George Clooney was destined for stardom. What else would become of the son of a beauty queen and a TV host? Still, the Kentucky-born Clooney briefly pursued a career as a professional baseball player. And then as an anchorman. When neither of those panned out, he then turned to acting.
Clooney’s first film roles were in horror films like Grizzly II: Revenge, Return to Horror High and 1988’s Return of the Killer Tomatoes!, the latter of which would become a cult classic because of its connection to Clooney. At the age of 33, he broke out as Dr. Doug Ross on NBC’s long-running medical drama, E.R., for which Clooney earned two Emmy Award nominations. It was during his five seasons on the show that he had a run-in that would change his life.
As recounted in a 2008 New Yorker profile, “Clooney once spoke with Steven Spielberg on the set of E.R.; Spielberg watched his performance on a monitor, and, tapping the screen, said, ‘If you stop moving your head around, you’ll be a movie star.'”
Today, Clooney is the platonic ideal of a movie star and leading man, in addition to being a writer, director and producer. He has directed eight films (most recently, 2021’s The Tender Bar), won two Oscars (for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Syriana and for producing Best Picture winner Argo), and played Batman once. (Clooney himself has said he “sucked” in 1997’s Batman & Robin.)
In celebration of his his birthday — May 6 — A.frame is looking back on some of the best performances by one of the best actors today. These are the roles in which he impressed us, surprised us, and proved why they don’t make ’em like George Clooney anymore.