George Clooney Once Gave 14 of His Oldest Friends $1 Million. Would You Have Accepted the Money?

Joel Eisenberg

Does easily accepting such a gift say something negative about your character? Does it matter?

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I would have accepted the money. Let’s get that out of the way first. I am not going to position myself here as holier than thou. I would have accepted the money, likely given a percentage to charity, and kept the reminder for my family and myself.

But nothing needs to be justified in this regard. If I gave nothing to charity, well, that would be my call and I would not feel guilty about my decision. If I spent my portion on something frivolous, I would not feel guilty about that either. If my wife wanted to spend any of my portion to purchase something frivolous, all the same. She's my wife. She comes first.

"Charity begins at home" is a philosophy to which many pay heed, and once again ... there is nothing morally wrong with that either.

I just prefer to give when I can too, hence my aforementioned inclination to donate to an outside charity.

So let's say you have helped someone immensely, in a non-financial capacity. Let's say the other person is now in a position to do something that would be meaningful to you both.

You know the rest: There is nothing wrong with that.

In reference to George Clooney, he could well afford to do what he did. The decision was his and his alone.


Confirmation of the long-standing George Clooney rumor hit the press a few months ago: Actor George Clooney gifted 14 surprised friends with $1 million for helping him during his starving actor days.

In an interview with GQ, Clooney said, “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. I’ve slept on their couches when I was broke ... They loaned me money when I was broke. They helped me when I needed help over the years. And I’ve helped them over the years. We’re all good friends. And I thought, you know, without them I don’t have any of this.”

I have spoken about the concept of karma in other articles, which I am not vested in as dogma but of which I have seen validation also in my life and the lives of others.

There is nothing at all mystical about it.

Here’s an example. As a writer, my natural inclination is to help as many of my peers as possible. I write articles to help other writers with their craft and business, I speak as much as possible at writing and film conferences, and I hold classes for the same purpose. Sometimes I charge, sometimes I do not. For me, it’s about helping. My philosophy, which is similar to the karmic outlook, is this:

Help when you can and you will receive in return.

It works. Though my writing career is active, I still always need to meet those in a position to purchase my work. This is a lifelong effort. Resting on laurels due to past success is meaningless. Do some favors today — because you want to, not because you are being selfish by expecting a reward later — and you leave your future open to fortune.

After all, wouldn’t you want to work with someone or treat someone well who has done the same for you? Wouldn't you want to work with someone you can trust, who has looked out mostly for a person other than themselves?

Or, who has proven themselves to you time and again?

Clooney came up tough in the actor’s world, as you see above. He slept on the couches of others. He didn’t eat well.

He sacrificed his health doing what he had to do for his career.

Can anyone reading these words identify? Are there any other artists or entrepreneurs reading this, those who well know the virtues and pay-offs of hard work and sacrifice?

In his case, Clooney’s hard work and sacrifice paid off. He explains that he earned more money from “Gravity” than he had anticipated, and he figured he’d share the wealth with those who supported him early “just because.”

He seems to be a loyal guy, who apparently has never forgotten where he came from.

If the same thing happened to you as has happened to FOC’s (Friends of Clooney’s), would you take the money?

I would, as mentioned. I would likely donate a portion to charity; I know I’d use at least half for my family.

Or, would you feel guilty receiving such a gift and turn it down?

Ask yourself “why?” in both instances.

When you do, consider one more thing: Consider George Clooney’s story as a lesson to do more for others. You are not only helping them, which may be most important, but in a sense you may also be investing in your own future.

You never know. That said ... I would strongly recommend to 'not' help others for this reason. Do not help others out of selfishness. Help others because you want to, and expect nothing in return.

And, if the chips fall to where you gave a hand to other people who need it, and you indeed receive nothing material in return … really, is that a bad thing?

Is it?


If you sell a product or a service you expect compensation. Why wouldn't you? If you professionally offer a product or service, your time and effort costs. There is, however, a world of difference between business, and kindness. They can certainly exist together, which often makes for the best kind of professional relationships. Or, they can exist separately.

When you perform a kindness for another, you are doing so from your heart. If your motive is profit-driven, check yourself in the mirror.

George Clooney did something kind for those who have done something kind for him. That is the best kind of compensation, one that is utterly unexpected.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA

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