George Clooney 'Surprised' By Success of Kony 2012 Video

Image credit: Pete Muller/AP Photo

George Clooney told me he was "surprised" by the rapid success of the Kony 2012 viral video, which took off last week and now has more than 77 million views on YouTube. 

"We were in the Sudan and didn't really see any of this going on, didn't know about it. And then we landed yesterday and we got back and the minute we got back we were sort of hit with all these Kony questions," Clooney said on "GMA." "I'm very happy they're talking about it, I mean he's a war criminal as well. But we were sort of surprised by it all." 

I spoke to Clooney and John Prendergast, the co-founders of the Satellite Sentinel Project, ahead of their testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee on "Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity." 

Clooney, who appeared in the video about Joseph Kony, a war lord in charge of the Lord's Resistance Army, said his comments that war criminals should enjoy "the same level of celebrity as me" were taken from a previous interview about the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir. 

"Bashir, who is the head of the government in Khartoum, said 'How would Mr. Clooney like it if cameras were constantly following him everywhere he goes?' And we said, 'Well, welcome to my world.' And I think it should be fair enough that he should enjoy the same amount of celebrity that I do. A war criminal. So that was taken from that," Clooney told me. 


Prendergast said the sudden worldwide attention to the Kony 2012 video is "very, very helpful" to spur change. 

"So [Obama] needs a little political support in an election year. So now you have all these young people across the United States who are captivated by the idea that the United States can help the African regional governments and the people on the front lines bring an end to this terrible atrocity," Prendergast said. 

"It's amazing what political will can do," Clooney added. 

The two men are hoping to spur political will in their testimony this morning. Their organization uses images from satellites to capture what's happening on the ground in Sudan and South Sudan and they visited the region last week.

 "We wanted to get on the ground to see specifically for ourselves and film for ourselves of what was going on. We got a little closer than we thought we were going to. We got in the middle of a rocket attack and we got to a village that was hit a few hours before," Clooney said.

"There are an awful lot of innocent people who are just being victimized like crazy in the exact same way that we saw in the lead up to Darfur," Clooney said.