Before he rose to fame for his role in the 90s medical drama, ER, a young George Clooney had different dreams: Instead of the stage or screen, he had aspirations of becoming a professional baseball player with the Cincinnati Reds. When his tryouts for the team went unsuccessfully, Hollywood was the next step and at 21, he started down the path that lead him into our homes and hearts. Here, we take a look back at his 40-year career and how he’s only gotten better with age.
How young George Clooney got into acting
Born in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1961, George Clooney had showbiz running through his veins. His father, Nicholas Joseph Clooney, was an anchorman and TV host, his mother, Nina Bruce Waren, was an ex-beauty queen and his aunt was the cabaret singer and actress, Rosemary Clooney. Growing up between Kentucky and Ohio, George stuck more to sports throughout his youth, not really catching the acting bug until he was a bit older.
Clooney dropped out of Northern Kentucky University in 1981 after attempting a degree in broadcast journalism, but disliked the constant comparison to his father. Remaining in Ohio, he worked odd jobs to make ends meet, from shoe salesman to a farmhand picking tobacco.
Eventually, he got a call from his cousin Miguel Ferrer, whose father was Academy Award winner Jose Ferrer. The duo were making a film together in Kentucky about horse racing, and Clooney got to be apart of the action. While the film never was released, it lit a fire in a young George Clooney, and in 1983 he moved to Los Angeles with $300 and a beat-up car.
George Clooney through the years
Here, take a walk down memory lane with some of George Clooney’s best roles and life events — from charming pediatrician Dr. Doug Ross to Hollywood A-Lister.
1985: George Clooney got his start on sitcoms
Moving to LA to get his acting start, Clooney began getting roles here and there. You could find him playing parts in shows like The Golden Girls, The Facts of Life, Roseanne, Bodies of Evidence and Sisters. He also started getting smaller scale film roles at the time.
1990: George Clooney in Red Surf
A very 90s looking George Clooney promotes his film, Red Surf.
1994: George Clooney stars on ER
Clooney began his role of Dr. Doug Ross in 1994 in the pilot episode of ER up until the fifth season.
1996: Clooney in One Fine Day
One Fine Day put George Clooney alongside Michelle Pfeiffer as two busy single parents to young children headed on a school field trip. When they’re both late and miss the bus, they must juggle their two kids while handling their looming work responsibilities: Pfeiffer plays an architect with a major presentation and Clooney, a reporter seeking out a source for his latest story on the New York mayor’s mob connections. (Click through to see more photos of Michelle Pfeiffer young)
1996: George Clooney in From Dusk Till Dawn
George Clooney stars alongside Quentin Tarantino in From Dusk Till Dawn. This action horror film combines crime, vampires and even a little bit of romance.
1997: George Clooney in Batman & Robin
Clooney takes on the role of beloved superhero Batman in 1997’s Batman & Robin alongside Alicia Silverstone and Chris O’Donnell.
1998: Clooney stars in Out of Sight
Out of Sight puts Clooney on the screen as a bank robber who has just escaped prison, only to find himself pursued by US marshals. The catch? He begins falling for one, played by Jennifer Lopez.
1999: George Clooney in Three Kings
A group of American soldiers seek out a cache of gold in Three Kings, said to be hidden somewhere near their desert base in Iraq.
2000: Clooney stars in The Perfect Storm
The Perfect Storm tells the story of the Andrea Gail, a fishing boat that was lost at sea after being caught in a massive, deadly storm.
2000: Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Clooney played one of three escaped prisoners in the satirical comedy, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
2001: He lead the gang in Oceans 11
In an ensemble cast including Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, Clooney headed up this remake of the classic Las Vegas heist movie.
2002: George Clooney joins Collinwood
Welcome to Collinwood follows a group of thieves who wish to pull off the perfect heist.
2006: He brought home an Oscar for Syriana
Clooney took home the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting role for his work in the film Syriana.
2009: He anchors Up in the Air
Clooney plays a corporate “downsizer” in 2009’s Up in the Air.
2014: Clooney marries Amal Alamuddin
George and Amal Alamuddin got married in 2014. The big day took place at the Aman Canal Grande luxury resort in Venice, Italy. The star studded event was chock full of celebrity guests, from Matt Damon to Emily Blunt.
2017: Clooney and Amal welcome twins
In 2017, George and Amal welcomed twins. When asked if the children had an abundance of nannies, Clooney told The Guardian, “We don’t, because it’s so important to Amal [to be involved]. We have a nanny four days a week and the rest of the time it’s just us. And during lockdown it was just us – for a full year! I felt like my mother in 1964, doing dishes and six loads of laundry a day,” he joked.
2022: He reunites with Roberts for Ticket to Paradise
Julia Roberts and George Clooney come together in 2022 for Ticket to Paradise, a romantic comedy about an ex-husband and wife who come together to sabotage their daughter’s wedding to a seaweed farmer.
“They sent me the script, and it was clearly written for Julia and I,” Clooney told the New York Times. “In fact, the characters’ names were originally Georgia and Julian. I hadn’t really done a romantic comedy since One Fine Day (1996) — I haven’t succeeded like Julia has in that forum — but I read it and thought, ‘Well, if Jules is up for it, I think this could be fun.’
What George Clooney is doing now
Today, George Clooney wears many hats: In addition to acting, he is involved with various humanitarian organizations. He and his wife Amal also founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice. According to their site, they “gather evidence of mass human rights abuses, provide free legal support to victims and work to ensure that perpetrators are held to account.”
Clooney is also the face behind Casamigos Tequila.
For more Hollywood heartthrobs, keep reading!