After (unsubstantiated) rumors surfaced this winter that Amal Clooney, a British-Lebanese lawyer and activist, was divorcing her husband, actor George Clooney, he defended their relationship in a “one-on-one interview” with Hello! magazine last week.
Clooney told the British celebrity weekly that he and his wife never spend more than a week apart and make efforts to stay in touch even when they are in different parts of the world.
“We have a very strong connection and she’s an extraordinary woman doing great work,” Clooney said. “We’re both committed and shared a common concern for causes like the refugee crisis, but what really brings us together as a couple is the fact that we’re good friends and we enjoy each other’s company.”
He said they have homes in both London and Los Angeles, where it is easy for them to spend time together while working on independent projects.
“It takes some planning, but it’s actually been working out very well for us,” Clooney said. “She also looks great on the red carpet!”
For outlets that picked up the Hello! piece, Clooney’s statements appeared to be a subtle attempt to quell rumblings that his marriage was on the rocks.
There was only one problem: The interview never happened.
“I have not given an interview to Hello! magazine and the quotes attributed to me are not accurate,” Clooney said in a statement. He added that while it is not unusual to be misquoted, “to have an ‘exclusive interview’ completely fabricated is something new. And a very disturbing trend.”
The magazine has since removed the article from its site and replaced it with an apology.
According to Hello! Group, the publication’s parent company, they purchased the content from a creative agency.
“Hello! Group has established that the interview it bought from the Famous agency had, in fact, been culled together from a series of interviews that took place over a period of time, and many of the quotes attributed to Mr. Clooney were never made by him.”
The statement further said: “Hello! Group bought the material in good faith from a trusted independent agent, who assured us it was an authentic one-to-one interview with Mr. Clooney, which we now accept was not the case.”
The magazine apologized “unreservedly” to the famous pair.
This isn’t the first time the Clooneys’ marriage has been the victim of tall tales. In 2014, the Daily Mail published a story claiming that a “family friend” said Amal Clooney’s mother opposed their marriage for religious reasons.
In a column for USA Today, George Clooney wrote that “none of the story is factually true.” It described Amal Clooney’s mother as Druze, a member of an Islamic religious sect, and said she was telling “half of Beirut” that she was against the marriage.
“I’m the son of a newsman,” Clooney said. “I accept the idea that freedom of speech can be an inconvenience to my private life from time to time, but … when they put my family and my friends in harm’s way, they cross far beyond just a laughable tabloid and into the arena of inciting violence.”
The Daily Mail apologized for any distress caused but said the story “was not a fabrication.” Clooney did not accept the apology, noting that the Daily Mail “exposed themselves as the worst kind of tabloid.”
He has not directed such harsh words at Hello!, a tame glossy publication founded in 1988 and is generally regarded as more respectable and trustworthy than other publications peddling celebrity fare. The Britain-based magazine boasts a friendly relationship with many stars and has published actual exclusives on the likes of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Rod Stewart and Princess Anne.
Us Weekly, the Mirror and the International Business Times have yet to remove posts based on the Hello! magazine piece. Meanwhile, Vanity Fair and Marie Claire have updated their reporting on the interview that never was.
“So unfortunately we are left to our own devices when daydreaming about the Clooney union,” wrote Marie Claire’s Chelsea Peng. “Sigh.”
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