Vital Thrills got the opportunity to participate in a virtual roundtable discussion with the cast of the upcoming Netflix film The Midnight Sky. The film stars George Clooney (who also directs and produces the film), Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir and Caoilinn Springall.
Coming to select theaters in December and to the streaming service on December 23, 2020, the film is an adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s acclaimed novel Good Morning, Midnight.
In the film, George Clooney plays a terminally ill scientist who’s struggling to save humanity after a global disaster. As he tries to contact a spaceship that’s trying to return to Earth, he discovers a child named Iris (Caoilinn Springall) and has to get her to safety.
Clooney spoke about the reality of the film’s central premise. He said, “Well, I think when we first started talking about the film, we wanted to talk about what man is capable of doing to man and mankind. When we talked to Netflix about the film, and my take on it.
“I was talking about all of the anger and the hatred and all of the things that have been playing out in our lives, not just in the United States, but certainly in the United States and all over the world, and how, if you play that out for 30 years, it’s not inconceivable that one way or another, we could – denying science if it’s climate.
He added: “If it’s anger, we could be blowing ourselves to kingdom come. It’s not inconceivable that we blow it in a big way. To me the idea was to have that conversation about what we’re capable of doing.
“Then, after we finished shooting, the pandemic came around. And it became clear that what the story really was enveloping was our desperate need to be home and our desperate need to be close to the people we love and in communication with the people we love and near them, and how difficult that struggle is to communicate with one another. Like we’re doing now in the weirdest possible press conference I think we’ve ever done.”
Jones spoke about the main questions of the film. “What I always loved about the film and reading the script was that it had both a macro level of being a film about some really massive, huge issues, asking existential questions asking about the meaning of life.
“What are we doing here? Why are we here? What do we value? And interestingly, these are all the questions that we are asking ourselves in this strange epoch that we find ourselves in. And so it had these broader brushstrokes, but then at the same time, it was a very intimate relationship drama about trying to forge connection and about family and about being a parent.
“And so the fact that it moved from the big to the small and did it so well, is probably the reason I wanted to do it…It has been extraordinary just how relevant it has become,” she added. “We thought we were making entertainment and we ended up making a documentary.”
David Oyelowo spoke about how Clooney would talk about the experience of working with technical terms and compare it to his experience on ER. He said, “Learning it as well as you can, and saying it as fast as you can, is the key, because if you know, or seem to know, what you’re talking about, then the audience buys that you know what you’re talking about, and then they just get keyed into the emotion of what your character is actually feeling. Don’t get hung up on the terminology, as it were, still keep on playing the stakes. Keep on playing the emotions.”
Oyelowo spoke about Clooney’s collaborative nature on set. One example was changing the book character’s name from Commander Harper to Commander Adewole, which is a Yoruba name. “I realized that I’d never seen an African astronaut in a film like this,” Oyewolo explained.
“And I loved the fact that in amongst us as astronauts, there was a certain amount of diversity there. And I just felt very strongly being a very proud person of African descent that a crew tasked with saving the world should have an African in there.”
Another way Clooney worked with changes was to write Jones’ pregnancy into the film, which he said made the film “infinitely more hopeful.” He said, “The best versions of things are when you accept them and don’t see them as problems.”
Chandler said that Clooney, “sets up an environment that is calming. I think he expects everyone to come with 110 percent to the set, but…everything’s relaxed. Everyone has a good time, with the underlying value that everyone is doing something important within what’s happening.”
The film takes place in two locations, one on Earth and one on a spaceship heading back to the doomed planet. Demián Bichir spoke about seeing the finished product and the parts he wasn’t involved in.
“I think the overall result of it – it is a beautiful film… the production design in our film is really outstanding. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen as an actor, and that makes your work very, very easy.” Bichir just finished shooting Godzilla vs. Kong, and said he was used to working with things that he couldn’t actually see.
He explained that they didn’t have to imagine everything because they did have a “view” of Earth on set, “and what our planet became.” He said, “That was very emotional.”
Tiffany Boone said, “Looking at what George and Caoilinn had to shoot in Iceland, I felt very lucky,” she laughed. “I heard the stories of the cold and the snow in the beard, but to see it, they were troopers…but like Demián said, we were really lucky in that a lot of things were created for us on the set. It was so lifelike…to see it all come together, honestly it’s so close to what I imagined…it’s exactly what I had in mind, or even better in moments.”
Brooks-Dalton’s novel (buy at Amazon) was met with critical acclaim and was named one of the best books of the year by Shelf Awareness and the Chicago Review of Books.
Are you guys excited for The Midnight Sky? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @vitalthrillscom.