It’s a tale that seems straight out of Hollywood. Mostly because it is.
George Clooney has finally confirmed that he once gave 14 close friends $1 million each, corroborating the years-old story in an interview with GQ published Tuesday in honour of his being named the magazine’s Icon of the Year.
The actor’s close friend and Casamigos business partner Rande Gerber first relayed the story about the suitcases stuffed with cash back in 2017, but this is the first time the famous prankster has opened up about the gift himself. And luckily for his friends, it wasn’t a prank ― just an incredible way to say “thank you.”
“Amal and I had just met, but we weren’t dating at all,” Clooney told GQ, recalling his mindset in 2013. “I was a single guy. All of us were aging. I was 52 or something. And most of my friends are older than me.”
“And I thought, what I do have are these guys who’ve all, over a period of 35 years, helped me in one way or another,” he said, listing everything his friends had done for him.
“They helped me when I needed help over the years. And I’ve helped them over the years. We’re all good friends,” he said. “And I thought, you know, without them I don’t have any of this. And we’re all really close, and I just thought basically if I get hit by a bus, they’re all in the will. So why the fuck am I waiting to get hit by a bus?”
So Clooney got a van with “Florist” painted on the side of it ― naturally ― and picked up the cash from a location in Los Angeles that housed “giant pallets” of money.
Alongside “a couple of security guys that were shitting themselves,” the actor stuffed the goods into 14 Tumi suitcases ― a plan that seems straight out of one of his “Ocean’s Eleven” heists.
After getting the money together, Clooney said, he asked his friends to come over the next day.
“And I just held up a map and I just pointed to all the places I got to go in the world and all the things I’ve gotten to see because of them,” the director told the magazine.
“And I said, ‘How do you repay people like that?’ And I said, ‘Oh, well: How about a million bucks?’ And the fun part about it was: That was the 27th, the 28th of September,” he said. “A year later, on the 27th of September, just by happenstance, was the day I got married.”
Gerber spoke about the incredible experience on MSNBC’s “Headliners” show in 2017.
“George begins to say, ‘Listen, I want you guys to know how much you’ve meant to me and how much you mean to me in my life,’” Gerber said. “‘I came to LA, I slept on your couch. I’m so fortunate in my life to have all of you and I couldn’t be where I am today without all of you. So, it was really important to me that while we’re still all here together, that I give back. So I want you all to open your suitcases.’”
The businessman said that all of Clooney’s friends were “in shock” after seeing their million-dollar cash gifts, which the actor said he’d already paid the taxes on, as well.
“One [friend] was working at a bar in Texas at the airport, trying just to support his family,” Gerber said. “Rides a bicycle to work every day. I mean, these are guys that took care of George and now he’s giving it all back.”
Gerber, who is married to Cindy Crawford and has his own successful business ventures, said he tried to give the money back to Clooney at the time ― but the actor wasn’t having it.
“I pull him aside and said, ‘I absolutely am not taking this million dollars,’” he added. “Immediately George goes, ‘I’m just going to make one announcement. If Rande doesn’t take the million dollars, nobody gets’” their money.