Comic-Con 2014: Interstellar panel reaction

The surprise film in Paramount's Hall H panel at Comic-Con 2014 was Christopher Nolan's Interstellar .

A unexpected addition at the end of a showcase that included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles , Project Almanac and a crowd-wowing Dwayne Johnson, the audience went suitably nuts for Matthew McConaughey, making his first Comic-Con appearance, and exuding that huge movie star charisma that was felt across the 6,600 capacity.

Hesitant to reveal too many secrets, McConaughey described Nolan as a director whose "reach always exceeds his grasp", and gave a tiny bit of detail on his character, Cooper, explaining that he had aspirations of being a pilot, and he gets another shot to do something heroic and take to the skies again. "I play an engineer and widowed father of two children," he said. "He’s also living in a time when humanity is just trying to sustain. We need food. We need water."

Asked if he could say anything more, McConaughey went on to introduce the next massive surprise guest, Nolan himself. Also making his Comic-Con debut, the crowd went insane for the smartly dressed, politely spoken auteur.

While (unsurprisingly) keeping plot details close to his chest, Nolan did speak freely about the influences on the film - Star Wars , and particularly 2001: A Space Odyssey , a film that he saw on the big screen as a child. “It was such a memorable experience for me to go on that journey in that way,” said Nolan of the formative experience. Although, he joked that he wouldn't reveal all of the films that inspired him, "because when you watch it, you'll see everything I've ripped off."

He also drew on his own childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, an aspiration he thinks had been lost with the modern obsession for tech that focuses on the ever smaller devices that fit in your pocket. “I felt that [ interest in space travel ] has fallen off greatly over the last few decades,” Nolan explained. And to tell an epic story, you need a huge canvas, which is why Nolan has once again turned to IMAX for some of the visuals, adding, “We’re trying to show the biggest imaginable phenomena that exist in the universe.”

The final treat of the panel was an exclusive early look at the next Interstellar trailer, not due to be revealed publicly for some time.

After initially skipping through some of the scenes you've seen in the previous trailers, as people are beset by dust storms, McConaughey has a tearful goodbye with his family, and Michael Caine lays out the basics of the mission, the new footage is quickly revealed.

In the new trailer there's space action, and lots of it, hinting towards the film's overwhelming scope. There's talk of a search for habitable planets, and we see the space-suited likes of McConaughey and Anne Hathaway traversing icy planets (presumably from the film's Iceland shoot). There are glimpses of a variety of spacecraft, scraping past ice caverns, bobbing on a mass of water, and crossing into the great unknown.

And the trailer also furthers the relationship between Coop and his daughter, with a lot of emphasis put on the amount of time he's going away for. Just how long will this mission take?

Also in the mix are brief glimpses of a bearded Wes Bentley, and Casey Affleck, without any context of who they're actually playing. And once again, Michael Caine is on ‘stirring motivational speaker’ duties (though, as before, McConaughey takes the lion’s share of the narration).

It's a spine-tingling trailer, and one that hints at a truly unmissable cinema experience. “It’s by far the most ambitious film that Mr. Nolan’s directed,” reckoned McConaughey. On this evidence, we’re not going to disagree with him.

Matt Maytum
Deputy Editor, Total Film

I'm the Deputy Editor at Total Film magazine, looking after the long-form features there, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.