At first, Netflix approached the star and asked him to act in the film--but he wanted more.
“This was just a project that Netflix brought to me just to act in,” he told The National Post, revealing how he ended up directing the project. “And I was like, I think I have a take on this.”
Clooney went on to say that he was awed by the scope of the story, also loving its parallels to another movie he adores, On the Beach--which even makes a cameo in The Midnight Sky when one of the characters watches it.
“But I also thought it was an interesting exploration into living with regret and seeking redemption,” he continued. “I know a lot of people who are older now and have lived with regret. And it eats them alive as they get older. It gets worse, like a cancer. And the character I was playing was a guy who just swelling with regret, and seeking some form of redemption. I like those kinds of themes.”
Even though shooting for the film finished in February, a few weeks before nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns, George says working on editing and post-production during a global pandemic still managed to change the tone of the film.
“It does change, because you can’t help but be affected by it,” he admits.
Originally, the disaster in The Midnight Sky was meant to be a bit more specific, like some kind of war or attack. “This is all a very fragile thing, humanity, and we have to take care of it. We could blow it up or set it on fire — but pandemic wasn’t really in the conversation at the time,” Clooney said.
Very soon into the editing process, that changed.
He explains, “When I was in the editing room … it started to become clearer and clearer what we were dealing with exactly at that moment, which is our inability to be near each other, and the inability to be with the people we love, [which] so deeply affects each and every one of us.”
Because of that, the film literally became quieter.
“What you end up doing mostly was taking out dialogue,” the director said. “It suddenly became about this idea of our inability to communicate. We lean more on that as we got into it, by taking lines out and making silence this thing that’s a character in the film.”
The Midnight Sky will be available on Netflix on December 23.