People in the News: George Clooney - Gale

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People in the News: George Clooney - Gale

He never complained, but his parents knew how difficult those

days were for him.

At least four times in 1983 and 1984 Clooney’s parents asked

if he wanted to come home. Nick wondered if he might consider

returning to college for a year and then return to Hollywood if he

still missed auditioning. “Pop,” Clooney said, “if I come back for

one year, then it will be one more, then one more and the chance

to do this will pass.” A few months later Nick tried again, telling

him that if he had a college degree he would have something

to fall back on. Again, his son refused to budge, saying, “Pop, I

don’t want anything to fall back on. If I have something to fall

back on, I may quit before I should. If I’m going to be an actor,

I have to act.” 23

To become more skilled, Clooney took acting classes taught by

the respected acting teacher, Milton Katselas, who had instructed

A Valuable Lesson

George Clooney attributes one of the most important

lessons of his life to his aunt, Rosemary Clooney, who

believed everything anyone said about her, whether positive or

negative. Clooney concluded that he would ignore the praise

and the criticism and instead concentrate on doing the best

he could.

Clooney gave an example in 2000 when an interviewer

asked him what lesson proved most valuable to him. He

explained that when he was doing a reading for a television

show for the CBS television network, Barbara Corday, a CBS

executive, gushed over Clooney’s work. A week later Corday

told Clooney that CBS wanted to get an acting teacher to help

Clooney. Had Clooney placed too much belief in Corday’s

initial praise, he might have been stunned by this news. The

lesson he learned was that, in the entertainment industry, it is

best to tune out the praise and ignore the criticism.

28 George Clooney


many budding actors who went on to illustrious careers. Katselas

liked what he saw in Clooney, who brought intensity to his acting.

He said that while Clooney had much to learn, he showed

he had what it took to be a talented actor.

Clooney also learned from his aunt to be wary of what people

said about him. When Rosemary first broke into the music business,

she loved hearing people tell her how great she was. When

her career faded after the arrival of Elvis Presley, she also placed

too much emphasis on the negative comments directed at her, a

tendency that contributed to the mental illness she suffered later

in life.

Early Success

After a string of unsuccessful auditions, Clooney changed his

methods. He noticed that other actors went into auditions with

a negative attitude and wondered if he did the same. He recalled

that when he joined the high school baseball team, he at first

doubted whether he could get a hit off the opposing pitchers. As

time went on, he gained confidence until he stood at the plate

knowing he could hit the pitch. He decided to take that same

positive approach to auditioning. He recalls, “One day I decided

to audition the way I played baseball. I decided to go in and read

for parts not like ‘I hope, I hope, I hope I get the part,’ but like I

was the best thing that ever happened to them… . And I started

getting parts.” 24

To aid his chances of landing auditions, he and his cousin,

Miguel, created a phony resumé, showing that Clooney had

already acted in Midwest theaters. He also began acting in local

plays, called Equity Waiver plays that, while performed for little

money, are staged before small audiences that include agents,

producers, and directors looking for the next big star. After

one production, an agent signed Clooney and obtained more

auditions for the young hopeful that resulted in a small role in

the 1983 film, Grizzly II: The Predator. While the horror film

was never released, it gave Clooney added experience and yet

another item—this time real rather than phony—to place on

his resumé.

Early Years in Hollywood 29

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