“Being able to watch Christopher Nolan make worlds come to life is amazing” – Interstellar UK Press Conference

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At 11:30am the doors to Claridge’s Hotel Ballroom swung open, as press began preparing themselves for the Interstellar press conference. We are here to gain a greater insight into Warner Bros. sci-fi blockbuster.

With Hollywood constantly evolving, one of the leading directors is none other than Christopher Nolan. Joining him were producer and wife, Emma Thomas, as well as actors Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine and Mackenzie Foy.

For those of you unfamiliar with Interstellar, the film shows how life on Earth is coming to an end. To save the human race a team of explorers undertake an important mission, travelling beyond the galaxy via the use of a wormhole to see whether humans have a future among the stars.

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As the cast entered they were greeted with a tremendous applause, which reflected the admiration for them. The host begun the round of questions by mentioning the inception of the project, which written by Christopher Nolan’s brother Jonathan, and was initially set to be directed by Steven Spielberg. Christopher Nolan was asked what the reasons were for him making the project. Nolan listed several factors, such as the speculation between a potential moment where “human kind would have to reckon with its place in the wider universe.” He mentioned that the father-child relationship also drew him to the project, as being a father himself he related to it. Another key factor was its similarities to the films that were released in the golden era of cinema, such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which had elements he wanted to give to the current movie going audience.

During the conference McConaughey and Hathaway spoke of their admiration for each other’s work ethic. “‘It’s a real pleasure to work with someone who knows how to take their job seriously, but also has a real light touch,” said Hathaway. “Matthew never lost focus, he never lost his connection to why we were there, but that didn’t mean we didn’t laugh.”

McConaughey returned the compliments, noting Hathaway’s professionalism as well as mentioning that he learnt something from her, which was the variation of takes. “She would back off, and find a new rhythm and never look at it the same way and never repeat a performance.”

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Speaking on the differences about working on Dallas Buyers Club, as opposed to Interstellar, McConaughey mentioned that Dallas Buyers Club was independent, shot very quick and earthbound. However he did reveal that acting in a Christopher Nolan film felt ” just as intimate, and just as raw and natural as most independents like Dallas Buyers Club are forced to feel, because you don’t have the time, you don’t have the money. But we had the time, and we had the money on Interstellar, but when you’re actually shooting it’s very intimate, and it’s very raw and natural as I said.”

McConaughey’s answer in turn gave birth to another question for the other actors, and that was what it was like for them to work with Christopher Nolan. Chastain spoke of being afraid to jump onto a big budget film, however a high point to working with Nolan was his heavy use of practical effects. “You actually have things to react to as an actor which is awesome,” said Chastain. “There’s no green screen, they were chucking dust in my face everyday, there was real corn that they grew.” Nolan as a director does not impose anything on the actors, however Chastain notes that with a small sentence he opened up her performance when it came to her character, telling her, “This is her zen.”

Interstellar is the sixth Nolan film Michael Caine has been a part of and the first for Mackenzie Foy. Foy dubbed Nolan as “awesome” and an inspiration for her as she aspired to become a director further in her career. “Being able to watch him make worlds come to life is just amazing,” said Foy.

Caine mentioned that “nothing is what it seems with Chris,” when he initially speculated that he was going to just play a butler in the Batman franchise, not realising that Alfred was much more complicated than that.

Nolan is known for being comfortable with people he has previously worked with, and one of those is composer Hans Zimmer. Interstellar makes for Nolan’s fifth collaboration with Hans. A question was asked about how they achieved the amazing score. Nolan revealed that he often changes the way he works with Hans, and this time Hans went in blind, with just a letter that had a tiny bit of dialogue and mention of a father-child theme. He was given just a day to work before having to come back to Nolan with something. At the end of the day Hans played the music to Nolan and that became the score for the film. They spent two years tweaking it, but the initial score was forged on minimal information.

Another question had everyone being asked who their favourite science fiction characters were. Nolan replied with Darth Vader; Foy with Darth Vader or Spock; McConaughey with Chewbacca and Murph; Hathaway with R2-D2, Ripley and Starbuck; Caine with “Sandy Bullock” in Gravity; Chastain with Princess Leia and Hal, and finally Thomas with Ripley.

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The subject of shooting and projecting on film arose, specifically targeted at Nolan and Caine. “It’s not really a question of whether it should or shouldn’t have a future,” said Nolan. “It sort of has to, simply because even from an archival perspective, the libraries of film studios can’t function without it. It’s very important to preserve its place in the filmmaking process.”

Caine also added that he had “an actor’s attitude towards it. If you have film instead of digital, they have to cut it eventually so you don’t have to learn all that dialogue. If you’ve got digital, it goes on forever, it’s a nightmare. So I like film, with nice short takes. I just worked with Paolo Sorrentino and he had four cameras, and he doesn’t even rehearse, because he’s got digital. You just go in there fluffing through it, and he doesn’t care, you just keep going and going, and then you go home and come back the next day. So I prefer film.”

To conclude the press conference, Christopher Nolan was asked about Brian Cox’s opinion on intelligent alien life. “There’s a thing called the Drake Equation, which pretty well establishes from a mathematical point of view that it’s extremely likely actually,” said Nolan. “Everything is speculation beyond that.”

Interstellar opens in UK cinemas on Friday 7th November 2014.

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