Allow George Clooney to tell you the full love story of him and Amal Clooney, as he did in great detail to the Hollywood Reporter this week. In the course of one year and two months, they met, fell in love, became engaged, and got married.
It started in July 2013, when human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin was in Lake Como, Italy, passing through the area on her way to Cannes with a mutual friend, THR reports. That's when she and George got together during a dinner gathering (George's parents were there, too!).
"I thought she was beautiful, and I thought she was funny and obviously smart," George said. "I don't know [what she thought of me]. She probably thought I was old. Then she sent some pictures from when she was here, and we were writing each other, emailing, talking, mostly about what was going on in each other's lives, and over a period of time it became clear we were more than just friends."
Their first date was in October 2013, when George invited Amal to Abbey Road Studios in London, where he was supervising the recording of the Monuments Men score. "That was a good first date. Then we went for dinner. She said, 'Let's go to this place.' It was one of those places that was incredibly hip and chic. And when we came out, there were 50 paparazzi there. But she handled it like a champ. And pretty quickly, things escalated once I was in London."
George was in the city for six weeks, then "we spent Christmas together in Cabo San Lucas. Then we went on a safari in Kenya. Amal loves giraffes; they're her favorite animal. She went to this place called Giraffe Manor, where the giraffes stick their heads through the windows and kiss you."
When George finally got back to L.A. in February 2014, he knew she was the one, he said. He showed his friend Ben Weiss "a picture of her, looking back, smiling at these giraffes, and I said, 'I think I'm going to ask her to marry me.'"
He bought a ring but never said a thing about it to Amal. "Nothing. It was a full-on leap of faith. She was in England, coming back [to Los Angeles], and she'd had a conversation with her parents, who were like, 'What are George's intentions?' And she was saying, 'Take it easy. We've been going out for six months.' And then she showed up."
George proposed over dinner he made. (She ultimately said yes, but the proposal wasn't entirely seamless as he's said before.) That night, his only hesitation was that perhaps he was jumping the gun; he wasn't worried about their compatibility. "My only doubt was if she thought maybe it was too soon," he explained. "But there was no doubt that we were the right couple and that we were the right team. And we were a team from right off the bat. Immediately, we felt we were just happy, and we have been happy ever since."
According to George, finding the kind of love he has with Amal, "changes you in every way that every person who's fallen madly in love changes. Suddenly, the other person's life becomes more important than your own. That's not unique to us; that's [unique to] all people who are lucky enough to find the perfect partner. I'm sorry I was 50-something when it happened, but only because I could have spent even more time with her."
Their Venice wedding in September 2014 was nondenominational. And it was meant to be secret. "We didn't tell anybody else that we were going to do it, but eventually somebody figured it out," George said. "Oh, my God! Once people got wind of it, it became an event. We took a bus from here to Venice, then we got on a boat, and once we got on the boat, there were so many paparazzi and so many people standing there waiting. We were sitting down in the boat, and I was like, 'You know what? Why are we hiding? Why are we ducking? We shouldn't be ashamed of this.' And we got up and waved."
The two actually hadn't talked about having kids while dating, and George didn't think he wanted them. "It had never been part of my DNA. We didn't plan on it. We never talked about it until after we were married, which is funny. There was an assumption that we didn't want them. And then, after the wedding, Amal and I were talking and we just felt we'd gotten very lucky, both of us, and we should share whatever good luck we've got. It would seem self-centered to just have that belong to us."
Amal told The Hollywood Reporter that the two don't plan on having any more children beyond their twins, Ella and Alexander. "I'm 39. I already had them quite late." But what's surprised her most about George during their four years together is "what a great father he is." And that response took George by surprise when the reporter mentioned it to him: "She said that? Really?"