Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan directs an international cast in
With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of
explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history:
traveling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future
among the stars.
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The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Warner Brothers / Paramount Pictures press.
Images by: Thomas Hauerslev
title of "Interstellar"
Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan (“The Dark
Knight” films, “Inception”) directs an international cast in
With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of
explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history:
travelling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future
among the stars.
“Interstellar” stars Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers
Club”), Oscar winner Anne Hathaway (“Les Misérables”), Oscar nominee
Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Bill Irwin (“Rachel Getting
Married”), Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn (“Alice Doesn’t Live Here
Anymore”), Oscar nominee John Lithgow (“The World According to Garp,”
“Terms of Endearment”) and Oscar winner Michael Caine (“The Cider House
Rules”). The main cast also includes Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Bill
Irwin, Mackenzie Foy, Topher Grace and David Gyasi.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, the film is written by Jonathan Nolan and
Christopher Nolan. Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Lynda Obst
produced “Interstellar,” with Jordan Goldberg, Jake Myers, Kip Thorne
and Thomas Tull serving as executive producers.
Nolan’s behind-the-scenes creative team was led by director of
photography Hoyte van Hoytema (“Her”), Oscar-nominated production
designer Nathan Crowley (“The Dark Knight”), Oscar-nominated editor Lee
Smith (“The Dark Knight”), and Oscar-nominated costume designer Mary
Zophres (“True Grit”). The score was composed by Oscar winner Hans
Zimmer (“The Dark Knight” trilogy, “The Lion King”). Oscar winner Paul
Franklin (“Inception”) served as visual effects supervisor and Scott
Fisher (“The Dark Knight Rises”) as special effects supervisor.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Paramount Pictures present, in association
with Legendary Pictures, a Syncopy/Lynda Obst Productions production, a
film by Christopher Nolan, “Interstellar.”
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
“This world’s a treasure,
but it’s been telling us to leave for a while now.”
Humankind has always shaped its destiny by pushing its limits—from the
first ships setting sail for the edge of the horizon to the first human
steps on the surface of the moon—yet the ultimate frontier remains
tantalizingly out of reach. From director/writer/producer Christopher
Nolan, “Interstellar” hinges on the provocative question of humanity’s
place in the stars.
“To me, space exploration represents the absolute extreme of what the
human experience is,” Nolan says. “It’s all about trying, in some way,
to define what our existence means in terms of the universe. For a
filmmaker, the extraordinary nature of a few select individuals pushing
the boundaries of where the human species has ever been or can possibly
go opens up an infinite set of possibilities. I was excited by the
prospect of making a film that would take the audience into that
experience through the eyes of those first explorers moving outwards
into the galaxy—indeed to a whole other galaxy. That’s as big a journey
as you can imagine trying to tell.”
Set in a near-future in which an agricultural crisis has brought the
world to its knees, “Interstellar” chronicles a daring mission to pierce
the barriers of time and space in a desperate human gamble against
extinction. “I’ve always been interested in what the next step in our
evolution might be. If the Earth is a nest, how would we respond when
the time comes to leave it?”.
Against the limitless canvas of this high-stakes adventure into the
stars, Nolan reveals that what ultimately drives the film is the
intimate human story at its core. “I feel that the magnitude and
grandeur of space is most interesting as a backdrop for exploring
relationships, which are so strong and meaningful for us, and how that
relates to our place in the universe.”
Central to the film are the relationships within a single family. “In
broad terms, ‘Interstellar’ is a spectacular adventure about a journey
into the universe,” producer Emma Thomas notes, “but at its heart is an
emotional story of a father and his children. It speaks to the love that
exists in families, the notions of duty and sacrifice, and our profound
connections to other human beings”.
Matthew McConaughey was taken by the emotional threads that ground the
spectacle in human dimensions. “What is amazing to me is that while the
excitement of the story lies in its scope—the thrill of adventure and
discovery of the unknown—one of my favorite things about Chris Nolan is
the heartbeat of humanity he gives to his films,” the actor states. “No
one handles the sheer mass and scale of a world like he does because it
always comes off as something personal and intimate”.
Anne Hathaway ties this quality in Nolan’s films to his focus on the
human stakes in even the most heroic endeavor. “From the beginning of
time, the reach to expand our world or move our civilization forward has
always involved great sacrifice by a handful of individuals, who put the
greater good over any risk to themselves. This film really celebrates
those who are brave enough to do that”.
Jessica Chastain adds that the film also celebrates the connections that
sustain us. “This story is full of longing and heartbreak, but at its
core is the beautiful idea that even if love is not something you can
hold in your hands, it remains with you across vast distances in time
Do not go gentle into that good night
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Longtime Nolan collaborator Michael Caine observes that the human pulse
that runs through “Interstellar” reflects the character of the man at
the helm. “In private life, Chris is a family man, and whether he’s
making a thriller or a big space adventure, his films are always
informed by his essential humanity.”
Nolan confirms that even as he imagined an ambitious leap of faith into
the ultimate unknown, the notion of family remained his true north.
“‘Interstellar’ is about all kinds of things—who we are, where we’re
going—but, for me, it’s about being a father. Putting those ideas
foremost in my process gives the story to the film, rather than just
enjoying the space elements for space’s sake”.
Co-screenwriter Jonathan Nolan admits that the nearly inconceivably
dimensions of the universe led them down some fascinating narrative
pathways. “The reality of the universe is that while it’s magnificent to
look at and inspires a great sense of wonder, it’s cold, airless and
vast—so vast that we have no idea how big it really is,” he says. “So,
the effort was to try to take a big idea and ground it as much as
possible to give you a real sense for what interstellar space travel
would feel like, not only as a tactile experience, but in terms of the
emotional toll such a treacherous and isolating journey would have on
In their effort to bring space to life with as much truth as the story’s
flesh and blood characters, the filmmakers had an invaluable asset in
leading theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, whose work unraveling the most
exotic mysteries of the universe formed the scientific backbone of the
script. “Kip is an author, educator and one of the world’s most
brilliant minds,” states producer Lynda Obst. “His work detecting
gravitational waves has allowed him to peer into the clash of black
holes and conceive the great possibilities of wormholes. These are
fascinating concepts to explore in a narrative”.
For Thorne, who is also one of the film’s executive producers, the
process was exhilarating. “The story emerged from the fertile minds of
the screenwriters, but always within the boundaries of established
science or what we can reasonably extrapolate about concepts that are
just beyond the frontiers of our knowledge.”
Christopher Nolan relates that Thorne took time to test each narrative
idea to ensure it would hold up to scientific scrutiny. “As a truly
committed scientist, Kip is constantly aware that everything he’s
telling me might be wrong. The science—particularly at the level that
Kip is working—suggests unbelievably strange and fascinating
possibilities from a narrative point of view because you’re dealing with
a scientist for whom those possibilities are always expanding. I found
that to be an extraordinary creative atmosphere to work in.”
The quest to transform the script into an immersive and vibrant
moviegoing experience propelled everyone involved into a wide-ranging
and rule-breaking filmmaking adventure that, albeit earthbound, at times
mirrored the odyssey they were bringing to life onscreen. “The real
focus for me in making this film is to try and put the audience into
space,” Nolan affirms, “to put them into the shoes of the astronauts who
are exploring these new worlds and new galaxies. That’s what I’m really
excited for—that the audience will get a sense of the spectacle of a
great interstellar journey.”
THE CAST AND CHARACTERS OF INTERSTELLAR
We used to look up at the sky and wonder about our place in the stars,
now we just look down and wonder about our place in the dirt.
IMAX in London.
In “Interstellar,” Matthew McConaughey plays the central role of Cooper,
a former test pilot and engineer in the tradition of the
adrenaline-fueled flyboys who continually challenged their own
limitations to carve our path into the stars. For Christopher Nolan,
there was only one actor who could effortlessly convey that archetypal
figure. “He embodies everything we were looking for in casting
Cooper—the spirit of adventure, a cowboy-like swagger, and the warmth of
somebody who’s involved with his family first and foremost,” the
director states. “He has all of those intangible qualities present in
the character, paired with his incredible professionalism and humor. It
was a wonderful experience to work with him on this film”.
McConaughey describes Cooper as “a dreamer and a man out of time. He’s
not supposed to be a farmer. He’s supposed to be out there—that’s where
he lives.” But in “Interstellar,” the world needs farmers, not pilots.
After a blight has decimated the food supply, civilization has turned
back to the earth and clings to the only viable crop left—corn. “Life
has become about growing food and having clean water,” the actor
continues. “We don’t need any explorers; we don’t need any astronauts;
we don’t need any bright ideas. But Cooper is trying his best to live in
this world, and to hold things together for his children”.
On a homestead surrounded by acres of corn, Cooper is raising his kids
with the help of his father-in-law, Donald, played by John Lithgow.
“This family has been on the farm for generations and Donald himself has
seen the world go through extraordinary changes,” Lithgow says. “The
blight has made the world grow quieter, more provincial, and he sees a
kind of serenity in that. What I love about this story is that it
unfolds against our darkest fears, but it has an optimistic soul. It’s
about human beings trying to figure out not only how to survive but how
Like his grandfather, Cooper’s teenage son Tom, played by Timothée
Chalamet, loves the farm and helping his dad to keep it running.
Chalamet recalls that on the day before shooting began, McConaughey
helped set the stage for their onscreen relationship. “Matthew asked me,
‘What do you know about combine greasing and the methods in which
pesticides are sprayed over corn fields?’” Chalamet recalls. “That
night, I looked everything up to make sure I could answer all those
questions the next day, but that experience with Matthew told me so much
about Tom’s relationship with his dad. Cooper wants to know he can rely
on him to handle things, and Tom wants to prove to him that he can”.
Cooper’s daughter, Murph, played by Mackenzie Foy, takes after her
father in ways Tom never could. “Murph is obsessed with rockets and
space, even though no one talks about those things anymore,” Foy says.
“She might have felt out of place in this world, but her dad encourages
her to stay curious and that gives her the confidence to be brave”.
Emma Thomas reveals, “Cooper loves both of his children deeply, but
shares a special bond with Murph over their shared passion for science
and discovery. But, as with many parents and children, what binds them
together can also pull them apart.”
Theatre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Sealed off in an underground bunker, a small group of scientists and
engineers is aiming higher than the dirt that no longer seems willing to
sustain the human race and are gambling their lives on the prospect that
somewhere in the universe lies a planet that might. The project was
sparked by the mysterious appearance of a disturbance near Saturn—a
wormhole that bores through a higher dimension of space and time to a
galaxy that would take lifetimes to reach without it. And to endure such
a journey, the group has salvaged the best available technology from the
ruins of the space program to build the mission’s three ships: the
Ranger shuttle, the Lander heavy-lift vehicle, and the Endurance
mothership waiting in low Earth orbit.
The one thing the mission lacks is an experienced pilot. McConaughey
offers, “Suddenly, the dream that Cooper’s been chasing all his life is
knocking on his door. And it’s not just the chance to be a pilot again
but to lead the most important mission of all time. The consequence of
that opportunity, though, is having to leave his two kids behind, and
what no one can tell him is how long he will be gone”.
“Even though they’re such young actors, I was blown away by the
emotional layers Timothée and Mackenzie were able to bring to these
performances,” Thomas praises. “The moment when Cooper has to say
goodbye to Murph is heart-wrenching because she doesn’t believe him when
he says he’s coming back, and Mackenzie just broke everyone’s heart.”
But Cooper isn’t the only father who will be making a sacrifice. The
mission is the brainchild of Professor Brand, played by Michael Caine, whose
daughter, Amelia, will be among its small crew. “Brand’s burden is heavy
because he is sending his own daughter out into the unknown. That’s the
point of it—no one knows what’s out there—and if anything goes wrong, it’s
on him.” Professor Brand represents Caine’s sixth role in a Nolan film, and
perhaps the most emotionally complex. “Michael is one of the great movie
stars of this generation,” Nolan attests. “He brings a level of gravitas and
charisma that’s second to none. In the case of ‘Interstellar,’ it was very
exciting to see him take this character to places I’ve never seen him go
before as an actor. At this stage in such a phenomenal career, that was an
astonishing thing to experience”.
prints, San Francisco, USA. Image by Stefan
Playing Dr. Amelia Brand is Anne Hathaway, reuniting with the director
following their collaboration on “The Dark Knight Rises.” “Anne is an
extraordinary talent who can really lose herself in a character,” Nolan
observes. “She has cerebral qualities and an interest in science, so it
was natural to see her as Brand, a character who views the world through
a scientific lens. But, at the same time, Anne’s underlying warmth and
the layered performance she brought to the role reveal this character to
be a whole person beyond just being a scientist”.
Hathaway admits that she was “blown away” by the film’s evocation of
space, but was primarily drawn in by the emotional journey the
characters take. “The concepts behind this film can keep you awake at
night, but the story is also a beautiful meditation on love,” she says.
“If you look at the human race from an evolutionary standpoint, you have
to factor in love as a key part of the equation, and how this idea is
woven into Brand’s experience of this mission felt very moving and
truthful to me. I think it’s a brave and extraordinary thing that Chris
has done in weaving the persistence of love into the DNA of this big
adventure in space.”
David Gyasi, who plays Romilly, the astrophysicist on the team, agrees,
noting, “My character lives and breathes science, but in many ways he
doesn’t feel like a complete man. When you’ve done your work and written
your equations to try to understand the universe, what else is left?
What was amazing to me was how this journey inspires in him a respect
for the mystical side of things—for the intangible things that bind us
together”. The fourth member of the crew is Doyle, played by Wes
Bentley. “Doyle trained to pilot the ship, but only on a simulator,” says
Bentley. “He’s primarily a scientist, so he’s relieved when Cooper takes the
helm, which allows him to focus on his real work. Nonetheless, beyond his
scientific interest, he believes in the mission and took a leadership role
fully aware of the risks. But with that comes the burden of knowing that
every decision he makes affects not only the lives of the crew, but the
lives of everyone back on Earth”.
around Saturn? No, 49 reels of "Interstellar" in IMAX 70mm
Plunging through the wormhole in the massive wheel of the Endurance are
the fifth and sixth members of the crew—two surplus military machines
named CASE and TARS—who’ve been designed to emulate their human
counterparts. “A huge part of what they’d be programmed for would be
esprit de corps,” says Jonathan Nolan. “They’d be designed to boost
morale among the ranks with a sense of humor or a burst of courage.
