NEW YORK – Once the ultimate bachelor – and two-time People’s Sexiest Man Alive cover model – George Clooney entered entirely new territory this week.

The Oscar-winning actor and his human-rights lawyer wife of two years, Amal, announced Tuesday that they were the proud new parents of twins, Ella and Alexander.

Clooney has donned many hats in his life, spending time as an actor, director, producer and activist, but fatherhood has always seemed far away. Was it the early onset salt-and-pepper hair? The coterie of models that have found themselves on his arm for fleeting moments over the years? The insistence by tabloids and fellow co-stars that it was time for him to settle down?

Maybe. Or perhaps it was the simple fact that Clooney himself said again and again that he would not reproduce. In several interviews. Many, many times. For many, many years.

A first-time father at 56, Clooney was often asked throughout his career if the single life was his ultimate future. But after proposing marriage to Amal in April 2014, and marrying her that September (as well as sharing wedding photos with People in the U.S. and Hello magazine in the U.K.), it seemed like anything was possible for the man who once said, “I don’t see myself ever having kids.”

But it was a long road to get there. “I don’t have that gene that people have to replicate,” he said to People in 2006.

When Esquire asked him why he wasn’t married with kids, he replied, “I haven’t had aspirations in that way, ever.”

And as for people who thought it was weird that a man in his 50s was single and childless? “What do you do? Should I go, ‘I got to get me some kids right now!’ and rush out and impregnate someone?” he said.