‘ER’: George Clooney ‘Wouldn’t Leave’ John Wells Alone Until He Got to Audition for a Role

Even with some salt and pepper in his hair these days, George Clooney will always be one of Hollywood’s favorite hunks.

The star is a universally recognized face and name now, considered to be in the same echelon as top-notch actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, but some may have forgotten that he got his start on one of the most successful primetime television shows of all time, ER

It turns out that Clooney wasn’t just handed over the role of Dr. Doug Ross because of his good looks and charm; he really had to beg for it — literally! 

George Clooney didn’t plan on becoming an actor

Anthony Edwards as Doctor Mark Greene, George Clooney as Doctor Doug Ross
Anthony Edwards as Doctor Mark Greene, George Clooney as Doctor Doug Ross | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

Although he’s one of the world’s most successful actors now, acting actually wasn’t included in Clooney’s life plan from the very beginning. In fact, he wanted to be a professional baseball player instead. He told The Hollywood Reporter:

“I wanted to be a professional baseball player… I only lacked skill. And then I sort of wandered around a bit. I sold ladies’ shoes and I sold men’s suits, and then I cut tobacco every summer for $3.33 an hour. I worked at an all-night liquor store called King Quick Liquor. I got a good taste of what I didn’t want to do in my life.”

He was invited by his cousin to move out to California to try to become an actor, which is when he made the move.

Before landing his career-making role on ER, Clooney thought he wanted to be a movie actor, but television roles were what he was cast for. Ironically, his first major role was starring in a show called E/R  – no, not the same thing as our beloved ER.

He’s come a long time since those days – he’s estimated to be worth around $500 million.

‘ER’ made Clooney into an international superstar

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For five whole seasons, Clooney starred on ER, a hospital drama that took place in – you guessed it – an emergency room, as Dr. Doug Ross (the show itself ran for a whopping 15 seasons, and Clooney made an appearance on the series finale). The show became one of TV’s most-watched dramas of all time, and garnered an impressive 40 million viewers each week.

Clooney has described his snagging the role on the uber-popular show as life-changing. “[The success] was almost instantaneous and one of those things that never happens… Everything changed so quickly,” he’s been quoted as saying. We’d bet! Since then, Clooney has gone on to be an Oscar-winning actor, not something we often see from television actors.

Clooney actually begged the creator of ‘ER’ for the part of Dr. Doug Ross

The executive producer of ER, John Wells, has revealed that he didn’t just hand over the part of Dr. Doug Ross to Clooney – Clooney actually begged him for it. In fact, according to Mental Floss, he hadn’t even been invited to audition for any role, but he refused to give up until he was granted at least an audition. Clooney was 33 years old at the time, and we’d guess he was feeling pretty desperate for a role that would finally launch him to stardom.

“George was the first person to audition. He came after me for it,” Wells has disclosed. “Our second day in the office, George showed up and wouldn’t leave until I’d let him audition … George got his hands on the material and was like a dog with a bone.”

Well, it seems Clooney’s persistence paid off in the end; who knows where his life would have taken him if he hadn’t scored that role? There’s a lesson to be learned here for all of us.