Mission to Mars
With the first trailer for The Martian dropping in early June, and the release date moving confidently forward to 1 October, the buzz surrounding Ridley's Scott's latest space adventure is deafening.
Based on Andy Weir's same-titled hard-science novel, it sees Matt Damon's astro-botanist Mark Watney left for dead on the red planet when he's impaled on an antennae during a dust storm. His mission and he has no choice but accept it is to find a way to send an SOS signal back to Earth, and to devise a way to feed and water himself for as long as it takes for a rescue crew swing by Mars
Visiting the set in Budapest, Total Film spoke to stars Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara and Sebastian Stan, plus Ridley Scott's longtime producer Mark Huffman and costume designer Janty Yates, to learn some space-secrets...
The danger on planet Mars is all too real...
This is the first time I've ever been in space suit and attached to wires, smiles Chastain when she emerges from the aforementioned dust storm, pointing out that she remained Earthbound throughout Interstellar. Fun? Certainly, apart from almost suffocating from the small rocks and dust that clogged her helmet. Air comes in and from the vents on the side, in order to circulate. But then rocks go in, all over your face, she says.
The solution was to close up all the vents, so there was no air. It was a different experience. Still, at least she's OK from the neck down. I'm wear a cooling suit underneath, which is advice I got from Annie [Hathaway], on Interstellar. She said 'make sure you ask for this, this and that...
despite NASA being involved every step of the way.
We were very fortunate to have direct access to NASA, says costume designer Janty Yates. They bent over backwards. I got images out of them. The suit that they use now, for the prospect of Mars, is called the Z-1. It is exactly like a Buzz Lightyear suit!
Then I spoke to the curator of space suits at the Smithsonian, and she said, 'You know they're developing the Z-2?' No one at NASA had told me that! It's even more hideous and ugly. I showed them to Ridley and he just went, 'Nope'. Ridley didn't want anything puffy. We just based ourselves on some images that Ridley liked something that was as skintight as possible! Not skintight in an erotic way; he loves something that is functional as well as beautiful.
It's a war film as well as a space film.
Ridley has been saying a lot to us that it's very similar to going to war, explains Kate Mara, who plays Beth Johanssen, the computer whiz on Watney's space team.
Astronauts are trained in a manner that's not that dissimilar to how soldiers are trained. We are each other's comrades. Everybody has each other's backs at all times. It's family.
Sebastian Stan, playing Chris Beck, the medical expert on the mission, agrees. These astronauts are trained with this idea that anything can happen at any moment, and you can die. This can go wrong, this can go wrong, this can go wrong there are endless things that can happen.
The Martian was originally going to shoot in Australia...
We had scouted to do the film in Australia and started making plans, but unfortunately the Australian government very unwisely decided they wanted to reduce their tax credit on this particular project I think they gave all their money to Disney [for Pirates of the Caribbean]! says producer Mark Huffam.
So we found ourselves looking for a new home. Where could we build a big exterior set, interior? And this is biggest stage in Europe. It's worked really well. Doing a nighttime exterior sequence on a stage during the day? It wins every time, for the practicality of it.
This is Matt Damon's first job for 18 months.
The first six months [off] were intentional because we moved from New York to LA, so I wanted to be around for the kids, for that transition, he says, dressed in his space suit, minus, thankfully, his helmet.
Then I couldn't find anything that I wanted to do. You see what's out there; it's tough. The movies that have been my bread and butter for 20 years, they don't make them anymore. It's very, very hard to get the money together. A lot of that stuff is migrating to television. They're more apt to take a huge risk on a high-concept idea than a kitchen-sink drama. When this came along I was like, 'Jeez, how many of these movies will I be able to do that I like, that are original, and not just a knock-off.'
The Martian opens on 1 October 2015.