*EUR on the scene at “The Martian” Q&A with Matt Damon, Ridley Scott, Andy Weir, Dr. Jim Green and Astronaut Drew Feustel, the new science fiction film from 20th Century Fox, hits theaters October 2.
Q: How eager are you to inspire a future generation of scientists with this movie?
Matt Damon: When I sat and talked with Drew Goddard, who adapted the screenplay the first thing he said was, ‘I want this to be a love letter to science.’ We had a long conversation about how that’s wonderful thing to put out into the world right now. I don’t have any lofty expectations but I do hope some kids see it and geek out on the science and enjoy it, and maybe it will be the one thing, combined with other things, that pushes them in that direction.
Q: What specific parts of your character’s personality drew you to play astronaut Mark Watney?
Matt Damon: I think a lot of people, including myself, really responded to the character in the book that Andy Weir wrote. The humor and the way us mere mortals are always captivated by the way astronauts work and seem to have a pre-unnatural calm, when they’re in these incredibly high stress situations…that was really attractive about this character. How he kept his sense of humor and this incredible, logical, and kind of practical solve one problem at a time, type of thinking and it’s what these real guys can actually do.
Q: This astronaut character is brought to life through a human approach. How is “The Martian” different from other astronaut films?
Astronaut Drew Feustel: I’ve read the book one and a half times. What is special about the book, myself and is true for a lot of astronauts, are the relevant topics. We all have visions of exploring space and eventually of getting to Mars and going beyond. Thank you guys for making us look good. Were not as smooth and cool as what you see on the screen and even in the book, but you give us a chance to look good in public.
Q: The main character’s humor brings out the humanity in him. How did you balance that tone?
Ridley Scott: That’s a relationship of what I do with the actor. We discussed how the story had to be told through a certain extent of a voice over. Right then, in effect, that’s a challenge for Matt because otherwise voice over could easily become elongated and boring. He succeeded brilliantly, by incorporating humor, sometimes changing demeanor, because we used the GoPro to become his only companion. Whether he is in the habitat or in the rover, he is always talking. He is always talking, like he is talking to a buddy. The GoPro became the companion.
Q: How has this journey been for you since the original E-book was published and now the film adaption?
Andy Weir: It’s been this ridiculous Cinderella story! You fantasize about these things when you’re writing, but you never really think they’ll come true. It’s kind of like when you’re a little kid playing baseball. Some day I’m going to be in the bottom of the 9th in the world series. I saw the full cut of the film on Friday and I got to say I love it. Matt completely nailed the character, like it’s exactly how I imagined it.
Q: How do science fiction films reflect your work at NASA and what do you think audiences will take from “The Martian?”
Dr. Jim Green: Science fiction is extremely important in our culture, it’s ingrained in what we do, but it really projects a vision of the future, something we aspire to. What I really enjoyed about the book and the movie is how close to reality it can be. It’s just around the corner for us. Things we haven’t invented and we see in the movie, its ingrained in our mind and we project that, we want to develop that, that’s how it will look, and that’s really exciting.