Inside Barack Obama's Friendship With George Clooney

There's a kind of joy in unlikely friendships, when people who seem like they're from completely different worlds turn out to get along well. One surprising example of a high-profile unlikely friendship is the friendship between former President Barack Obama and actor George Clooney. Although most people may only know Clooney for his Hollywood career, he has a history of activism, which is how he and Obama met in the first place.

While Clooney has shared his thoughts on a future political career and said he doesn't plan on one, he is a staunch supporter of a variety of important causes. One was raising awareness about the Darfur genocide happening in Sudan. In 2006, Clooney and Obama both attended a rally for Darfur. Obama opened up to Entertainment Tonight (via E! News) about Clooney's devotion to that cause: "George, who had traveled there, done documentaries there, and was very well-informed, came to testify in Congress. And so we got to know each other, and he is a good man, and a good friend."

Obama also said Clooney was careful about their friendship, not wanting to tarnish the politician's reputation. The former president added: "And he's also sensitive to the fact that, you know, that if he's around a lot, then somehow it'll be tagged as 'Obama hanging out with Hollywood stars,' and that's not who he is. But he's a good person."

George Clooney offered to stay away from Barack Obama to not affect his political ambitions

The Los Angeles Times wrote an article in 2006 about Democratic celebrities vocalizing their feelings on former President Barack Obama. In that piece, an email from George Clooney was quoted in which he called Obama potentially becoming the Democratic presidential candidate, "the most electrifying thing to happen to the Democratic party since Kennedy." 

In 2007, the outlet interviewed George and he talked more about his admiration for Obama. George admitted that his father Nick Clooney's political career suffered due to Nick's Hollywood ties, so George was upfront with Obama about being willing to keep his distance and not mess up Obama's chances. Obama didn't ask George to stay away, though. They stayed in touch after the Darfur rally and George continued to support him. George also spoke highly of Obama's skills as a public speaker in that interview, and Obama was quoted as saying, "He's a good friend."

During Obama's presidency, George visited him at the White House a few times, continuing his advocacy for Darfur. Their friendship extended beyond the sphere of politics too. After George threw a star-studded fundraiser for Obama's re-election in 2012, they participated in a legendary basketball game with actors Tobey Maguire and Don Cheadle. A photo from that day can be seen on Flickr. After the game, Obama told a reporter, "Of course George and I won. But we're all winners because nobody got hurt" (via The New York Post).

The Clooneys and Obamas are all friends

In some ways, George Clooney and former President Barack Obama's friendship is just like any other — e.g., a 2017 interview with George and his wife Amal Clooney for The Hollywood Reporter divulged that the men joke around over text. However, not every friendship becomes immortalized in wax at the Madame Tussauds in London where statues of the pals were set up in an Oval Office set for George's film 2011 "The Ides of March." Rihanna and Morgan Freeman wax statues joined the duo for Thanksgiving 2012

When Clooney won the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award, Obama gave a prerecorded speech for his friend and said, "George Clooney is a good man, a good citizen and an outstanding maker of film" (via X, formerly known as Twitter). He and Michelle Obama also vacationed at George and Amal's home in Italy, by Lake Como. A source who saw the couples out to dinner at Villa D'Este in 2019 said, "George and Barack looked like best friends. They don't seem to run out of things to talk about. They were laughing the entire time and taking pictures together" (via E! News). 

The insider remarked how Amal and Michelle seemed to enjoy themselves as well. Thankfully, there's no bad blood after Jimmy Kimmel prepared a series of outlandish quotes for Michelle to read aloud on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" after she was no longer first lady. At that time she teased, "Clooney is my freebie."