There was something very poignant to me about the idea that we may have
created this group of soldiers that embodied the best in us, and when
they were no longer needed, broke them into pieces and recycled them
into combine harvesters. TARS and CASE are sort of the last of their
Both machines were performed on set by Bill Irwin via a sophisticated
hydraulic puppeteering rig, though the actor’s voice is only heard
onscreen as TARS, with Josh Stewart voicing CASE in the finished film.
Irwin saw CASE as more circumspect than TARS, whose voice the actor
found in his interaction with McConaughey’s Cooper. “There’s some
sparring, and Cooper says, ‘You sound like ex-military to me,’ which
immediately told me how TARS sounds,” Irwin recalls. “So, he developed
into a kind grizzled mid-level officer with an ex-Marine’s sense of
Their interaction was a joy for McConaughey. “Bill brought so much humor
and personality to TARS, and I found it very intriguing to make
something personal and real out of their relationship,” he says. “There
are things about TARS that Cooper loves—he’s a smartass but he gets
things done—and, in a way, he becomes Cooper’s best friend on the ship”.
Their target galaxy holds worlds that offer an excess of hope but no
guarantees. “Our Earth is a very precious and unusual thing, and who
knows if there are any others like it out there,” notes Thomas.
“Obviously, with the scope of the universe, there could be other places
that could sustain life, but no one knows if we could ever find one
quite as perfect as this one. The possibility of finding nothing is one
of the risks the people on this crew are facing”.
Another risk is time itself. “I’ve always been fascinated by time as a
subjective experience,” Nolan states. “But in the case of
‘Interstellar,’ time is an external force that is very much a part of
the story, rather than a character’s perception of it. It’s almost an
antagonist to these characters, but not the only danger confronting
them. When you venture into a story about man against the elements, the
possibilities for visualizing threats against them become much more
Jessica Chastain, who plays Professor Brand’s protégée, adds that the
growing desperation of those trying to survive on Earth only intensifies
the urgency of her character’s quest to find a solution. “She is aware,
perhaps more than anyone, of how precious time is”.
Working with Christopher Nolan for the first time, Chastain found a
surprising atmosphere on his set. “This is the biggest movie I’ve ever
done, but at times it felt like we were making an independent film,” she
observes. “Chris is fantastic at orchestrating a film on a grand scale,
but he’s also fantastic on a human scale, and in the midst of this huge
production, he managed to focus the whole of his attention on small
moments with the actors. He’s so smart and precise with his direction
that just a couple of words from him could elevate our performances”.
Casey Affleck agrees, adding that the filmmaker immediately put him at
ease. “Chris creates a very relaxed environment on his set, and I think
it’s a tone that he and Emma bring to all their films,” he says.
“Whenever people make something look easy, it’s usually because they’re
just incredibly good at what they’re doing.”
Kip Thorne also spent time with members of the cast to help them wrap
their minds around the scientific concepts at play in the film. Notes
Emma Thomas, “Kip is a great teacher and because he took so much time
with our cast, they were able to do an incredible job of grounding the
science in a relatable, human way, so that you’re carried along by the
emotional arc of the movie”. They also had the benefit of the real thing—U.S. astronaut Marsha
Ivins—who visited the set during production. Thomas continues, “Marsha
Ivins is a veteran astronaut, and has been up into space numerous times.
She really is an inspiration and agreed to lend us her expertise. Chris
and I had the chance to consult with her and she spoke at length with
the actors. Her presence really was invaluable in helping us figure out
the authenticity of a movie set in space.”
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
“We’ll find a way. We always have.”
hole effects or fireworks?
Christopher Nolan’s preference for shooting on film rather than digital
has become a trademark of his films. His close band of collaborators,
many of whom have worked side by side with the director for nearly a
decade, have come to anticipate realizing his vision through
groundbreaking feats of engineering to capture as much of the action as
possible in camera. The vast scope and immersive visual narrative he
imagined for “Interstellar,” however, would inspire everyone involved to
push the envelope to its limits.
“We’ve always been interested in what we could do with imagery, but what
I wanted people involved with the film to take on board was that the
power of the imagery needed to be a bigger part of this film than it has
been in any of our previous films so that the audience would be directly
affected by it, not just by the characters’ reactions to it,” Nolan
explains. “From a technical point of view, that steered us in a much
more adventurous direction”.
While cameras would not roll for months on the space sequences, the
filmmaker initiated a unique collaboration between Kip Thorne and visual
effects supervisor Paul Franklin to provide an unprecedented level of
authenticity to the universe the characters penetrate in the film.
Thorne traveled to London to meet with the visual effects team at Double
Negative, and worked closely with the effects house’s designers and
software developers to shape objects that would be as true as possible
to scientific standards, as understood today. “Working with Kip was
phenomenal because he’s obviously one of the greatest physicists of the
twentieth century, but he has a creative, artistic soul as well,”
Franklin states. “He was very willing to engage with us to use these
extraordinary theories and ideas to tell a story. We want people to go
on that ride, and he was so generous with his time and his knowledge of
the math involved in a wormhole and the black hole”. Using Thorne’s
equations on gravitational lensing—the effects of gravity on light around a
black hole and traveling through a wormhole—Franklin and his team at Double
Negative were able to shape these profoundly mysterious objects at a higher
resolution and more scientific accuracy than had ever been previously
attempted. For Thorne, observing their physical reality led to revelatory
new discoveries. “All I can say is we’ve seen things that amazed me,” Thorne
marvels. “We learned some weird things about the visual appearance of black
holes and wormholes in the process of making this movie”.
“We thought we might have to depart from scientific accuracy to make
these objects more comprehensible for the audience, but, as it turned
out, what Kip’s calculations gave us was extremely spectacular,” says
Nolan. “With the peculiar gravitational lens effect around a black hole,
there are some very baffling anomalies in terms of how its appearance
changes when you look at it from a slightly different angle or from a
Double Negative further enhanced the reality of space by drawing
inspiration from astrophotography sourced from the UK’s Royal
Observatory’s archives and the high-def imagery from the Hubble Space
Telescope. They also mined NASA’s database of 2.5 million stars to
reflect the universe as it exists in the film’s starscapes.
While the reality of the universe was being realized through CGI, Nolan
drew together his key department heads to begin laying the groundwork
for the film’s expedition into it. “Some things you can only achieve
with visual effects,” he says, “but there are all kinds of other tricks
you have up your sleeve to convince an audience of the reality of what
For “Interstellar,” Nolan wanted to combine the intimacy and immediacy
of documentary-style handheld filmmaking with the beauty and texture he
felt was only possible with large-format IMAX film, which pushed the
director and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema to explore revolutionary
new ways to use the camera. “We’d always known that we wanted our big,
exterior vistas—our first view of the black hole or wormhole—to be shot
in IMAX,” the director states. “We didn’t think we could ever use the
IMAX camera in smaller, more intimate environments because of its
tremendous size and weight. But Hoyte was determined to carry it on his
shoulder, never mind how heavy it was. How he did it, I have no idea,
but that freed us up to shoot a lot more with the IMAX camera than we
initially thought possible”.
For van Hoytema, this technique was a natural progression from the
emotions he experienced in the script. “This is a very visual story, but
it also has a lot of soul, and that’s something you need to preserve,”
the cinematographer states. “We wanted to find a way to use the IMAX
camera almost like the world’s heaviest Go-Pro camera, but it took some
experimentation to tweak the technology. This way, we could be loose and
improvisational with the close-ups and dialogue moments, but within the
beautiful depth of the IMAX frame. Chris was so open and fearless when
it came to letting those magical spontaneous elements stream in because
it only adds life and reality to the image”.
While the script was still being shaped, Nolan and longtime production
designer Nathan Crowley began the process of mapping out the near-future
landscapes of “Interstellar” in the filmmaker’s garage/office/workshop,
the birthplace of all the worlds in Nolan’s films. “Chris has a great
passion for design,” Crowley says. “For us, it’s always a journey, and,
on ‘Interstellar’ that journey was particularly intense”.
From the earliest designs to the final mix, the director and his team
mined for innovative new ways to immerse the audience in the dust-swept
heartland of this planet, the vast expanse of space, and the alien
terrain of other worlds.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF “INTERSTELLAR”
“We must confront the reality that nothing in our solar system can help
model exhibited in BFI IMAX's foyer
Before reaching out for the stars, “Interstellar” opens on solid
ground—in the heartland of America, where small communities of farmers
plant vast fields of corn. This notion was key in scouting for the
homestead where Cooper lives with his children and father-in-law, a
trail that led the filmmakers to the Okotoks region, just south of the
city of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada”.
“We wanted to have a real visual cue that corn was being farmed
somewhere that it probably shouldn’t be, and Calgary was perfect in that
respect,” Nolan states. “It’s such a grand landscape, with gentle
rolling hills leading up to the Canadian Rockies”.
Nolan’s desire for total reality in the visual texture of the film
precluded shooting a separate farmhouse, corn field and mountain and
compositing them together digitally. Rather, he wanted to establish a
true sense of place, which meant starting with the blank canvas of the
ideal landscape, then conjuring the rest from scratch.
This monumental effort jump-started one of the production’s many races
against the clock: to piece together locations, then time the four-month
shooting schedule to the camera-readiness of each set. “We shot this
film virtually in sequence, so the months leading up to the shoot were
very interesting, to say the least,” Emma Thomas recalls with a laugh.
“The big challenge in Canada was that we would be growing corn in a
place where corn isn’t usually grown—for very good reason, as it turns
out. So, we had an enormous amount to do in a fairly short prep period.
The good news for us was that the corn in the film doesn’t need to look
like it’s thriving because the whole idea is that the Earth isn’t doing
Amid a flurry of internet research on weather and growth patterns and
conversations with Canada’s Department of Agriculture, the filmmakers
and production designer Nathan Crowley hopped on a plane to Calgary and
drove to the town of Longview to meet a rancher named Rick Sears, whose
sprawling property checked all the boxes. “We came to a rolling field
where a stream rose up to a flat area, and beyond that were the
mountains,” Crowley recalls, “It was truly stunning”.
And just like that, Nolan and company found themselves in the corn
business, securing the rancher’s help to build a road to the location
and seed 500 acres. The production had just under six months to grow it
to its full height, during which time a front of cold weather and
devastating floods moved through Calgary. In the final weeks, however,
the sun came out, the corn shot up the final few feet, and by the time
the main unit arrived to shoot, the entire tableau looked as if it had
always been there.
Nolan envisioned Cooper’s family homestead as contemporary but not
futuristic, with timeless architecture inspired by the paintings of
Andrew Wyeth. “Cooper is a man out of time,” Crowley describes. “He’s
from the past and is living in a gritty, visceral, post-technical world.
So, doing any kind of futuristic architecture wasn’t a choice—it had to
be grounded, like he is.”
Crowley designed the house to look like a family had lived within its
walls for generations, then enlisted his art department to build it with
all the aesthetic and structural integrity of a real home, save for the
plumbing. Since it was the first location on the shooting schedule, the
race was on to complete it in just 10 weeks, and, says Crowley, “The
corn was already growing, so there was no Plan B”.
Because the farmhouse was conceived as an interior/exterior set, Crowley
collaborated with van Hoytema on the layout, with an emphasis on real
textures, natural light and real views. “For Cooper, the farmhouse is so
much about memory, and for us, it’s the engine for understanding him,”
van Hoytema observes. “So, we wanted to shoot it in a way that felt
tactile and give it familiarity and texture. We weren’t there to take in
the landscape; we were there to follow these people around, and what was
so beautiful about Nathan’s designs is that you experience his set as a
real place. Nathan’s design was so good at incorporating the beautiful
natural Alberta light that one could often just pick up the camera and
“The farmhouse is such an important character in the film,” Nolan says.
“It needed to feel like an authentic family home, very practical and
utilitarian. There were certain aspects of the color, tone and texture
woven into its design for aesthetic reasons, but it really felt like it
had been laid out according to the demands of that landscape and the
people that lived and farmed there. It had a good sense of history, and
it was a nice place to be, actually.”
But the bucolic setting is layered over with a constant reminder of the
times in which Cooper and his family are living. While the space travel
in “Interstellar” reflects what might be possible in the future, the
filmmakers looked back to the Depression era for inspiration on the
human trauma that sparks the film’s journey—America’s Dust Bowl. Nolan
had recently viewed documentarian Ken Burns’s PBS series on the worst
man-made ecological disaster in North American history, when a mass
“plough-up” of the topsoil across the nation’s farmland transformed its
prairies into vast deserts, resulting in colossal “black blizzards” that
choked the air and threw millions of people into diaspora and famine.
Burns’s heartrending footage and interviews with Dust Bowl survivors and
eye-witnesses had a profound effect on Nolan, and, ultimately, on the
“Over the six hours it took to watch the documentary, it struck me that
the imagery Ken had uncovered was much more extraordinary than anything
you’d see in a science fiction film,” the director observes. “Indeed,
some of it was so hard to believe it seemed too fanciful for science
fiction. We wound up actually incorporating some elements straight into
the fabric of the film because I wanted to underscore the idea that this
sort of thing really can happen. People lived through it, and their
children lived through it, to tell these extraordinary stories in Ken’s
In addition to incorporating true accounts from the original
documentary, Nolan wove in original testimonies from those who are
living through the events of “Interstellar.” In these, we see the
legendary Ellen Burstyn. “The ideas that Chris is grappling with in the
story are fascinating to me,” Burstyn reflects. “There’s a lot to think
about in terms of our relationship with this planet. It’s a compelling
portrayal of a planet that’s running out of food, and the people that
are still trying to live normal lives in this atmosphere of constant
The dust storms of “Interstellar” rise full-bodied over the horizon,
worm into every crack and blanket every surface of Cooper’s world. Nolan
knew he could never achieve a great enough degree of grit and immersion
through CGI, so he turned to special effects coordinator Scott Fisher
for ideas. Fisher’s answer was C-90—a nontoxic, biodegradable material
made from ground-up cardboard that is safe enough to be used as filler
in certain processed foods and lightweight enough to achieve the
hovering effect Nolan sought.
