George Clooney, the lead actor and director of Netflix’s new dystopian thriller The Midnight Sky, warns viewers that while it’s a story of “redemption” it is also a “meditation on loneliness and loss” and the rewards from viewing have to be earned.
Clooney plays scientist Augustine Lofthouse, the last inhabitant of a desolate Earth in 2049, in the film of a script by The Revenant writer Mark L Smith. He has a terminal illness and while he tries to save the Jupiter expedition from a dying Earth he becomes aware of the presence of a child, Iris, played by Caoilinn Springall.
Clooney suggested to Netflix Queue that The Midnight Sky is a parable for the way humanity is heading.
“The inability to communicate from Earth to this spaceship feels very much like the things that we’re going through more and more,” he said. “We’re losing the sense of community. We get into our own worlds, and we stop looking out for one another.”
Clooney added: “If you don’t look at these bigger issues and take them on, then climate change is going to reach our doorstep; anger and hatred are going to come home to roost.
“We need to find a way to remind ourselves that we’re all in this together. There is redemption in this film. The idea that none of us alone get out of this thing alive, but maybe as a group we get out of it intact — I think that’s important.”
First and foremost, The Midnight Sky was a “great script”. It had to be to get Clooney out of the house after not making a movie in more than three years; instead, he’s spent a lot of time at home helping raise his twin daughter and son.
When he first read the script there was no pandemic, but there was still a lot of “hatred and anger” in society.
“If you play out the impact of that plus climate change over 20 years, it’s not inconceivable that we end up in the same place that we are in this film,” he said.
“I loved the challenge of space and the Arctic. I thought that those were two of the more difficult things to do in one film. And it was a story of redemption. I’ve always liked stories of redemption. Also, as a character, whenever you have a kid that you’re looking out for, you can be grumpy. It’s a bit of a free pass.”
Clooney is no stranger to space movies: he starred in Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris in 2002 and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity in 2013. So what is different about The Midnight Sky?
“This is more of a meditation on loneliness and on loss,” he said. “I thought that it was an interesting thing to take out all of the sound and have it just be about emotion. There are long moments of just sitting with a child and watching her look at Polaris for the first time — things that I did with my parents that we don’t necessarily see anymore.
“I like the idea of silence. We have action in the film (I don’t want people to think it’s just a long, slow drag), and there are a lot of things that are funny and sweet in it. But they’re earned. You have to earn them by fighting with all of your other demons along the way.”
The Midnight Sky is currently streaming on Netflix.