Clooney Takes Red Carpet Home to Kentucky

Clooney Takes Red Carpet Home to Kentucky
George Clooney and a Maysville fan
John Sommers II/REUTERS/Landov

03/25/2008 AT 09:30 AM EDT

A hometown boy has made good in Maysville, Ky.

"I'm just like them. I just happen to be a little more famous," George Clooney told his local paper, the Louisville Courier-Journal, at Sunday's premiere of his new football comedy-romance, Leatherheads, at Mayville's Washington Opera House.

Greeting Clooney and his movie, which also stars Renée Zellweger, were some 3,000 fans, all braving frigid temps for a glimpse of the hot star.

Gov. Steve Beshear and his wife, Jane, also turned out, as did Maysville native and former Miss America Heather French Henry, accompanied by her husband, former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry.

All of them got a look at Zellweger, too, who walked the red carpet in 5" stilettos.

Mayor David Cartmell estimated that one-third of the town's population had gathered for the event. (In fact, Clooney, 46, is from nearby Augusta, Ky.)

"They really are family," Clooney said of his bluegrass state fans. "If you're from a small town, you don't really ever shake that. It's the best support system and they're always the biggest critics, which is kind of the fun of it."

A Family Tradition

The star's father, Nick Clooney, said it was his son's idea to premiere Leatherheads in small towns across the country as a way of "coming full circle." George's aunt and Nick's sister, peerless pop singer Rosemary Clooney, premiered her movie The Stars Are Singing in Maysville in 1953.

Clooney Takes Red Carpet Home to Kentucky| Movie News, George Clooney, Renee Zellweger

Outside the Washington Opera House for Leatherheads premiere

John Sommers II / REUTERS / Landov

"It was a huge part of my life, this town," said George.

And vice-versa. Also standing in the cold: Carrie Appelman, who went to Augusta High (Class of '79) with Clooney. "He was a goofball," she said. "He was just fun."

As proof, Appelman brought a cartoon he drew for her in school. And he signed it, "To Carrie with love. Your lover, George."

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