“With Chris, everything has to be practical and tangible,” says Jonathan
Nolan. “So, if you find yourself standing in a massive, fake corn field,
beside a beautiful but totally fake farmhouse in the middle of a
completely fake dust storm, that’s when you know you’re on a Chris Nolan
The dust also had a dramatic effect on the quality and pitch of the
light, which allowed the filmmakers to hew closely to the visions they’d
witnessed in Burns’s documentary. “We really tried to capture how it
must have felt to cope with these walls of darkness that fell upon the
farms and the people,” van Hoytema notes.
With Fisher using colossal fans to cloud the air with C-90, the IMAX
camera had to be protected with specially created plastic coverings, and
the actors found themselves encased in a thick layer of the material
after each day on set. Casey Affleck recalls, “You opened your mouth to
speak and instantly the whole thing filled with dust. But there’s Chris,
our fearless leader, walking around with no mask or goggles, with his
hair looking great, so I didn’t want to complain too much about the
dust,” he smiles.
The fields of corn had a more forceful presence than dust to contend
with in sequences of Cooper’s pick-up truck cutting a swath through the
rows in hot pursuit of a wayward Indian-made drone. The drone itself was
designed by Crowley, then fabricated in the form of a full-size prop
that couldn’t fly, and a 1/3-scale radio-controlled drone with a 15-foot
wingspan that could, which was piloted by professional R.C. pilot Larry
Giving chase on the ground is Cooper’s truck—a new 2014 Dodge aged by
art department to look like he’d kept it going for years. The truck
serves as the locus for the heart-pounding sequence, and Nolan wanted
the IMAX camera close to the actors as the truck drives through the high
corn at speeds up to 70 miles-per-hour.
montage of 70mm at Imperial Bio in Copenhagen towards the end of
"Interstellar" 70mm run (= small audience).
Fisher, van Hoytema and stunt coordinator George Cottle got together to
brainstorm ideas for how to both accomplish the chase safely and capture
it all on camera with the energy Nolan sought. Cottle recalls, “Chris
wanted the actors, not stunt performers, to be driving this speeding
truck as it chases the drone, so we knew the chase sequence was going to
be tricky because the visibility is so tough in this high corn”.
Rather than towing the truck from a camera car, the team leveraged a
“pod rig” system—a roll cage mounted to the truck’s roof where a stunt
driver operates the vehicle’s controls—that would keep McConaughey at
the wheel, Chalamet and Foy beside him, and the cameras wherever Nolan
wanted them. Cottle recalls, “With the pod rig, the actors inside the
car were deep in the corn, but the driver operating the truck from the
roof had great visibility, so it was 100% safe and a fantastic way to
get the shots we needed for the chase”.
While Cooper is ostensibly chasing the drone to repurpose its engine for
his farm combines, the moment he catches sight of it soaring through the
air, the camera takes flight for the first time—a visual cue for the
change that is coming to Cooper’s world.
The design for the space suits worn by Cooper and the team of astronauts
traveling into space was rooted in the real thing. “We didn’t want to
stray too far from established reality of what’s required for the
environment of outer space,” Nolan says. “So, we tried to keep it
recognizable as belonging to an astronaut of the 20th century because we
wanted to tap into that history. We wanted to always be seeing a classic
astronaut figure, not what they might look like in some undetermined
“Chris has a great eye and was very precise about what he was looking
for, but we only had 12 weeks to go from sketch to finished suit, so it
was pedal to the metal the whole time,” recalls costume designer Mary
Zophres. “We built all of our suits from scratch, and pretty much on a
daily basis, we’d have new details for Chris to take a look at. I’ve
done some specialty costumes, but this was a whole new avenue of
Zophres plunged into research on the evolution of astronaut gear from
the 1960s to today—from the silver suits of the Mercury program to the
puffy set-up worn by the Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon—but
ended up blending various elements of all of them. “The technology
became more advanced, but the aesthetic didn’t really change,” she says.
“I wanted to update it a little bit and make suits that were a little
cooler while maintaining that classic silhouette”.
Zophres also drew inspiration from that world for certain hard props
that had to be designed into the fabric of the suits, such as oxygen
systems, specialized gloves, even elbow-based rockets. These were
designed using 3D modeling, then created and fine-tuned in collaboration
with the art department and special effects. Zophres and her team then
integrated the props with the soft pieces of the suit in ways that would
underscore their function. “Nothing on the suits was for decoration;
everything had to serve a purpose,” she says.
This added another layer of difficulty because everything—especially the
oxygen units—had to work. “The actors would be in space suits for more
than half the movie, so if the helmet was on, it had to really work or
they wouldn’t be able to breathe,” she explains. Because astronaut suits
are not commonly made, Zophres located a company called SPCS that could
manufacture the full complement of gear along with the fabric overlay.
Zophres worked closely with the director to base the team’s helmets on
the foundation of the Gemini program’s ring and ball bearing design. In
the four months it took to design, finish, then age the helmets, an
operating sound system was developed that could be fitted within them to
facilitate communication between the actors and director, and amongst
each other while performing dialogue, which would ultimately be
integrated into the film’s final sound mix.
For costumes that were already growing weighty, Zophres had to then add
a cooling system of circulating tubes of cold water to keep actors from
overheating. Costume supervisor Lynda Foote had researched the actual
systems used by astronauts in space, which inspired the system used for
the film. There would also be backpacks containing fans for both cooling
and to keep the glass covers from fogging up. All told, the final weight
came in between 30 and 35 pounds, not including the wetsuits they would
wear underneath for water sequences.
Hathaway remembers her first time testing the suit in the water, “After
trying to run about 10 feet in the pool, I immediately called an ex-Navy
SEAL I know and said, ‘You need to get in the gym with me.’ When we were
shooting the water scenes, Matthew and I kept saying to each other,
‘This may be tough, but we look cool,’” she laughs.
night of "Interstellar" in Copenhagen, Denmark. Projectionist Alan Lyman
(middle) flanked by the "Dynamic 70mm Duo" Orla Nielsen (Left), and Thomas
Hauerslev (right). Image by Charlotte Hauerslev
Operating the mechanical puppeteering rig created to give form to TARS
and CASE, the film’s two mechanical astronauts, was even tougher. The
machines were conceived as military hardware that has been
decommissioned and repurposed for the space effort. “This film takes
place in a resource-depleted future, so scientific communities are
massively dependent on whatever military technology still exists,” Nolan
explains. “In a design sense, we were thinking along the lines of an
articulated machine that would be blast-resistant and impregnable, and
built for strength and function, not style”.
While the machines think and speak, Nolan wanted to avoid any kind of
anthropomorphic features common to movie robots. “In our absolute
minimalist approach,” he says, “we arrived at what we termed the kind of
robot that minimalist architect Mies van der Rohe would design”.
To find its form, Nolan and Crowley experimented first by gluing
popsicle sticks together, then graduated to various combinations of
earth magnets, before landing on a blocky, five-foot-tall plank system
that unfolds magnetically from three central pivot points into up to 64
Scott Fisher was then recruited to the TARS team and embarked on an R&D
journey to create a practical prototype that would look and feel
completely authentic—from its pivots to the digital readout screen on
its chest—and get it moving in just under eight weeks.
Beyond movement, however, the director wanted the mechanical astronauts
to be as much of a presence in “Interstellar” as the human ones. John
Papsidera, the film’s casting director, knew exactly the man for the
job—actor, physical comedian, clown and stage performer Bill Irwin. Says
Nolan, “Bill is the kind of performer who can take an object that’s
inherently clunky and lacks any modes of expression and give it
personality through its most basic movements, which was exactly our
challenge with these machines”.
Irwin was intrigued with the idea of coaxing something akin to a soul
from a solid piece of hardware. “Chris Nolan’s mind works at a great
rate and at a lot of different levels,” the actor notes. “As I listened
to all the unfolding layers of the story, I gradually caught on that
these machines—by dint of artificial intelligence and some fluke of
circuitry and emulation—are capable of being as emotional as anyone else
in the narrative”.
Over multiple visits to the effects shop, Irwin plunged into the group
effort to make TARS and CASE live onscreen, becoming fluent with the
controller used to trigger various appendages via a compressed air and
hydraulics system. “It felt like a video game, with buttons to control
its lift and joint arrangements,” Irwin says. “Suddenly I had to become
a kind of gamer in an effort to move these massive planks around. It was
an exciting process to be a part of”.
On the set, Irwin would both puppeteer the rig and interact with the
other members of the cast as either CASE or TARS, depending on which was
called for in the scene. Thomas suggests that the actor had what
amounted to the most challenging job in the film. “This giant monolith
was so heavy, but he managed to give a brilliant performance while
lugging it around.” For certain sequences, stuntman Mark Fichera handled
the more physical moves as the rig evolved up to a hefty 200 pounds.
There was no getting around the need for CG augmentation, and soon Paul
Franklin also joined the TARS team to enhance action sequences, as well
as remove any trace of the performers. The end result was total harmony
among the characters’ many moving parts, and Nolan’s concept for
practical machines was transformed into a piece of hydraulic
puppeteering unlike anything the filmmakers had ever attempted.
TARS leaves Earth along with the human crew as the rocket carrying the
Ranger shuttle explodes into space—a visual effects sequence designed to
emulate the time-honored imagery of NASA rocket launches. “We wanted
people to recognize the language of the filmmaking in this sequence,”
Paul Franklin allows. “So, Chris had us looking at all the old Apollo
launch footage of the moon rockets going into space, which have a very
specific look. It’s different from the modern boosters because the
missions of the ‘60s were done with these colossal rockets,
360-feet-tall. That was the scale we were after, combined with those
massive balls of orange fire pouring out of the engines”.
Like TARS, the Ranger and other ships would emerge from experiments in
Nolan’s garage into large-scale innovations in practical filmmaking.
THE INTERSTELLAR VOYAGE
Nolan and Crowley began the process of designing the film’s trio of
aircraft—the Ranger, the Lander, and the Endurance—by embarking on a
research expedition through the past, present and future of aerospace,
which took them through hours of IMAX documentaries on the International
Space Station (ISS), a tour through entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX
facility and Dragon spacecraft, and a walk in the shadow of the Space
Shuttle Endeavor, now retired to the California Science Center. “We both
grew up with NASA and know the excitement of a rocket launch, so we were
after something that would feel new and somewhat advanced, but familiar
and relatable,” says Crowley.
The Ranger—the fast-moving shuttle of the Endurance—was the first shape
to emerge. To refine the model generated by the 3D printer, Crowley
brought in a team of sculptors to carve out further detail in its
undercarriage, landing gear, engine, airlocks and other necessities
without compromising its sleek, curved silhouette.
Next came the Lander, a large, angular behemoth built for strength not
speed. “If the Ranger is a German racecar that can zip down to a planet
and back, the Lander is a heavy Russian airlift cargo chopper,” Crowley
describes. “It’s a workhorse designed to carry cargo out of the
Endurance and deposit it on a planet’s surface, which it does upside
down. So the seats had to rotate 360 degrees for the astronauts, and the
cockpit is cramped and front-heavy to make room for the cargo”.
The Ranger and Lander were both designed to fit snugly into the
Endurance’s ring module mothership: a multi-faceted design challenge
Crowley and Nolan cracked using low-tech methods. “I brought in some
acrylic blocks, which we combined in different ways until ultimately
laying out a geometric shape that formed a ring out of 12 pods,” Crowley
The Endurance ring module emerged as a great segmented wheel, with a
central hub, that would spin at a rate of five times per minute to
generate 1G gravity through centripetal force. Connected through a
system of airlocks and a curved continuous floor, each of the ship’s 12
capsules serves a purpose in the overall mission—four engine pods, four
permanent pods containing the living quarters, cockpit, cryogenics and
medical lab, and four landing pods to be decamped on a planet’s surface.
Once the designs had been tested in 3D visualizations and their
interlocking details were carefully engineered, the next step was
fabrication. Crowley gathered a team of highly skilled artists to
hand-sculpt from steel and polystyrene a 46-foot-long Ranger and a
50-foot-long Lander. Scott Fisher and his special effects crew then
engineered hydraulic landing gear and airlock doors into the hulls of
both ships. They were then waterproofed with an extra hard coat of
fiberglass—a necessity given what Nolan had in mind for them. Fisher
also rigged cryobeds in which the astronauts undergo long trips in
stasis, as well as hydraulic seats that rotated 360 degrees.
When the ships eventually made their way to the soundstages at Sony
Studios, Fisher mounted each to the Waldo—a six-axis gimbal attached to
a motion control system that allows the operator to manipulate its
movement with an unprecedented degree of stability and precision.
“Whenever we had the gimbal out, Chris was the one flying it most of the
time,” Fisher remembers. “I think he really enjoyed doing that”.
Inspired by the IMAX footage of real space travel, Nolan and van Hoytema
wanted to hard mount the IMAX camera to the ships themselves, a freedom
the Waldo’s steadiness and actual ship sizes afforded. Notes the
cinematographer, “You end up creating the strangest rigs in order to
create the effect of the camera witnessing something in ways that feel
familiar from real life, rather than hovering all-seeing in these
situations. We even took the hard mount language further by putting
cameras on helmets and on bodies”.
The hard mounts and Waldo itself were essential in Nolan’s quest to
avoid green screens on “Interstellar.” Rather, Nolan wanted to move the
large-scale ships across background plates of space to capture the true
patterns, flares and artifacts that actually would be cast in that
lighting environment. Nolan recounts. “It’s a lot of effort to go to,
but since we already built the ships for other reasons, it seemed the
best thing would be to maximize their use. So, what was going to be a
very static plate shoot turned into one of the more important things
that informed the visual language of the film”.
