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Interview with George Clooney and Nick Clooney

Aired January 21, 2011 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: George Clooney is not only one of the most glamorous stars in Hollywood, he's also one of the most political.


GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: You know, I never have seen him sober, but I've always -- I'm a big fan.


MORGAN: Clooney is undeniably a massive blockbuster star. He would swap, right now, any Oscar for peace in the Sudan.


G. CLOONEY: Once you're in, you can't get out. And once you're involved, you have a responsibility to other people so you continue to be involved.


MORGAN: Probably the biggest problem for George with this interview will be how to deal psychologically with only being the second biggest heartthrob in this interview.


G. CLOONEY: I'm happy to work with people who live in sort of their own universe and this will be very exciting for me.



MORGAN: George, thank you for joining me. You're in Los Angeles.

G. CLOONEY: I am. It's nice and warm here.

MORGAN: And certainly, I would imagine more pleasant than the Sudan where you just came back from. Give me an immediate update on how you found things on the ground in Sudan.

Obviously, we're in the middle, now, of this referendum election week. What -- what's been going on there? G. CLOONEY: Well, they just crossed the 60 percent threshold. They need 60 percent of the people to vote to be able to make it official. They've crossed that. That was always the only reason it wouldn't have happened is if there were some trickery from the north. Looks like they got away with -- they didn't get away with that.

So, that's a -- that means that the referendum will be official. It -- it's pretty much assumed that it'll be about 95 percent of the vote for separation. That's a -- pretty much a given.

And then it'll be the next steps. And the next steps leading to July when they finally make it official are negotiating oil revenues, negotiating borders, negotiating other areas like the Abyei Region which is the one flash point -- one of several flash point areas.

So there's a lot of work left to go to -- to make it a -- an independent nation but no one 100 days ago thought that they would be at this point. It's been a tremendous success.

MORGAN: I mean, here's the problem, it seems to me and to most observers, I guess, is that on one hand Southern Sudan is getting a victory here. They're getting the independence that many of them wish. But of course, it may just figure the very bloodshed that they've been engaged in for so long on an even more horrific scale is the people that run the North. President Bashir, the Saudis said it's a very bad idea for Sudan. They don't want this to happen.

G. CLOONEY: Well, that's absolutely true. That was the big fear. Quite honestly, it's a -- a real compliment to a lot of the players that this didn't happen.

In August and September, suddenly you saw Hillary Clinton calling this a ticking time bomb of enormous consequences. You saw President Obama speaking to the U.N. Everyone talking about the fact that if we don't get on this diplomatically very quickly, it could devolve into what was the last time they went to war, 2.5 million people died.

So, this was an important step. First of all, it's a compliment to the -- the -- the newly formed or partially formed government in South Sudan. And quite honestly, the fact that they were able to put this together, this referendum together and get a vote off -- I was with the security council in Juba in October and to a man, they didn't think anybody would -- they said this will be delayed. There's no way they'll pull this off.

So, the fact they did that is a really good sign for the government.

MORGAN: But, George, your interest in this goes back quite a long time. Your specific involvement now involves this Satellite Sentinel Project which is, you know, in simplistic way, it is the setting up of covert satellite photography to record what you believe is almost inevitably going to be a pretty bloody fallout from -- from this referendum.

Tell me about how that's actually going to work because some people are questioning the effectiveness of what you're doing.

G. CLOONEY: Well, we don't know if it'll be effective. If we knew for sure, we would -- things like that would have probably been done a long time ago.

The truth of the matter is we are hoping it is one of many tools to continue to apply pressure, at the very least, to gather evidence that could be used at the Hague later if there are -- if there are infringements or rules broken about the CPA, the comprehensive peace agreement -- if anyone crosses across the borders, north or south.

MORGAN: Have you seen -- have you seen these cameras work yourself? I guess you've seen results.

G. CLOONEY: Yes. We -- yes, we've seen results. We have -- you know, we have a certain responsibility. We can't just, you know, we're not WikiLeaks, you know? We're not just going to give you tons of information and -- and gossip and let you just sort of sort out your own version.

We're trying to use very smart analysts from Harvard. We're trying to use our on-the-ground information, so that if you see troops moving from the south to the north, the one thing we probably wouldn't catch with the satellite are images of men on horseback with 50- caliber machine guns who have initiated the violence.

So we have to be very careful not to -- to use this to inflame. We have to use this to inform.

MORGAN: Does any part of you worry that you may have the complete opposite effect to the one that you'd like? So that, should this might all back fire, people might blame you, there might be more blood shed in George Clooney's name simply because you've attached your very famous liberty status to this issue.

G. CLOONEY: You know, I -- then the -- the option is to stay out. The option is to do nothing and to stand back and not provide help. To a man in the Sudan, in the South Sudan and, by the way, from the White House, to the Security Council, to the State Department, they have all asked and have been happy to receive whatever attention and help we could bring to it.

