George Clooney Optimistic After Rough Year

ByABC News

Sept. 29, 2005 -- -- George Clooney has had a trying year, mainly due to a rare and debilitating health problem -- but he says he's confident he'll triumph in the end.

"Everybody has that year in their life when you age a decade ... But I'll whip it," the dashing actor told ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview at his palatial villa on Italy's Lake Como. "You know, I'm getting further and further along with it every day."

Earlier this month, the "Oceans Twelve" heartthrob revealed that he had a condition involving a torn dura mater, a membrane that covers the spinal cord, which caused him to suffer from headaches and short-term memory loss.

Clooney underwent numerous surgical procedures, and told Sawyer he is still experiencing residual effects. He said he has Post-It notes everywhere to help him remember. "I have to count when I walk up the stairs now," he said.

Clooney called the memory loss "a very interesting thing." He said, "As an actor, it's always fun because it really shakes your confidence. It's not permanent. It's bruised ... bruised brain so you have to sort of exercise it a little bit every once in a while."

But he added, "It's okay. All going to be fine."

About his headaches, Clooney said, "I still have them every day, but better, much less. And I stay away from as much of the medication as possible."

He said his health woes make his days and nights "much more of a challenge." He likened the pain and discomfort to lying in the bottom of a swimming pool and trying to breathe through a cocktail straw.

"It gets worse as the day goes on because it's positional," he said. "Your brain sort of pushes down further and further and further. Your spinal fluid pushes out. And as it sinks it sort of ... it starts to hurt when it starts to rest on your head."

Sawyer's interview with Clooney also marked the first time the actor allowed cameras inside his 15-bedroom Villa Oleandra. He gave a complete tour, from the kitchen to the master bedroom.

He told Sawyer he has some guilt about the wealth that has come with his success. "I'm an Irish Catholic kid, you know. I was broke for a long, long, long time, so I have a lot of guilt about that."

But he said guilt was a good feeling to have. "If you use it the right way, you can actually use it responsibly."

Sawyer also asked Clooney if he had any plans to marry in the future. He said it wasn't a priority.

"I was married," he said. "If something clicks or changes in me and says, 'You've got to go do that' ... I'm open to that idea ... I don't find that as the gold medal ... I'm probably not searching that hard right now."

Clooney said he had other priorities. "I have this forward momentum right now of things that I want to accomplish in life, and things that I want to get done," he said.

One of Clooney's passions is his new film, "Good Night, and Good Luck," about legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow. Clooney directed the film and plays Murrow's colleague, Fred Friendly.

He told Sawyer his favorite Murrow quote was: "We must prove that we can lead, not only in the area of bombs, but in the area of ideas."

Clooney explained, "I like that because I think that's not saying shame on anyone, that's not saying bad or good. It's just saying there are so many options for a country like ours and so many things that are hopeful that we continually do and surprise our allies and ourselves with, that are good."

"Good Night, and Good Luck" hits selected theaters on October 7.

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