The filmmakers also used the hard mount technique to capture the
intricate docking operation for each time the astronauts flew the Ranger
or Lander back to the Endurance, with the Waldo synchronizing the
couplings in perfect harmony. “There’s the type of science fiction film
where docking is something you immediately leap over to go on to far
more extraordinary things,” Nolan explains, “and then you have the kind
of film—which ‘Interstellar’ needed to be—that sets its credentials
early to show space travel as a very comprehensible and human scale
endeavor. Docking would be difficult for this crew, and all kinds of
things can go wrong. So, we took our time to shoot the entire routine
the first time they dock the Ranger to the Endurance, even though it was
just a little indication in the script. And, in the edits, it became
quite an important pacing decision.”
While miniatures have given way to visual effects animation over the
years, Nolan felt they offered the best way to give the ships a tangible
presence in space. In this case, however, the miniatures created for
“Interstellar” at L.A.’s New Deal Studios were built on such a large
scale that they earned the nickname “maxatures.” Among them was a 1/15th
scale miniature of the full Endurance ring module that spanned 25 feet,
as well as a pyrotechnic model of a portion of the craft built at 1/5th
scale, and various-scaled miniatures of the Ranger and Lander—all built
in excruciating detail to retain their texture when shot mid-ground
against the backdrop of Paul Franklin’s spacescapes.
The filmmakers enhanced this effect even further by using a smaller
motion control rig and employing exposure ratios on large-format
VistaVision cameras, which allowed the lens to capture all the
spontaneous artifacts as the ships moved against the light source.
“These are things you could try to calculate into CG if you had to, but
the wonderful thing about miniature shooting is that it shows you things
you never knew were there or couldn’t plan for,” Nolan says. “I refer to
it as serendipity—this random quality that gives the image a feeling of
The Endurance itself—specifically a 200-foot segment of its ring module
structure—was built within Sony Studios’ cavernous stage 30. This
immense arc was lowered by crane onto a 150-foot gimbal fitted at three
pivot points with colossal hydraulics that would tilt the set up to 180
degrees for spaceflight sequences.
The rigorous utilitarian aesthetic that informed the exteriors of the
ships was also funneled into the design of their interiors. “We wanted
to incorporate as many existing aerospace parts as we could get, and
keep everything grounded,” Nolan reveals. “When you’re dealing with
space ships and outer space, the danger is that the human element gets
lost, and Nathan and his guys showed a lot of restraint in putting
together environments that felt practical and utilitarian”.
For Hathaway, walking onto the ship evoked an emotional response. “The
story begins on an Earth that has limited resources, and you imagine
that the best of what they had is on this ship,” she says. “There’s
something wonderfully hopeful about that”.
The NASA influence is particularly felt in the storage systems, with an
emphasis on compact size, interchangeability and efficiency. “The
Endurance really reflects what we learned from the ISS and the Endeavor
in that in space, there is no up or down, no floor or ceiling,
everything is slotted and interchangeable, and every surface is used,”
Crowley describes. “Chris wanted everything the actors touched to work,
so the monitors and switches were all designed to serve a purpose within
As with the farmhouse design, Crowley also had to incorporate the
technical demands of the key crew. He and van Hoytema coordinated
closely to integrate a base level of lighting into the fabric of the set
itself, such that the cinematographer could adjust various diffusion
plates on the fly to achieve whatever lighting environment he needed for
a given scene. The cinematographer relates, “Nate’s designs are so
meticulous that no matter where you step, you already believe in the
reality of it, so it was important that the lighting felt like it
in Italy. ENERGY
projection booth with the 70MM print. Up and running for rehearsals
screenings. Image by Arcadia
The lighting effects themselves took similar unexpected turns as the
production progressed. Visual effects and projection technology have
enhanced movies for nearly the whole of their existence. But the
parallel evolution of these technologies suggested provocative new ways
to use them to, in essence, integrate the staggering interstellar
footage created by Paul Franklin and Double Negative into the shooting
experience. Nolan states, “If you look at the techniques of the past,
and try and use them to achieve a new trick, you are able to stand on
the shoulders of giants and achieve something that nobody’s ever done
With a floor-to-ceiling screen draped outside the windows of the set,
Franklin devised a system of precisely aligning two projectors to create
a single image that would have a high enough degree of brightness and
clarity to hold up within the IMAX frame. The system ultimately evolved
to incorporate more projectors, with forklifts positioning the
1,200-pound devices in an array that would project an image bright
enough to penetrate the ship’s windows and illuminate the actors’ faces.
“In an objective sense, having that imagery there was key in
establishing the situation these astronauts are in and truly capture the
claustrophobia of that environment,” the director adds. “We were able to
move through the set with the handheld camera over long takes and
capture sequences from multiple angles. It was extraordinary”.
Franklin and his visual effects team also had a program that allowed
them to combine and manipulate the images spontaneously on the
projectors’ computers, so that Nolan could orchestrate changes in the
spacescapes in real time on set. Franklin describes the effect of seeing
the black hole emerge for the first time as “mesmerizing, and a bit
unnerving. It almost took a three-dimensional aspect, as if it was
coming off the screen”.
The projections not only gave the actors a real look at the black hole,
it also simulated the light of our own sun, which helped van Hoytema
design shots that approximated the raw spectacle of unfettered sunlight
in real space footage. The cinematographer recalls, “The content in the
front projections pointed us towards where the sun would be when they’re
flying past it or spinning to achieve zero G. Most of the time we were
trying to replicate the sun or the light emitted from the black hole as
truthfully and correctly as we could. I’ve never shot a film with as
much hard light as this one, and it was fun to play with the patterns
and contrasts of that singular light.”
These breakthrough techniques engaged the cast and crew and allowed them
to fully invest in the reality of the journey. “There was a great
feeling on board those ships of being sealed in a real moving vehicle,”
Nolan describes. “It was as if the sequence was playing out for real,
with the imagery outside the windows changing the way it should as the
characters fly towards it”.
Without the Earth’s gravity to hold them, the characters in
“Interstellar” also experience weightlessness in flight. Nolan had
previously tackled the illusion of zero G on “Inception,” and worked
with stunt coordinator George Cottle to advance the techniques they had
learned even further. For “Interstellar,” Cottle developed a combination
of rigs that would provide the director and cast with as much
flexibility and comfort as possible for the film’s many scenes of
To get a better understanding of motion in zero G, Cottle viewed
extensive footage of astronauts in weightless conditions in order to
engineer rigs that would emulate the buoyancy and action/reaction
patterns. From there, he and his stunt crew embarked on a months-long
R&D period to push the boundaries of what was possible on the sets. “We
tested various riggings with stunt guys and landed on a combination of
different rigs, starting with vertical rigs that would lower the actors
when everything on the set is upside down, and moving to smaller rigs
where we could manipulate them on wires. But Chris also wanted to
capture close-ups in tight, confined spaces,” he says.
For that, Cottle and special effects supervisor Scott Fisher utilized a
complex rig called the parallelogram—a harness attached to hip picks or
a belly pan that could be positioned on the actors to move them through
small spaces in the set through a controller-operated crane. The most
common operator at the wheel of the parallelogram was Nolan himself. “I
think Chris’s theory is that if he wants something to look a certain way
and he can do it himself, then it’s best for him just to do it,” Thomas
smiles. “So, yes, the actors were on a crazy rig that makes them float
through space, and Chris was the one pushing them.”
In the midst of filming on the glacier, the production had to batten
down in their hotel when a powerful storm blew through the region, with
wind so intense it ripped the asphalt from the streets. Anxious to check
on their sets, Nolan and Crowley braved the roads to head up to the
glacier. “But when we got out of the car, we literally couldn’t walk
because the wind was still so strong,” Crowley remembers.
Even so, the filmmaker—who is known for always coming in on or before
schedule—was loathe to lose the day. Thomas recalls, “Chris prides
himself on shooting in all weathers, and this was the first time we
actually had to stop because the wind was so dangerous. But Chris being
Chris, he didn’t want us to be sitting around twiddling our thumbs back
at the hotel, so he whisked us all out into the parking lot where we
shot some inserts.”
THE FINAL MIX
Love is the one thing that transcends time and space.
In the annals of science fiction cinema, rocket engines roar and ships
audibly clash in the vacuum of space, but with “Interstellar,” Nolan
found himself grappling instead with the absence of sound. “Sound
doesn’t travel in space, so using any sound effects to portray that
environment would betray the reality of it,” he notes.
Working to conceive the film’s soundscapes with sound designer and
supervising sound editor Richard King, Nolan soon found he could use the
all-encompassing silence to enhance the human dimension of the journey.
“Visually, we were able to emphasize the claustrophobia of the ships by
contrasting that contained environment with the vastness of space
outside the windows, and sound too can achieve that effect,” Nolan
reveals. “Every time you cut to these silences, there is a feeling of
all the air going out of the room. It’s a continual reminder that
outside these metal walls is a hostile alien environment, and if
anything goes wrong, it’s instant death. So, while it felt somewhat
radical to cut to total silence during a movie, it turned out to be
This contrast also found its way into the music, composed by Hans
Zimmer, making his fifth collaboration with Nolan. “There are times
where Hans goes very small and intimate with the music when you would
expect it to be big and bombastic, and vice versa,” Nolan affirms,
“which is a very natural way to draw the audience’s attention to the
scale of what they are looking at, and sometimes that comes with this
simple contrast between the human scale and the interstellar scale”.
Among the human notes in the film’s alternately grand and intimate score
is a short piece called “Day One,” which was inspired by Nolan’s highly
unusual proposition to the acclaimed composer. “Hans is a very important
part of my creative team, and in the case of this film, I asked him to
write the music before I even started re-writing the script,” Nolan
explains. “I kept him very much in the dark, even about what the genre
of the film was”.
The director followed his proposal with an envelope containing a brief,
typewritten scene. Zimmer remembers, “It was this beautiful fable about
a father and his relationship with his son, which resonated with me
because my own son doesn’t want to be a musician—he has big dreams to
become a scientist—so Chris was pushing all the right buttons for me.”
The composer sat down at a piano and tried to evoke the emotions he
experienced as a father. Not long after, Nolan came by to hear what he’d
come up with. Zimmer recalls, “I asked him what he thought, and he said,
‘Well, I suppose I had better make the movie now.’ It was only then that
he started describing this epic film, and I found it wasn’t a son but a
daughter. But, to him, this tiny, intimate piece about my true
experience with my son expressed the heart of the story. And, in shaping
the score, we found that the further the story drifts away from the
Earth, the more important it was to come back to that piece and stay
connected to those emotions”. Having spent nearly a decade plumbing the thematic depths of Nolan’s
films, the composer wanted to steer clear of any musical expressions
he’d explored in the past with the director, and invent a whole new
palette for “Interstellar.” “Chris and I approached the entire scoring
process as an adventure,” he says. “We were just going to go into it
with an open mind and see what happened. So I would not be true to the
story if I didn’t widen my gaze”.
Zimmer found a backbone for the score in the earthy yet elevating notes
of an organ, an instrument that he considers a triumph of human
invention. “There’s also something very human about the organ because it
needs to breathe,” he says. “On each note, you hear the breath of the
exhale, and at its height, there’s so much air being pushed into the
room that you feel it in your solar plexus and the windows start
rattling. So, while it’s a complicated piece of technology, it creates
sounds with a very primeval and dangerous quality.”
To ascend from its rich sounds, Zimmer conceived a chorus of handmade
instruments—woodwinds, strings, piano and brass—that, like the organ,
hark back to an age when things were built in an analog, mechanical way,
rather than generated digitally. The idea was to enlist gifted musicians
who could experiment with their instruments to emulate Earth sounds—a
constant reminder of everything Cooper is trying to save but stands to
The forum for these sounds would be the ultimate expression of
humanity’s reach from the earthly to the celestial: Temple Church, a
functioning 12th century church in the heart of London. “The whole point
of its architecture is to take you to other worlds, and we wanted to use
the quality of the space itself to take us on this journey.” From there,
Zimmer assembled an orchestra of world-class artists, and encouraged
them to personalize the music through their well-worn, often
Following a staggering 45 scoring sessions with Nolan, the music then
moved to the mixing stage, where the director worked with Zimmer, King
and supervising music editor Alex Gibson to harmonize the sounds with
the imagery. Nolan observes, “Hans started with the core emotions of the
story and expanded out from there, and I consider the results to be
among Hans’s finest work. It’s really an extraordinary score, and very
different from anything we’ve ever done together”.
For the composer, too, writing the music in reverse and letting the film
itself be the conductor was a revelation. “The music is forever looking
beyond the cornfields,” he says. “It’s looking beyond the predicament of
where the characters are, always within the context of love. At the
heart of Cooper’s story is the idea that the farther he goes to try to
save the world, the more his physical connection with his children is
broken, but his heart—his spiritual connection—gets stronger”.
After a long journey to realize the cinematic potential of Kip Thorne’s
scientific ideas, producer Lynda Obst confesses to bursting into tears
when Nolan screened the film for the first time. “Chris managed to weave
real science into the fabric of the storytelling, yet you understand all
of it because it’s expressed through the emotions of the characters,”
she marvels. “All of this while keeping you on the edge of your seat on
this rollercoaster ride through space”.
“Everything Chris does—and motivates everyone involved in our films to
do—is in service of making each film an entirely new experience for an
audience, and I believe never more so than with ‘Interstellar,’” adds
Emma Thomas. “For him, it’s a very personal story, but so many of its
facets touch on universal themes, from the love of family to the thrill
of exploration to what it means to be human”.
“There’s no one else out there who does things the way Christopher
does,” says Matthew McConaughey. “He has an original take on everything
and works by his instincts completely. I also believe that he’s
constantly letting his reach exceed his grasp. And when you see this
film, you’ll know it’s true because I think it’s by far the most
ambitious film that he has ever directed”.
