Films like the soon-to-be-released The Descendants and 2009's animated The Fantastic Mr. Fox put his movie-star charm to the ultimate, frustrating test: domestic life
The world's most famous bachelor has transformed himself into a family man. Since its world premiere in Telluride, Colorado in September, Alexander Payne's The Descendants, which is out in New York and L.A. on Wednesday, has vaulted to the forefront of the Oscar race—and inspired some to ask the film's star, inveterate bachelor George Clooney (a probable Best Actor nominee), just how he managed to play a Hawaiian patriarch so convincingly.
The character, Matt King, is a beleaguered husband and father—a self-described "backup parent" whose wife is in a coma following a motorboat accident. Clooney struggles to keep up his composure as he delivers bad tidings to family friends, a pained look in his eyes and a furrow in his brow. Matters get still more complicated when he learns his wife had recently been cheating on him with a cheeseball local realtor. Playing the put-upon man of good breeding, Clooney turns in deeply affecting work.
Of course, the star is publicly known for being the handsomest, suavest man in the room, even when that room is the Kodak Theatre on Oscars night. Lately, he has perhaps been a more reliable presence in the tabloids than at the upper reaches of the box-office charts. Speculation abounds about what new girlfriend he'll be whisking away to his home in Lake Como each year, and if the actor, who was married from 1989 to 1993, will ever settle down again. So it's not surprising that, promoting The Descendants at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, a reporter asked him about the strangeness of deciding to play the role of a family man.