George Clooney was interviewed recently by 'Esquire' and he took the opportunity to air some old grievances with a few fellow actors.

I hate to take sides, but I say they had it coming, at least from Clooney's point of view.

George tells the magazine that Russell picked a fight with him several years ago, when he called Clooney, HARRISON FORD and ROBERT DE NIRO "sellouts".

He says, quote, "I put out a statement saying, 'He's probably right.  And I'm glad he told us, 'cause Bob and Harrison and I were also thinking about starting a band, which would also fall under the heading of bad use of celebrity.'

"And that's when he really went off on me.  'Who the [eff] does this guy think he is?  He's a Frank Sinatra wannabe.'  He really went after me.  And so I sent him a note going, 'Dude . . . what the [eff] is wrong with you?'"

Eventually, Russell sent George a peace offering . . . quote, "He sends me a disc of his music and a thing of his poetry.  I think he said, 'I was all misquoted,' and I was like, 'Yeah, yeah.  Whatever.'"

As for DiCaprio . . . George tells a story about their crews getting together to play basketball.  He says, quote, "The thing about playing Leo is you have all these guys talking [crap]."

When they actually hit the court, though, Clooney's guys beat them 11 to nothing in three straight games.

George says, quote, "The discrepancy between their game and how they talked about their game made me think of how important it is to have someone in your life to tell you what’s what.  I'm not sure if Leo has someone like that."

And George's beef with Ashton is all about Twitter.  He says, quote, "Why on God's green Earth would you be on Twitter?

"I mean, when you see, like, Ashton Kutcher coming out and going, you know, 'Everybody leave Joe Paterno alone,' or whatever he said, you just go 'Fifteen minutes longer and a thought process and probably you wouldn't have done that.'"

Clooney's rep is already out doing DAMAGE CONTROL.  First off, he claims George was NOT dissing Leonardo DiCaprio.  He says, quote, "The Leo comments made by George were all made in fun about basketball.  Not about Leo's life."

As for Russell Crowe, the rep says, quote, "George was asked about it and told the truth."