MORGAN: If I'm an American watching this and obviously I'm not, I'm British -- but if I was an American watching this and there'll be millions watching, I'm thinking to myself, Americans got real problems right now. Its trillions of dollars in debt, 10 percent unemployment and the people are having a pretty rough time.

And if I'm being skeptical, I'm saying, "Come on, George, shouldn't charity begin at home here? Why should I care about the Sudan?"

Now, what do you say to those people? What do you say to the skeptics?

G. CLOONEY: Well, charity should begin at home and there's a tremendous amount of work being done and certainly we have to pay attention to -- you know, we haven't really dealt with Katrina. We haven't dealt with an oil spill. We haven't dealt with 9/11 first responders. We -- we have a lot of work to do.

The Sudan is an issue we've been involved in for many, many, many years. We spend over a billion dollars a year there now, basically in triage. So rather than doing that, why don't we spend no money and just our diplomatic will to be -- and no lives -- to be able to try to avoid those situation before it happens first of all? That's a -- that's actually cost saving, number one.

And number two, we have great interests in -- in both the -- both versions, the North and the South Sudan succeeding. Remember, this is a -- a -- the north -- northern part of Sudan is where Osama Bin Laden hid out for 12 years. So, this isn't some, you know, -- we -- we have great interest in there being success here.

MORGAN: How much emotional energy are you expending on this?

G. CLOONEY: I spend, you know, hours a day on it. I -- you know, I -- once you're in, you know, once you're in, you can't get out. You know, once you're in, you're involved. You have a responsibility to other people and so you continue to be involved.

MORGAN: When you -- when you just returned from Sudan, for those who have never been there, actually describe for us what -- what it's like on the ground there.

G. CLOONEY: It depends on where you are. We were in several different places. Abyei is a region right on the border that is disputed. The border is disputed. The amount of profit-sharing is disputed. There are the Misserya and the Ngok Dinka are the two tribes that basically one is nomadic and grazes through the -- through the Abyei Region, but they're there for only about three months. That's from the north. And the southerners are mostly farmers and they live there.

It's very volatile on that -- in that area and while we were there -- we were in Abyei the day before the referendum started. And a couple miles form where we were, about 10 people were killed by one group and the violence continues. There's been 40 or so killed during this referendum in that area.

It's nice to get out of that area. That area is very unpredictable and a little nerve-wracking to be in. But by the time you get down to Juba, the south, the very southern part, the main city of the south, it's like -- it's like any town you'd recognize that's got all the exact same problems and infrastructure problems and some water issues and all the normal things. But it's -- it's been a fairly successful town for quite some time.

MORGAN: But you've -- you kind of glossed through there, the danger. I've been told by people close to you that you quite regularly, when you're in the Sudan, get exposed to potentially very dangerous situations. I mean, if I was George Clooney -- and let's face it the odds of that are pretty slim of even coming close to being George Clooney, as much as I'd like to be -- but if I was, why am I risking my life for this? Why does this cause mean so much to you?

G. CLOONEY: I have to say, you have a very nice tie and I know you -- you could be George.

MORGAN: Thank you, George.

G. CLOONEY: And I like -- and I do enjoy referring to myself in the third person. George likes to do that.

The danger in getting involved sometimes, particularly on the level that we're -- that I'm being -- that I've been involved is, in dipping your toe in these issues. You have -- actually have to be there.

You know, you'll hear things -- in the news today, if you look it up and they'll talk about the Abyei Region, they'll always say the oil-rich Abyei Region, which makes it a real fertile area for -- for battling over because of oil, which of course it isn't. In fact, Abyei's oil-poor. But that's -- years ago, that they had the oil and that was the -- that was the issue then.

The issues now are more about grazing rights and things like that. So it's important to be informed because I don't -- you know, I live in a world now where if you get things wrong, then you know, the whole thing, the whole effort you're making can be disenfranchised. So, you have to be very careful how you do it and you need to be informed. You need to be there.

MORGAN: How -- how close have you come to getting hurt?

G. CLOONEY: You know, not really. I mean there -- there are the -- there are the -- it's in general not political, strangely enough. You're -- you know, the -- the North has no interest in the attention that would come from some -- any Westerner and particularly a well- known one being harmed.

The dangers are more along those roads that -- at night, those dirt roads at night when they drop a tree down and make you get out and do check points. And you know, there's always a danger when there are 13-year-old kids with Kalashnikovs in the middle of nowhere and that's -- that's -- the dangers are more random than you would think.

MORGAN: Have you discovered that you're braver than you may have thought you were?

G. CLOONEY: No. No, I -- I try -- I'm like Bert Lahr in the -- in the "Wizard of Oz" when the -- when they pull me out. I'm holding my tail and cry.


MORGAN: Well, we're actually going to bring somebody on after the break, George, who can probably clarify that for us. It is -- it is someone you know rather well. Someone who, I believe, describes himself as the -- the guy in the family that got all the looks.


G. CLOONEY: He did get all the looks.

MORGAN: That is your father. It's your father, Nick, who's coming in now.

Welcome, Nick.

NICK CLOONEY, GEORGE'S FATHER: You got all that right. You got all that right, Piers.

