Pass the tissues. On Thursday, June 7, stars proudly supported one of Hollywood’s finest, George Clooney, as he accepted the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in a theater packed with the industry’s brightest talent. Among the sea of tributes, one speech was particularly memorable as it was delivered by Clooney’s wife, Amal Clooney, who brilliantly and beautifully honored her husband and their love story.
“When the AFI asked me to speak tonight I said, ‘Of course,’ but George knows I am actually quite nervous,” Amal noted as she took to the podium. “It’s somehow easier for me to address a court on behalf of a detainee then for me to speak publicly as I am doing for the first time tonight about my husband.”
She went on to acknowledge her husband’s long and illustrious career, followed by a detailed homage to his character. “There are a few things you might not know about George. First, he is a gentleman,” she said. “He is a gentleman in every sense of the word and in a way that seems so rare these day and perhaps even outdated.”
She provided an anecdote from one particular film set. “Every set I visit, I am told by the crew that George sticks up for the most vulnerable,” Amal added. “His security team told me that when shooting in Montreal George refused to wear a warm winter jacket unless every actor and extra got the same one even though it was 40 degrees below zero.”
She went on to note her husband’s generosity and his activism—a common ground they both bonded over when they initially started dating. “The second thing is that George is incredibly generous. He is generous with his time,” she noted, before later adding: “George is generous in traditional ways too.”
The barrister recollected the well-known story of how her husband gave 13 of his best friends each one million dollars in cash at a dinner one night. She went on to recollect Clooney’s work in Sudan, and how she “admired” him even long before they had even met. “He fights for what is right. George shows us all what it is to have a moral conscious” she continued. “Although George modestly attributes most of the success we are celebrating here tonight to luck, I think it is incredible talent and character that got him here and these attributes make him an amazing husband and father.”
Nearly five years ago in July 2013, the couple met at his home in Lake Como. At the time, the actor was dubbed the “eternal Bachelor,” while the London-based lawyer revealed in her speech on Thursday exactly where she stood romantically as well. “I met George when I was 35 and starting to become quite resigned to the idea that I was getting to be a spinster,” she joked. “Then we met and started hiding out in my London flat, and very soon it felt like no matter what happened, I would never want to be with anyone else. I couldn’t sleep when we were apart.”
Here is a portion of Amal Clooney’s AFI speech to George (the teary part) #AFILife pic.twitter.com/FHjn4PgXjg
— Andrea Mandell (@AndreaMandell) June 8, 2018
Even her mannerisms changed as they fell in love. “I am told I would display a particular grin and head tilt when reading his text messages or the letters that he would hide in my bag,” she said. “Five years later, none of that has changed. He is the person who has my complete admiration and also, the person whose smile makes me melt every time.”
The actor was seen getting visibly emotional in response to his wife’s touching words.
More Amal on George, “the person who has my complete admiration…whose smile makes me melt every time. My love, what I have found with you is great love I always hoped existed. And seeing you with our children, Ella and Alexander, is greatest joy in my life.” #GeorgeClooneyAFI pic.twitter.com/8IwEHq84AT
— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) June 8, 2018
In April 2014, Clooney proposed with a seven-carat ring concealed within a lighter box. “It was 20 minutes of me on my knee, waiting for her to say yes, because she was so shocked,” he said in a subsequent interview. Five months later, they married at the luxurious Aman Canal Grande resort in Venice before an intimate, star-studded crowd.
Read her full speech here. Secure your ideal wedding vision by starting with The Knot’s Style Quiz, here.