George Clooney: Oscars Are a Sweet 'Escape' From U.N. Work

02/05/2008 at 06:25 AM EST

George Clooney: Oscars Are a Sweet 'Escape' From U.N. Work
George Clooney
Lisa Rose/JPI
An Oscar nomination is nice and all – but as far as George Clooney is concerned, it can't compare to being named a United Nations "messenger of peace."

"I just spent literally two weeks in four conflict zones," Clooney, 46, told reporters at Monday's 80th annual Academy Awards Nominees luncheon in Beverly Hills. "I've spent the last two weeks around a lot of people who were killing and shooting each other for what seems like senseless reasons."

The actor – recognized by the U.N. for "focusing public attention on crucial international political and social issues" – went on describe his tour of some of the world's most dangerous places.

"I was in Chad three days before the rebels overthrew it, with President [Idriss] Deby," the Oscar-nominated Michael Clayon star explained. "I was in Angola for the peace treaties. Now, I'm here [at the Oscar luncheon], which... is a conflict zone."

He added, "It's kind of nice to be wearing a suit again. I'm happy to be here."

Clooney, who said that he supports Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race, called the nomination (his first for Best Actor) a "fantastic honor." In light of his U.N. work, it's also a "tremendous escape," he said. "Things like what's been going on [in the world], or what I've been experiencing the last few weeks, always puts things in perspective."

As Oscar night approaches, he explained, "You're able to go, 'God, this is really nice,' and not be as uptight about it. You have to accept it when people are nice to you and not worry about it when they're not."

The Academy Awards air Feb. 24 on ABC.

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