suddenly I’m the guy with the kid, you know?”
Scroll down to see George’s biggest moments in Hollywood — and beyond — over the years: