This June, the American Film Institute crowns living legend George Clooney with its “celeb-rated” lifetime achievement award.
It feels as if George Clooney and Hollywood are inextricably entwined. After all, the man starred in ER, one of the most beloved series in television history, collecting a trove of Golden Globes before moving on to an even more storied film career, leading in everything—stylish popcorn films (Out of Sight, Ocean’s 11), comedies (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Descendants) and relevant dramas (Syriana, Michael Clayton). Along the way, he picked up a mantelful of Oscars and nominations for his acting, directing, writing (Good Night, and Good Luck) and producing (Argo).
Off set, he’s fought for human rights, launched a billion-dollar tequila brand, played endless practical jokes on his array of celebrity pals, settled down and had kids, and even added starpowered sheen to some classic LA landmarks, like the Smoke House, Dan Tana’s, Craig’s and the basketball court on the Warner Bros. lot.
It’s certainly fitting, then, that Clooney is this year’s recipient of the AFI’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s always been keen to celebrate Hollywood’s heady legacy, looking fondly on his early days as a starry-eyed kid from Kentucky driving his famous aunt, singer Rosemary Clooney, and her friends around town. Before his big break, Clooney was occasionally invited to lavish parties at silver screen legends’ homes, including Gregory Peck’s place, where Jack Lemmon played piano and Judy Garland sang. “There’s something really fun about being able to experience [all that],” he once told me. “Because when you’re doing a guest shot on Joanie Loves Chachi, you don’t really think that’s going to be the next thing that happens in your career.”
Photography by: PHOTO BY ARMANDO GALLO VIA ZUMA STUDIO