Good-looking, talented and NICE
That's Tomorrowland star George Clooney, who talks about his movie and married life
If you didn't hear that collective sigh around the world when Hollywood actor George Clooney got married last year, you weren't paying attention.
Movie stars may be blessed with good looks and talent, but they are not necessarily nice.
Sure, they will bring their party manners to interviews, but often, one can see through that as they roll their eyes at a question they don't like or look at their watches surreptitiously.
But when Clooney, 54, gives an interview, his effortless charm is front and centre. He seems genuinely happy to be there, patting shoulders, joking with everyone, as though journalists are his friends.
All the young up-and-comers who are given media training before doing press should just sit in on a Clooney sit-down to see how it is done.
We are at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills for Tomorrowland, the new Disney sci-fi action adventure written and directed by Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Ratatouille, The Incredibles) which opens in Singapore tomorrow.
Clooney plays Frank, a boy-genius scientist now grown into a disillusioned middle-aged man who was exiled from a magical place called Tomorrowland somewhere out there in space and time.
Together with a bright teen (Britt Robertson), he goes on a dangerous journey to figure out its secrets and change the world - and himself - in the process.
M talks to the recent Golden Globes' Cecil B. DeMille recipient about Tomorrowland before moving on to much more important topics like popping the question without discussing marriage first, the possibility of having children with his British-Lebanese human rights lawyer-wife Amal Alamuddin and whether she has helped improve his fashion sense.
What appealed to you about this big US$190 million project?
Brad and (co-writer) Damon (Lindelof) came to my house and said they wrote a part for me. And I open it up and it says "55-year-old grizzled has-been".
And I was like, "Oh thanks!"
When I was in my 30s, I got to punch the bad guy and now everybody punches me and I fall down and whimper and it's funny and I enjoy it.
But I really admired what they wanted to do. This is not a sequel or a comic book film, it's a summer movie that actually is about something and I thought that was brave of them. I got to play a guy who was grumpy all the time and it was fun for me.
In Tomorrowland, four geniuses - Edison, Eiffel, Verne and Tesla - get together to discuss the future. Who would you like to talk to over dinner if you could choose anyone?
I would like to hear (American founding father and US President) Thomas Jefferson, because he has such an understanding of the Constitution and how flexible it should be as time goes on.
You don't want to be there with George Washington because he's going to eat all the food and there's not going to be anything left.
(Nikola) Tesla would be pretty amazing, although he's Hungarian and he got kind of screwed over by Edison along the way.
Listen, I hear Albert Einstein was actually fun at parties, so maybe Albert Einstein - just to get him drunk and find out what the theory of relativity really means.
What does marriage mean to you?
I wasn't looking to get married and I met someone who I realised I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and hoped that she felt the same way. And when I asked her to marry me - we had never talked about it when I asked her - that was one of those moments where she could say: "What, are you crazy? I thought we were just having fun here."
And so from the moment I met her until now, spending the rest of my life with her has been the thing that brings me the most joy in the world. So I couldn't be happier. I have a great partner in life and I didn't think I was ever going to have that.
Since Amal is Lebanese, do you have a better idea of that culture?
Let me tell you something - they all show up, man. We had a second party after the wedding for just the Lebanese and I am telling you, there's like hundreds of them. It's a big family, the Lebanese. So now I have got a whole new family.
Can you cook? Do you like Lebanese food?
I cook a little bit. I am a decent chef. Listen, I was a single guy for a long time. I make a nice pasta because I spent time in Italy and I make good breakfast food and I am great at Thanksgiving dinner.
My wife makes reservations. Her mother makes reservations. It's a generational thing.
I have now become a bit of a connoisseur of Lebanese food, which I hadn't had before and I find it to be fantastic.
So do you see yourself becoming a dad someday?
I never saw that question coming! Didn't see it! So let's see, how did I avoid answering the marriage question with you before? Because whatever it is I did to avoid that question, just move that and use that again with this one. I have no idea. We just got married, give us a chance!
Your wife is an international human rights lawyer. Do you feel intimidated by the fact that she may be smarter than you?
The only way we can resolve it is by arm wrestling. It's my only chance of winning, because if it's an intellectual battle, I would lose. There is no question in my mind that my wife is smarter than me and I am thrilled by that. It's good to surround yourself with anybody who is smarter than you and the bar is fairly low with me.
What is exciting about what has happened with my wife in the last year that we have been together, is that she continues to work on the things that matter - she's at the International Court of Appeal talking about the Armenian genocide. But what happens now is, it gets covered by Entertainment Tonight.
So it actually brings some of the things that might fall away into popular culture, in a way that wouldn't have necessarily happened before.
It's not something that she seeks obviously, because she just goes to work. It is a side benefit that I think isn't necessarily bad.
You've been a bachelor for so long. What is the biggest adjustment you've had to make to married life?
Nothing tough. We have never had a disagreement. We get along really, really well. The adjustments are figuring out our lives, which is that she is a barrister, which means that she is independently employed, she is able to do her job in different places, and I mostly am sort of on the road as well, so we try to move our schedules around.
When I knew I was going to do a Jodie Foster film in New York, she said "Well, then I will go teach at Columbia (University) as a professor." Our deal is you can't be more than a week away. So far that's worked out pretty well.
How has Amal adjusted to her life as a celebrity and what has been the biggest challenge for her?
I don't think she thinks of herself as a celebrity. I think that's something that just comes with us getting married. It's a difficult adjustment when she is trying to walk on the campus at Columbia and is followed by people and surrounded.
But she's found a wonderful way of balancing the idea of what she does for a living and not being invaded by the intrusion of attention.
Here's the difference: When she does things and when she works and says something or does something, there are consequences involved - real life-and-death consequences.
So the idea of being inundated with fame or being asked stupid questions when she's doing something important, she can handle that, because it's nothing compared to if she fails at work, there are people's lives at stake. And so I think she's been very well-groomed to handle a lot of pressure.
Has Amal changed your sense of style?
Let me tell you, Amal has, from the first day I met her, her own sense of style. She doesn't have a stylist or anything like that, she has clothes that she loves to wear and she knows exactly what they are.
She does look at me, confused about my sense of style. At times she says: "Are you going to wear a tequila T-shirt again?" And I go: "Yes, I am selling tequila.'' (Clooney started his Casamigos tequila business in 2013).
It's funny because there will be 30 paparazzi outside my house and they will say: "Are you going to wear the same shirt?" And I go: "Yeah, if you are going to stand outside my house, you are going to sell tequila for me."
But Amal will every once in a while say: "Put a nicer shirt on before you go" and I go: "Okay, you are right."
By the numbers
Global box-office earnings for Brad Bird's live-action directorial debut Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
Tomorrowland's different combinations of sets and locations, including Spain, Canada, Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Paris and the Bahamas
Oscar wins between Brad Bird and George Clooney
Age of Raffey Cassidy, who plays Athena, the kick-ass android who has a special relationship with Clooney’s Frank
Clooney’s net worth as of 2014