MORGAN: Well, I'm just going to examine you -- no, you -- you did get all the looks. Sorry, George. And no silly goatee beard. Well, done, Nick.


MORGAN: We've now been joined by Nick Clooney, George's father.

You were just listening, I know, back stage with George talking there about time in Sudan. He's been six times. You've been, yourself, in 2006. You've seen first-hand how dangerous it can be there.

As a father, do you worry about George when he goes off on these crusades there?

N. CLOONEY: The answer to that question is yes. I'm nervous any time he goes over the border into Sudan, anywhere around there, over into Chad or whatever part of that world that he finds himself. It's an extremely dangerous place to be. There are a lot of dark things that can happen there.

And yes. I am -- I am glad that he went. I am glad that he's going. And I'm glad that he's doing what he is doing and helping the way that he's helping, but I'm very nervous every minute he's there.

MORGAN: George, let me ask you. Why do you think it's such a hard sell to the American public, Sudan? Why -- why are you constantly fighting this kind of uphill struggle?

G. CLOONEY: I think -- I think a lot of times and I think most newsmen would agree, my father being one of them, that it's not just necessarily hard news sell the Sudan, it's a hard news sell virtual -- many, many of the hot spots around the world that it's, you know, it's hard to get Burma on the news. It's hard -- there's a lot of places that are difficult. You know, the Ivory Coast gets their window of violence spikes. Darfur is there when the violence spikes.

Other than that, it's very hard to keep things in the news because you know, the idea of a 24-hour news cycle doesn't necessarily mean more news. It just means sort of the same news more often.

MORGAN: Do you get angry when people sneer at you? When they say what's he doing wasting his time over there? He's just doing it for self-aggrandizing reasons, typical Clooney. I mean, you've read all that stuff. I've seen --


MORGAN: -- I've seen a few comments from you occasionally when it looks like it's got to you. It would certainly get to me. I'd want to have it out with these people.

G. CLOONEY: Well, you know, I don't care. I mean, I really don't care because you know, if you're going to stand on the sideline and throw stones, then get out of my way. We've got work to do. You know?

I've -- I don't -- I don't, you know, if they've got something they want to work on then go work on it. Good for them.

But -- but self-aggrandizing? I don't need to be more famous. I -- you know, I've got all the attention I need and I'm just trying to use that attention on other people.

But I have no --I don't care what other people think about that. Most people are very supportive and the ones who aren't, then, you know, get out of your little room with your computer, your dark room with your computer and go do something.

MORGAN: Nick, as George's father again, do you get incensed on his behalf?

N. CLOONEY: You bet. I get steamed, much more than he does.


N. CLOONEY: Absolutely, because there's no way to do Sudan light. You must understand this is -- this is very hard work and George is committed to doing it and I'm committed to supporting him in that, and if supporting him means sometimes telling somebody who doesn't know what he or she is talking about to shut up, I will do that.

MORGAN: And do you -- do you use maybe juicier language than that?

N. CLOONEY: Almost never. Almost never. I've been around microphones too long.

G. CLOONEY: Oh, sure.

N. CLOONEY: Yes. For you, I'll use the juicier language but I'll save that for you.

MORGAN: You know, I mean, I look at the pair of you and I see people acting on real personal principle and it's very courageous to do what you're doing. And I've been to parts -- I went to Johannesburg and it's dangerous.

N. CLOONEY: Piers, you know why -- why both of us, I think bristles when you say courageous, we have been around courageous people. I mean, we -- we go there -- we, as George suggested, we dip our toe in. We're there for a week or we're there for 10 days. Those folks are living there every day and in the midst of real danger. Those are courageous people. There are so many ways they can die.

MORGAN: George, there are lots of Hollywood stars who latch on to causes and sometimes more than one. A sort of interesting thing that you said recently where you said the important thing, if you're going to do this, you choose one cause and you commit yourself to it properly and you are passionate about that cause.

Expand on that for me, but also explain perhaps in more detail why it was Sudan or you that really caught your attention, your passion.

G. CLOONEY: Well, first of all, I think the idea is that you have to -- you can -- I -- you know, worked on a Haiti telethon, for instance or the tsunami telethon. There are things you can do that you can get involved in, you know, Katrina. There -- there are elements that you can -- that doesn't mean that you can only be involved in one.

But if there's one that you care about, you have to be informed. You have to really -- you know, you have to be able to answer the critics. You have to be able to --and sometimes those critics being, for instance, Omar al-Bashir is a critic.


G. CLOONEY: I have to be able to answer him, you know? I have to be able to answer when I sit in front of the Security Council one of the rotating members of the Security Council or the Chinese Ambassador, when they say well, these are just rebels. You can say, well, rebels don't have tanks and airplanes. You have to be informed on it.

And I think that that's the -- the reason that you have to try to, when I say pick one, it doesn't mean don't help other people. It just means find one that you really can be knowledgeable about and understand more than the -- more than the average person would or should, for that matter, number one.