For Nolan, that driving ambition was focused on a single goal. “I want
the audience to watch this story unfold on an enormous screen and be
transported,” he says. “On ‘Interstellar,’ I was fortunate to work with
an incredible cast and ingenious filmmaking partners. We were all united
in an endeavor to make every moment feel real because the thrill of
making a large-scale film about journeying through the stars is taking
the audience with us.”
ABOUT THE CAST
70mm premiere guests at Imperial Bio, Charlotte & Maria Hauerslev
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY (Cooper) is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after
leading men. A chance meeting in Austin with casting director and
producer Don Phillips led him to director Richard Linklater, who
launched the actor’s career in the cult classic “Dazed and Confused.”
Since then, he has appeared in over 40 feature films that have grossed
over $1 billion; and has become a producer, director, and philanthropist
– all the while sticking to his Texas roots and “jk livin’” [“just keep
2014 has been a game changing year for McConaughey. He made the move to
TV, starring alongside Woody Harrelson in the HBO dramatic series “True
Detective.” The show has been met by rave reviews from critics and fans
alike. He has also received numerous awards and accolades for the
critically acclaimed “Dallas Buyers Club.” McConaughey dropped 47 pounds
to play to role of AIDS-stricken Ron Woodruff. The film was directed by
Jean Marc Valle and also stars Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto. For his
riveting portrayal, McConaughey received an Academy Award, Golden Globe
Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and Gotham Award for Best Actor, the
Best Actor Award at the Rome Film Festival as well as the Desert Palm
Achievement Actor Award at the Palm Springs Film Festival.
In 2012, McConaughey was spotlighted in four diverse career-changing
performances. He won a Spirit Award for his portrayal of Dallas Rising
in Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike,” and was named the year’s Best
Supporting Actor by both the New York Film Critics Circle and the
National Society of Film Critics for his work in “Magic Mike” and
Richard Linklater’s “Bernie.” McConaughey also received acclaim for his
performance in Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy,” and was a Spirit Award
nominee for playing the title role in William Friedkin’s “Killer Joe”.
He followed this up in 2013 with the release of Jeff Nichols’ “Mud,”
which received rave reviews and was a sleeper hit in the national box
office top 10 for five weeks and Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall
Street,” which opened in December 2013.
His other films include Brad Furman’s “The Lincoln Lawyer,” Ben
Stiller’s “Tropic Thunder,” McG’s “We Are Marshall,” Jill and Karen
Sprecher’s “Thirteen Conversations About One Thing,” Bill Paxton’s
“Frailty,” Jonathan Mostow’s “U-571,” Ron Howard’s “EDtv,” Richard
Linklater’s “The Newton Boys,” Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad,” Robert
Zemeckis’ “Contact,” Joel Schumacher’s “A Time to Kill,” and John
Sayles’ “Lone Star”.
In 2008, McConaughey started The just keep livin Foundation
(www.jklivinfoundation.org), which is dedicated to helping boys and
girls transform into men and women through programs that teach the
importance of decision-making, health, education, and active living. The
Foundation has partnered with Communities in Schools (CIS)—the nation’s
largest non-profit dropout-prevention organization—in West Los Angeles
to implement fitness and wellness programs in two large urban high
schools. Through an afterschool program, they are able to give kids a
healthy start in life and the promise of a healthy future.
Academy Award winner ANNE HATHAWAY (Brand) most recently reprised the
voice of Jewel, an independent, high-flying blue macaw in Carlos
Saldanha’s animated film “Rio 2,” which also features voices from Jamie
Foxx and Jesse Eisenberg. The film was released on April 11, 2014 and is
a sequel to the blockbuster “Rio,” which garnered over $486 million
Hathaway completed production on writer/director Kate Barker-Froyland’s
feature debut “Song One,” alongside Mary Steenburgen. Hathaway is also a
producer on the film, which chronicles a young woman who strikes up a
relationship with her ailing brother’s favorite musician. The film
premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2014.
In 2012, she starred as “Fantine” in Tom Hooper’s screen adaptation of
musical phenomenon “Les Misérables,” opposite Hugh Jackman, Russell
Crowe, Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried. Hathaway’s performance
garnered Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA awards for lead actress.
Earlier that year, Hathaway starred as the ultimate femme fatale
“Catwoman” alongside Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, and Joseph
Gordon-Levitt in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” The film
was Nolan’s third and final chapter in the franchise and was both a
critical triumph and a smash box office hit.
In 2008, Hathaway starred in Jonathan Demme’s critically acclaimed
“Rachel Getting Married,” for which she was nominated for an Academy
Award, a Golden Globe, an Independent Spirit Award, and a SAG Award in
the “Best Actress” category. The National Board of Review, the Chicago
Film Critics Association, and the Broadcast Film Critics Association all
named Hathaway “Best Actress” for her performance in the film.
Her other recent film credits are Lone Scherfig’s “One Day,” based on
the novel written by David Nicholls; Ed Zwick’s “Love and Other Drugs,”
for which Hathaway received her second Golden Globe nomination; Tim
Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”; Garry Marshall’s “Valentine’s Day”;
“Bride Wars”; “Get Smart”; “Becoming Jane”; Rodrigo Garcia’s
“Passengers”; “The Devil Wears Prada,” opposite Meryl Streep; and Ang
Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain.” Her early career credits include Garry
Marshall’s “The Princess Diaries” and “The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal
Engagement”; “Havoc”; “Ella Enchanted”; “Nicholas Nickelby”; and “The
Other Side of Heaven.” Hathaway first gained Hollywood’s attention for
her turn in the television series “Get Real.” She has also lent her
vocal talents to animated films “Rio” and “Hoodwinked” in addition to
her vocal cameos on television series, including “The Simpsons,” for
which she received an Emmy Award.
Her theater credits include Shakespeare in the Park’s “Twelfth Night”
(2009); Andrew Lloyd Webber’s workshop of “Woman in White”; and “Forever
Your Child.” In 2004-2005, she also participated in the Encores Concert
Gala as well as the Stephen Sondheim Birthday Gala. She also appeared in
the Lincoln Center Encore series presentation of “Carnival,” for which
she won the prestigious 57th Annual Clarence Derwent Award.
As an actress, Hathaway studied at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New
Jersey, the Barrow Group in New York City, and at NYU’s Collaborative
Arts Projects “CAP 21” (where she focused on her musical theater
training). In April 2005, the award-winning Barrow Group honored
Hathaway for her achievements on behalf of the organization as the first
and only teen ever admitted to their intensive acting program.
Hathaway serves on the advisory board for Lollipop Theater Network,
which is an organization that screens movies in hospitals for pediatric
patients suffering from chronic or life-threatening illness. She also
recently began working with The Nike Foundation’s “Girl Effect”.
Hathaway currently resides in both Los Angeles and New York.
New York, USA, "Interstellar" 70mm premiere. Image by Dennis Furbush
Academy Award-nominated actress JESSICA CHASTAIN has emerged as one of
the most sought after actresses of her generation.
Following her whirlwind year in 2011, in which she received several
nominations and accolades for her work from the LA Film Critics, British
Academy of Film and TV, Broadcast Film Critics, HFPA, Screen Actors
Guild and the Academy, Chastain’s success has proven to be limitless
with her equally impressive career in 2012, where she was featured by
TIME Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World”.
Her performance in Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” garnered several
awards, including the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best
Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture
Drama, and her second consecutive Academy Award nomination for Best
Actress. In the film, Chastain stars as Maya, whose character was
inspired by a real CIA analyst who was instrumental in the hunt for
Osama bin Laden. “Zero Dark Thirty” earned several nominations,
including Best Film (among many others) for the NYT Critic Awards and
Independent Spirit awards.
Chastain also starred in the horror film “Mama,” directed by Andres Muschietti for Guillermo Del Toro’s production company, Toma 78.
Additionally, she starred as Maggie Beauford in The Weinstein Company’s
2012 film “Lawless,” opposite Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy. Chastain also
lent her voice to “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” as the character
of Gia the Jaguar. Chastain’s talent goes beyond the screen, as she also
made her Broadway debut in the stage classic “The Heiress”.
Chastain is currently in production on two films: A24’s “A Most Violent
Year,” opposite Oscar Isaac, set in 1981 New York City, a year that saw
one of the all-time highest rates of violent crime for the city, set for
release in Fall 2014; and Legendary Pictures’ “Crimson Peak,” directed
by Guillermo Del Toro, starring alongside Tom Hiddleston and Charlie
Hunnam, set for release in 2015.
Due for release in the coming year, Chastain also plays the starring
role in “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” opposite James McAvoy and
Viola Davis, written and directed by Ned Benson. She will also be
featured as the lead in the upcoming 2014 drama “Miss Julie,” a film
adaptation of August Strindberg’s play, directed by Liv Ullman.
In 2011, Chastain starred opposite Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in the
Academy Award nominated drama “Tree of Life,” written and directed by
Terrence Malick for River Road Productions. The film won the Palme d’Or
at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and the Chicago Film Critics award for
Also in 2011, she could be seen in Ami Mann’s feature film “Texas
Killing Fields,” opposite Sam Worthington and Chloe Grace Moretz;
Miramax’s “The Debt,” alongside Helen Mirren and Sam Worthington; as
Virgilia in the on screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy
“Coriolanus,” opposite Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler; and in Jeff
Nichols’s “Take Shelter,” opposite Michael Shannon, which won a plethora
of awards during the 2011 film festival circuit and received an
Independent Spirit Award nomination.
Chastain is best known for her role as Celia Foote, an insecure Southern
lady constantly trying to fit in with the high society women who reject
her, in Dreamworks’ Academy Award-nominated adaptation of the
best-selling Kathryn Stockett novel “The Help,” which won numerous
awards in 2011 including Chastain’s Oscar nomination for Best Supporting
Actress, Golden Globe nomination, Screen Actors Guild nomination and
Critics’ Choice nomination.
Born and raised in Northern California, Chastain attended the Juilliard
School in New York City. While there, she starred in “Romeo and Juliet”
and went on to receive glowing reviews for her performances in “The
Cherry Orchard,” opposite Michelle Williams at Williamstown, and Richard
Nelson’s “Rodney’s Wife,” opposite David Strathairn, off-Broadway at
Chastain returned to the stage in the Los Angeles Wadsworth Theatre
production of “Salome,” where Academy Award winners Estelle Parsons
(director) and Al Pacino handpicked Chastain to play the title role of
Salome opposite Pacino. Continuing the collaboration, producer Barry
Navidi commenced the film version of “Salome,” entitled “Wild Salome,”
directed by Al Pacino, for which they filmed behind the scenes and
portions of the play’s production.
This led to her landing the dynamic title role of “Jolene” in the Dan
Ireland-directed production, opposite Rupert Friend, Frances Fisher and
Dermot Mulroney. Chastain won the Best Actress Award at the 2008 Seattle
Film Festival for this role. She stayed on stage in 2009, playing the
role of Desdemona in the classic play “Othello,” opposite Phillip
Seymour Hoffman. Directed by Peter Sellars, the project ran beginning in
Vienna, then Germany and finished in New York.
format out door "Interstellar" advertising, two posters and a large TV
screen, Copenhagen Town Hall Sq.
BILL IRWIN (TARS) A Tony Award-winner for his role in “Who’s Afraid of
Virginia Woolf,” Bill Irwin has starred in many Broadway, Off-Broadway,
and regional stage productions, including “Show Boat”; “Old Hats”; “The
Goat or Who is Sylvia,” opposite Sally Field; “Waiting For Godot” with
Nathan Lane, for which Irwin was nominated in 2009 for a Drama Desk
Award; “The Tempest” opposite Patrick Stewart; “Texts for Nothing”;
Largely New York”; “The Regard of Flight”; “Garden of Earthly Delights”;
“Accidental Death of An Anarchist,” and the Tony Award-winning “Fool
Moon,” which he created with David Shiner. He was Playwright in
Residence for the 2003 Signature Theatre season.
On television, Irwin has recently appeared on “Law & Order SVU,”
“Elementary,” “Blue Bloods,” “Monday Mornings,” “CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation,” FX’s “Lights Out,” “The Good Wife” and “A Gifted Man.”
He has also appeared on “Saturday Night Live”; “The Tonight Show”; “The
Cosby Show”; “3rd Rock from the Sun”; HBO’s “Bette Midler Mondo
Beyondo”; CBS’s “Northern Exposure”; PBS’s “Great Performances”; and,
with great pride, on “Sesame Street,” as Mr. Noodle.
In addition to “Interstellar,” Irwin has appeared on screen in Jonathan
Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married”; Robert Altman’s “Popeye”; John Sayles’
“Eight Men Out”; Michael Hoffman’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; Ron
Howards’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”; Burr Steers’ “Igby Goes
Down”; M. Night Shyamalan’s “Lady in the Water”; “Dark Matter,” starring
Meryl Streep; Julia Stiles’s “Raving” (short film), starring Zooey
Deschanel; Julie Taymor’s “Across The Universe,” and Vera Farmiga’s
Irwin was an original member of Kraken, a theatre company directed by
Herbert Blau, and was also an original member of the Pickle Family
Circus of San Francisco. He has won many awards, including a National
Endowment for the Arts Choreographer’s Fellowship, a Guggenheim, a
Fulbright and a MacArthur Fellowship.
ELLEN BURSTYN’s illustrious 57-year acting career encompasses film,
stage and television. In 1975 she became only the third woman in history
to win both the Tony Award and the Academy Award in the same year, for
her work in Bernard Slade’s “Same Time, Next Year” on Broadway and in
Martin Scorsese’s “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” for which she also
received a Golden Globe nomination and a British Academy Award for Best
Actress. Burstyn has been nominated for an Academy Award five other
times, for “The Last Picture Show ” (1972), ”The Exorcist” (1974), “Same
Time, Next Year” (1979), “Resurrection” (1981) and “Requiem for a Dream”
(2000). She became a “triple crown winner” when she won her first Emmy
for a guest appearance in “Law & Order: SVU” (2009), to add to her Oscar
and Tony. She also recently won an Emmy for USA’s mini-series “Political
Burstyn’s many theater credits include the Broadway production of ’84
Charing Cross Road” (1982), the acclaimed one-woman play “Shirley
Valentine” (1989), as well as “Shimada” (1992), and “Sacrilege” (1995).
