INTERSTELLAR Comic-Con Panel Recap: Christopher Nolan Surprises with First Ever Comic-Con Appearance; Debuts New Trailer

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The Paramount panel at Comic-Con today was not packed.  The program didn’t specify what the studio was showing.  We assumed that they would be bringing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and then it wasn’t too much of a surprise when they also featured Project Almanac, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, and even Hot Tub Time Machine.  It was a nice bit of promotion when Dwayne Johnson came on stage to tell people he was hosting free screenings of Hercules tonight at three theaters.  People love Dwayne Johnson.  And maybe if he was announced on the program, it could have packed the hall.

If Paramount had announced the final panel of its presentation, I would have had to line up well before sunrise.  Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey were here.  Hit the jump for my Interstellar Comic-Con panel recap. 

interstellar-posterThis was the last panel of Paramount’s presentation, and as I said, no one knew it was coming.  But then the moderator brought on Matthew McConaughey, whose first Comic-Con appearance was greeted with a standing ovation.  Here’s what we learned from his brief Q&A with the moderator:

  • He got involved when he got a call from his agent saying that Nolan wanted to meet him.  He spent about three hours with Nolan just talking about everything but Interstellar.  About a week later he read the script and liked it.
  • Cooper, his character, is a pilot, engineer, and widowed father of two children.  He’s living a world where civilization can only sustain.  It doesn’t have any “new, bright ideas.”  Then the dream of being a pilot comes knocking at his door, but that means he has to leave his family behind.
  • On working with Nolan, “He’s always out for original.  Everything he has to do, it has to be original.”  McConaughey says Nolan also works by his instincts and they moved fast.  They would do two or three takes max.  He also says it’s “by far the most ambitious film Mr. Nolan has ever directed.”  I had no idea that Nolan did so few takes, and that astounds me, especially when it’s for a massive blockbuster.

Then McConaughey introduced Christopher Nolan, who had also never been to Comic-Con before and also received a standing ovation.  “I came to see what all the fuss was about, and judging by the crowd, I’m not disappointed,” said Nolan.

  • Says he’s always been a huge fan of sci-fi.  He said that when growing up, being an astronaut was the highest ambition anyone could have, and pushing out further into the galaxy was inevitable.  He liked the idea that we’re on the cusp of a brand new era of exploration.
  • interstellar-christopher-nolanOne of his goals was trying to recreate the reality of what this space mission will be.  “I’m not going to tell you what [the technical challenges] are because I want you to come see the movie.”  But he says he wanted to give the actors as much reality as possible in being involved in this kind of journey.  Notes that a film that’s about a journey through the stars has to be an experience for the audience.  IMAX is a big part of trying to accomplish that.  “You need the biggest canvas possible,” says Nolan.
  • “I think no film is finished until it goes to its audience,” so he’s not sure what Interstellar is to him yet, but it is about what it means to be human and our place in the universe.

Audience Q&A Highlights: 

  • Kip Thorne was a scientific consultant on the film, and there were “intense” conversations about how to display things accurately but not so obtusely that it would alienate the audience.
  • Nolan didn’t want to give too complete a list of his influences, “because then you’ll just see all the things I ripped off,” but he did mention 2001, Star Wars, and Blade Runner.  “But really the whole gamut.”  However, he singles out 2001 as the biggest influence.  “It was such a memorable experience for me,” says Nolan.  They want to tell a similarly ambitious story in size and scale.
  • Nolan says dealing with “psychology” in his movies wasn’t a conscious choice.  He’s more interested in people, and subjectivity vs. objectivity. “How we’re each imprisoned in our own subjective reality.”

New Trailer

interstellar-matthew-mcconaugheyThis latest trailer did a great job of blending both the awe-inspiring spectacle of the cosmos with the intimate story of a father trying to save his family.  The trailer really stresses the difficulty Cooper has in leaving his family, especially his daughter Murphy, because he has to save the world, but he doesn’t know when (or if) he’ll ever come back.  I even choked up a bit when he tells Murphy, “I’ll love you forever.”  This is all intercut with new footage that’s special effects heavy and looks breathtaking.  The individual beats of the plot are still unclear, and I’m absolutely fine with that.  It’s far more effective to show a mix of human triumph and stunning effects while we hear voiceover of Michael Caine reading “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.”

We don’t know when the trailer is going to hit, but you’ll probably dig it when you see it.  I’m glad I got to see the trailer, and even if I hadn’t been sleep-deprived, this would have jolted me awake.

Click here to catch up on all of our Comic-Con 2014 coverage thus far.




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