Hollywood star and activist George Clooney is notoriously private when it comes to his personal life. However, the handsome actor opens up about turning 50 -- he doesn't necessarily consider himself a leading man anymore! -- plus dealing with failure, and faking it in this Sunday's Parade with contributing writer and political analyst David Gergen.
On his love of playing pranks: "There's good fun in watching those play out. And, hey, my friends are rough on me, too. Brad Pitt's brutal, and Matt Damon. My friends used to change my outgoing phone message all the time. This was the old days, when you had a phone machine. They would change the message to something horrible and there was nothing I could do to change it back. That was always brilliant."
On continuing his public life and maintaining privacy at the same time: "I don't tweet, I don't go on Facebook. I think there's too much information about all of us out there. I'm liking the idea of privacy more and more. There will be funny things, like I'll read something I've said about a woman somewhere. And I haven't spoken about my relationships in 15 years."
On turning the big 5-0 and what it means to his career: "I look at myself on-screen and go, 'I don't look like I did when I was 40 -- I know that.' The people I've respected most in the industry over the years -- Paul Newman, for instance. I just loved the way he handled growing old on-screen. It's understanding that you're now basically a character actor.
"I find that as you get older, you start to simplify things in general. By the time you get a subscription to AARP, which I just got, you have some idea of who your friends are, at least. [Getting the AARP subscription] shocked me -- 'Are you kidding? [laughs]
I told them they should do 'The Sexiest Man Still Alive.'"
On learning from his failures: "I had to stop going to auditions thinking, 'Oh, I hope they like me.' I had to go in thinking I was the answer to their problem. The greatest lesson I learned was that sometimes you have to fake it. And you have to be willing to fail."
On his Lake Como, Italy, villa: "I bought it as an investment. I never liked the stock market -- to me it's Vegas without any of the fun parts, the girls in bikinis. I like owning dirt. You know, I spent a lot of time broke when I moved to California. So deep in my soul is still this idea of being unemployed. To me, owning land means you could sell it at some point and have money."
On his latest film, "The Ides of March," where he plays an inspirational presidential candidate: "We were in preproduction on this film in 2007, before the Obama election. And then we realized that a good portion of the country was elated with what happened in that election, so we had to shelve the movie until people were cynical again. I didn't think it would be quite this quick. [laughs]"
Check out Parade this Sunday to read the full interview with George Clooney, in which he also discusses his work in South Sudan, including the time a young boy pointed a gun at him and his brush with malaria.