We Sat Down with George Clooney, And He's the Man We All Want to Be
George Clooney is the man we all want to be.
A guy's guy and a girl's guy, he's got the looks, the smarts, and definitely, the charm.
By the time we sat down with him in the Netflix Zoom room, Clooney had been doing interviews with journalists from all over the world for days on end, likely answering the same questions over and over again.
And yet he made us feel like we were his best friends asking the most interesting questions ever.
The chat was about his upcoming Netflix film, The Midnight Sky, of which he is actor and director. It’s about a curmudgeon of a scientist named Augustine who’s close to the end of his life in a post-apocalyptic world, as he tries to communicate with an Earth mission in outer space.
Fortunately for us, we got to sit down with a freshly shaven Clooney, shorn of the full beard he'd grown for the film that had hidden his handsome mug, and we must say the twice-over People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive (1997 and 2006) is as sexy as ever.
And he's a damn good guy, too.
Just hours earlier, Clooney had been named one of People's People of the Year for his advocacy work. He'd donated $1 million for COVID-19 relief efforts in the U.S. and elsewhere, and $500,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Here are excerpts from his roundtable interview:
It's funny I know people in my life or close to me who are older, older than me, who live with regret. Regret is a cancer, regret is a terrible thing. It really eats you alive and as you get older, it really cripples you. Augustine is a guy who's seeking redemption for his regret and gets it, thank God, at the end, but that's his journey is trying in some way to find redemption.
I don't have that journey. In my life, I have plenty of things I wish I didn't do or say over time, but none of the major things that you regret. Life is about family, it's about career. It's about the people that you love and the people you take care of and, you know, all of those things I feel fairly comfortable with, so I don't have to deal with the same kinds of issues that Augustine does.
On whether Augustine could’ve been his ex-future self had he remained the eternal bachelor:
You never know. I could probably be living with regret that I didn't even know I was going to have. Now, if had I met Amal and she was married to someone else, I would have had a lot of regret.
I feel that we met at the exact right time for the both of us, luckily with enough time to be able to have these two knuckleheads that are running around. So maybe you’re probably right. I probably could have ended up with all that regret and harboring all of that anger and bitterness. Probably.
On being in lockdown with his three-year-old toddlers:
Look, it's been great, because we get to spend time together. I get to wake them up in the morning and put them in bed at night and I'm very lucky in that sense. I'm not in a position that many people in the world are in and, for that part, I feel very lucky.
Now, would I like to get out of the house every once in a while? They turned my office into a nursery. And so I have to hide a bottle of tequila in a stuffed bear somewhere so that I can get through it.
Augustine doesn't want this interruption, and this is just a disaster for him. But I welcome the interruption. It's fun when the kids come in and interrupt the Zoom like they've done many times while I'm here. I'm in the theater where I edit. Because this is all I have left. They've taken over, taking over my life. Still, it's fun.
On what he discovered about himself during lockdown:
I suppose I discovered that that nothing really can get to you. I always thought that I'd be overwhelmed by certain things, like if a kid falls down. You know all those years of pretending to be a pediatrician on ER has come in very helpful as I pretend to be a doctor when my kid splits his lip when he falls down and things like that. I'm learning stuff as I go and the lockdown just puts it all on steroids.
On how he’d like people to feel after watching the movie:
It should be a warning shot about what we're capable of doing to one another, if we don't pay attention. It should be a warning shot about denying science or creating divisiveness and hatred and being unkind to one another. But it should also be hopeful with the idea of saying that this whole experiment of mankind, or humankind I guess you'd say now, it's worth it. It's worth the effort.
And I think that's what we tried to say in the film. It's worth fighting as hard as they fight to get to live. We're looking at a pandemic right now and it's causing a lot of panic and it's causing a lot of heartbreak, and it’s causing a lot of angst, and it's scaring people. I think we have to remember that everything that we're facing right now is, it’s man-made and that, if man made it, he can unmake it. And that’s hopeful to me.
On the relevance of the film during the pandemic:
It’s relevant now. That's unfortunate since you don't relish the idea that the story has become more relevant in the middle of a pandemic. But those themes were always right. We’re always seeking a way to communicate and seeking a way to be home and be near the people we love. And we're always questioning our actions and whether or not we’re doing enough. All of those things sort of play out in this film.
It is unfortunate that it's timely. It shouldn't be, and, with any luck in a few months, we're seeing some light at the end of the tunnel with these vaccine possibilities. We're seeing some light at the end of the tunnel and I'm very hopeful that certainly by late spring or something we might all be able to do this in a room together and not have to do it via Zoom. I'd like to never hear the word Zoom again.
On what it is about outer space that fascinates him:
I think outer space is a pretty fascinating thing if you think about it. All of us humans, we only deal in finite things. Our lives are finite, everything we know is finite. You go to the end of your country borders. Or end of Earth, it's all finite.
And so we can't really comprehend infinity. They say, “It's a figure eight,” but what’s on the other side of the figure eight? We're not able to comprehend eternity and infinity, and because of it, the constant idea that there couldn't be life out there, and we’re the only planet in all of this. I think that’s silly.
To me it’s open with so many possibilities. Space is forever. It’s one on top of the other on top of that. And I think it’s infinitely fascinating, and leaves for us infinite possibilities. I think that’s a good reason to be fascinated with it.
On whether the world can still avoid an apocalypse like the one in the film:
I'm always an optimist, but I'm pretty much a realist. I do believe in looking at things heads on. But I also believe in our better angels eventually. In addition to a pandemic, we've had four years of just mismanagement where the leader of the free world is calling the press the enemy of the people. And it's decided that, as a policy to people who are seeking asylum, to take their kids away and put them in cages. I look at that and I think, this is insane and this is who we are.
And that comes to an end on January 20.
You know the Martin Luther King line about the arc of history is long but it bends towards justice? I do believe in that. I do believe it's long and it takes a long time to get there. And I believe the same thing about our ignoring science, which is just a temporary thing because you know people are trying to make money. We didn't used to do that. And I think we'll get away, and we'll get back to that again. I do believe we're going to head in the right direction. We have a few pit stops along the way where we do idiotic things, but I think the world in general is going to figure it out. I'm always optimistic about that.
Watch the trailer of The Midnight Sky below: