George Clooney hand-writes letters, sews, and stains his home all by himself

Monte-Carlo Gala for the Global Ocean 2019.

George Clooney turns 60 years old in May. I doubt people will freak out about that fact, because it’s a running joke throughout George’s career that people have always thought that he’s older than he is. He looked 40-something in his 30s, and he looked 50-something in his 40s. Maybe it’s grey-white hair, maybe it’s just his “older man” aura. Anyway, George covers the latest issue of AARP Magazine to promote The Midnight Sky, but he’s also receiving the Career Achievement Award from AARP Movies for Grownups Awards (that airs in late March). So George sat down with the magazine for older peeps and he talked about his life, his career and his family – you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

He doesn’t wear makeup: “I’ve never worn makeup in my life. If I have to have a black eye, I’ll put a black eye on, but I’ve never had paper around my collar. I did when I first started, ‘cause I did what everybody told me I had to do. By the time I started ER, never.”

He hasn’t seen his parents since the pandemic hit: “This is an important time for them, and it’s not fair. My friends will talk about their kids and how they couldn’t go to prom, and I go, ‘It’s awful that they missed that. They’ll be fine. It’ll be a blip on their radar.’ People in their 80s, they’re, like, ‘You know, come on, man.’ ”

He’s fine with his age, for now: “Seventy will be more of a shot to the throat. I’m telling you, 70 will f— me up.”

How he kept busy during the pandemic: He stained the entire interior and exterior of his house, and all the furniture inside. “It was getting dingy, and I had buckets of stain, and I was, like, ‘Well, what else am I going to do?’ It made me feel better. And I put chicken wire all around the dog yard.” (Because the family got a Saint Bernard, an adult upgrade from Clooney’s pig, which passed away decades ago.) He also rewired his assistant’s sewing machine. And did some sewing himself. “I do a lot of sewing the kids’ clothes. And my wife’s dress that tore a couple of times. I was a bachelor for a long time and didn’t have any money, and you have to learn how to repair things. If we were on an island and you had to pick somebody to help you survive, I would pick me. Ask all of my friends and they would pick me, too. I can make a waterspout out of this and a pitcher out of that…. But I’m intimidated by anything on the internet. Like, if I push a button and something goes wrong, I panic. I’m a Luddite when it comes to that.”

He writes letters. By hand. Lots of them. Every year he goes away with Amal for a weekend and they both write each kid a letter with the date on it, as a record of where they were at that moment. He and Amal write each other letters every couple of months. “Even in lockdown, I’ll write a letter and slip it on her desk, or she’ll write a letter and leave it under the pillow. I’m a big believer in letters. I have letters from Paul Newman, Walter Cronkite, Gregory Peck. I have them framed. I put them in the house. If it were a text, it would feel different. Maybe that’s a generational thing, and maybe it won’t be that way 20 years from now, but for me, somebody sat down and wrote it.”

Naming his kids Alexander and Ella: “I didn’t want, like, weird-ass names for our kids. They’re already going to have enough trouble. It’s hard being the son of somebody famous and successful. Paul Newman’s son killed himself. Gregory Peck’s son killed himself. Bing Crosby had two sons kill themselves. I have an advantage because I’m so much older that by the time my son would feel competitive, I’ll literally be gumming bread.”

What he does with his share of the $1 billion Casamigos sale: “Four years after we started the company, our return on investment was literally a billion dollars. For three guys. It was crazy. I think we eventually each put about 700 grand in,” though by that time, he had already profited by far more than that. He didn’t invest his windfall or any of the up to $100 million he might wind up making as a spokesperson for Nespresso. “It’s in a bank. I make 1 percent or less on the money. To me, the stock market is like Vegas without the glass of tequila sitting next to you. It’s none of the fun and all of the risks.”

Put down the phone: “People are getting killed because they’re taking a shot of a car crash coming toward them. We’re living in this world where everybody is trying to make themselves fascinating or important or something. When the reality is: Put that phone down.”

[From AARP]

I enjoyed reading this interview, it was well-written by Joel Stein, who has interviewed Clooney several times before, and it’s clear they have a good rapport. The only part that made me cringe was when he named the celebrities whose sons who died by suicide… that was deeply crude and disrespectful, honestly. The rest of it… George doesn’t believe in investing money in the stock market, George hand-writes letters, George sews and repairs clothes, George loves to stay busy and do household chores. It’s not that he’s an old guy, it’s that he’s old-school about everything. He’s not even from his own generation, it’s like he thinks he’s in the WWII generation.

The 46th AFI Life Achievement Awards

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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29 Responses to “George Clooney hand-writes letters, sews, and stains his home all by himself”

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  1. TIffany says:

    He sees himself as his generation’s Cary Grant.

    And honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with that. Cary’s next life was pretty cool.

  2. Julie says:

    “Even in lockdown, I’ll write a letter and slip it on her DESK, or she’ll write a letter and leave it under the PILLOW”

    This cracked me up. Tells you everything you need to know about who’s the brains in that household. I can see Amal hunched over some complicated legal briefs deep into the night while George tests prank toys from his bed.

