The Quadruple Threat

Frank W. Ockenfels 3

George Clooney

How often is anyone nominated as an actor, writer, producer and director in the same year -- with not one movie, but two? The answer: never.

But that's what happened to Clooney when the Golden Globe nominations were announced Dec. 15. It's not the first time the star has been a multiple nominee for two pictures, though: He also received three Globe noms for 2005's Good Night, and Good Luck and Syriana; the latter earned him a supporting actor Globe and Oscar.

Not bad for an actor who admits he's "afraid of failure" and who says: "I failed so many times, I have a much better understanding of this journey. It's how you handle the down part [that counts]."

What's so fascinating about Clooney is that, on each occasion, he's done it with the sort of independent movies largely shunned by today's stars. His two 2011 pictures (The Descendants and The Ides of March) together have earned a mere $65 million domestically, and Clooney hasn't had a hit that reaped more than $100 million at the U.S. box office since 2007's Ocean's 13.

The fact that he's maintained his almost unrivaled star wattage without more blockbusters is a testament to two things: his enormously appealing personality, which was evident at a recent THR Roundtable photo shoot, where he greeted each assistant individually, and his moral stance. Clooney, 50, has turned into one of the most principled stars in Hollywood, willing to lay his neck on the line for causes such as Darfur and Haiti earthquake relief (remember the telethon he put together that raised $61 million?), without being the tiniest bit self-righteous.

This is the year in which Clooney has reminded Hollywood that one can remain at the top of the pecking order simply by staying true to oneself. Given all the temptations of money, blockbusters and franchises, that's a stunning achievement.

Photographed by Frank W. Ockenfels 3 on Oct. 24 at Smashbox Studios in West Hollywood