She starred off-Broadway with Burgess Meredith in “Park Your Car in
Harvard Yard” (1985). In the mid-‘90s, she starred in regional
productions of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful” and “Death of
Papa,” and Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” at Houston’s
Alley Theatre and at Hartford Stage in Connecticut. In 2008, she
received rave reviews in Stephen Adley Guirgis’s new play, “The Little
Flower of East Orange,” directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman at The
Public Theater in New York. She also performed in London’s West End in
Lillian Hellman’s “The Children’s Hour,” directed by Ian Rickson and
co-starring Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss.
Ellen Burstyn has worked with some of film’s most visionary directors,
from Martin Scorsese to Darren Aronofsky. She has appeared in films such
as “Goodbye, Charlie” (1964), ”Pit Stop” (1969), “Tropic of Cancer”
(1970), “Alex in Wonderland” (1970), “The Last Picture Show ” (1971),
“The King of Marvin Gardens” (1972), “The Exorcist” (1973), “Harry and
Tonto” (1974), “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” (1974), “Providence”
(1977), “A Dream of Passion” (1978), “Same Time, Next Year” (1978),
“Resurrection” (1980), “Silence of the North” (1981),” “The Ambassador”
(1984), “Twice in a Lifetime” (1985), “Hanna’s War” (1988), “Dying
Young” (1991), “Grand Isle” (1991), “The Cemetery Club” (1993), “The
Color of Evening” (1994), “When a Man Loves a Woman” (1994), “Roommates”
(1995), “The Baby-Sitters Club” (1995), “How to Make an American Quilt”
(1995), “The Spitfire Grill” (1996), “Deceiver” (1997), “You Can Thank
Me Later” (1998), “Playing By Heart” (1998), “Walking Across Egypt”
(1999), “The Yards” (2000), “Requiem for a Dream” (2000), “Divine
Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” (2002), “The Elephant King” (2006),
“The Wicker Man” (2006), “The Fountain” (2006), “The Stone Angel” (2007)
(for which she won the Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in
Canada), Oliver Stone’s “W” (2008), “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond”
(2008), “According to Greta” (2008), “The Mighty Macs” (2008), “Lovely,
Still” (2008), Horton Foote’s final screenplay, “Main Street” (2009),
“Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You” (2010), Sam Levinson’s
“Another Happy Day ” (2010) and Ivan Reitman’s “Draft Day ” (2014).
In television, Ellen won her first Emmy Award for her guest appearance
in “Law & Order: SVU” (2009), and received Emmy nominations for her
title role in “The People vs. Jean Harris” (1981), her starring role in
“Pack of Lies” (1987), a Hallmark Hall of Fame television production,
and for HBO’s “Big Love” (2008). She has appeared in many other
television movies, including “Surviving ” (1985), “Into Thin Air ”
(1985), “Something in Common” (1986), “When You Remember Me” (1990),
“Getting Gotti” (1994), “My Brother’s Keeper” (1995), “Timepiece”
(1996), “Within These Walls” (2001), “The Five People You Meet in
Heaven” (2004), “Our Fathers” (2005), Mitch Albom’s “For One More Day”
(2007), and “Flowers in the Attic” (2014). She has starred in three
television series, “The Ellen Burstyn Show” (1986), “That’s Life”
(2002-2003), and “The Book of Daniel” (2006).
In her early years known as Ellen McRae, she was cast in numerous
television episodes including “Surfside 6” (1961), “The Dick Powell Show
” (1961), “Ben Casey” (1962), “Perry Mason” (1962), “Laramie” (1963),
“Wagon Train” (1963), “Kraft Suspense Theater” (1964), “The Doctors”
(1964-65), “The Iron Horse” (1967-68), “The Virginian” (1969), and
“Gunsmoke” (1962-71), and was a regular as a Glee Girl on the “Jackie
Burstyn was the first woman elected president of Actors Equity
Association (1982-85), and served as the Artistic Director of the famed
Actors Studio where she studied with the late Lee Strasberg. She
continues to be active there as co-president with Al Pacino and Harvey
Keitel, and again is serving as the Artistic Director.
Academically, Burstyn holds four honorary doctorates, one in Fine Arts
from the School of Visual Arts, a Doctor of Humane Letters from Dowling
College, a doctorate from The New School for Social Research, and a
doctorate from Pace University. Burstyn lectures throughout the country
on a wide range of topics, and became a national best-selling author
with the publication of her memoir, Lessons in Becoming Myself (2006),
published by Riverhead Press.
FOY (Murph) is quickly emerging as one of Hollywood’s most exciting young
actresses. With a breakout role in the one of the biggest movie franchises
of all time, Mackenzie’s body of work continues to evolve with exciting and
challenging projects. Foy starred in Summit Entertainment’s “The Twilight
Saga: Breaking Dawn,” directed by Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls,” “Kinsey”). She
plays Renesmee, the half-vampire daughter of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart)
and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), whom they must protect from the evil
Volturi. Foy lends her voice talents to a variety of animated feature films.
She voices in upcoming film Paramount film “The Little Prince” along with
Rachael McAdams, James Franco and Marion Cotillard. She also voices
Celestine in the English version of Oscar-nominated French film “Ernest &
Celestine,” a sweet story of an unlikely friendship between a bear, Ernest
(voiced by Forest Whitaker), and a young mouse named Celestine. She also
voices a character in Boxcar Children. Her other film credits include the
upcoming indie “Wish You Well,” about a young girl and her brother who come
of age at their great grandmother’s house in Virginia during the 1940s.
Ellen Burstyn plays the grandmother. Foy’s additional film credits include
the thriller “The Conjuring,” opposite Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga,
directed by James Wan, about real life Paranormal investigators Ed and
Lorraine Warren’s work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in
their farmhouse; and “Plastic Jesus,” written by Bryan Bertino and directed
by Erica Dunton. Based on true events, this coming-of-age story is based on
a young girl and her older brother, struggling to cope with their mother’s
illness. Foy made her television debut when she was eight-years-old on the
Fox sitcom “Til Death” and has guest starred on “Hawaii Five-O” and the
season finale of “R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour,” a fantasy-horror
anthology series, similar to the TV series “Goosebumps”. Foy began her
career at the age of three in commercials and print, starring in national
spots for Pantene, Mattel, Burger King, and fashion campaigns for Gap, Ralph
Lauren, Guess, J.Crew, H&M, and Estee Lauder, among others. In addition to
acting, Mackenzie enjoys drawing, is a black belt in tae kwon do, and
roller-skating. Foy currently resides with her family in Southern
JOHN LITHGOW’s (Donald) roots are in the theater. In 1973, he won a Tony
Award three weeks after his Broadway debut, in David Storey’s “The
Changing Room.” Since then, he has appeared on Broadway 20 more times,
earning another Tony, four more Tony nominations, four Drama Desk
Awards, and induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Ensuing stage
performances have included major roles in “My Fat Friend,” “Trelawney of
the “Wells,” “Comedians,” “Anna Christie,” “Bedroom Farce,” “Beyond
Therapy,” “M. Butterfly,” “The Front Page,” “Retreat from Moscow,” “All
My Sons,” the Off-Broadway premieres of “Mrs. Farnsworth” and “Mr. and
Mrs. Fitch,” and the musicals “Sweet Smell of Success” (his second
Tony), and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”.
In 2007 he was one of the very few American actors ever invited to join
The Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Malvolio in “Twelfth Night” at
Stratford-upon-Avon. In 2008, he devised his own one-man show “Stories
by Heart” for The Lincoln Center Theater Company, and has been touring
it around the country ever since, including a triumphant six-week run at
The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. He was most recently seen on
Broadway in David Auburn’s new drama “The Columnist,” in which Lithgow
portrayed famed Washington political columnist Joseph Alsop, a
performance which earned Lithgow his sixth Tony nomination. Last year,
he finished a wonderfully received four-month stint at London’s National
Theatre playing the title role in Arthur Wing Pinero’s “The Magistrate.”
Lithgow will return to the New York stage this summer as the title role
in “King Lear” for The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park which reunites
him with director Daniel Sullivan.
In the early 1980s Lithgow began to make a major mark in films. At that
time, he was nominated for Oscars in back-to-back years, for “The World
According to Garp” and “Terms of Endearment.” In the years before and
after, he has appeared in over 30 films. Notable among them have been
“All That Jazz,” “Blow Out,” “Twilight Zone: the Movie,” “Footloose,”
“2010,” “Buckaroo Banzai,” “Harry and the Hendersons,” “Memphis Belle,”
“Raising Cain,” “Ricochet,” “Cliffhanger,” “Orange County,” “Shrek,”
“Kinsey,” and a flashy cameo in “Dreamgirls.” Lithgow’s most recent
films include “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”; the political comedy
“The Campaign,” starring Will Ferrell; and Judd Apatow’s “This is 40.”
Up next for Lithgow on the big screen are “The Homesman,” written and
directed by Tommy Lee Jones; “The Good Dinosaur” for Disney’s Pixar;
and, in August, Ira Sachs’s “Love is Strange,” alongside Alfred Molina,
which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews.
For his work on television, Lithgow has been nominated for eleven Emmy
Awards. He has won five of them, one for an episode of “Amazing
Stories,” and three for what is perhaps his most celebrated creation.
This was the loopy character of the alien High Commander, Dick Solomon,
on the hit NBC comedy series “3rd Rock from the Sun.” In that show’s
six-year run, Lithgow also won the Golden Globe, two SAG Awards, The
American Comedy Award, and, when it finally went off the air, a Star on
the Hollywood Walk of Fame. More recently, his diabolical turn as The
Trinity Killer in a twelve-episode arc on Showtime’s “Dexter” won him
his second Golden Globe and his fifth Emmy.
His other major appearances on television have included roles in “The
Day After,” “Resting Place,” “Baby Girl Scott,” “My Brother’s Keeper,”
TNT’s “Don Quixote,” HBO’s “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” “Once
Upon a Time in Wonderland” as the voice of The White Rabbit and “How I
Met Your Mother,” making a long-awaited entrance as the father of Barney
Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris).
And then there is Lithgow’s work for children. Since 1998, he has
written nine New York Times best-selling children’s picture books,
including The Remarkable Farkle McBride, Marsupial Sue, Micawber, I’m a
Manatee, Mahalia Mouse Goes to College, I Got Two Dogs and his most
recent book, Never Play Music Right Next To The Zoo. In addition, he has
created two Lithgow Palooza family activity books and The Poets’ Corner
for Warner Books, a compilation of 50 classic poems aimed at young
people, to stir an early interest in poetry. He has performed concerts
for children with the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Baltimore, and San
Diego Symphonies, and at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
He has released three kids’ albums, “Singin’ in the Bathtub,” “Farkle &
Friends,” and the Grammy-nominated “The Sunny Side of the Street.” These
concerts and albums have included several his of own songs and rhyming
narrations. Together, this prodigious work has won him two Parents’
Choice Silver Honor Awards, and four Grammy nominations.
Lithgow has even dipped his toe into the world of dance. In 2003, the
noted choreographer Christopher Wheeldon invited him to collaborate on a
new piece for the New York City Ballet. The result was “Carnival of the
Animals,” a ballet for fifty dancers, with music by Camille Saint-Saens
and with Lithgow’s verse narration. Lithgow himself spoke the narration
from the stage. At a certain point he ducked into the wings, climbed
into costume, and re-emerged to dance the role of The Elephant. He has
performed this feat over twenty times.
In 2011, Harper Collins released Lithgow’s memoir Drama: An Actor’s
Education. The book presents scenes of his early life and career that
took place before he became a nationally known star. It vividly portrays
the worlds of New York, London, and American regional theater, and
relives his collaborations with renowned performers and directors
including Mike Nichols, Bob Fosse, Liv Ullmann, Meryl Streep, and Brian
De Palma. Lithgow’s ruminations on the nature of theatre, performance,
and storytelling cut to the heart of why actors are driven to perform,
and why people are driven to watch them do it.
Lithgow was born in Rochester, New York, but grew up in Ohio, graduated
from high school in Princeton, New Jersey, attended Harvard College, and
used a Fulbright Grant to study at the London Academy of Music &
Dramatic Art. This year, Lithgow was honored as a Fulbright Lifetime
Achievement Medal recipient and was inducted into The American Academy
of Arts and Sciences. In 2005, he was presented with an Honorary
Doctorate of Humane Letters by Harvard and became the first actor in
Harvard’s history to deliver the school’s Commencement Address.
Lithgow has three grown children, two grandchildren, and lives in Los
Angeles and New York. He has been married for over thirty years to Mary
Yeager, a Professor of Economic and Business History at UCLA.
TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET (Tom) starred as Finn Walden in the acclaimed Showtime
series “Homeland,” opposite Damian Lewis and Claire Danes.
On the big screen, he will next be seen in Jason Reitman’s upcoming
feature “Men, Women and Children.”
WES BENTLEY (Doyle) is an American actor who first became well known for
his role in the Oscar-winning film “American Beauty,” in which he played
the soulful, artistic next-door neighbor of Angela (Mena Suvari), Ricky
Fitts. He also portrayed gamemaker Seneca Crane in “The Hunger Games,”
and co-starred in “Lovelace” as photographer Thomas.
Born September 4, 1978, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, Bentley participated in
drama club and cultivated a specific interest in improvisational comedy
while attending Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood, Arkansas, and
founded an improv troupe with his brother, Patrick Bentley, and friends
Damien Bunting and Josh Cowdery. At his mother’s urging, Bentley
attended Juilliard School in New York after high school graduation, but
only for a short period of time. Soon afterward, Bentley made his
onscreen debut in Jonathan Demme’s “Beloved.” Bentley’s other film
credits include “The Four Feathers,” “P2,” “Ghost Rider,” “Dolan’s
Cadillac,” and “There Be Dragons,” by director Roland Joffe.
