George Clooney (‘The Midnight Sky’) on his eerily plausible film: ‘It’s not a science fiction that we could destroy ourselves by 2049’

“For a film about the apocalypse, it’s really uplifting,” said Cate Blanchett about “The Midnight Sky,” George Clooney‘s new science fiction film set for limited release on December 11, followed by a streaming premiere on Netflix on December 23. Blanchett interviewed Clooney about the film after a special virtual screening on December 8 presented by the American Film Institute.

Clooney produced and directed “The Midnight Sky” in addition to starring as Augustine Lofthouse, a scientist left on Earth in 2049 following a cataclysmic event that has made the planet uninhabitable, but considering the globe’s climate crisis, “it’s not a science fiction that we could destroy ourselves by 2049. That’s not an inconceivable thing at all,” Clooney explained. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck after the film wrapped and gave the story an even greater resonance.

Augustine spends much of the film trying to reach out to a spacecraft on its way back to Earth following a years-long mission, so the film “became much more about our inability to communicate, our inability to touch and to be near one another, and that loss. It’s funny how real that became and how we suddenly understand this lack of being near one another.”

Clooney spends most of his scenes with Iris (Caoilinn Springall), a child mysteriously left behind after the planet was evacuated. “She was seven when we shot it,” said Clooney. “I’m not kidding at all when I tell you that at least 50-percent, probably more of everything I did with her was one take, literally one take. She probably saved us five days of shooting on the schedule … It all just came so naturally.”

But she wasn’t the only one bringing her A-game. Clooney also nods to cinematographer Martin Ruhe, composer Alexandre Desplat, and many more who worked on the ambitious film. “Everybody came to this with exactly the right attitude, which is that we’re all in this together. Everybody had great ideas that made the film better.” And he hopes that sometime in the not-to-distant future he’ll be able to gather with people to celebrate: “It’s an odd way of living our lives right now, but this is going to get better, and there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully we will all be in the same room soon.”

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