George Clooney’s new film The Midnight Sky, carries forward his activism on behalf of our planet Earth. Clooney produced and directed the film and plays Arctic researcher Augustine, left alone to man his northern station when colleagues rush home for their last remaining days. The Earth’s being swallowed up by a toxic, man-made cloud and there is no way out. Augustine’s determined to warn astronauts heading home after living on a life sustaining planet, to turn back, that Earth is dying and begin anew. It’s 2049 and the painful reality that we destroyed earth is inescapable. But in the doom, Clooney’s film, based on Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel Good Morning, Midnight offers a glimmer of hope. Clooney and co-star Felicity Jones talked end-of-days and what keeps us going with What She Said’ Anne Brodie.
But there’s a ray of hope!
I think that the main objective in this thing, well something that happened along the way, about three weeks into shooting in Iceland, I get a call from Felicity and she says I have some awesome news to tell you. I’m pregnant. And I did it this way, congratulations! We’re very happy, very excited for you. Then there’s this long pause and I go so what do you wanna do? I want to do it! She got a trainer, and she was working on the wires and we tried things; we tried to deny it for a minute, we tried to pretend that it didn’t happen. So, we were shooting around her and shooting things three times when we were going to do head replacement and then it really came down to the idea that the best versions of things are when you accept them, and you don’t see them as problems. So, once we decided, well people get pregnant, it happens in the world you know, and so suddenly it became that Wilbur who is her son, actually, who by the way should get a screen credit, Introducing Wilbur! became a character to us.
The crew of the of the ship, all these five wonderful actors joined together in protecting her. It became a family became something was important so we could write scenes about naming the kid or you know doing the ultrasound with Tiffany which is I think they’re just stunning scenes. They’re waiting for any sound at all sign of life and the only sign of life they’re getting is from inside Felicity. To me it’s infinitely more hopeful.
The film tackles profound ideas, many dark.
There was a real fight for the idea of whether or not this whole thing of mankind is worth the struggle and you feel as if when you see that it is. Also, I finished the film without the last five minutes. It’s a film about regret because of the character that I play but he gets redemption and I think redemption is a really big important thing that washes over us and gives us hope and all of those things. So, I found it to be very hopeful film and I found it to feel that way but we all felt like Felicity and what she was going to go through was all of our responsibilities. She was OK and everybody was alright everybody together which also helped it feel very real.
Felicity Jones – Initially I was very worried that I would get fired really and I was stressed when George just made me feel encouraging completely comfortable. I have to thank him that initially when we when I was trying not to look pregnant then, I was denying myself a lot of chocolate cake so when he said you can actually be pregnant in the film, I was relieved.
Clooney -Oh, the wheels came off!
Jones– Exactly. Thank God! It was really instinctive and special process. What George was saying was a testament to his modernity to embrace what was happening and to embrace the truth of what was happening rather than trying to run away. It’s still pretty revolutionary, a pregnant woman in space is quite extraordinary.
What were some challenges of shooting in Iceland then “in space”?
So, they finished building the spaceship and then everybody came in it was like doing a different film. It was like doing The Revenant the first half of the year and Gravity for the second half. In a way, it was helpful. If you do your homework and you’re prepared at least you’re not bouncing back and forth between two different worlds that would have been much harder. I cut while I shot so I knew I had it and we wouldn’t have to go back and do any reshoots. Thank God because we finished in February and they shut us down.
I remember I got home to LA and Grant Heslov was with me, my producing partner of forty years. They said this COVID is really real, we have to shut things down for the editing room. But don’t worry, it only effects elderly people. I said thanks, yeah well, if it only effects elderly people. Yes anyone 55 and over. What?? Elderly. That was not a thrill for me!
The Midnight Sky premieres Dec. 23rd on Netflix