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George Clooney Talks Acting, Nick Nolte Talks Death

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Perhaps the reason George Clooney is such a good actor is that he doesn't get too dramatic about the whole thing.

The star kicked off what should be a busy, fruitful awards season with a Best Actor nod from the National Board of Review on Thursday for his role in the new dramedy, "The Descendants." Playing an uninvolved dad suddenly thrust into a world of familial drama, it's a performance equal parts charming and subtle, with Clooney coming off at ease and confident. That, it seems, is a result of his worldview and approach to his craft.

"I cut tobacco for a living in Kentucky -- that was hard work. I sold insurance door to door -- that's hard work. Acting is not hard work. If you're lucky enough to be sitting at a table like this, you've been very lucky in your life," the Oscar-winner said during The Hollywood Reporter's recent actor's round table. "You caught the brass ring somewhere along the way. I've known a tremendous number of talented actors who didn't get opportunities. Is it hard work? It's long hours, but nobody wants to hear you complain. I remember I was selling women's shoes at a department store, which is a lousy job."

Clooney continued, taking on what he hears coming from some privileged members of Hollywood.

"I remember I would hear of famous stars complaining in Hollywood about how hard their life was -- I didn't want to hear that," he said. "So I don't find it difficult. I find it challenging, and sometimes I'm very bad at it, but I don't find it hard."

Perhaps it's a canned answer, or maybe just a result of being asked the same questions over and over again, but Clooney has expressed these sentiments before.

"Look, I cut tobacco for a living for a while in Kentucky -- that was hard, you know? I sold ladies shoes in a department store -- that was hard," Clooney told OnTheRedCarpet.com just a few weeks ago. "This [acting] isn't a hard job in those terms. Was it tricky? Sure there were elements of it that were difficult to do, it's not hard."

In fact, he sounds a bit like a politician -- a job he says he's avoiding, given the difficulties candidates and leaders often have.

As for the rest of the THR roundtable, Nick Nolte, who starred in this fall's critically acclaimed "Warrior," had far less rosy answers to give when it came to his career and life.

His quotes were a tour de force of depression, including this very honest offering: "I live with death lately because I'm 70," he said. "After 70, you don't think about sex much anymore. You think about death."

Others, apparently, are thinking the same thing. Well, thinking about Nolte's death, anyway.

"I lost [my mother] at 86. That was the last parent," he said. "When the last parent dies you call your sister or brother and say, 'How old are you?' Whichever one's the oldest, that's the next to go. My sister's two years older than me, but it's not going to work out that way, I don't think."

Hopefully, his time hanging out with Clooney helped cheer him up. Hey, at least he's not cutting tobacco in Kentucky.

For more, click over to The Hollywood Reporter.

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