Tony Öhberg

American actor, activist and director George Clooney at the Helsinki Expo & Convention Center in Helsinki on October 10, 2019. Picture: Tony Öhberg Finland Today

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Seeing George Clooney live on stage is great fun, and it’s because Mr. Clooney is having great fun himself.

On Thursday afternoon, Clooney, 58, walked on the stage smiling, wearing a blue-gray suit, and under the jacket a white-collar shirt with the top buttons open. His face was covered in a thick grey beard.

He sat on a bench, and he and the interviewer, Francine Lacqua, were separated by a campfire to create a cozy setting.

During the following hour, the crowd of about 7,500 people at the Nordic Business Forum in Helsinki spurted loud laughs and got to witness an acting masterclass when Clooney shared some of his anecdotes.

When he was not addressing the nipples on his Batman suit (while referring to Batman & Robin (1997), which he said is the worst movie of all time), he gave the spectators insight, sometimes contrary to the lessons of other speakers at the forum.

For example, he doesn’t believe in a personal brand. “I think it’s dangerous,” he said while looking down, shyly.

We didn’t get to hear more about the subject because Clooney quickly moved to another topic he does believe in: picking up fights. “Even if you can’t win.”

Because someone else who decides to continue “the same fight” in another place could win. This was Clooney, the activist speaking—a role he is also famous for and carries proudly.

Naturally, he’s most famous as an actor, and these days, as an accomplished director, too.

Clooney was radiating joy on stage. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Before Clooney stepped on stage the introducers reminded the sold-out hall that Clooney has been nominated for an Academy Award for eight times and has earned a special spot in the Oscar record books: He has been nominated in more categories than anyone else in Oscar history.

“George Clooney, you’re a big deal.” said the interviewer.

“I’m a big star,” he said and smiled and crossed his legs, looking very relaxed.

“But have you ever been mistaken to another celebrity?”

“Right now, the ZZ Top.”

“It’s for a job,” he said while referring to his beard.

“My wife hates it as everyone else, though.”

The hall was echoing in laughter.

But what makes George Clooney laugh? The interviewer asked.

“When people come up to me thinking that they know me. They say things like ‘I hated you in Batman’.”

“It’s the funniest life,” he continued, “That makes me laugh the most. There’s that familiarity.”

Clooney talked about being very lucky.

“If you like your job, everything is different,” Clooney said.

George Clooney. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

In places like Kentucky the people live hard,” he said while referring to the US state where he grew up.

“You’re living for the weekends because the work is so hard and the weekends are short. I’ve never had to do that. I love the work.”

“On the weekends when I’m off, I miss it. So, I feel extraordinarily lucky and privileged that I’ve been able to have this career and I don’t want that to go away.”

“So what’s next for George Clooney?” the interviewer asked.

“Drinking tequila with this batch, bunch.” he said while referring to the crowd that was now laughing hard.

“We’ll all be in the bar,” Clooney said.

After the stage conversation, Clooney left the building and greeted the most devoted fan, Hannu Elomaa, 40, from the southwestern city of Turku who had been standing outside the Helsinki Expo & Convention Center for hours.

He had gotten a picture of him and Clooney earlier when his favorite actor arrived at the event.

And now they took another one.

Then Clooney left in a car.