The actor details the spinal injury that led to "the worst year" of his life

By Todd Peterson
Updated October 25, 2005 08:00 AM

Though he says he never seriously considered suicide, George Clooney was in so much pain from a spinal injury that he thought dying might feel better.

“It was the most unbearable pain I’ve ever been through,” Clooney said, according to “Literally, where you’d go, ‘Well, you’ll have to kill yourself at some point because you can’t live like this.'”

The source of Clooney’s distress was an injury sustained while filming the thriller Syriana, based on the memoirs of a former CIA agent.

For one particular scene that required quite a few takes, Clooney was taped to a chair and repeatedly beaten. In one take the chair was kicked over and the actor hit his head. “I tore my dura, which is the wrap around my spine which holds in spinal fluid,” he said. The injury was compounded by the fact that he had gained weight for the role.

Because of a family history of addiction, the 44-year-old actor skipped taking any medication, and his complaints were brushed off because of the lack of visible signs.

It wasn’t until spinal fluid started leaking out his nose that he was sufficiently treated. He has since had several operations, but says he still suffers from short-term memory problems.

“It’s probably the worst year personally I have ever had,” Clooney said. In addition to Clooney’s injury, his brother-in-law, grandmother and dog all died.