Gorgeous George and his leading lady Renée talk friendships, romance and politics with Marie Claire
George extends a hand, winks, and his face creases with warm lines that throw a kink of ripples across his brow, snatch a hold of that wide, knowing, Dean Martin smile and pull it wider.
‘Hi, there,’ he says. There’s maybe two dozen or so people milling about – photographer’s assistants, make-up artists, hairstylists, props guys, publicists, management, film reps – but when it comes the time, George greets each and everyone the same.
Renée Zellweger arrived early in gym sweats. She’s enchanting, tiny, and oh-so-Kentucky sweet. We talk about George.
Did the fact you’re friends with George help with the making of Leatherheads?
RZ Not at all. In fact, it made it horrible.
Is it true you used to go out together?
RZ We’re married! Didn’t you hear? The baby’s coming in July. Why do you think I’m wearing this baggy jacket?
How did the two of you first meet?
RZ I think we were stuck at the same tables and in the same groups for a long time, and that just never stopped. And then, apparently, we got married or something happened and I’m not gonna tell you otherwise?
Ten minutes later, George joins us. Sliding down off the sofa, he sits at Renée’s feet, resting his head (those puppy-dog eyes!) against her leg. We talk about how celebrity has changed.
RZ There’s no dignity in it. You don’t have to do the dumb thing for the dumb thing to be attributed to your biography.
GC That’s true. Once something gets flown out there, like yesterday, it sticks. The night of the Oscars I went to the Elton John party and, apparently, I got mad at Daniel Day-Lewis because he tapped me on the head when he won the Oscar. This is the New York Post: he tapped me on the head, so I caught him at the Elton John party and we got into a scuffle.
RZ And you won, right?
GC Yeah, I kicked his ass. [Laughs.] The truth is, he kissed me on the way up [to collect his award]. There wasn’t an element of truth [in the New York Post story], but it ends up taking some part of your day to debunk that.
Let’s talk about Leatherheads for a bit. You wrote Renée’s role especially for her. She says she didn’t want to disappoint you.
GC We both had that.
RZ Yeah, completely.
GC She’s one of my dearest friends and I wrote this part for her. She’s also, unfortunately for her at times, a big star. When Renée commits, it green-lights a movie. So, there’s a responsibility, as the director of this film, not to screw up my friend.
OK, with your help, Renée, let’s address some of the more serious issues in the world of George Clooney.
GC Bring it on! Ready, go?
You’ve been called ‘the sexiest man on the planet’.
GC Two-time. Two-time.
Tell me what it feels like waking up in the morning knowing you’re the sexiest man in the world.
GC Right now? Do I feel like it?
RZ [Pulls George close.] Let me see. Yeah, he feels pretty sexy.
GC Just call me ‘Sexy’. It’s a tremendous responsibility, as you can imagine.
Quick change of subject: have your views changed on marriage?
GC I imagine [marriage] is something that’s a sort of endgame for people.
What about wanting children?
RZ We’re kinda busy.
GC I’m adopting a 23-year-old.
RZ Yes. And I have an illegitimate child.
GC I did try to adopt Britney Spears ? you know, somebody with some cash
to take care of me in my old age.
GC She wasn’t having it.
This is an edited version of the full interview, which features in the May 2008 issue of Marie Claire, OUT THIS THURSDAY!