Two years ago, Christopher Nolan sat down with an unlikely collaborator on a new project. The collaborator was Kip Thorne, one of the most renowned theoretical physicists of the modern era — and also, improbably, the executive producer of the film Nolan badly wanted to direct.
The script, initially written by Nolan’s younger brother Jonathan (known as Jonah), was Interstellar. And over the following months and years, the two men — one, a daring director whose last seven movies, including Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy, grossed a collective $3.55 billion worldwide; the other, a pioneering scientist who specialized in such arcana as black holes, singularities and event horizons — would embark on an intellectual exploration as Nolan, 44, repeatedly met with Thorne, 74, to kick around ideas about time, space and the time-space continuum. In the process, they explored everything from questions about wormholes to whether it might be possible to go faster than the speed of light.
The result of all this work is an audacious, two-hour-and-47-minute drama that cost $165 million to make (Paramount, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures split the budget; Paramount will release the film in the U.S., Warners will handle international) and is expected to contend in the best picture Oscar race. Interstellar opens Nov. 5 and follows more in the vein of mind-bending science fiction classics such as 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey than 1977’s Star Wars — both Nolan favorites.
Reworking Jonah’s script (originally written for Steven Spielberg to direct), Nolan refined the story of four astronauts who embark on a mission that takes them through a wormhole and into another galaxy, where they must search for a habitable planet before ecological problems doom Earth. For much of the shoot, which was shrouded in secrecy, the story was referred to by the code name “Flora’s Letter” (a reference to one of Nolan and producer Emma Thomas’ four children), perhaps indicative of the shift in emotional temperature that this sometimes-cool filmmaker wished to take here.
Even as a child he had a look. On Thursday, Matthew McConaughey shared a throwback photo that was taken in the seventies when he was growing up in Texas. In a grainy black-and-white snap posted to his WhoSay account, the 44-year-old actor is seen holding a football trophy while wearing a cowboy hat.
When it comes to casting “Doctor Strange,” Marvel doesn’t just want someone to say “yes.” They want someone to say “alright, alright, alright.”
With Joaquin Phoenix no longer in the running to play Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, the search is on for a new leading man to become the magically-powered superhero. Variety reports a bunch of high-profile names in the mix, most notably Oscar-winning actor and man-of-the-moment Matthew McConaughey.
“It’s unclear whether the ‘Interstellar’ actor could even take on Doctor Strange given his busy schedule,” Variety reports, “but Marvel believes that, after drawing interest from Phoenix, the studio can get anyone in the room and execs want a star for the part.”
McConaughey is the biggest name in the running for Stephen Strange, but there are other A-listers supposedly on the docket as well, including McConaughey’s fellow “Dallas Buyers Club” Oscar winner Jared Leto. Others include Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor, the last of whom’s potential involvement was first reported by Badass Digest.
“The actor has a total of nine films currently in development and hasn’t starred in a major tentpole since his days playing young Obi-Wan in the ‘Star Wars’ prequels,” Variety writes of McGregor. “But as BadAss Digest previously reported, he’s expected to meet for the role and could have a few more tricks up his sleeve.”
One last “Strange” contender: Oscar Isaac, the star of “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and one of the main cast members of the upcoming “Star Wars” reboot. As a known quantity at Disney, Isaac could have a leg up over his competitors — except that Marvel apparently wants “a star,” and while he’s extremely talented, Isaac isn’t a name just yet. Still, on looks and talent alone, it’s hard to argue his worthiness to play the Sorcerer Supreme.
With Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming film Interstellar, the director of The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception boldly goes into outer space with his most visually spectacular and emotionally resonant movie yet. We can say that because we’ve seen it. We also watched Nolan make it, and in this week’s Entertainment Weekly, we bring you onto the top secret set and take you into editing room to chronicle how the man who made Batman fly to new heights pushed himself creatively and personally to produce his sci-fi epic.
Interstellar opens Nov. 5 and stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Wes Bentley, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, and John Lithgow, to name a few. (Seriously: There are more.) The plot tracks a quartet of astronauts and scientists—and the most unusual robot to grace the screen in years (meet the fall’s breakout star: a mini-monolith of metamorphic Jenga blocks named TARS)—who journey across the universe to search for a new home for mankind: In the near future of the film, Earth is dying, ravaged by blight and environmental ruin.
