Clooney: I could have ended up living with regret without wife, kids
Hollywood actor-director George Clooney says he avoided that lonely fate because he met wife Amal at 'exact right time'
In his latest sci-fi film The Midnight Sky, George Clooney plays a gruff lone scientist in the Arctic who races to warn a returning spacecraft led by Felicity Jones' astronaut after a cataclysmic event decimates most of Earth's population.
Premiering on Netflix on Dec 23, it is the first movie theactor has starred in and directed since 2017's Suburbicon.
Clooney's character Augustine Lofthouse is 70, stricken with terminal cancer and has shut himself off to the world and the woman who loved him because of his obsession with work and inability to form bonds with others.
Known as the "Eternal Bachelor" for most of his career, Clooney, 59, admitted Augustine could have been the future him if he hadn't met his Lebanese-British lawyer-wife Amal Alamuddin.
The couple got married in 2014 and have three-year-old twins.
Clooney told The New Paper in a Zoom interview from Los Angeles: "You're probably right. I could have ended up harbouring all that regret, anger and bitterness.
"If I had met Amal and she was married to someone else, I would have had a lot of regret. I feel we met at the exact right time for both of us, and luckily enough, in time to be able to have these two knuckleheads that are running around."
Clooney is full of affection when talking about being locked down with his toddlers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In The Midnight Sky, Augustine also finds himself in isolation with a mysterious young girl at his base and ends up discovering his softer side.
"I'm very lucky, because we get to spend time together. I get to wake them up in the morning, put them to bed at night.
"All of my pretending to be a pediatrician on (medical drama) ER has come in very helpful too, when my kid splits his lip when he falls down or something.
"Now, would I like to get out of the house every once in a while? Yeah. They've turned my office into a nursery and so I have to hide a bottle of tequila in a stuffed bear somewhere so I can get through it," he joked.
"Augustine doesn't want this interruption - it's just a disaster for him. I welcome it. It's fun when the kids come in and interrupt a Zoom like they've done many times."
How did having co-star Felicity Jones' real-life pregnancy change the film's direction?
We tried to shoot around it at first, but it just doesn't work that way.
Actors act differently, she was more cautious and trying to hold herself together, so we decided to make her character pregnant and had to write scenes into the movie.
Now, you can't imagine the film without it because there's a continuum to it. The crew has been listening the whole film for any sign of life from Earth and finally they find that life is inside her, and that to me was a beautiful thing.
Why cast Hollywood legend Gregory Peck's grandson Ethan Peck to portray the younger Augustine instead of digitally de-ageing yourself?
When I saw (that visual effects technique used) in (the 2019 film) The Irishman, it's a very tricky thing because all of a sudden all you're doing is watching that. It becomes a story on its own and it's all you can think about.
So I knew I wasn't going to play the part - and I had to get somebody with some eyebrows - but my voice is pretty recognisable.
I'm 5'11" (1.8m), and Ethan's 6'3"(1.9m) and really handsome with a deep voice. My producing partner said, 'he's too tall and too good-looking', but I was like, I'm casting this movie and I'm casting who I want!
We used Lucas Sound to deconstruct our voices into thousands of tiny pieces and blend them, and raised it an octave.
How hopeful are you about our ability as a species to avoid an apocalyptic situation like the one we see in the film? And has the year we've had changed your thinking on that front?
No, I'm always an optimist. I always believe in our better angels.
In addition to a pandemic, we've had four years of mismanagement where the leader of the free world is calling the press the enemy of the people and decided as a policy to take kids away from people seeking asylum and put them in cages.
I look at that and think, this is insane, this isn't who we are - and that comes to an end on Jan 20.
I believe in the Martin Luther King Jr line - the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice - and that it takes a long time to get there.
The pandemic is causing a lot of panic, heartbreak, angst - it's scaring people. But we have to remember that everything we're facing right now is man-made. And if man made it, they can unmake it.
With any luck, we're seeing some light at the end of the tunnel with these vaccines, and I'm hopeful that by late spring, we may all be able to do this in a room together and not via Zoom. I'd like to never hear the word Zoom again.