There’s an old phrase that says “what do you get the man who has everything?” In George Clooney’s case, maybe the phrase should be, “if you’re the man who has everything, what do you get everyone else?” In his case, the answer seems to be give each of your closest friends a bag with $1 million in it.
While the anecdote was originally revealed by George Clooney’s friend and Casamigos Tequila business partner, Rande Gerber back in 2017, Clooney himself has never admitted to the story. In an interview with GQ, which honored Clooney as one of its Icon of the Year awards, Clooney confirmed that he in fact did give his fourteen closest friends each $1 million.
In the interview, George Clooney tells the full story for the first time. In 2013, before he was even dating his wife, Amal Clooney, Clooney was a single, aging man in his fifties, without any real commitments to worry about. Clooney had just filmed Gravity, and instead of taking a large paycheck, he was instead paid percentages based on how well the film did. Warner Bros. clearly didn’t think Gravity would be the success that it was, as it earned over $723 million worldwide, and would be nominated for ten Oscars, including winning seven.
With a hefty amount of money to spend, George Clooney decided to thank his friends for continuing to support and help him over his decades in the business. Clooney states that all of his friends were in his will anyway, so why wait until he’s dead? Clooney found a place in Los Angeles where they “have giant pallets of cash,” so the actor got a van that said “Florist” on it, packed up the million dollars into fourteen separate bags, and brought it to his house.
George Clooney then had his fourteen friends come over to his house, where he explained all the places in the world and things he had been able to do because of these friends. He said “How do you repay people like that,” followed by “Oh, well: How about a million bucks?” Clooney also points out that he gave his friends this money on September 27, and a year later to the day, Clooney would marry Amal Alamuddin.
In the last few years since Gravity, George Clooney seems to have kept his projects to a minimum. Clooney looks to be more interested in directing, with films like 2014’s The Monuments Men, Suburbicon, and several episodes of Hulu’s Catch-22 adaptation. Outside of his own work, Clooney’s most recent acting appearances have come from 2015’s Tomorrowland, and 2016’s Hail, Caesar! and Money Monster. Clooney both stars in and directs his next film, The Midnight Sky, which is scheduled for release on December 23, 2020 through Netflix, after a limited run in theaters.
Even though George Clooney received a larger-than-expected paycheck from Gravity, it’s far from his largest. In 2017, George Clooney, along with co-owners Rande Gerber and Michael Meldman, would sell their tequila company Casamigos for $1 billion. Since the name “Casamigos” translated to “house of friends,” it certainly pays to be friends with George Clooney.