George Clooney Talks Near-Death Accident And The Sobering Truth He Realized About Fame

George Clooney in Michael Clayton screenshot
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

George Clooney’s impact on Hollywood has been massive and wide-ranging. As an actor, producer and gifted director, he’s been prolific, and his celebrity status has made him famous worldwide. He’ll be the first to admit, though, that there’s a sobering reality to the level of fame he’s amassed -- and he realized the extent of that reality following a near-death accident. 

In 2018, the star was in Sardinia filming Hulu’s Catch-22 when was thrown from his motorcycle after a car turned in front of it while he was riding it. The Oscar winner told The Sunday Times (opens in new tab) that as he was lying on the ground and waiting for medical assistance to arrive, a group of onlookers began to film him on their phones. He said it was a harsh reality check: 

If you’re in the public eye, what you realise when you’re on the ground thinking it’s the last minute of your life is that, for some people, it’s just going to be entertainment for their Facebook page. I’m a pretty positive guy, but that told me, clearly, that you really are here just for their entertainment…. You want to take every one and shake them.

It’s easy to sympathize with George Clooney in this situation -- it must have been doubly painful to be treated as a kind of attraction in such a vulnerable and frightening moment. He was eventually taken to the hospital and was able to recover from his injuries, but the moment still left him shaken. 

The veteran actor clearly has a complicated relationship with fame. He recently turned 60 years old, and he’s been very open in reflecting as he enters a new era of his life. His private life has often been a source of tabloid fodder, and pop culture aficionados and fans have diligently tracked the highs and lows of his career. With time, he’s found a way to both move past and embrace his cringier career moments (like Batman and Robin), which has only endeared him to fans even more.

Though he’s never shied away from the spotlight on his professional life, he has been vocal about his disdain for the more invasive parts of celebrity culture. He has admonished the press for prying into his wife Amal and their kids' lives and has made it clear he doesn’t believe that having his privacy invaded should be part of his job description. That would surely extend to the situation he faced in Sardinia, and it’s clear to see why he found it so troubling.

Despite this harsh reality, George Clooney continues to pursue his passion for acting and filmmaking. He’s currently filming Ticket to Paradise with Julia Roberts and Billie Lourd. His most recent directorial venture, The Tender Bar, stars Ben Affleck and premieres on December 17th.

Katherine Webb