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Is George Clooney the coolest actor in the world?

Last updated on: December 14, 2009 10:42 IST

Is George Clooney the coolest actor in the world?

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Raja Sen in Mumbai

He's too cool for school, this George Clooney.

One of the usual suspects for any magazine's Sexiest Man Alive polls as well as a fervent activist showing great commitment towards a resolution of the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, Clooney is often asked why he doesn't join the political race, putting his natural charisma and massive Hollywood credibility to good use.

The actor, 48, has laughed it all off. "Run for office? No. I've slept with too many women, I've done too many drugs, and I've been to too many parties."

The man's got style, without question.


Image: George Clooney

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Every once in a while an international figure scales the very peak of the zeitgeist, lays his hammock on the summit and lies there with his sunglasses and little white earphones on, and basks in the glory of being, as Frank said, a-number one, king of the hill, top of the heap.

As actors go, the position seems to shift every half-decade or so. The last actor really living it up in Coolville was Johnny Depp, back when he created the fabulous Jack Sparrow, Hunter S Thompson passed away and people rediscovered Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and Oscar-buzz grew to fever pitch even before he learnt to sing for Sweeney Todd.

But the crown of the groovy is an elusive one, and Depp -- with too many Pirate acts and excessive TimBurtoning -- just isn't the man of the hour anymore.


Image: A scene from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

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Currently, Robert Downey Jr could well a claim to the throne, great roles like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Zodiac making way for phenomenal success with a superhero film and an Oscar nomination in the same year, with Sherlock Holmes coming up next.

And do note there's the drugs-to-glory redemption tale; nothing beats a backstory. But he's not quite ripe for the picking, just yet.

And Clooney outclasses him, a million to one. George is a renaissance man, you see. He does so, so much more than just act.


Image: A scene from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

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Making his directorial debut with the impressive yet flawed Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, Clooney followed it up by the immaculate and critically lauded Good Night, And Good Luck.

His film didn't win any Oscars, (a crying shame, this) but he did with Syriana the same year, going on to greater subsequent performances like Michael Clayton and Burn After Reading.

He's also constantly set the box office aflame, mostly by schmoozing with his best buds. Collaborating with director Steven Soderbergh and pal Brad Pitt, Clooney built a Ratpack-reminiscent ensemble and -- after a solid first film in Ocean's Eleven -- built a highly profitable franchise running only on in-jokes, well-tailored suits, and charm.


Image: A scene from Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind

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Charm is something Clooney drips with, a natural humour coming through in interviews as well as whimsical cinematic decisions.

He's a frequent collaborator with the Coen Brothers and sticks by Soderbergh and Robert Rodriguez, the men responsible for his early successes.

One of the few Hollywood A-listers who can command an audience and an opening just by starring in a film, he has worn that success with astonishing lightness so far.

His directorial choices are throwbacks to the past, and -- with the exception of the screwball Leatherheads -- films about truth and justice, and George's image is an excessively forthright one.

The result is this: when a Clooney parallel is drawn, people don't look at Depp and Damon and Pitt, they look at Cary Grant.


Image: George Clooney

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This has been an excessively eclectic year, even by Clooney's usual, mad standards.

The Fantastic Mr Fox, a stop-motion animated film directed by Wes Anderson, has been very well reviewed, but all the audiences it has mustered is due to the voice talents, specifically the lead pair of Clooney and Meryl Streep.

He produced The Men Who Stare At Goats, marking the directorial debut of his Good Night co-writer Grant Heslov, the madcap film starring a phenomenal ensemble including George, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey and Ewan McGregor.

The film opened to middling reviews, but Clooney was unanimously applauded for his acting.


Image: A scene from The Fantastic Mr Fox

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And now there's Up In The Air, George's latest, a lonely lament directed by Juno's Jason Reitman. The film stars Clooney as a corporate downsizer who travels across the country and fires people, and a lot of the people he fires in the film are played by actual terminated employees.

The film has already generated high Oscar-buzz for George, the actor already nabbing the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor.

It is the kind of film that is entertaining and edgy, but also timely -- and a sincere effort in that direction isn't likely to be passed over by the Academy.


Image: A scene from Up In The Air

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So a cinematic career like nobody else, tremendous critical praise, overwhelming box office power, old-Hollywood charisma, the ability to laugh at it all, the committed bachelorhood, the authentic activism, the humour, and the innate ability to make a suit look classier than it is.

All this and he was even briefly Batman.

Coolest actor in the world today? By a bloody mile.


Image: A scene from Batman

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