The Return Of St George

20th January 2012

The ultimate LA style icon is back, with a Golden Globe tucked under his arm – and the chances are that when the Oscar nominations are announced next week he’ll be on the list...

Veronica Broome joined the crowds worshipping at his feet, and secured a few moments with him to ask how he felt about it all…

They say that the Golden Age of Hollywood has been dead and buried for decades – but that only with the recent passing of Elizabeth Taylor has the death knell officially been sounded. Tinseltown classicists are still mourning the loss of this era and its icons, replaced by a boorish generation of Lohans, Hiltons and Kardashians, where the idea of archetypal beauty has been usurped by cosmetic and pneumatic lunacy.

However, look closely and you’ll see that there still exist the faint remnants of a time gone by: a rare few movie stars who, to this day, epitomise the glamour of Garbo, Grant and Gable. There’s Angelina Jolie, for example, long typified as the second coming of Ava Gardner and Vivien Leigh, while Keira Knightley channels memories of Audrey Hepburn. And, as far as the men go, no-one embodies the old school glamour of the Golden Age quite like Oscar winner George Clooney.

On a recent visit to the capital to promote his latest awards-chasing effort, The Descendants, the 50 year-old ground the city to a virtual standstill, with armies of lust-drunk fans desperate to catch a glimpse of the debonair actor at the Leicester Square premiere. Possessing as he does the classic looks and elegant sophistication of Gregory Peck and Cary Grant, it’s not difficult to see why the man creates such hysteria. He simply exudes Old Hollywood allure. But is this something he’s aware of?

“For someone to say that to me, to even associate me with that period in the movie industry is such a compliment,” he muses, sipping on a bottle of still water that would probably fetch a fair penny on eBay were I stealthily to lift it after this interview. Suitably swoonsome in a black leather jacket and faded denims, he radiates a blindsiding Tinseltown glow. “Those are the movies I watched as a kid growing up, that is the generation of actors I aspired to, and you’re right: Hollywood is a different place now. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back there.”

The Descendants, the latest effort from Sideways director Alexander Payne, sees Clooney’s charachter reconciling with his daughters after their mother suffers a severe boating accident, leaving her in a coma. The actor has played a father in several movies over the years, but one wonders how this affects him personally, having no children of his own.

“I’ve frequently taken the role of a dad – in Syriana, One Fine Day and others – but it’s just a job to me. I really enjoy it, and it gives me a chance to tell kids what to do, something I don’t have in my own life! But you don’t have to be a father to play one.” It’s a fair point…

“I'm not campaigning for President”, he continues, “but I can play a Democratic candidate in The Ides of March. That’s acting, that’s the job. You’re playing a different character – it’s not too difficult to separate fiction from fact.”

Awards buzz has already been circulating around both The Descendants and Clooney’s recent political drama, The Ides of March, in which he plays an unscrupulous candidate for the Democrats’ presidential nomination. In fact, industry experts are predicting that both will clash in several categories including best director and best lead actor. That must worry him…

…or not. “Please,” he laughs, flashing that million dollar megawatt grin. “Why would that be a concern? It’d be great if both get nominated for anything but you don’t make these movies for that. Imagine that’s the way I thought – you know, ‘Okay, I’ll make these two films and release them in time for the Oscars, resulting in direct competition’. I’d have to be pretty conceited to think that. If they both get any recognition, it’ll be fantastic, but I don't think about it.”

During his fleeting promotional stopover in London, gorgeous George and his new lady love, model and former wrestler Stacey Keibler, had to endure an endless onslaught of flashbulbs and scrutiny. After his recent break-up with Italian beauty Elisabetta Canalis, isn’t he frustrated with the constant intrusion into his love life? “It’s no big deal,” he says. “It’s not like I’m not used to it at this stage. I’ve inhabited this world for a few years now – I know the questions, I’ve got the answers. It’s part of the job; I understand that and if it bothered me, I would have gotten out of this game a long time ago.”

Deep down, I think he quite likes the attention…

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