Two decades after his first marriage ended in divorce, George Clooney, the disarmingly handsome and ebullient actor, activist, and espresso pitchman, may be returning to the altar.
At 52, Clooney is reportedly engaged to 36-year-old Amal Alamuddin, a British human rights lawyer who has represented Julian Assange and Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister. The pair were first photographed together in London last October. They have since been trailed by the paparazzi while on safari in Tanzania and vacationing in the Seychelles; they were also seen together at the White House.
Alamuddin was reportedly seen wearing a sizable ring while out dining with Cindy Crawford and Crawford’s husband, Rande Gerber—two of Clooney’s close friends—on Thursday in Malibu. The couple was also spotted at another Los Angeles restaurant the previous night.
Clooney has long sworn off marriage, maintaining he had no “aspirations” to get hitched again as recently as September, in an interview with Esquire magazine. (“I was married in 1989,” he said, referring to his four-year relationship with actress Talia Balsam. “I wasn’t very good at it.”) The perennial bachelor has since been linked to a revolving door of young, attractive girlfriends—most of whom, like former professional wrestler Stacy Keibler, seemed to match him only in good looks.
But it appears Alamuddin’s potent mix of intelligence, worldliness, and head-turning beauty have finally inspired Clooney to commit.
Born in Beirut to a wealthy and distinguished Lebanese family, Alamuddin speaks French and Arabic. She graduated from Oxford University and NYU’s School of Law, where she was a student law clerk to future Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor. Alamuddin was invited to become a barrister, an elite group of British lawyers, in 2010. She now specializes in international law and has served as an adviser to Kofi Annan, joint special envoy of the U.N. and the Arab League on Syria. She represented Wikileaks founder Assange when he was fighting extradition from Britain to Sweden.
Alamuddin’s mother, Baria Alamuddin, is an award-winning journalist who has interviewed prominent heads of state, from Margaret Thatcher to Hosni Mubarak. Baria, whose looks have drawn comparisons to Liz Taylor, is foreign editor of the Lebanese newspaper Al Hayat and makes regular appearances as a Middle Eastern correspondent on CNN, BBC, Sky News, Al-Jazeera, and other news channels.
Clooney, who is respected as much for his political savvy as for his Hollywood superstardom, recently ramped up his role in humanitarian campaigns abroad, most notably in Sudan. He has campaigned on behalf of Darfur and wrote about the plight of newly independent South Sudan for The Daily Beast. He also claims to be maintaining a spy program directed at the border of North and South Sudan “to keep an eye on Omar al-Bashir [the Sudanese dictator charged with war crimes at the Hague].” The program, Satellite Sentinel Project, is designed to warn civilians ahead of army attacks.
While it’s difficult to wrap our heads around the idea of Clooney settling down, it makes sense that he would do so with a woman who shares his passion for crusading for human rights. Alamuddin couldn’t be more different from the arm candy Clooney has dated in recent years, although, before her relationship with Clooney, she was named London’s hottest barrister by hit legal blog Your Barrister Boyfriend, which declared her to be “both breathtakingly beautiful and formidably successful.” As a source close to Clooney reportedly told People magazine this year, Alamuddin is “on his level.”