And then the reason that Sudan was a natural progression for Darfur, I was reading in 2005 -- 2004, 2005, the Nick Kristof articles in "The New York Times" about what was going on in Darfur. And they were Pulitzer Prize-winning pieces. But they -- but they don't get enough attention. They weren't getting as much attention.

There is a rally coming, a Save Darfur rally coming, and I called up my dad and I said, you know, he'd done stories over the years as a newsman that would end up being bumped by a -- you know, by a Liz Taylor story and -- which is -- which happens. And so I -- and he used to complain about that in the -- MORGAN: Or George Clooney story if you'll --

G. CLOONEY: Well, that's exactly right. So, I said, so let's go to -- let's say you be the newsman and I'll be Liz Taylor and we'll go to the Sudan -- or we'll go to Darfur and you cover the story and I'll help bring some attention to it.

That was all it was -- that's how we got started.

MORGAN: George, do you -- do you believe there's going to be peace in Sudan in the next few years or are you quite pessimistic about that?

G. CLOONEY: No. I'm -- I'm quite optimistic about it. I'm realistic about it. I know all the difficulties and I know the problems.

But I must say that when you stand there and see -- when you see millions of people but personally seen thousands and thousands of people standing in line for two or three days voting for their independence for the first time in their lives, it -- it's really something to see. It's not something you'll often see in your lifetime and -- and I hold out great hope that you know, can this be a failed state? Of course. Not to the extent of Somalia. There's not - you know, there isn't a sort of the -- the dysfunction in the government to do that but there is dysfunction.

And could it fall apart? And could it not work? Absolutely.

But what we do know is had we not gotten to this point, you -- we would be plunged back into war and if we were plunged back into war, we know it'd be substantial. We've seen -- we've seen this happen twice before with the same players, with Omar Bashir --

MORGAN: President --

G. CLOONEY: -- and his government in Khartoum.

MORGAN: President Bashir is a, you know, by -- by common consent a deeply unpleasant piece of work. He's going to take probably losing Southern Sudan as a pretty crushing blow to his ego, never mind anything else.

And, you know, presumably you don't have any dealings with that guy. He must loathe and detest the sight of you by now. Are you worried for your own personal safety that the more high-profile you get?

G. CLOONEY: No. I'm not worried at all about that. That's -- really, honestly, I'm not being brave. I'm not worried about it. I think that -- the truth of the matter is the president, in this situation, did the only thing he could do which was help avoid war. They don't need another war in the south. They're concerned with rebels and fighting in Darfur. Now, they've got enough. They don't want to fight a war on two or three fronts. So, he was forced with making a choice that he had no other choice to do. And -- and, you know, the government of the North has been, in some ways, helpful in this process. And because -- remember that no one benefits from a failed Northern Sudan. No -- neither of these countries will benefit from that. The world won't.

So, we need them to succeed. The -- this -- we need both countries to be successful.

MORGAN: We're going to break now. When we come back, George and to Nick, actually, given your background as a journalist, I want to talk to you about the media, about the current state of American politics, Sarah Palin, crosshairs and in particular, photography and photographers, given what you're doing with your satellite system in the Sudan.



MORGAN: George, I wanted to show you a bit of footage. And it'll be one that's familiar to you and there is a reason to my madness when you watch it.



MORGAN: This was at a premiere that you did soon after you were pretty lively in your castigation of paparazzi photographers following the death of the Princess of Wales. And I remember it well. I was a newspaper editor at the time, so I felt this quite keenly.

And I was curious because your father, obviously a lifetime in journalism, you took quite a stand there.

First of all, what was your feeling when those photographers decided to exact their horrific revenge and lay down their cameras?

G. CLOONEY: Well, I love the fact that -- that they covered themselves not taking pictures.


G. CLOONEY: I mean, I don't care. It is amazing how -- how many people saw them not taking pictures of me. You know, I don't care.

You know, you have to remember that that -- the Princess Diana thing actually was -- there was a great sort of outpouring of, obviously, of -- it was a great emotional moment.

There was also a period of time where many actors were coming out saying that something has to be done to restrict them. And the fact is, if you ever look at the press conference that I had -- and the reason I had to give that press conference was because I led a charge against "Hard Copy," including a boycott of "Entertainment Tonight" at that point for a whole other reason months and months before.

So, suddenly, I was a -- you know, de facto spokesman for this. And they -- there were a bunch of actors who were going to hold a press conference saying that we have to restrict them and I, as the son of a newsman, said that not only -- basically, my -- my press conference said as uncomfortable as they are, I -- I am very -- I'm more uncomfortable with the idea of restricting any form of journalism, even an intrusive paparazzi.

So, the funniest thing was it was sort of taken in -- in the wrong way but I -- I, you know, I don't care. I mean, you know, they can take my picture.

MORGAN: The reason I showed that footage was there is a certain irony, I guess, that you're now deploying effectively, paparazzi covert photography in the Sudan. Now, I'm sure you'll argue quite rightly that it's obviously offensive in a public interest to do this. But it made me wonder, both for you and your father, where you think the line should be drawn with photography and paparazzi.

