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George Clooney looks unrecognizable with mountain man beard in upcoming film

The actor hasn't appeared in a movie since 2016, and will age "up" in the film.
/ Source: TODAY

George Clooney fans will be delighted to know the actor is back, starring in a new feature film!

They might be a little surprised, though; Clooney, who hasn't starred in a movie since 2016, is sporting a short crew cut and a mighty beard in the upcoming Netflix film, "The Midnight Sky."

George Clooney as an ailing scientist in "The Midnight Sky."
George Clooney as an ailing scientist in "The Midnight Sky."Philippe Antonello / Netflix

In the film, which Clooney both directed and stars in, the crew of the NASA starship Aether returns home after exploring a new moon of Jupiter's — which might support human life — only to find that Earth has undergone some kind of apocalypse. Clooney is a scientist at a remote Arctic research station, and could be the last man alive ... only he has terminal cancer.

Clooney directing "Midnight Sky" at Shepperton Studios in Surrey, UK.
Clooney directing "Midnight Sky" at Shepperton Studios in Surrey, UK.Philippe Antonello / Netflix

On top of all that, there's his changed appearance. His character is not in good health and looks like it.

"I'm not even 60 yet, but the character is 70," Clooney told Vanity Fair. "Unfortunately, I’m looking closer to that. I’ve always looked a little older, but now I really look like I am. I'd say I look like my father, but my father looks better than me."

George Clooney
Clooney in 2019, just as he was getting his beard going. Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Usually, Clooney is clean-shaven (or perhaps with a few day's growth), but this look is quite different. Then again, he sported a full beard in 2005's "Syriana," and won a supporting-actor Oscar for it. His beard in "Sky," he says, was modeled on the kind of growth you see on mountain men — and he even hand-sheared his locks.

"I just took a shaver and shaved all my hair off," he said. "I tried to do it kind of badly so that it looked patchy. And I've got some pretty funky scars on my head in general. Since he is clearly dying of something that he has to have a transfusion for, which is usually some form of cancer, it was important to me to add some elements so that I didn't look like I look normally."

Clooney and his facial hair were on fire in 2005's "Syriana."
Clooney and his facial hair were on fire in 2005's "Syriana."Alamy

Clooney's been out of the Hollywood spotlight for a while. Though he had a small role in Hulu's "Catch-22" remake last year, largely he's been living a happy domestic life with wife Amal and their children, Alexander and Ella, 3. But it's nice to see him back on camera, however he looks.

"I have had a lot of people, the first couple of shots in the movie, not realize it's me," said Clooney. "They're like, 'That's you?' My wife was very happy when I finished shooting this."

"The Midnight Sky" is expected to air on Netflix later this year.