Everyone knows who George Clooney is. He’s one of our generation’s most bankable actors, a true Hollywood star, and a leading man like no other. Whether it’s starring in a meta-Hollywood movie by the Coen brothers or appearing in Nespresso ads, Clooney’s star power is enough to draw in huge media buzz wherever he goes.
Clooney is known for his acting, so much so that only a few are aware of his skills as a director. Earlier this year, he admitted that his interest has shifted away from Hollywood and towards streaming services. It’s therefore no surprise that he started the year with Catch-22, a Hulu miniseries that he starred in and directed.
Inside the miniseries
Catch-22 is a TV adaptation of Joseph Heller’s novel. The story revolves around Captain John Yossarian’s attempt to get out of military service: he’s currently stationed in Italy as part of the air squad, but wants to get out to avoid deadly missions. Catch-22, of course, refers to any pilot who claims they are insane (and must therefore be conscripted out) who actually displays clearheaded sanity, and thus cannot be discharged. If you’re wondering about where the phrase “catch 22” comes from, it’s from this novel.
Clooney plays Scheisskopf (which literally translates into ‘shithead’ in German), a minor character who climbs up the ranks amidst Yossarian’s attempts to get out. The novel’s focus on the absurdities of war caused many to deem it ‘unfilmable,’ which is one of the reasons why Clooney was so drawn to the project in the first place. He told the BBC that the miniseries format allowed him time to delve into each of the character’s arcs, which isn’t possible in a film.
For the most part, it looks like Clooney succeeded. Variety writer Daniel D’Addario praised the technical aspects of the show, deeming it “elegantly, carefully made” thanks to Clooney’s directorial chops and the acting skills of co-stars such as Hugh Laurie, Kyle Chandler, and newcomer Christopher Abbott.
Clooney has never been one to shy away from hard-hitting issues; part of the reason why he’s appearing less on screen is because of his philanthropic work off-screen.
In fact, he once bought 1,000 SuperEnaLotto tickets in the hopes of donating the jackpot to Haiti’s earthquake victims — the jackpot prize amounted to €117 million (C$170 million), which is a hefty sum of money. While the SuperEnaLotto is known as one of the largest jackpots in the world, similar prizes across North America are matching it. In fact, Lottoland estimates this year’s Powerball jackpot will reach around €180 million (C$262 million) — imagine the world of difference that could do to someone with Clooney’s philanthropic intent. Despite not winning the grand jackpot prize, Clooney continues to do important work alongside human rights lawyer (and his wife) Amal Clooney. The Clooney Foundation recently called for the release of a detained Nigerian journalist in line with its mission to fight against human rights abuses.
George Clooney is the quintessential thespian dedicated to his craft. While he won’t be gracing a Hollywood blockbuster any time soon, that only means that he’ll have more time to take up meaningful projects on- and off-screen.
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