G. CLOONEY: So, you know, Piers, I'm also watching your house.

MORGAN: Really?

G. CLOONEY: It's not just the Sudan. Oh yes. And we'll talk about it later because there's some cash coming my way.

MORGAN: Look, me and your girlfriend are just good friends. All right? She was just delivering milk.

G. CLOONEY: We just -- we just met. You drink a lot of milk, apparently.


G. CLOONEY: You know --

MORGAN: Well, where is the line to you, George? I mean, as one of the most photographed guys in the world, where do you think the line should be? I'll tell you why I ask this. I suppose as mediator, I will play devil's advocate and say this to you, how do you feel specifically about say, a famous actor or actress who sells their wedding or their baby's christening for $1 million and they keep it. It's not for charity. It's just a -- you know, a little nest egg for them. And then they complain about the paparazzi.

Do they have any rights to privacy when they do that?

G. CLOONEY: You know, I have no -- I couldn't really argue for or against that issue. I could argue the idea of when Brad and Angie know that, you know, a picture of their kid is, their new kid is worth, you know, 5 million bucks, why not make sure it goes to a charity and take the picture and also take away the bounty hunting that comes with it. Because, remember this, if -- when someone says, well, a picture of, you know, Brad and Angie's new baby is worth $5 million, people are willing to do pretty much anything and break pretty much any law for 5 million bucks.

So, you know, I understand the diffusing of it at times, the way to diffuse it. I -- you know, where you draw the line? I don't know where you draw the line. I -- I always -- you know, I'm disturbed by the idea that you're not trying to catch me doing something stupid, you're trying to create me doing something stupid. When I'm walking through an airport, you got a camera in front of me and you ask me hey, who's the fat girl you're walking next to or something like that.

That's not trying to catch me doing something dumb, that's trying to make me do something dumb. But I have to take that and that's fair enough. And I have to be a grown up and handle it. I understand. I -- I understand what it's like to be in this position. I'm -- you know, I'm the son of a news man.

MORGAN: Well let me ask -- let me ask -- let me ask Nick here. I mean, you -- you are a newsman.


MORGAN: And you've -- you know, it is a fine line here because the commercialization of celebrity, particularly in the last 10 years, has been such that many celebrities consult with paparazzi. I know that from the other side of the fence. They make money out of the -- out of the...

N. CLOONEY: Well we don't, Piers, because we've lost privacy. We might as well just admit that. some of the Supreme Court rulings. Some things that have happened after that -- there is no -- relatively speaking, there is little or no privacy left anymore. That battle has already been lost.

The question is can we recover, a current word, civility about it. Is there some way that a person may be allowed to go out and have dinner with his family or her family without having a camera in the nose of the three year old?

MORGAN: Having whacked the media, I guess, for that part of it, obviously -- maybe come back to you, George, here. The media are hugely important to your campaign now. I mean, you know, you doing shows like this. You giving interviews to newspapers and magazines. You need the world's media to come with you on this.


MORGAN: So there is the -- I mean, there is a deal with the devil to be struck, isn't there, when it's important?

G. CLOONEY: Well, the -- the -- but the deal is struck long before, you know, I got involved. The idea, for instance, is -- you know, there was this whole argument, well, we need you. Now, you -- you having been on the other side may have seen what now are people who contact the paparazzi ahead of time.

That's not -- you know, no one showed up at my house and started taking my pictures before I was famous. They showed up after I was famous and made money off of it.

This all exists -- and I'm not complaining. I -- I'm a grown up. I know it. I understand it all exists. So, what we're trying to do, and what I'm trying to do, and what Bono is very good at and what Brad and Angie are very good at, Matt Damon -- and I could go down the list of a lot of actors and singers who are doing it, is saying well, this exists. So, we're going to use it to make people watch something that -- that -- that news organizations, quite honestly, are failing at and have been failing at.

Take five or six minutes out of your news -- your news program, not your entertainment shows, not "Entertainment Tonight" or "Access Hollywood" or any of the shows you want. Take -- take five minutes out of your news program that you have now been dedicating to some reality star or me, for that matter. I don't care -- whoever you've been dedicated to -- to inform again, to continue to inform.

Because the entire reason, the entire idea of news when the -- when the FCC was handing out licenses back in the '40s was that you were going to lose money on news, but you owed society -- you were -- you were responsible to give information, and you were going to have to lose money. You were going to have to do that and you can make money off the entertainment.

Well, let's get back to keeping some news in.

MORGAN: Another break again. And when we come back, I want to ask you, George, and you, Nick, really, about the relationship with the modern media in America and the political system.


MORGAN: George, I suppose the obvious question for you -- you're a guy from a media family and you're an American. And right now, there's this huge debate going on in your country about how aggressive politicians should be. And -- and specifically after the Arizona shooting, we have the fury over any apparent link -- it turned out there probably wasn't. But a link between Sarah Palin's infamous, now, cross hair website where she targeted her opponents in that way.

What is your view? Lots of people are clamoring for a cooling down. Is that realistic, do you think? What -- where do you think the line should be drawn here?