And yet, Interstellar deliberately veers away from dystopia chic with its depiction of optimistic, adventurous heroism reminiscent of director Philip Kaufmann’s adaptation of The Right Stuff, which not only influenced the tone of Nolan’s movie but the techniques he used to make it. Informed by the work and theories of renowned astrophysicist Kip Thorne, Interstellar is more akin to the speculative sci-fi of 2001: A Space Odyssey than space opera fantasy like Star Wars, while still remaining accessible pop entertainment. Mind altering substances are not required to appreciate this trip. “Isn’t it nice to have a movie that is about all things the movie is about and not feel druggy?” says Hathaway with a laugh.
Nolan challenged himself and his team to fill Interstellar with imagery designed to inspire awe in the audience, not to mention a little terror. Dust storms. Tidal waves. Wormholes. A tiny, fragile spaceship juxtaposed against the monstrous gas planet of Saturn. Everything in the hush-hush final act. “This is the first film I have made where the actual experience of the film is paramount to the audience,” Nolan tells EW. “You would think that’s the case with Batman movies but it’s not; they’re more dependent on the reaction of characters on screen. Interstellar is different. It harkens back to the direct experience films of 2001, where you’re not just experiencing it through the characters, you are lost in it.” (You might want to watch Interstellar on an IMAX screen, especially since Nolan incorporated more than an hour of footage shot using IMAX cameras.)
Nolan also aspired to craft a philosophically thoughtful, deep feeling experience, too. He chased that goal in a number of ways, from an inventive collaboration with composer Hans Zimmer to drawing inspiration from his experience as a father. “The film is about human nature, what it means to be human. It sounds like a very grand statement, but I don’t intend it to be. I mean it in the way, say, Treasure of the Sierra Madre is about dramatizing ideas of human nature,” says Nolan, who wrote the script with his brother, Jonathan, and produced Interstellar with his wife, Emma Thomas, who has produced all of his movies. “When you take an audience far away from human experience as possible, you wind up focusing very tightly on human nature and how we are connected to each other. What the film tries to do is to be very honest in that appraisal.”
The result is Nolan’s most personal movie. “Nobody is able to put more scope, scale, awe on screen than Chris,” says McConaughey. “But I think he was wanting to take the next step, toward something more intimate. It was an evolution.”
For more on Interstellar, check out this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday, Oct. 17.
Matthew McConaughey has some serious real estate problems. Mostly involving space for all the trophies he’s won recently.
It started with 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club, which netted him Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice awards. McConaughey, 44, put those on the island counter in his Malibu home, then later moved them to a large exposed rafter in the living room, along with the big prize — his best actor Oscar for the same film.
“You can see it. But if you want to read it and get a good look at it, you really have to get a ladder,” McConaughey says, smiling. “They all kind of rained down. If I get any more, I am going to do something with them.”
McConaughey would be wise to consider a permanent solution, since more awards may be coming. But for movie watchers, this would have been a far-fetched concept just two years ago, when McConaughey was best known for playing good-natured rom-com characters in films such as Failure to Launch and The Wedding Planner.
Seemingly overnight, McConaughey turned into an awards-season force with Dallas Buyers Club and his Emmy-nominated role in the HBO television series True Detective. The trophy talk has started again with the Christopher Nolan-directed Interstellar (in theaters Nov.7), one of the most anticipated films of the season.
The first trailer for 21 Years: Richard Linklater shows the director’s far-reaching influence, as stars flock to honor the filmmaker onscreen — some more poignantly than others.
While Ethan Hawke notes that “he’s onto something special, that’s unique to him” and Julie Delpy describes him as wise and laidback, Jack Black also says, “He’s a sneaky Shakespeare, and Matthew McConaughey calls him “Ricky Ticky Linklater” (and not without an “alright, alright, alright” as well). Keanu Reeves also adds, “There’s no slacker in that Slacker.”
The tribute documentary, directed by Michael Dunaway and Tara Wood, is based on the idea that the first 21 years of an artist can define them, and looks back at that time period in Linklater’s life. Zac Efron, Kevin Smith, Billy Bob Thornton, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Parker Posey, Jason Reitman, Miranda Cosgrove, Joey Lauren Adams, Louis Black, Rebecca Campbell, Nicky Katt, Greg Kinnear, Michael McKean, Steven Chester Prince, Anthony Rapp and Marissa Ribisi, among others, also appear in the film.