Comic-Con 2014: Nolan & McConaughey Tease 'Interstellar' Journey
by Alex Billington
July 24, 2014
"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." The eagle has landed. Paramount Pictures' panel inside the legendary Hall H at Comic-Con 2014 today ended with an epic discussion on Interstellar, a surprise to everyone as the studio brought along Oscar winning star Matthew McConaughey and the man himself, Christopher Nolan. Both are first time Comic-Con attendees, making an appearance at this geek mecca to promote the sci-fi epic that many of us are already anxiously anticipating (see the latest trailer). To top it off, they shared the incredible, brand new trailer with those in Hall H, and it will be online sometime soon.
"The thrill of making a large scale science fiction film has to be about the experience of the audience," Nolan said, discussing his inspirations and desires to make this movie next. Nolan's Interstellar is a science fiction epic about a wormhole discovered in our galaxy that we hope will take us, humanity, to another galaxy. So, we build a spaceship to travel into this wormhole. The story focuses on Cooper (McConaughey), a pilot and engineer who is chosen for "the greatest mission" that mankind will ever embark upon. In doing so, he must leave behind his young daughter and son, and that's where the emotional core of this sci-fi film is centered.
"It's really about human beings, what it is to be human... And who we are in this universe," he explained. Where did he draw his inspiration? From the great science fiction of past, of course. When asked about his inspirations, he mentioned specifically: 2001, Star Wars, and Blade Runner. But those only provided fuel for him to imagine even bigger stories. Why now, why tell a story about humans leaving Earth in 2014?
"As I've always been a huge fan of science fiction growing up... Star Wars, 2001, these are things that made an incredible impression me. I grew up in a time where to be an astronaut was an incredible ambition," he explains. "That has fallen off greatly over the last few decades." Nolan says that technological change has caused that, but he hopes "we're on the cusp of a brand new era" of space exploration. "I got very excited about the idea of taking my brother's script and following them on this extraordinary journey." The idea of a journey that will take you to another galaxy is "as big of a journey" as any can ever be.
The new trailer shows a large amount of new footage, indicating that the journey through the wormhole might be successful and man may explore the rest of the cosmos. As much as I feel like that might be giving away too much, I also feel like this might be the tip of the iceberg. Nolan doesn't show the biggest moments in his trailers, and there's always so much more in the movie waiting to be discovered. When asked about working with Nolan, McConaughey stated he's "always out for [the] original". Even when referencing past films that have inspired him, like a certain Kubrick one, "he may appreciate that, but he will not repeat that... He's a man whose reach constantly exceeds his grasp. With this film, I know that's true." Oh yes.
Interstellar is all about the experience of cinema, which is exactly what I wrote about comparing 2001 to Interstellar a few weeks ago. "I'm very much hoping the experience we're putting together for the audience will take them on that ride," he said. Nolan often used the words "journey" and "experience" describing Interstellar, without revealing exactly what happens. At one point he said he wanted "real views out of the windows" of the space craft for his actors and crew to see. "To show the biggest possible phenomenon in the universe, we need the biggest possible cameras," he added, referencing using IMAX to shoot some scenes.
Speaking around the plot and without giving away any extra details, Nolan discussed influences and script research further. "For me, working on the script" there were a lot of "very intense conversations" with Kip Thorne, who is an executive producer and astrophysicist whose ideas are referenced in the movie. But he told Kip, "well, I don't want to understand this stuff too much, because I have to explain it to the audience." When pressed further by a fan about his influences, Nolan quipped: "I wouldn't want to give a too complete a list because you'll see all the things I ripped off... and I'm not joking about that." Ha, good one. But he did specifically name those three sci-fi movies aforementioned. The same three we all grew up with loving, too.
Most importantly, the single biggest influence on Interstellar was 2001. He went to see it on the big screen with his dad when it was first restored. And with Interstellar, he wants to "tell a similarly ambitious film in scope and scale." These kind of statements confirm my own feelings in my piece about 2001, and how this is our modern generation's 2001. He wants that, too. He wants kids and their parents to see it together and to "watch this [journey] unfold and really feel engaged with it." To make sure it remains that engaging, he says "we're really trying to keep it fresh by not talking about what's happening" or revealing plot details.
In all truth and honesty, I cannot describe the trailer because it's something you must experience on your own. The visuals are integral, and attempting to explain any of it in text would be a disservice to Nolan and the film. That quote about "rage, rage, rage" is another line spoke by Michael Caine, and it comes from a poem by Dylan Thomas called "Do not go gentle into that good night". Nolan stated he's "very interested in the idea that we're each imprisoned within our own perceptions of the universe", as a filmmaker, and "he finds that really interesting to pursue in film." I do, too. Especially when the experience lives up to the ideas.
I cannot wait for this movie, it looks like everything I have been waiting for my entire life. I said that about Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity, and I'm starting to feel now that Gravity may have been the appetizer, and this is our main course. It's going to be incredible, emotional, exciting, and remarkable to experience, everything that I live for in movies. The countdown is on to release in November. "We'll find a way... we always have."