In 2010, Bentley made his professional stage debut with Nina Arianda in
David Ives’s award-winning play “Venus In Fur”.
Bentley has recently wrapped the following independent features:
Terrence Malick’s “Knight of Cups,” with Cate Blanchett and Christian
Bale; “Welcome To Me,” opposite Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell; and
“Unconscious,” with Kate Bosworth, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance
Bentley makes his home in Los Angeles with his son Charles and wife
TOPHER GRACE (Getty) who was a weekly fixture in homes across America on
the hit comedy series “That ‘70s Show,” seamlessly transitioned from the
small screen to the big screen. In 2004, he was honored with
Breakthrough Acting Awards by both the National Board of Review and the
New York Online Film Critics for his roles in Paul Weitz’s “In Good
Company,” starring opposite Dennis Quaid and Scarlett Johansson, and
Dylan Kidd’s “P.S.,” with Laura Linney.
Grace’s major breakthrough in film came with his debut role in Steven
Soderbergh’s Oscar nominated “Traffic,” which he followed up with
memorable cameos in Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Ocean’s Twelve.”
Grace’s additional films include “Spiderman 3,” “Valentine’s Day,”
“Predators,” “Mona Lisa’s Smile,” and “Win a Date with Ted Hamilton”.
Grace went on to work with Curtis Hanson on his Emmy-nominated HBO
feature “Too Big to Fail”; in the independent romantic comedy “The Giant
Mechanical Man,” opposite Jenna Fischer and Malin Akerman; “The Double,”
opposite Richard Gere; and “The Big Wedding,” opposite, Robert De Niro,
Diane Keaton, and Amanda Seyfried.
Grace made his producorial debut along with Imagine Entertainment on the
feature “Take Me Home Tonight,” in which he starred opposite Anna Faris
and Teresa Palmer. He then worked with director Drake Doremus on the
experimental film, “The Beauty Inside,” opposite Mary Elizabeth
Grace recently made his off-Broadway debut starring in Paul Weitz’s
“Lonely I’m Not,” opposite Olivia Thirlby, receiving great acclaim. He
will next be seen in “A Many Splintered Thing,” an offbeat romantic
comedy in which he stars opposite Chris Evans, Michelle Monaghan and
Next year, Grace will be seen starring in the supernatural thriller
“Home” for producer Leonardo DiCaprio. Grace is currently in production
on Lionsgate’s “American Ultra,” opposite Jessie Eisenberg and Kristin
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MICHAEL CAINE (Professor Brand) is a two-time Academy Award winner, who
won his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Woody
Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters,” for which he also received Golden
Globe and BAFTA Award nominations. He took home his second Best
Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Lasse Hallström’s “The Cider
House Rules,” also winning a Screen Actors Guild Award and earning
Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations.
Caine has garnered four Oscar nominations for Best Actor, the first
coming in 1966 for the title role in “Alfie,” for which he also received
a Golden Globe nomination and a New York Film Critics Award. He earned
his second Oscar nod, as well as a Golden Globe nomination and an
Evening Standard Award, for the part of Milo Tindle in 1972’s “Sleuth,”
opposite Laurence Olivier. His role in “Educating Rita” brought him his
third Oscar nomination, as well as Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards. He
gained his latest Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations for
his work in 2002’s “The Quiet American,” for which he also won a London
Film Critics Circle Award.
Caine previously won Golden Globe and London Film Critics Circle Awards
and received a BAFTA Award nomination, all for Best Supporting Actor,
for “Little Voice.” He won his latest London Film Critics Circle Award
for his performance in Christopher Nolan’s period drama “The Prestige.”
It was his second film for the director following their collaboration on
the 2005 hit “Batman Begins,” in which Caine played Bruce
Wayne’s butler and confidant, Alfred. In 2008 and 2012, he reprised the role
of Alfred in Nolan’s blockbusters “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight
In 2012, he also completed working with director Sandra Nettleback on
“Mr. Morgan’s Last Love,” based on the novel “La Douceur Assassine” by
Francoise Dorner. He most recently completed working on Louis
Leterrier’s “Now You See Me,” with Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Jesse
Eisenberg, and Woody Harrelson.
Caine was born Maurice Micklewhite in South London in 1933 and developed
an interest in acting at an early age. Upon his discharge from the
Queen’s Royal Regiment and Royal Fusiliers in 1953, he began pursuing
his career. Taking his stage name from the title “The Caine Mutiny,” he
toured Britain in a variety of plays and began appearing in British
films and television shows.
In 1964, Caine landed his first major film role as Lieutenant Gonville
Bromhead in “Zulu.” The following year, he starred in the hit thriller
“The Ipcress File,” earning his first of 37 BAFTA Award nominations for
his portrayal of secret agent Harry Palmer. However, it was his
Oscar-nominated performance in the seminal sixties film “Alfie” that
catapulted Caine to international stardom. During the late 1960s, he
went on to star in 11 films, including “The Ipcress File” sequels,
“Funeral in Berlin” and “Billion Dollar Brain”; “Gambit,” earning a
Golden Globe nomination; “Hurry Sundown”; “Woman Times Seven”;
“Deadfall”; “The Magus”; “The Italian Job”; and “Battle of Britain.”
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Over the next two decades, Caine starred in more than 40 films,
including Robert Aldrich’s “Too Late the Hero”; “X, Y and Zee,” opposite
Elizabeth Taylor; John Huston’s “The Man Who Would Be King”; “Harry and
Walter Go to New York”; Richard Attenborough’s “A Bridge Too Far”; the
Neil Simon comedy “California Suite”; Brian De Palma’s “Dressed to
Kill”; John Huston’s “Victory”; Sidney Lumet’s “Deathtrap”; Stanley
Donen’s “Blame It on Rio”; John Frankenheimer’s “The Holcroft Covenant”;
Neil Jordan’s “Mona Lisa”; and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” for which he
received a Golden Globe nomination.
Since then, Caine has starred in such films as “Blood and Wine,”
“Quills,” “Miss Congeniality,” and “Austin Powers: Goldmember,” Gore
Verbinski’s “The Weather Man,” Alfonso Cuaron’s “Children of Men,” the
title role in the independent film “Harry Brown,” and reuniting with
Christopher Nolan in 2010’s smash hit “Inception.” He lent his voice to
Lord Redbrick in “Gnomeo & Juliet” and also appears in “Journey 2:
Mysterious Island” for New Line/Warner Bros.
Also an author, Caine wrote an autobiography entitled “What’s It All
About?” as well as “Acting on Film,” a book based on a series of
lectures he gave on BBC Television. His latest memoir, “The Elephant to
Hollywood,” was published to much acclaim in 2010 by Henry Holt and Co.
in the United States.
In the 1992 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Caine was awarded the Commander of
the Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.), and eight years later he
received a knighthood.
Caine’s upcoming film work includes Matthew Vaughn’s “Secret Service,”
and the American Thriller “Eliza Graves,” based on the short story by
Edgar Allan Poe. Caine is currently filming Oscar-winning filmmaker
Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Youth.”
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
NOLAN (Director) and
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CHRISTOPHER NOLAN (Director/Writer/Producer) is an award-winning
filmmaker who has been honored for his work as a director, writer and
producer. Nolan and his wife and producing partner, Emma Thomas, also
helm their own production company, Syncopy.
Nolan wrote, directed and produced “The Dark Knight Rises,” the
conclusion to his blockbuster trilogy, which began in 2005 with “Batman
Begins,” starring Christian Bale in the title role. Three years later,
Nolan directed, co-wrote, and produced “The Dark Knight,” which went on
to gross more than a billion dollars at the global box office and
received worldwide critical acclaim. In addition, Nolan was nominated
for a Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award, Writers Guild of America
(WGA) Award and Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award for his work on
the film, which also received eight Oscar® nominations. In bringing the
story to a close, 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises” earned more than one
billion dollars worldwide. Nolan also served as a producer on the
Superman film series reboot “Man of Steel,” directed by Zack Snyder,
released in June 2013.
In 2010, Nolan captivated critics and audiences with the acclaimed
sci-fi thriller “Inception,” which he directed and produced from his own
original screenplay. The thought-provoking drama was a worldwide hit,
earning more than $800 million dollars and becoming one of the most
talked-about films of the year. Among its many honors, “Inception” won
four Academy Awards® and received four more Oscar® nominations,
including two for Nolan, for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Nolan was
also recognized by his peers with DGA and PGA Award nominations, and won
a WGA Award for best original screenplay.
Born in London, Nolan began making movies at an early age with his
father’s Super-8mm camera. While studying English Literature at
University College London (UCL), he shot 16mm films at UCL’s film
society, where he learned the guerrilla film techniques he would later
use to make his first feature, “Following.” The noir thriller was
recognized at a number of international film festivals prior to its
Nolan’s second film was the independent feature “Memento,” which he
directed from his own screenplay, based on a short story by Jonathan
Nolan. Starring Guy Pearce, the film brought Nolan numerous honors,
including Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best
Original Screenplay; Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director and
Best Screenplay; and a DGA Award nomination. Nolan went on to direct the
critically acclaimed psychological thriller “Insomnia,” starring Oscar®
winners Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank; and directed,
co-wrote and produced the mystery thriller “The Prestige,” starring
Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman.
EMMA THOMAS (Producer) has produced a wide range of successful and
critically acclaimed films. Together with her husband, Christopher
Nolan, she also heads up their own production company, Syncopy.
Thomas recently concluded her producing work on Nolan’s Dark Knight film
franchise with “The Dark Knight Rises,” which took in more than a
billion dollars at the worldwide box office. She had earlier produced
the 2005 hit “Batman Begins,” followed by 2008’s “The Dark Knight,”
which shattered box-office records on its way to grossing more than one
billion dollars worldwide. Thomas was honored with her first Producers
Guild of America (PGA) Award nomination for her work on the film. “The
Dark Knight” also received eight Academy Award® nominations, winning
four, and nine BAFTA Award nominations, among its honors.
In 2010, Thomas received an Oscar® nomination as a producer on the
widely acclaimed sci-fi thriller “Inception,” which was written and
directed by Christopher Nolan. Earning more than $800 million dollars at
the worldwide box office, the film garnered numerous honors, receiving
four Academy Awards® and four more Oscar® nominations, as well as four
Golden Globe nominations and nine BAFTA Award nominations, all including
Best Picture. Thomas also received a PGA Award nomination.
Thomas studied at the prestigious University College London before
beginning her career at Working Title Films in physical production.. In
1996, she produced the independent feature “Following”; shot on a
shoestring budget and on weekends over the course of a year, the noir
thriller captured the art of guerilla filmmaking at its best. Prior to
its release, the film went on to gain recognition at film festivals
around the world and received international distribution.
Thomas then served as an associate producer on the internationally
acclaimed independent film “Memento.” The film went on to win a number
of awards, including an Independent Spirit Award, a British Independent
Film Award, and several critics groups’ awards for Best Film. On the
heels of this success, Thomas co-produced her first major studio
release, the hit psychological thriller “Insomnia,” starring Oscar®
winners Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank.
Thomas also produced “The Prestige,” starring Christian Bale and Hugh
Jackman as two magicians whose jealous obsessions lead to tragedy and
murder. The Christopher Nolan-directed film earned two Academy Award®
nominations, for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography.
LYNDA OBST (Producer) is a film & television producer who has made such
films as: “Adventures in Babysitting,” “The Fisher King,” “Sleepless in
Seattle,” “The Siege,” “One Fine Day,” “Hope Floats,” “Contact” and “How
to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” among others. Obst executive produced NBC’s
Emmy nominated miniseries “The 60’s,” and is currently an executive
producer on TVLAND’s “Hot in Cleveland” and SyFy’s
As an author, Obst wrote the best-selling book “Hello He Lied: And Other
Truths from the Hollywood Trenches,” and recently released her second
book about the entertainment industry, “Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales
from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business,” an LA Times bestseller,
published by Simon & Schuster. She has written on industry issues,
gender issues and politics for Atlantic.com, Huffington Post, Vanity
Fair, Harpers, L.A. Times, and New York Magazine, among others.
Obst grew up in suburban New York, received her Bachelor’s degree from
Pomona College, and studied Philosophy in the graduate program at
Columbia University. After Columbia, she began her film and journalism
career as the editor/author of The Rolling Stone History of the Sixties.
After that, she became an editor at New York Times Magazine, where she
covered such diverse topics as science, philosophy, and publishing.
Obst was recruited to Hollywood by Peter Guber, for whom she developed
“Flashdance,” “Clue” and “Contact.” In 1982, she joined The Geffen
Company, where she was mentored by David Geffen and worked on “Risky
Business” and “After Hours.” Thereafter, she left to partner with
producer Debra Hill, forming Hill/Obst Productions at Paramount
Pictures. They soon made the iconic teen pic “Adventures in
Babysitting,” and went on to produce Terry Gilliam’s Oscar-nominated
“The Fisher King,” starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges.
Obst began her solo-producing career in 1989, with a deal at Columbia
Pictures where she produced Nora Ephron’s directing debut, “This Is My
Life,” and executive produced Ephron’s second film, “Sleepless in
Seattle.” Obst then moved to Fox, where she produced “The Siege,”
starring Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis and Annette Bening; “Hope
Floats,” starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr.; “One Fine Day,”
starring Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney; and “Someone Like You,”
starring Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman.
One of the projects that Obst first developed came to fruition in 1997,
when she executive produced “Contact,” directed by Robert Zemeckis and
starring Jodie Foster. Obst then moved back to Paramount Pictures, where
she produced such films as “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” starring Kate
Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, and “Abandon” the directing debut of
Academy-Award® winner Stephen Gaghan. She didn’t limit herself to the
big screen. She also executive produced NBC’s Emmy nominated, two-part
miniseries “The 60s,” which broke ratings records and featured a
best-selling soundtrack. Her latest feature was the release of Ricky
Gervais/Matthew Robinson’s directorial debut “The Invention of Lying,”
starring Gervais and Jennifer Garner. Obst has since added a television
division to her company.
Obst is currently producing both film and television projects out of her
office at Sony Pictures.
JONATHAN NOLAN (Writer) earned an Academy Award nomination for Best
Original Screenplay for the acclaimed noir drama “Memento,” which was
based on his intriguing short story “Memento Mori” and also marked his
first feature film writing credit. The Oscar nomination was shared with
his brother, Christopher Nolan, who also directed the feature.
The brothers subsequently teamed on the screenplay for the mystery
thriller “The Prestige,” about a bitter rivalry between two magicians
with tragic consequences. Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Scarlett
Johansson starred in the film, under Christopher Nolan’s direction.
In 2008, Jonathan Nolan collaborated with Christopher Nolan on the
screenplay for the blockbuster “The Dark Knight,” for which they
received a Writers Guild of America Award nomination. He then teamed
with Christopher Nolan on the screenplay for “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“Interstellar” marks their fifth collaboration.
For television, Nolan created the hit drama “Person of Interest,”
starring Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson. The show is in its fourth
season on CBS.
Most recently, Nolan directed the pilot “Westworld” for HBO. Based on
the film by Michael Crichton and co-written with his wife, Lisa Joy, the
project stars Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, and Ed
Harris. Nolan and Joy also serve as executive producers alongside J.J.
Nolan was born in London and grew up in the Chicago area. He currently
lives in Los Angeles with his family.
JORDAN GOLDBERG (Executive Producer) had the good fortune of being
introduced to Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas after attending
Georgetown University with writer Jonathan Nolan.
Goldberg earned his first production credit as Christopher Nolan’s
assistant on “Batman Begins” and was eventually promoted to associate
producer on “The Prestige” and “The Dark Knight.” Prior to
“Interstellar,” Goldberg served as co-producer on “The Dark Knight
Rises” and the Oscar-nominated “Inception.”
JAKE MYERS (Executive Producer) is currently an executive producer on
“Mission: Impossible 5,” starring Tom Cruise and directed by Christopher
McQuarrie. He previously was an executive producer on McQuarrie’s “Jack
Reacher,” also starring Cruise.
Myers’s prior films as an executive producer include “Red” and “Red 2,”
“Man on a Ledge,” “Hollywoodland,” and Mikael Hafstrom’s “1408.” He also
produced Hafstrom’s “Shanghai.” In addition, Myers was a
co-producer on Terry Gilliam’s “The Brothers Grimm,” “Brooklyn Babylon” and
His credits as a production executive at Miramax Films and Dimension
Films include “The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lave Girl in 3-D,”
“Derailed,” “The Prophecy: Uprising,” “Dracula II: Ascension” and
“Dracula III: Legacy,” “Ella Enchanted,” “Mimic: Sentinel,” “Chicago,”
“Darkness,” “Halloween: Resurrection,” and “Dirty Pretty Things.”
KIP THORNE (Executive Producer) is a theoretical physicist who advised
the filmmakers of “Interstellar” on the dazzling science that underpins
the film. His collaboration with Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan,
Lynda Obst and visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin to create a
cinematic adventure on a foundation of solid science inspired Thorne to
author a companion book, titled The Science of Interstellar, which will
be released by W. W. Norton & Company on November 7, 2014, simultaneous
with the film.
Born in Logan Utah in 1940, Thorne received his B.S. degree from Caltech
in 1962 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1965. He returned to
Caltech as an Associate professor in 1967 and became Professor of
Theoretical Physics in 1970, The William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor in
1981, The Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics in 1991, and The
Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus, in 2009. Thorne’s
research has focused on Einstein’s general theory of relativity and on
astrophysics, with emphasis on relativistic stars, black holes and
especially gravitational waves. He was cofounder (with R. Weiss and
R.W.P. Drever) of the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave
Observatory) Project, with which he is still associated.
Thorne was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1972,
the National Academy of Sciences in 1973, and the Russian Academy of
Sciences and the American Philosophical Society in 1999. He has been
awarded the Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, the Karl
Schwarzschild Medal of the German Astronomical Society, the Albert
Einstein Medal of the Albert Einstein Society in Berne, Switzerland, the
UNESCO Niels Bohr Gold Medal from UNESCO, and the Common Wealth Award
for Science, and was named California Scientist of the Year in 2004.
For his book for nonscientists, Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s
Outrageous Legacy (Norton Publishers 1994), Thorne was awarded the
American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, the Phi Beta Kappa
Science Writing Award, and the (Russian) Priroda Readers’ Choice Award.
In 1973 Thorne coauthored the textbook Gravitation, from which most of
the present generation of scientists have learned general relativity
theory. Fifty-two physicists have received the PhD at Caltech under
Thorne’s personal mentorship.
In 2009, Thorne stepped down from his Feynman Professorship at Caltech
in order to ramp up a new career in writing, movies and continued
scientific research. His current writing focus is a textbook on
classical physics coauthored with Roger Blandford. His current research
is on the nonlinear dynamics of curved spacetime.
THOMAS TULL (Executive Producer), chairman and CEO of Legendary
Pictures, has achieved great success in the co-production and
co-financing of event movies. Since its inception in 2004, Legendary
Pictures, the film division of leading media company Legendary
Entertainment that also has television and digital and comics divisions,
has teamed with Warner Bros. Pictures on a wide range of theatrical
The many recent hits released under their joint banner include Zack
Snyder’s worldwide hit “Man of Steel” and Christopher Nolan’s
blockbuster “Dark Knight” trilogy, which kicked off with “Batman
Begins,” followed by the blockbusters “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark
Knight Rises.” The trilogy earned more than $1 billion at the global box
office. This highly successful partnership also produced such films as
Snyder’s “300” and “Watchmen” and “300: Rise of an Empire,” which Snyder
produced; Ben Affleck’s “The Town”; Nolan’s award-winning action-drama
“Inception”; the worldwide hit “Clash of the Titans” and its sequel, “Wrath
of the Titans”; and Todd Phillips’ “The Hangover,” “The Hangover Part II,”
which is the highest-grossing “R”-rated comedy of all time, and “The
Hangover Part III”.
Legendary recently released “As Above/So Below,” “Godzilla,” Guillermo
del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” and Brian Helgeland’s hit drama “42,” the story
of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Legendary is in postproduction on
“Warcraft,” based on Blizzard Entertainment’s award-winning gaming
Tull serves on the board of directors of Hamilton College, his alma
mater, and Carnegie Mellon University. He also serves on the boards of
the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the San Diego Zoo, and
is part of the ownership group of the six-time Super Bowl champion
Pittsburgh Steelers, for which he also holds a board seat. Tull invests
in digital, media and lifestyle businesses through his Tull Media
Ventures, a privately held venture fund.
HOYTE VAN HOYTEMA (Director of Photography) is an award-winning
cinematographer. A native of The Netherlands, van Hoytema began his
career studying at the esteemed Polish National Filmschool in Lodz,
where he then went on to shoot several films, commercials, documentaries
and TV series in Sweden, Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom.
In 2008, van Hoytema’s cinematography of Tomas Alfredson’s critical
masterpiece “Let the Right One In” earned him several awards and the
attention of world-renowned filmmakers. David O. Russell hired van
Hoytema to shoot his 2010 film “The Fighter.” The following year, van
Hoytema re-teamed with Alfredson on “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” for
which he was nominated for both the American Society of Cinematographers
(ASC) and BAFTA awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography. He
then shot Spike Jonze’s futuristic love story “Her” in 2013.
Van Hoytema is currently in prep on “Bond 24” for Sam Mendes.
NATHAN CROWLEY (Production Designer) earned Academy Award nominations
for his design work on the period drama “The Prestige” and the
blockbuster “The Dark Knight,” for which he also received a BAFTA Award
nomination. He previously received a BAFTA Award nomination for “Batman
Begins.” In addition, Crowley garnered an Art Directors Guild (ADG)
Award for “The Dark Knight,” as well as nominations for “The Dark Knight
Rises,” “Batman Begins” and “The Prestige.” He first teamed with Nolan
on the director’s crime thriller “Insomnia,” starring Al Pacino, Robin
Williams and Hilary Swank.
Crowley received another ADG Award nomination for his design work on
Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies.” His additional film credits include the
sci-fi adventure “John Carter”; the romantic drama “The Lake House”; the
biopic “Veronica Guerin,” directed by Joel Schumacher; the war drama “Behind
Enemy Lines”; and Barry Levinson’s Ireland-set comedy “An Everlasting
He previously served as an art director on such films as “Mission:
Impossible II,” directed by John Woo; Richard Donner’s “Assassins”; Alan
J. Pakula’s “The Devil’s Own”; and “Braveheart,” directed by and
starring Mel Gibson.
In addition to his film work, Crowley was the production designer on the
BBC television series “The Ambassador.”
LEE SMITH (Editor) earned Academy Award, BAFTA Award and Eddie Award
nominations for his work on Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight,” and,
more recently, a BAFTA Award nomination for his work on Nolan’s
“Inception.” He and Nolan also collaborated on “Batman Begins” and “The Dark
Knight Rises,” as well as “The Prestige”.
Smith has also enjoyed a long association with director Peter Weir,
earning an Academy Award nomination for his editing work on Weir’s
“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” for which he also
received an Eddie Award nomination. Smith most recently reunited with
Weir for the fact-based drama “The Way Back.” Smith had earlier served
as editor and sound designer on Weir’s “The Truman Show,” “Fearless” and
“Green Card”; an additional editor on “Dead Poets Society”; and an
associate editor and sound designer on “The Year of Living Dangerously,”
which began their collaboration.
Hailing from Australia, Smith won an Australian Film Institute (AFI)
Award for Best Editing on Gregor Jordan’s “Two Hands,” on which he was
also the sound designer. As a sound designer, he also won an AFI Award
and earned a BAFTA Award nomination for his work on Jane Campion’s “The
Piano,” and won an AFI Award for Phillip Noyce’s “Dead
Smith’s credits as an editor also include “Ender’s Game,” “Elysium,”
“X-Men: First Class,” “The Rage in Placid Lake,” “Black and White,”
“Buffalo Soldiers,” “Risk,” “Joey,” “RoboCop 2,” “Communion” and
MARY ZOPHRES (Costume Designer) received an Academy Award nomination for
her work on “True Grit,” her tenth consecutive collaboration with the
Coen Brothers as costume designer, following “Fargo,” “The Big
Lebowski,” “O Brother Where Art Thou?,” “The Man Who Wasn’t There,”
“Intolerable Cruelty,” “The Ladykillers,” “No Country for Old Men,”
“Burn After Reading” and “A Serious Man.” Earlier in her career, she was
assistant costume designer for the Coens on “The Hudsucker Proxy.” In
2013, she completed work on their latest film, “Inside Llewyn
Davis.” Also in 2013, she designed the costumes for the period film
She has also been the costume designer on several movies for Steven
Spielberg, including “The Terminal”; “Catch Me If You Can,” which
brought her a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Costume Design; and
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Zophres has also
worked for director Jon Favreau on “Cowboys & Aliens,” starring Daniel
Craig and Harrison Ford, and on “Iron Man 2,” starring Robert Downey Jr.
The costume designer’s other films include the Farrelly Brothers’ first
three movies, “Dumb and Dumber,” “Kingpin” and “There’s Something About
Mary”; Timothy Hutton’s “Digging to China”; Oliver Stone’s “Any Given
Sunday”; Terry Zwigoff’s “Ghost World”; Brad Silberling’s “Moonlight
Mile”; Bruno Barreto’s “View from the Top”; Nora Ephron’s
“Bewitched”; Joe Carnahan’s “Smokin’ Aces”; and Robert Redford’s “Lions for
Zophres earned a degree in art history and studio art from Vassar
College before beginning her professional career working in the fashion
industry for Norma Kamali and Esprit. She began working in the film
industry as the extras wardrobe supervisor on Oliver Stone’s “Born on the
Fourth of July”.
Her latest work was seen in last summer’s “People Like Us,” screenwriter
Alex Kurtzman’s directorial debut.
PAUL FRANKLIN (Visual Effects Supervisor) won both Oscar and BAFTA
Awards for Best Achievement in Visual Effects as the visual effects
supervisor on Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” He previously garnered
both Oscar and BAFTA Award nominations for Best Achievement in Visual
Effects as the visual effects supervisor on Nolan’s blockbuster “The
Dark Knight,” followed in 2013 by a BAFTA Award nomination in the same
category for “The Dark Knight Rises.” He earlier received a BAFTA
Award nomination for his visual effects work on “Batman Begins”. He has also
served as a visual effects supervisor on two Harry Potter films: “Harry
Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood
Franklin graduated from Oxford University, where he studied Fine Art,
specializing in sculpture and experimenting with film and video. The
graphics and effects he created for a series of short films caught the
attention of the London visual effects community, leading to work in
television advertising and feature films.
In 1998, Franklin joined with a group of equally experienced visual
effects artists to form Double Negative Visual Effects. Starting with an
initial core team of ten, the company has grown to be one of the world’s
leading visual effects studios, employing more than a thousand people
HANS ZIMMER (Composer) has scored more than 100 films, which have,
combined, grossed over 22 billion dollars at the worldwide box office.
He has been honored with an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, three
Grammys, an American Music Award, and a Tony Award. In 2003, ASCAP
presented him with the prestigious Henry Mancini award for Lifetime
Achievement for his impressive and influential body of work. He also
received his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 2010.
Some of his most recent works include “Son of God”; “Winter’s Tale”;
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” ;”Transformers: Age of Extinction”; Steve
McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave”; Ron Howard’s “Rush”; Zack Snyder’s “Man of
Steel”; History Channel’s miniseries “The Bible”; the Christopher
Nolan-directed films “Inception,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight
Rises”; and Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.”
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