G. CLOONEY: You know, look, I thought that President Obama gave, as he does when -- when he needs to -- he gave one of the greatest speeches I've heard in a long, long time. And I think what -- what was beautiful about what he said was that it doesn't matter whether it had anything to do with the shooting in Arizona, whether you could find a link or you can't. Let's use this moment and let's use these -- this tragedy to -- to improve on ourselves and improve on -- on the vitriol that we've been using and the language that we've been using. You know, I -- I haven't seen this kind of anger in my lifetime towards anyone -- from one to the other, I would argue that the president's been taking some pretty good hits along the way. You know, when you're calling someone un-American, you know, the President of the United States, he's a -- you know, I'm -- I'm a big fan of his. And I like him a lot. He's a very smart man and he's a -- a good man and he wants to do the best for his country.

Now, you can disagree with how he goes about it. But I think it's a nice idea to try to tone down some of the vitriol between everyone. Now, will it last? Of course not. It'll last a week. But -- but it's aiming us in the right direction and I think if you hit the reset button every once in a while, that's probably a good thing.

MORGAN: George, Hollywood has a history of actors who turn into successful politicians, Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The more I see you popping up on these sort of shows, the more I'm thinking why not? Why -- why wouldn't you run for the presidency?

G. CLOONEY: Why would I?

MORGAN: It can't be any worse than being a movie star, can it?

G. CLOONEY: Really, I mean, honestly, my job is as good as they get. You know, why would you change it?

You know, listen, the truth of the matter is -- I -- let's use the president that we have now as an example. In every way, wants to do the right thing, kind, considerate, compassionate.

He's the guy that I would want in charge and he's having a very, very hard time. Why would anyone want to be in any of those positions? I -- I applaud anyone who goes into public service.

MORGAN: And you see, I would --

G. CLOONEY: Because I don't know.

MORGAN: -- I would -- I would throw that phrase back at you and say there's George Clooney, handsome, smart, well-educated, great father, better looking, obviously. You've got all the same kind of -- all the same kind of adjectives.

N. CLOONEY: I don't think he's better looking than I am. I -- do you think he's better looking than I am?

MORGAN: No, no. You're better looking than him.

N. CLOONEY: Oh. Oh. Thank you. Thank you.

MORGAN: I'm the best looking of the three of us. So this is an awkward moment for George.

N. CLOONEY: Because he's there.

MORGAN: He's faced with two better looking heartthrobs. No, I suppose -- I would throw it back at you, George, and say for precisely the reasons that you are doing what you are doing in Sudan -- that's precisely why you should consider this. Because you -- you've already dipped your toes in this water. You didn't have to.

G. CLOONEY: Yeah, but I can -- I -- I don't have anyone else that I have to answer to. I get to turn around and say here's what I think, specifically what I think or what I believe and I stand by it. Now, you can not like me for it or you can -- or you can help me with it but I don't -- I don't represent, you know, a lot of other people. I don't have to answer to anyone. I think in --

MORGAN: The down -- the down side to that, George, is that you don't get the power either. And if you were in office, you could actually make things happen. It would be your role as a leader and a law maker. You can get this stuff through.

G. CLOONEY: Really? Because we see that working so well right now?

MORGAN: You've got to hope, George.

G. CLOONEY: Yes. You do have to hope with a nice polarized government. Look, I think that I am best suited as an advocate for issues that -- that I can be informed on. And -- and in any way I can help, I'm happy to do it.

And -- and I look to people who are far smarter and far better at this than I am to lead.

MORGAN: When we come back, George, I want to talk to you about your parents. And brilliantly, I can then talk to one of your parents about you.

N. CLOONEY: Oh good. Now, we're talking.

G. CLOONEY: Is this a half-an-hour show?

MORGAN: We're making it a three-parter, now. It's Clooney week.

G. CLOONEY: Oh man.


MORGAN: George, you're obviously very close to your parents. I can tell that by the -- the joshing we've had with your father here. What do your parents mean to you? What values do you think they instilled in you as a young -- a young George?

G. CLOONEY: My father taught me never to mix grain and grape at a very young age.

N. CLOONEY: Very important.

G. CLOONEY: And that's -- and I can't tell you how important that's been over my -- over the years. MORGAN: Well my father's advice was quite similar. He told me only two pieces of advice only. He said always be nice to policemen and always drink the best possible French wine that you can afford. I thought that was great advice.

G. CLOONEY: That's really good advice. I didn't get the -- I didn't get the police advice from my dad. Thanks, dad.

MORGAN: Perhaps he should have done.

G. CLOONEY: Perhaps.

MORGAN: But to be serious -- to be serious, what -- what did they teach you?

G. CLOONEY: Now, listen, you know, I'm very lucky. I'm lucky because both of my parents taught us at a very early age that you have a responsibility to -- when you're lucky and when you get lucky, you have a responsibility to share that luck and to help look out for people that are less fortunate than you and to challenge people that are in power.

