‘I couldn’t sleep when we were apart.’
George Clooney’s life and work were celebrated on Thursday night at the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award Gala. By the 57-year-old Oscar winner’s side was his wife, Amal Clooney, who also gave a rare personal speech at the gala, sharing the intimate details of their life together.
The 40-year-old British human rights lawyer admitted that it was her first time speaking publicly about her husband of three years, which made her a bit nervous. After praising his generosity and teasing her hubby about his notorious pranks, Amal, shared some never-before-heard details about her romance with the Hollywood A-lister.
“I met George when I was 35 and was starting to become quite resigned to the idea that I was going to be a spinster,” she said as the star-studded audience laughed. “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.”
Amal went on to share some intimate details about their early romance, speaking directly to George, who looked misty-eyed throughout the speech.
“I couldn’t sleep when we were apart, and I was told that I would display a particular grin or head tilt when reading his text messages or the letters 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 mother of two went on to talk about the couple’s 1-year-old twins, Ella and Alexander.
“My love, what I have found with you is the great love that I’ve always hoped existed, and seeing you with our children, Ella and Alexander, is the greatest joy in my life,” she continued. “You fill our home with laughter and happiness and that’s even before the children have worked out that ‘Dada’ is actually Batman, a talking fox, and friends with Mary Poppins.”
She concluded the heartfelt speech by saying, “I’m so proud of you, my love, congratulations on this great honor that you’re receiving tonight. I’m proud of you but I also know that when our children find out not only what you’ve done but who you are they will be so proud of you too.”
Following the speech, the couple shared a sweet kiss as the crowd cheered.
Later, while accepting his award, George returned the effusive love and praise while addressing the difference his wife has had in his life.
"I thought you couldn’t have it all. I thought if you had a successful career then you weren't really going to be able to have one great love in your life. And then Amal walked in," George shared.
"And now we got these two knuckleheads," he continued, referring to their twins. "They stand about two feet high, and every single day they make me feel small."
As his touching speech brought tears to Amal's eyes, the adoring star addressed his wife directly, sharing, "People know about your intelligence and your integrity, but they don't know about how much you are capable of loving and giving love."
"You make every single day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, feel as special as tonight," George said. "And tonight is very special. And I will treasure it always."
On the red carpet ahead of the event, George spoke with ET’s Nancy O’Dell about his children, who celebrated a major milestone this week.
"Yesterday was their birthday. They are one year," George shared with ET, joking that the twins "slept" as part of their celebrations. "They were kind of on Europe time, so they were sleeping during most of the day. We had a cake, [we were] waiting, and we wake them up and show it to them, and then they go back to sleep."
In addition to Amal’s touching speech, Clooney also received praise from his previous co-stars Cate Blanchett, Laura Dern, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Shirley MacLaine, and more. Miley Cyrus performed his song “Man of Constant Sorrow” from George’s 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?
For more from the glamorous evening, watch the clip below!