George Clooney is the definition of timeless, which is why it’s hard to believe the Hollywood superstar will be turning 60 in May. But before that, on March 28, Clooney will receive the AARP Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Award at a virtual ceremony to be broadcast on PBS.
Clooney is an ideal fit for many reasons, perhaps most perfectly articulated by AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins: “He personifies aging with grace by proving that, with smarts and hard work, even the most extraordinary talent can improve with time. He is a slam-dunk argument against ageism.”
Clooney graced the cover of the February-March AARP Magazine, in which he joked the headline should read: “Sexiest Man Still Alive.” He also said of getting older, “I always say to my dad, ‘I’m middle-aged.’ And he goes, ‘You know a lot of 120-year-olds?’”
The honor comes on the heels of Clooney’s seventh film as a director, “The Midnight Sky,” which hit Netflix in December and was named one of the top 10 films by the National Board of Review. Based on the novel “Good Morning, Midnight” by Lily Brooks-Dalton, the pic, which Clooney also produced and stars in, centers on a 70-year-old scientist who is stranded in the Arctic in the midst of a global catastrophe. He discovers a young girl he must care for. The storyline is juxtaposed against a group of NASA astronauts whom he is trying to warn against returning to Earth.
It was a challenging shoot; as Clooney told Variety’s Award Circuit podcast, his scenes were lensed in Iceland and the weather was brutal to the point “my eyelashes would freeze shut.” And it’s a film that asks some big questions about humanity, loneliness and being a parent. Clooney’s primary scene partner is 7-year-old actor Caoilinn Springall, and his fierce protection of her is at the heart of the film. Clooney himself became a parent just three years ago, and when asked if he felt he could have played this role 10 years ago, he admitted fatherhood has changed him.
“You don’t go through life without being affected by having children,” he says. He specifically notes a scene where he loses sight of the girl and cries out in a primal way. “There’s a part of this film in general that is about isolation and our ability to communicate, and our inability to be near the people we love. And that is a very specific example of taking away and losing something that you care deeply about. You don’t think about it much. Because just having children and getting into it, you’re so focused on just getting through the days. It is a tremendous responsibility, and you start to understand that there’s nothing that matters more.”
“The Midnight Sky” could not feel more timely, releasing while the world was in a global pandemic and people were isolated from family and loved ones. Asked in December how he was handling lockdown, Clooney replied, “We’re all getting by. Certainly, in the United States, we’re still all having these shared experiences. I miss my parents. I miss seeing the people who are dear to me and care very much for and am concerned about. I’m very lucky. I’m here at home with my kids and my wife, and we’re safe.”
The virtual awards show will be broadcast by “Great Performances” at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT March 28 on PBS.