George Clooney is not planning to send British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a Christmas card, but he might send a thank you note to No. 10 — along with a comb, he said at the weekend.
The Hollywood film star and director has recognized that he owes part of his domestic contentment and job satisfaction to a strange run-in he had with the prime minister early in 2014, while he was secretly courting his future wife, Amal Clooney.
Johnson, he said, “literally compared me to Hitler.”
The incident, which earned media coverage at the time, centered on the stance George Clooney took on the return of the Parthenon marbles, removed on the orders of Lord Elgin, to Greece.
The actor was in Britain promoting the film The Monuments Men, which he directed and starred in — a World War II story about the efforts to protect cultural artworks from Nazi looting and damage, which prompted discussion of the British Museum’s long-contested ownership of the marbles.
George Clooney said that they should be returned and Johnson, then mayor of London, replied in characteristically vaudeville form.
“Someone urgently needs to restore George Clooney’s marbles,” he told the Telegraph, suggesting that the actor did not know that Hermann Goring had also planned to repatriate the artifacts inside the London museum.
“This Clooney is advocating nothing less than the Hitlerian agenda for London’s cultural treasures,” Johnson said.
Speaking to the Observer Magazine, Clooney laughed as he recalled the row.
“It was kind of great for me,” he said. “Amal and I were secretly dating at the time. No one knew. There was all this uproar about what I’d said, and I was meeting Amal for dinner that night.”
Alamuddin, as she then was, had been hired as a lawyer to argue the Greek case for the return of the marbles and so was able to brief George Clooney in depth. Their discussions forged a strong bond between them and also shaped the campaigning international work they do together now.
“I’ll send him a note, a thank you note, and a comb,” George Clooney said.
He went on to explain his enjoyment of the high-profile battles he and his wife fight through the foundation they set up four years ago to hold human rights abusers to account.
“Working less on movies, working more on life. I gotta tell you, it’s been pretty fun chasing some war criminals around,” he said.
He said that the role also helps him to feel a better father to the couple’s three-year-old twins, Alexander and Ella.
“I just feel like, with kids this age, having young children in a period of time when there’s all this craziness, I wanna make sure I can say: ‘these are the things we did to stand against this moment in history.’ Not just to make them proud, but to make their world better,” he said.
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