5:01 PM PDT 10/13/2011 by Rebecca Ford, Chris Godley
Over the years, George Clooney has played a life-saving doctor, a casino-robbing con man, an employee-firing drifter and a promise-making presidential candidate. Along the way he's picked up two Golden Globes, an Oscar, and, due to his ongoing humanitarian work, a post with the United Nations Messengers of Peace. Take a look back at some of the most memorable roles and moments of Clooney's career.
George Clooney became a household name and a certified heartthrob after playing Dr. Doug Ross on ER. Although he was an original cast member, he left the show after five years. “It makes me sad, but after five years you've done it," Clooney said at the time. "If there's something for me to come back to do, that makes sense. I will absolutely do it." He eventually returned for the finale of the Emmy-winning series in 2009.
In this 1998 crime drama, the first of several collaborations with director Steven Soderbergh, Clooney played career bank robber Jack Foley. Aside from Soderbergh, Clooney would also revisit the role of convict and con man several times throughout his career.
Clooney put on his superhero suit (with nipples) for Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin. The 1997 action flick garnered tons of awards… for Razzies that is. While it saw commercial success, Clooney’s foray into the Batman franchise was critically panned.
Clooney stepped into the wacky world of the Coen Brothers for 2000’s comedy loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey. Clooney did not get to show off his singing skills, unfortunately, because all his songs were lip-synched. Despite the fakery, the film's music became extremely popular after its release.
Clooney became the second man to ever grace the cover of Vogue in 2000. Clooney, who was 39 at the time, posed with the then-19-year-old model, Gisele Bundchen. As of 2011, only Richard Gere and LeBron James have joined Clooney as male covers in the magazine’s 119-year history.
Clooney starred as Danny Ocean in the remake of the '60s caper helmed by Steven Soderbergh. The ensemble film did well in theaters, and Clooney starred in two more films in the franchise. "The Ocean's films paid for all the bills and enabled me to get a lot of other projects made,'' Clooney once said of the series, which also starred Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.
Clooney stepped behind the camera – and also in front of the camera – for the 2005 drama about the conflict between Edward R. Murrow and U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy. Clooney’s second directorial project garnered six Oscar nominations, including Best Director.
Clooney took home a golden statue at the 2005 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Syriana. “It’s a funny thing about winning an Academy Award, this will always be sort of synonymous with your name from here on in. It will be: Oscar winner George Clooney, Sexiest Man Alive in 1997, Batman, died today in a freak accident," Clooney said in his acceptance speech. That same year, he was also nominated for Best Director for Good Night, and Good Luck.
Clooney has starred in a variety of commercials, both in the U.S. and abroad. He’s lent his image to Nespresso, Fiat, and, most recently, a Norwegian bank commercial in which he pretends to be a newly married man ready to start his life with his new wife.
Clooney has been an active voice in advocating a resolution in the Darfur conflict. He’s met with President Obama – whom Clooney supported when he ran for office -- to discuss the ongoing problems in Sudan. He’s involved with Not On Our Watch, an organization that focuses global attention on preventing mass atrocities.
Clooney, who has said that he’ll never marry again, took a role that may have hit close to home as Ryan Bingham, a man without any personal relationships or attachments who flies around the country firing people. The Jason Reitman-helmed project received nine Oscar noms, but did not win any.
At the 2010 Emmy Awards, Clooney was honored with the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award for his continued human rights efforts. “When the disaster happens, everybody wants to help, everybody in this room wants to help, everybody at home wants to help,” he said in his speech. “The hard part is seven months later, five years later, when we're on to a new story. Honestly, we fail at that, most of the time. That's the facts. I fail at that."
Clooney used his father's failed political run for Congress as inspiration while making Ides of March, which he co-wrote, directed and starred in as democratic Presidential candidate Mike Morris. The film was a festival darling, showing at both Venice and Toronto.
He's tackled Enron, Eliot Spitzer and Lance Armstrong. Now, the Oscar winner is taking aim at the controversial church (and its lawyers) as he reveals that a private investigator has been asking questions about him: "This Scientology thing — that just takes a huge set to take them on," says Armstrong. "But he has the courage to do it." Read More