Monday, May. 08, 2006

George Clooney

Some handsome men are like diamond bracelets. They show up on some woman's arm, and you admire them, but they never really seem worth what you'd have to pay. Others are like Swatches: cute, disposable and interchangeable. In this taxonomy, George Clooney is a family heirloom.

First, he has the elegant patina of age. Second, as man and movie star, he's more of a talking point than a bauble. Third, and most crucially, if he's not yours already, short of murder, he never will be.

Onscreen (and by many reports off) Clooney, 45 and Hollywood's hardiest bachelor, is one of those guys who's charming to everyone and close to few. If that is deliberate, it's genius. Nothing makes a star plummet to earth quicker than overfamiliarity. It's no accident that many of Clooney's most successful roles are men with a history. He plays a lot of ex-cons (Out of Sight; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Ocean's Eleven; et al.), and won an Oscar for his portrayal of the controversial spy Robert Baer in Syriana. This is a guy with secrets. Secrets the right woman—whom every woman in the audience thinks is she — could unpack.

Frankly, with that air of mischief (which he earned) and those looks (which he didn't), he could coast. But he seems driven to do more. To direct. To fight poverty with the One campaign and Thus he gains that final thing heirlooms have over other gems: gravitas. Makes him almost worth killing for.