George Clooney told Esquire in September he had no "aspirations" to be married with children. That was a month before he was seen with Amal Alamuddin in October.
Could Clooney finally have met his match in Alamuddin, a 36-year-old Oxford-educated British lawyer who reportedly shares the actor's passion for crusading for international human rights?
There is plenty of speculation that Alamuddin may be the woman who converts Clooney -- with two Oscars and a firm hold near the top of Hollywood's A-list -- from confirmed bachelor to family man.
The latest gossip started Saturday with reports from People magazine and the New York Post's "Page Six" column quoting unnamed sources saying the couple are engaged to be married.
People source: 'This is real'
The Post headline read: "George Clooney, eternal bachelor, is engaged." Its source said the couple had "hoped keep the engagement quiet, but they can't hide the fact that they are very happy."
People quotes a "source with knowledge of the situation" saying "George and Amal are trying to keep things very low-key but they also aren't really trying to hide this, it doesn't seem. I think it's like they want the people they love to know that this is real, that they plan on being together forever."
Alamuddin appeared to be "showing off" an engagement ring while dining with Clooney at a Malibu, California, restaurant Thursday night, the Post report said. People reported that Alamuddin "had a conspicuous ring on her left ring finger."
Clooney's representative Stan Rosenfield responded to CNN's request for confirmation with a very short nondenial Saturday: "I do not comment on his personal life."
Clooney watchers may be surprised by an engagement, but the clues were out there.
Esquire's Alex Bilmes interviewed Clooney sometime in late September, just before "Gravity" was released in theaters. The article appeared in the magazine's December issue, which hit newsstands in November.
Why isn't he married with kids, Bilmes asked. "I haven't had aspirations in that way, ever," Clooney answered.
He was married from 1989 until 1993 to "No Strings Attached" actress Talia Balsam. Clooney points to that brief period of matrimony as evidence he "wasn't very good at it."
"I was quoted as saying I'll never get married again pretty much right after I got divorced and then I've never talked about it since," he told Esquire.
He said in September that he realized being 52, unmarried and childless might not look good to the public, but that he shouldn't "rush out and impregnate someone." But Clooney said he has no "dislike or distrust" of being married with children.
Alamuddin enters Clooney's life
While it's not confirmed when George met Amal, the two were photographed together in London in October. Clooney made an unusual public denial that he was dating Alamuddin, telling People in late October that the girlfriend reports were "all made up."
There's good reason to believe the relationship did not start earlier, since Clooney had just split with Stacy Keibler in July. Although Keibler denied it was because she saw no hopes of a marriage to Clooney after two years, the TV host wasted no time finding a husband. She married entrepreneur Jared Pobre in March.
If Clooney's relationship with Alamuddin did begin in October, it quickly accelerated. She was his date for a White House screening of his film "The Monuments Men" in February.
"They were holding hands," according to one of the World War II vets who attended the screening. Harry Ettlinger, 88, called her "a beautiful lady."
People quoted another unnamed "observer" who said the two were "stuck like glue."
People source: 'She's on his level'
There was no doubt remaining about their closeness in March when Clooney took Alamuddin on an African safari. Photographers caught the cuddling couple watching the wildlife in Tanzania and later vacationing in the Seychelles.
If Clooney's match is to be a lawyer, he's apparently picked an A-list attorney.
A British website ranked "The 21 Hottest Barristers in London" last July. Alamuddin was at the top. She "achieves the seemingly unattainable ideal of contemporary femininity: she is both breathtakingly beautiful and formidably successful," the rankers said.
A "source who has worked with Clooney" was quoted by People earlier this year suggesting why Alamuddin might be different from the long list of Clooney's ex-girlfriends who've lasted for a few months or a year or two since his divorce in 1993. "She isn't someone who is pursuing a career in acting or entertainment," the source said. "She's on his level."