  3. Div says:

    It’s a good interview, but yeah yikes about the suicide thing. I absolutely “get” what he was trying to say, but it came out poorly. Agree that he’s absolutely one of those people who looked older when they were younger but now seems to have kind of caught up and looks his age (he looks late 50s-early 60s to me). I watched From Dusk to Dawn the other day and he comes across like he’s in his late 30s/early 40s in the film…I was curious and googled and it turns out he was like 33. It sort of fits with his “old school” persona though. The old school celebs often didn’t look so young…part of it was styling but part of it was less of a reliance on fillers/cosmetic surgery.

    • Arb says:

      But the actors he mentioned are all dead themselves. Their children’s suicides are part of the public record. If he had been vague, I think that would be worse. We would all be this king of more modern examples. Honestly, I don’t think he is shaming anyone. I thought it was a strong point, respectfully made.

      • FHMom says:

        Yes. As insensitive as it sounds, all of those men are dead. I dont think Clooney would have said it if they were alive. It’s surprising, though, that that fact is on his radar.

      • Christine says:

        That was my thought as well. He didn’t name any of the actors who are still alive who have lost kids to suicide. Honestly, during the pandemic, I am terrified and heartsick at all the suicides and, worse yet, abuse of kids that is going on that no one knows about yet. I live in the LAUSD, and the number of students who haven’t even logged on to the district’s distance learning, ONE time, during the pandemic is staggering. I am terrified we are going to find a whole lot of dead kids when things start to go back to something resembling normal. I’ll stop, once my mind starts circling this drain, I imagine the worst, and then keep going.

        The more people talk about it, the better, in my mind.

  4. Rapunzel says:

    The makeup bit was hysterical word salad I’ve never worn makeup in my life… well I did before ER, but never in my life…you know, after that.

    I don’t believe him at all on this. And it’s such a lame thing to bring up.

    • Noodle says:

      I love that he wore makeup on The Facts of Life but never after that. Never.

    • MissMarierose says:

      I don’t believe that either. There’s no way he was going without makeup while his male costars wore it, especially in hi-def.

  5. Stacy Dresden says:

    Interesting guy. Much more interesting wife.

  6. SarahCS says:

    I really miss writing letters. I sent my first email when I was 18 so before that with family and friends letters were the only option and it carried on into my 20’s but then just faded out. My mum regularly sends nice cards, just because and I love that. I try to remember to do the same but when we’re texting daily it just feels different.

  7. Darla says:

    None of the actors he mentions are alive though, sooo…I suppose there could be surviving siblings.

  8. souperkay says:

    He’s either a liar or an asshole to deal with on a movie set, not wearing at least translucent shine powder. Makeup in films is a story telling tool and for him to throw it the finger is unprofessional and rude.

    • Matilda says:

      I’ve read this about him before, years back. He has always insisted he never wears makeup.

  9. Susie says:

    I don’t know I found the suicide part really telling. Those aren’t just famous dudes he’s read about those are his peers. Even the guys he didn’t know personally he knows that they faced many of the issues he’s faced. And his kids will face many of the issues their kids faced. Which means those suicides aren’t just biographical details about famous men. There is a genuine and visceral fear that his children will follow that path. The whole giving them “normal “ or plain names and being able to give multiple examples of celebrities who’s sons died by suicide (not cancer or even drug overdose but suicide) makes me think George has a strong fear of his celebrity destroying his children’s lives and their happiness. He wants them to blend in and not be defined as the child of a celebrity because he has real world experience and knowledge of how dangerously that can mess up a child. He always makes a big deal about how being older when he got famous allowed him to bypass many of the pitfalls. He’s the dude who said the age you become famous at is the age you get stuck at. He and his wife become famous as adults. His kids became famous essentially at conception. I bet his biggest fear is that his kids get sucked in by the celebrity machine and trying so hard to live up to being the kids of George clooney that it destroys them. I bet George can give you a long list offhand of the children of famous people who burned out and died quickly due to drugs or suicide . I can see why people would be uncomfortable with what he said but it just seems like such a visceral fear for him that I can get why he said. I also think this topic is gonna be a common theme for him as his children age.
    I also wonder if he is gonna guide his kids away from the industry, or at least tell them to remain behind the camera if they push to be in it. I bet as they grow he will push them to model Amal instead of Hollywood.

    • Blairski says:

      Thanks Susie – very well said. Question – can someone explain why it’s not okay to say that someone died by suicide? Is it not okay to say that’s how someone died, or only in the context of a famous parent? And if it’s not okay, doesn’t that stigmatize suicide and make us less able as individuals and a society to address it as a public health crisis?

    • FHMom says:

      That’s what struck me, also. I could not verbalize it as well as you.

    • eeep says:

      Thank you, that’s exactly what I felt when I read it. You explained it very well.

    • Granger says:

      Yeah, this is really well said, and I agree. Clooney also once said that becoming a famous actor is almost entirely based on luck — being in the right place at the right time (in front of a director who is looking for someone exactly like you). That for every amazingly successful actor, there are thousands of very talented actors who just haven’t been able to get that break. I’ve always thought he’s truly grateful for everything he’s been handed in life, and recognizes that the breaks he’s had could very easily have been somebody else’s. I think he worries about the fact that his kids don’t ever have to think about being in the right room at the right time — because they’re already there. And what that can do to a person’s psyche — am I here because I’m George Clooney’s son, or am I here because I’m talented? I think he just wants to give them the kind of upbringing that will help them navigate and be grateful for their privilege and the doors that will be open to them — not let it destroy them.

    • Christine says:

      If I were George or Amal, I would call you to ask for help in talking to their kids, Susie. I think what you just said is exactly what he meant. Thank you for explaining.

  10. sa says:

    I found his comments about famous people’s kids killing themselves not just crude, but also he didn’t make the point he seemed to think he was making.

    Clooney seems to suggest a correlation between suicide and having a famous and successful parent by naming a handful of famous people whose children committed suicide, but without context it means nothing. Suicide is not unique to the children of famous or successful people, we just hear about them more because of their fame. Nothing in what he says that demonstrates that the children of famous and successful people have harder lives or commit suicide at higher rates than the general public. His comment (to me) comes across as a little dismissive of the hardships and depression suffered by those without a connection to fame.

    • Killfanora says:

      sa… someone who has experienced a family suicide (my brother-in-law) I did not find George’s comment either dismissive or insensitive. It is what it is. Sadly people, either famous or non-famous commit suicide. He was making a serious point about his own fears for his own children, in his own unique situation. I found it interesting that for all the wealth and fame and seemingly fabulous life he leads his fears for his children are not dissimilar to those of many of us.

      • sa says:

        @Killfanora, I’m very sorry for what your family has gone through and for your loss.

        I may have interpreted his comments wrong, but I read it differently than you do. I would have no problem with his comment the way you present it, as his fears being similar to those of other families. Or even if it was presented as depression and suicide affect all communities across all economic backgrounds, including the rich and successful.

        But he goes into this topic starting from how hard it is to be the kid of someone famous and successful, and then he goes into specifics, so I take his comments as him saying that it’s *harder* to be the kid of someone famous and successful. Like they’re the ones that truly suffer and it’s a huge disadvantage in life (I’m sure there are disadvantages to it, but it’s not a disadvantage overall).

        He’s an actor, not a scholar, so maybe his language was just a little too loose and open to being misinterpreted. I don’t generally get the ‘being rich and successful is so much harder than being middle class or poor’ vibe from him so maybe I should be more generous in giving the benefit of the doubt here.

    • Veronica S. says:

      I got the sense he’s talking more about celebrity and industry culture, to be honest. They’ve got money and access, but they don’t have the privilege of privacy, especially these days, like the quietly wealthy do. There’s a lot they have to navigate to keep family issues out of the public eye. It’s also very competitive with insane beauty standards and tons of drugs wound throughout the culture. It doesn’t surprise me it can be a very stressful environment.

  11. Onomo says:

    It’s a little weird – to me – that he makes the comment about sons being competitive with fathers, wanting to kill them. Just…what? I have heard that comment before, and took it as a facet of toxic masculinity culture. Someone told me sons compete with their dads and when they aren’t as successful as them they despair? Idk. Seems to me more a facet of unfair expectations for kids to be super talented if their famous dads were. Or narcissistic – most kids don’t want to compete with their parents, unless the parents make it a competition for love and respect.

    It would have been better if he had actually named what toxic societal thing he was talking about – toxic competitiveness within masculinity, or toxic celebrity or toxic wealth/trustfund culture, than pointing out a pattern of suicide in the sons of famous white cis male celebrities, like mental illness shouldn’t affect rich people or something.

    He strikes me as a little full of himself and cranky honestly. I know 70 year olds who have delighted in finding internet communities of crafting, gardening, chess, bird watching, and dog picture sharing. My grandma was way more online before anyone, and she still managed to be present in her community. Find the glimmers of good, George. Maybe you and some elder actors can set up a group chat and learn memes and motorcycle repair.

  12. Julia K says:

    His wife’s dress tore a couple times. Chrissy Tiegen hid a broken zipper with a jacket. These are not cheap clothes. Designer duds for sure. Why the wardrobe mishaps? For that kind of money I expect quality. I own a classic 25 yr old sheath with nary a tear or broken zipper, bought on sale.

  13. Killfanora says:

    sa…..thank you for you kind response. And for the generosity of your understanding my post. 😊

  14. Matilda says:

    “It’s in a bank. I make 1 percent or less on the money. To me, the stock market is like Vegas without the glass of tequila sitting next to you. It’s none of the fun and all of the risks.”

    OMG! That’s painful to read. His $333m is being eroded by inflation. This tells me he really has no trusting relationship with finance guys, who will certainly earn a nice fee from anything they do for him. On the other hand, basic financial literacy would tell him there are a few types of pretty much rock solid financial products he could diversify and get a better return with. However, this guy has done very well money wise so who am I to judge.