And both of them have done that their whole lives. And -- and it was a great -- great growing-up. You've got -- you got in trouble when you didn't do that. And I -- there were times when that wasn't particularly pleasant as a young man, but it was a -- they were always very good lessons that you carry with you through life.

MORGAN: Nick, let me ask you a double-edged question here.

What -- what's been the proudest you've ever been of George and also the least proud?

N. CLOONEY: Well let's see, the proudest I have been of George is -- you know, there's something about -- let me put it this way. When somebody asks me what was the best moment of my life, I always say I don't think I've had that yet. I have been proud of George every day of his life.

There -- and I'm prouder all the time because he keeps growing all the time. I wish he'd stop, you know? I'd say he's so far distanced himself past all the rest of us that it's -- it's remarkable. He hasn't plateaued yet. He's still getting there.

And I'm saying all of this because I'm planning for him to be my retirement plan.

G. CLOONEY: And now he's complimenting me.

N. CLOONEY: And I plan to live in a very exotic way.

MORGAN: I mean, although you've been proud of him every day of your life, there must have been a day when the pride was at a slightly lower level than it is today.

N. CLOONEY: Let me think. Now, which wreck was it? MORGAN: What's the naughtiest he's ever been would you say?

N. CLOONEY: You know, naughty, yes. He's been very -- he's never mean spirited. And that would be the only thing I'd be ashamed of.

MORGAN: I can imagine him being quite mischievous when he was young.

N. CLOONEY: Absolutely. And then -- and -- but always funny. At the end of the day, he made me laugh.

MORGAN: Well, what values did -- did you think you instilled in him? What was -- what was important to you that when he grew up, he -- he'd adhere to a certain code of behavior as far as you're concerned?

N. CLOONEY: You know, Piers, I know what -- I know what you mean here and I'd like to think that I had something to do with both of the kids and how they turned out. But I'm not sure that I did. It seems to me we really think too much of that.

If George had turned out to be a serial killer, I would not be blaming myself. Count on it. Instead, what we're talking about ...


N. CLOONEY: Yes, I -- and there may be a moment.

MORGAN: There may be things we don't know about George.

N. CLOONEY: It may be right at the end of this interview.

MORGAN: He might kill me at the end of this interview.

N. CLOONEY: Well, that's what I'm saying. But see -- no -- I think the one thing that we always had -- the family always had was -- George paraphrased it better than I, I think and -- the -- the -- if we have a philosophy it is to help those with less power than we and to challenge those with more power than we.

And if I was able to -- to, in any way, pass that along to both of my kids, then I'll be content.

MORGAN: George, your father mentioned the -- the greatest moment of his life may not have come yet. I don't want you to cop out and use the same answer. But if you were to actually take your life to date, if you could replay one moment in your life before you die, what would it be?

G. CLOONEY: Well, you know, I was thinking about that when you asked the question. And you know, I was going to give a -- a -- a smart-ass answer. But the truth is I have to say that being here on this show is the greatest moment.

MORGAN: You do realize that that will now be the promo that I run for the next 10 years. You are aware of what you have done.

G. CLOONEY: That will last for a while.

MORGAN: We -- we're going to go to our final break now. And when we come back, I'm actually going to ask both of you the same thing, which is what the hell is it like to be George Clooney?


MORGAN: George, I was going to start this final segment with you by asking about the glory of being George Clooney. But you've just told me that you've got a bout of malaria. Doesn't sound that great.

G. CLOONEY: Well, you know, even with malaria, it's just good fun.

MORGAN: I mean, you're looking slightly over heated now, George. I thought it was down to me. But it turns out it's actually this -- I mean you -- you do get malaria flare ups quite regularly, do you?

G. CLOONEY: No. I've had it twice. This is just -- I just -- you know, some -- I guess the mosquito in Juba looked at me and thought I was the bar.

MORGAN: Let me -- let me ask you again the question before I knew about the -- the malaria.

What is it like being George Clooney? I mean, serious.

G. CLOONEY: Oh listen, I have a very good life. I'm -- I'm infinitely -- you know, I -- I am a lucky man, you know? I was a struggling actor for a long period of time. Before that, I sold ladies' shoes at a store called McGalpin's (ph), and I sold insurance door to door. That's a fun job.

And I -- you know, I -- I had a lot of -- you know, cut tobacco for a living. And then somewhere along the way I got lucky and -- truly lucky. I know -- you know, I don't want that to sound like false modesty if I -- you know.

I did eight television series before "E.R." hit. And if we didn't get a Thursday night at 10:00 time slot, you know, I wouldn't have the career I have.

MORGAN: And Nick, I mean, you're Nick Clooney. Do you ever wake up some days and think I wish I was George Clooney? For the day.

N. CLOONEY: Oh, God no.

MORGAN: Oh, you wouldn't swap his life for yours?

N. CLOONEY: Not at all. No. I have a -- I have a perfect life. Mine is much better than George's. And I'll tell you why. He understood this very early on, back before he became very famous with "E.R." We had a conversation where he said, "Pop, I'm in the best position in the world because I'm the best-known, unknown actor in Hollywood, which means I can make a very good living. I can buy a house. I can have a good life. And I don't have to put up with any of the nonsense that all of the people who are much higher profile."

