George Clooney, who often plays the charming, wealthy bachelor who’s either formulating a heist, flying through space, or that time we’d all like to forget when he fought crime in Gotham City, is quite the opposite in real life…besides being enormously wealthy.
Clooney has time and time again used his immense income to do good, including funding the Not On Our Watch Project and the many contributions he’s made to various global issues in less fortunate countries. In 2013, though, he used his wealth to pay back the people who helped make him as successful as he is: 14 of his oldest friends.
One of the recipients, Rande Gerber, revealed the story to MSNBC in 2017. The story was never confirmed by Clooney until he spoke with GQ in a 2020 interview.
In 2013, Clooney’s big film was Gravity with Sandra Bullock. The producers thought the movie was going to “flop” and decided to pay the actors percentages of the earnings, something Clooney called a “very good deal”.
Gravity went on to earn a gross of $700 million worldwide, making it the eighth highest grossing box office film of 2013, per IMDb.
At the time, Clooney was a single man with no kids, having only just met his now wife Amal Alamuddin. And so he had earned some money to spare. And instead of buying some new cars or another house somewhere, he decided to give back to the people who’ve stuck by his side and meant the world to him: his friends.
“And I thought, what I do have are these guys who’ve all, over a period of 35 years, helped me in one way or another,” he told GQ. “I’ve slept on their couches when I was broke. They loaned me money when I was broke. They helped me when I needed help over the years. And I’ve helped them over the years. We’re all good friends. And I thought, you know, without them I don’t have any of this.”
“And we’re all really close, and I just thought basically if I get hit by a bus, they’re all in the will. So why the f–k am I waiting to get hit by a bus?” he added.
He proceeded to get his hands on $14 million in cash – $1 million for each friend – which isn’t something entirely easy to do, even if you do have the access. So he did his research and found a place in LA where they had “giant pallets of cash” that he could withdraw and got 14 briefcases to put the cash in.
“And we brought it up, and I bought 14 Tumi bags, and then I packed in a million bucks, cash, which isn’t as much as you think it is, weight-wise, into these Tumi bags,” he admitted.
The next day, he invited his friends over for a dinner party before gifting them the hefty presents.
“And I just held up a map and I just pointed to all the places I got to go in the world and all the things I’ve gotten to see because of them,” he recalled. “And I said, ‘How do you repay people like that?’ And I said, ‘Oh, well: How about a million bucks?’”
“And the fun part about it was: That was the 27th, the 28th of September. A year later, on the 27th of September, just by happenstance, was the day I got married,” he added.
Gerber recalled the gift being something that “pretty much sums up who George is”.
“I know we’ve all been through some hard times, some of you are still going through it,” Gerber remembered Clooney telling him and the other friends. “You don’t have to worry about your kids; you don’t have to worry about school; you don’t have to worry about paying your mortgage.”
It’s refreshing to see a celebrity who still cares about his roots and wants to help out the little guys like us. I need a Clooney in my life. He seems like a really genuine guy and a great friend.
The money gift would be a plus, too.