12/04/2006 AT 08:25 AM EST
Max, the nearly 300-lb. potbellied pig who lived with George Clooney in the actor's Hollywood Hills home, has died. He had lived with Clooney for 18 years and had suffered from arthritis and partial blindness.
"He just died, like an hour ago," PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive, 45, tells USA Today.
"He was as old a pig as the vets had ever seen. I was really surprised, because he's been a big part of my life," says Clooney, who even sometimes shared the same bed with his pet.
The actor was out of town promoting his latest film, The Good German, when Max died.
In January 2005 there were premature reports that Max had gone to hog heaven. At the time, Clooney issued a denial.
"It has been a bad year for my pets," Clooney tells the newspaper. "I had a bulldog that died this year, too. It's strange how animals become a big part of your family. They really become a big issue with you."
The pig, in fact, was sometimes featured in interviews with Clooney, who called him "Max, the star."
As for finding a successor, "No," Clooney insists. "I think Max covered all my pig needs."