George Clooney, and his wife Amal, met in private with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday and praised her leadership during the migrant crisis, as rumors circulate that the American actor may sell his luxurious Lake Como property because it isn’t isolated enough.
Clooney, who was accompanied to the Merkel meeting by former UK foreign secretary David Miliband, told reporters that he “absolutely” agrees with Merkel’s handling of the crisis and her acceptance of many migrants into the country.
Merkel has spearheaded Germany’s response to the greatest influx of refugees into Europe since the Second World War, with Germany taking nearly half of all asylum applications made by Syrians in EU member states last year.
After the 40-minute meeting, Clooney criticized the U.S. policy toward migrants on German television. “You know in the United States, we aren’t doing enough,” he said. “We are a little less involved than we should be.”
Later Friday, the Clooneys, who are in Germany to promote the actor’s new film Hail, Caesar, also visited a Berlin refugee shelter. He had said he wished to meet a group of asylum seekers, “to talk about and ask what messages and what things we can do… to help.”
The Clooneys’ public statements about immigration stand in odd juxtaposition to reports from northern Italy over the past year suggesting that the couple has found their $10 million Lake Como property to be too public.
The 18th-century estate, which is reportedly now worth ten times what Clooney paid for it, or $100 million, is in a very exclusive area. But local mayor Roberto Pozzi still had to make extra efforts to guarantee the actor’s privacy last April and imposed a $600 fine for anyone found trespassing on or around the actor’s property.
Though many find it glamorous to have Clooney as a neighbor some, like local fisherman Livio de’ Angeli, resent the restrictions imposed to ensure the actor’s privacy.
“I used to be able to leave my car here on the ramp leading down to the water, but now I can’t—I’d get fined by the police,” the man said. “You’re not allowed to park anywhere near the villa and you can’t take a boat within 100 meters of the house. It’s like living in a mini dictatorship.”
According to one source, Clooney loves his estate and the area, but he has received a huge offer for the villa, which he is considering, and “he would buy another, less accessible property in another area of Italy.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome