“I grew up with the space race; I am a child of that era,” says George Clooney, who stars with Sandra Bullock in Warner Bros.’ new, deep space thriller “Gravity.” “I have always loved the idea of space exploration and am in awe of the people who do it. They really are the last of the great pioneers.”
In “Gravity,” Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) in command. But on a seemingly routine mission, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone—tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth…and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.
“The thing about adversities is that they take us out of our comfort zone,” explains director Alfonso Cuarón. “In order to do that with Ryan, we needed her to be new to spaceflight. But for the rest to make sense, we also needed a mentor figure—someone who could guide her through the process and help her figure things out.”
That mentor is Matt Kowalski, portrayed by Clooney, who says he had a list of reasons for wanting to do the film, starting with the script. “I loved the screenplay, which is the first reason you ever want to make a film if you’re an actor. And I liked the character a lot; I thought he would be fun to play.”
Clooney continues that “Gravity” also presented the chance to team with two people he admires greatly. “Sandy and I have been good friends for very long time, but we never found the right vehicle for us to do something together. I have always had tremendous respect for her, and I couldn’t ask for a better partner to act with. And I think Alfonso Cuarón is one of the most interesting and talented directors we have. I honestly thought ‘Children of Men’ was a masterpiece, and have wanted to work with him. So everything about this seemed like a great opportunity to me, and I was proud to be a part of it.”
Cuarón describes Clooney’s character as “the counterpart to Ryan. Matt is very much at ease in that environment; he is as expansive as Ryan is insulated. If you were going into space, Matt is the guy you would want with you.”
Those on the set felt the same way about the man. “George is a life force,” states Bullock. “In many respects, he does parallel his character because Matt is the one who breathes life into every single moment; he loves nothing more than seeing the world from the vantage point of space. But what’s so electric about George isn’t just his face, it’s his voice. He has that voice that makes you feel like he’s a friend; he’s someone who has been there and can make you believe everything is going to be okay. It’s like that for Ryan with Matt. And that’s how George is to work with…until he starts causing trouble and then you have to watch your back every minute,” she teases.
Clooney’s practical jokes have, in fact, become the stuff of Hollywood legend, but the parameters established by the production’s technology forced something of a moratorium. “It required a certain discipline because of all the elements that were already in place,” the actor acknowledges. “So I just put myself in the hands of the smartest guys in the room, beginning with Alfonso. But working with Sandy made it fun, so there was truly a lot of laughing.”
Opening across the Philippines in Oct. 3 in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D, 2D and regular theatres, “Gravity” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.