Well I -- I'm that guy. I'm the best-known, unknown newsman in the entire United States of America.

MORGAN: That's a great title, is it?

N. CLOONEY: It's perfect one.

MORGAN: Best-known, unknown newsman in America. I love that. So that's a movie.

N. CLOONEY: Yeah, not one paparazzi.

G. CLOONEY: That's his book.

N. CLOONEY: That's true.

MORGAN: You've had one of the great marriages. And in fact, you -- you renewed your vows in 2007 to George's mom. He's never gone down the aisle. I mean, as his parent, you sit there yearning for the moment.

N. CLOONEY: I want you to think about that. I want you to think about that we've been married -- Nina and I've been married 51 years. George has looked at that and said, "I'm not getting married." Just think about that. OK. And that's the end.

MORGAN: George, is he right?

G. CLOONEY: Exactly. I hate to -- I hate to blow your whole news story, but I was married. So I gave it a shot.

MORGAN: Your dad seems to have forgotten this. Like me.

G. CLOONEY: Clearly. Yeah. So I've -- you know, I've -- I've proven how good I was at it and I just --

MORGAN: Do you think you'll ever -- will you ever re-marry, George?

G. CLOONEY: Here we go. You know, you just waited --

MORGAN: I'm allowed one, am I?

G. CLOONEY: -- for the last segment to pull it out.

MORGAN: You don't have -- you don't have to answer.

G. CLOONEY: I'm not going to. Piers, are you married?

MORGAN: I just got re-married. That's why I asked you the question.

G. CLOONEY: Oh, you did? MORGAN: Yeah. Literally --

G. CLOONEY: Congratulations.

MORGAN: -- about six months ago.

G. CLOONEY: Really?


G. CLOONEY: And they said it wouldn't last.

MORGAN: Do you ever -- I mean, because of your passion for Sudan, George. I do want to end by returning to -- to the reason we did this interview.

When you see the vast amount of poverty that you get in places like Sudan -- obviously, you've got vast amounts of cash and there's a huge contradiction there. Do even feel guilty about money? Do you ever have that feeling that you wish you -- you weren't super rich? You could give it all to these people?

G. CLOONEY: Well, I don't think -- I don't ever wish I wasn't super rich. I do have -- I do have incredible guilt about it. I'm an Irish Catholic, you know? I used to fill my shoes with gravel and jump off the top of my bunk beds for penance. so I -- I have -- I have great understanding of guilt.

You know, you try to -- you try to share a lot of it, and you try to be -- you know, you try to spend as much time and as much money as you can doing it. And at times, it is hard to reconcile the two. But there -- you know, the other version of it is not doing anything and that -- that's not really an option. So you try to find someplace in between the two.

MORGAN: Give -- give me an honest answer to this last question. If I could offer you, next year, best Actor, the Oscar, or I could offer you genuine prospect of peace in Sudan, which one would you take? Either or.

G. CLOONEY: Oh, I think the Oscar.

MORGAN: And that is why I love George Clooney. Right --

G. CLOONEY: No. Listen. You know, the -- the truth of the matter is I think -- I think that we're in for a long, long, long haul in the Sudan to get there, to get South Sudan to peace. I worry about them a lot. I worry about what's to come with them.

And -- and I hope that, you know, people like yourself and people who are, you know, in the world of information are able to help keep it public, because, you know, the -- the more we keep our eye on them, the better chance they have. And that's something I'm really concerned with. It's why I'm happy and -- and -- and actually, I'm thrilled that you're having this conversation and talking about something that's very hard to get people to talk about. So it's -- thank you for that.

MORGAN: Well I -- you know, for my part, George, I'm pleased to do it because I actually think what you're doing is a remarkable thing. And I wish that more people with your huge celebrity status globally would do this kind of thing.

And to the cynics that have a go at you, I think they should just shove it, frankly.

G. CLOONEY: Would you tell them that?

MORGAN: I will. You know what? Shove it.

George Clooney. Thank you very much.

Nick Clooney. Thank you very much.

It's been a real pleasure. Thank you.

On Monday night, I speak to Rudy Giuliani, America's mayor, about his run for the White House.


MORGAN: Working on the assumption that you may run again -- and I'm assuming you will -- how would you do things differently?

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: If I ran again, how would I do it differently? I'd try to win.


MORGAN: And talking of winners, here's my colleague Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think he's going to run?

MORGAN: I think he might. It was interesting. I said to him, would you be more tempted to run if Sarah Palin didn't run, and he said actually the complete opposite, because he fancied his chances more as the moderate against someone like Sarah Palin, which makes sense if you think about it.

So I've got a feeling that he, a little bit bruised from what happened before, and now quite fancies a run, which could be very interesting.

COOPER: Interesting. Piers, great first week. Congratulations.

MORGAN: Thanks, Anderson. It's a pleasure to be on your team.