SEsquire's December issue features a mammoth profile of Rosemary Clooney's most famous nephew, the popular actor George, entitled "GEORGE CLOONEY'S RULES FOR LIVING." It opens with the sentence, "You must love him." It is unclear whether the 6,062 words that follow are meant to support or subvert this thesis.
If the former, they fail spectacularly, at least in the order in which they are arranged. If the latter, the piece is the subtlest damning of an asshole published in modern history.
For instance, we learn that Clooney has one story about himself (specifically: about rubbing turkey bacon on himself to make a rescue dog fall in love with him) that he is pretty sure will make you like him, and he tells it over and over.
"I rubbed it on me. I'm not kidding. When she came over, the dog went crazy. He was all over me. The woman said, 'Oh, my God, he's never like this. He loves you.'"
He has told this story before. He has even told it to Esquire before. That he tells it again—that it's the first story he tells—serves to announce what is essential about himself: that he's a man who will do what it takes to win you over, even applying bacon as an unguent.
He does not know how to work his own coffee machine.
And yet when it opens, there stands Clooney's assistant, Angel, and when she walks through the dark-wood-and-leather shadows of the house to the kitchen, there stands her boss, trying to make a cup of coffee on a machine he's forgotten how to use.
He's like a flower with eyelashes that are like a different kind of flower. (This might not be evidence that Clooney is an asshole, in particular, but someone had to have been an asshole, for these four sentences to have been written.)
He has a long neck, upon which his long head, adorned by long ears, wobbles like a tulip. Everything is to scale with him. Many people have long eyelashes; he has lashes as long on the bottom as they are on the top. His eyes look like they've been caught by Venus flytraps.
When a line in his eulogy for his Uncle Dante—about Dante eating a ball of hash on an airplane—didn't get the laughs he expected (*tap tap tap* Hey, is this thing on?), he turned the tables on the room, heckling the mourners, kicking down the barrier between the living and the dead, and putting THE SYSTEM on trial.
"A lot of people laughed. But there were a lot of older people there, and there was this moment where they looked like they could have been offended, because here it's a memorial and we're talking about hash. And I just went, 'Every single one of you was in a band. All of you were dancers and actors. And all of this stuff was stuff that you talked about and did!'"
He is unable to distinguish between playful trash-talking and outright lying. Describing a friendly basketball game between his and Leonardo DiCaprio's respective posses, before which Team DiCaprio boastfully predicted victory, Clooney says:
"And so then we're watching them warm up, and they're doing this weave around the court, and one of the guys I play with says, 'You know we're going to kill these guys, right?' Because they can't play at all. We're all like fifty years old, and we beat them three straight: 11–0, 11–0, 11–0. And the discrepancy between their game and how they talked about their game made me think of how important it is to have someone in your life to tell you what's what. I'm not sure if Leo has someone like that."
He almost certainly stood on a chair in a room full of millionaires and gave a mock-dramatic reading of a stupid poem written by another millionaire (not present) to the delight of all.
A few months ago, I spent time with Matt Damon while he was on the set of The Monuments Men, and he told a story about Russell Crowe and George Clooney. It involved Clooney reading a poem by Crowe on the night of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, with uproarious results. It was a great story but not, well, a true one. I told this to Clooney, and he said, "Matt's a storyteller."
He's a shit-talker, who shit-talks people who shit-talk.
Then he said, "The truth is that [Crowe] did send me a book of poems to apologize for insulting the shit out of me, which he did. He picked a fight with me. He started it for no reason at all. He put out this thing saying, 'George Clooney, Harrison Ford, and Robert De Niro are sellouts.' And I put out a statement saying, 'He's probably right. And I'm glad he told us, 'cause Bob and Harrison and I were also thinking about starting a band, which would also fall under the heading of bad use of celebrity.' And that's when he really went off on me. 'Who the fuck does this guy think he is? He's a Frank Sinatra wannabe.' He really went after me. And so I sent him a note going, 'Dude, the only people who succeed when two famous people are fighting is People magazine. What the fuck is wrong with you?'
He's that friend/Real Housewife who uses "You know me! I tell it like it is!" as a carte-blanche excuse for rudeness.
"I mean, when you see, like, Ashton Kutcher coming out going, you know, 'Everybody leave Joe Paterno alone,' or whatever he said, you just go, 'Fifteen minutes longer and a thought process and probably you wouldn't have done that.' "
In order that those assembled might have the most epic weekend ever, Clooney imposes a strict "NO PHONES" rule on Kofi Annan when Annan visits him at his Party Palace on Wealth Island:
At his villa on Lake Como, he has had, as his houseguests, everyone from Al Gore to Walter Cronkite to Kofi Annan, and still he insists that "at dinner, everyone put the phones away. And so there are not a lot of photos of our times there. Because I want us to live them."
He makes fake-profound observations to his close personal friend, the President of the United States, and the President of the United States has to pretend they are really interesting and not at all patronizing because this man has just raised $15,000,000 on his behalf.
"The president came here and there were some people who wanted to meet him. And the president and I are talking to them and they're holding their smartphone cameras up like this. And I'm holding my hand out trying to shake their hand, and they're like, 'Smile.' And I said to the president, I said, 'You know, the oddest thing about what's happening right now is that we've stopped living our lives and we're just recording them.'"
He loves Bill Murray because Bill Murray is impossible to get a hold of. I mean, Clooney could get a hold of him no problem, but you probably couldn't:
"You can't get him on the phone, he won't answer your e-mails." Not that Murray and Clooney strictly abjure the use of electronic communications; indeed, even as Clooney is extolling Murray's talent for remaining out of reach, he produces an iPhone and scrolls to an antic photo of Clooney hamming it up with some sushi chefs. "We went out to dinner and Bill went to the bathroom. When he was gone, I found his phone and took pictures, so that when he got home this is what he saw."
Then he finds the photo that Murray sent him a few days earlier, on the occasion of Murray's birthday. It's a photo of Murray standing with a few friends, showing off his birthday cake. Stamped on the cake, in icing, is an image of the smiling face of George Clooney.
He posthumously mugged JFK.
At his house, he spoke little of politics, more of his political experiences, more still of a letter he'd received posthumously from Ted Kennedy and the political curio that had come along with it. Kennedy had written the letter on behalf of an old friend. The friend had recently found the letter and sent it to Clooney, along with JFK's wallet, circa 1946. It was not an empty wallet, either; rather it was a time capsule whose contents Clooney laid out on the coffee table as he read out loud the description of the items.
"GEORGE CLOONEY'S RULES FOR LIVING" also contains a bonus fact about Brad Pitt, which is that he apparently carries a knife on him at all times with the express purpose of jamming it into tables for emphasis. Whereas Clooney is kind of an asshole, Pitt is simply insane:
"[Brad Pitt and I] met up. And I was like, 'How you holding up?' And he took out a knife and stabbed it in the table and we drank a lot of vodka and he just said, 'This one's going to kill me, man.'
[Image via Getty]