An evening with George Clooney, along the stages of that career that made him one of the most loved stars in the world. The online meeting, as part of the BFI London Film Festival, opens and closes with the first images of The Midnight Sky, the author’s new film based on the novel by Lily Brooks-Dalton Good Morning, Midnight, set in a post-apocalyptic future which, described today, in full Covid wave, takes on current resonances: “When we started shooting – says Clooney, director and interpreter of the work – the pandemic had not yet broken out and we had not yet seen the whole West Coast go up in flames. We tell a science fiction story which, unfortunately, as the days go by, it seems less and less fictional ». Gray suit, white shirt, black, liquid and sly look, Clooney explains the meaning of the latest enterprise, but also talks about his past, his beginnings, his favorite actors, Good night and Good luck, film that demonstrates how “being patriots also means fighting for correct information”. Of President Trump, now more than ever on stage, Clooney says “keep telling lies”, and of Italy, his favorite country, the star explains that he admires the way in which people know how to enjoy life, giving it the weight it deserves.
On the scene of The Midnight Sky (available on Netflix in December), in 2049, in an Earth devastated by a series of environmental, political, epidemiological cataclysms, Clooney is Augustine, a solitary 70-year-old scientist who has always lived, without family and without love, in a remote astronomical observatory of the ‘Arctic. When he comes into contact with a group of astronauts who are returning to base after a mission in space, they have only a few months left to live, but will do everything to dissuade them because almost nothing remains of the Earth they had left: “The wars, the battles, all that hatred produces, have reduced our planet to death. In the film there is a sense of sadness linked to the representation of the damage that man can produce, but there is also an intimate journey of redemption. I wanted that in a very dark story about the end of humanity, there was a light of hope ».
On the set Clooney acted hidden by a flowing beard that made him unrecognizable: “When I finished shooting – he jokes -, my wife was very happy”. And there was no shortage of surprises, since the actress Felicity Jones, in the film the astronaut Sully, discovered that she was pregnant on the set: “I congratulated her, then I thought ‘man, what do you do now?’ “. The plot was changed on the run and Sully became a waiting mission leader and the narrative acquired an extra nuance: “As a director, I accumulated a series of experiences, I learned what to do and what not, even if, in generally, we tend to repeat mistakes rather than make the right choices ». Being behind the camera has influenced my profession as an actor: “I’ve never been a champion of action films or even a king of comedies, this allowed me to do different things and to follow projects that really they interested me. “
From the great writers he acted with, from Soderbergh to the Coen brothers, Clooney admits he learned a lot: “I tried to steal from them, and I was lucky because I worked with the best in the world.” Being an actor, now, means choosing «characters that attract me and directors with whom I feel good, even though I know that, for every commitment obtained, we only have to thank. Complaining, doing this job, is to be mad ». Among his favorite interpreters Clooney cites Robert Redford and then Gregory Peck “the gentleman par excellence” and again Spencer Tracy and, perhaps most of all, Paul Newman. “I think he’s the most handsome man I’ve ever seen.”
In the completely changed world we are learning to live in, Clooney emphasizes how important it is “the search for kindness, and not just because there is Covid”. The strongest sensations belong to habits that are in danger today: “It was wonderful to meet and talk, but to know that you can’t be close, in flesh and blood, and that you can’t sit in a room watching a movie with other people , is sad. I really miss all this ».