George and Amal Clooney have quietly taken in a Yazidi refugee from Iraq.
In The Hollywood Reporter‘s cover story, Clooney reveals that he and his wife are boarding the man in a house the actor-director maintains in Augusta, Ky.
“He was on this bus to Mosul, and ISIS shot the two bus drivers and said, ‘Anybody who wants to go to college, we will shoot them,’ ” says Clooney. “He survived and came to America. He got through all the checks, and once he got through those, it was like, ‘Listen, we got your back. You want to get an education? You want to move your life forward? This is something that we can do.’ ”
The refugee is now a student at the University of Chicago.
Clooney has been praised for his philanthropic work, including in Sudan, a cause he picked up after reading 12 years ago about a program of ethnic cleansing that the government was carrying out in its western region, Darfur.
Since then, along with his ongoing commitment to Darfur, Clooney has raised millions of dollars to back South Sudan’s independence, finally won from Sudan in 2011. But to his dismay, things have only soured. The new country’s president and vice president have waged war for control of the land and its rich oil resources, decimating their country and its people. “Within a year, it had devolved into the two being at war with each other,” Clooney said. “It’s a man-made disaster of epic, epic proportions.”
Now Clooney is taking a new approach. He’s begun to track the politicians’ and military leaders’ personal revenue, hiring forensic accountants formerly with the FBI, who have already unearthed some $4 billion in misappropriated funds. He’s also contacted the heads of several major banks to warn them against supporting South Sudan’s leadership and believes he has had some success in persuading them, though he won’t name names.
Meanwhile, Clooney, along with his Casamigos Tequila partners Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman, recently sold their company to beverage giant Diageo for $700 million, with the possibility of another $300 million down the pike. Clooney’s share was about $200 million.
He’s planning to use some of that money to support causes they hold most dear. For starters, Clooney and his wife, Amal, recently announced a $1 million grant to the Southern Poverty Law Center. They’re also planning “take $20 million and put it directly into our foundation [the Clooney Foundation for Justice],” he said. “It will go toward educating refugees, it will go toward housing, it will go to all the things that we want to work on.”
That includes aid for the settlement of refugees in the U.S., building schools where refugees are based and creating a trial watch to monitor courts that advance governmental repression.
Next up: Clooney is promoting his new film, Suburbicon, a drama set in the late 1950s that he directed and co-wrote with Grant Heslov. The Paramount release, starring Matt Damon and Julianne Moore, debuted Saturday at the Venice Film Festival.
Read more about Clooney’s plans in THR‘s cover story.