George Clooney has had the sort of Hollywood career that most only dream of. He's been an A-list talent for decades. His movies have grossed billions of dollars, and he's well respected as an actor and simply as a person. Clooney is one of those people who gets his choice of projects, but after 2016 he just stopped choosing projects. Until the recent Netflix movie The Midnight Sky, which Clooney directed and starred in, we hadn't seen him on the screen in several years. Now the Ocean's Eleven star has spoken about that decision, which had actually been part of a long-term plan.
Speaking with fellow actor Michelle Pfeiffer for Variety, George Clooney explains that over the last couple of decades he's been shifting his focus to other parts of the entertainment industry, It seems Clooney was afraid that as he got older he might become less desirable in front of the camera, and he didn't want that to mean he could not work at all. This pivoted him away from acting, resulting in his four year hiatus. According to Clooney,
For about 20-some years now, I really focused on other elements of the industry, because I didn’t want to worry about what some casting director or director thought about me at 60 years old, which I’m going to be this year. I wanted to have more control of my career. I like what we do for a living. I didn’t really walk away from the business; I just have walked away from the front end of the camera.
It certainly shows a significant amount of foresight that George Clooney was thinking about his acting career at 60 back when he was 40. And while Clooney has had a career that has lasted longer than most actors, it's certainly true that at some point the roles were likely to become fewer and further between. While we haven't seen him act in a movie since 2016, that's been his choice, not somebody else's. He has spent that time doing other things, like directing movies he doesn't appear in like 2017's Suburbicon, as well as producing a TV series.
If you're a serious George Clooney fan hoping his Netflix film The Midnight Sky was a return to the screen, that doesn't seem to be the case-- at least not necessarily. Clooney doesn't indicate that he's "back" in any real way. It seems more than likely that George Clooney isn't done making movies in front of the camera, but he may be done making projects where he doesn't have the degree of control over his films that he wants. He's seemingly in no hurry and his past success has put him in a place where he doesn't need to work on anything that doesn't interest him.