Hollywood actor George Clooney has urged British officials to hand back treasure which was removed from Greece in the 19th century.

The star plays an art expert tracking down valuable pieces taken by the Nazis in new movie The Monuments Men, and the story has prompted him to wade into the debate over the Elgin Marbles.

The marble sculptures were taken from Athens in the early 1800s and now reside at the British Museum in London, and Greek authorities have spent years attempting to have them returned.

Clooney touched on the subject during a press conference in Germany to promote his World War Two drama, and urged Britain's leaders to give the Elgin Marbles back to Greece.

He says, "(Greece has) a very good case... It wouldn't be a bad thing if they were returned. I think that is a good idea. I think that would be a very fair and very nice thing. Yeah, I think it is the right thing to do."