The stars aligned for the Hollywood premiere of “Interstellar” at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 26. Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and others joined Christopher Nolan to unveil Paramount’s highly anticipated (and closely guarded) sci-fi film, opening Nov. 5 in select theaters and nationwide on November 7.
Famously press-shy, director/producer/co-writer Nolan took photos and gave a few quotes on the red carpet before ducking into the theater with his wife Emma Thomas, also a producer on the film, letting his cast and collaborators do most of the talking.
Hathaway said people should expect to “have their minds bent and their hearts opened.”
In the film, Hathaway joins Matthew McConaughey’s character, Cooper, on an unprecedented mission with the bravest men and women alive in the hopes of saving humanity after Earth has become uninhabitable. But in order to do so, they must leave their families behind, unsure of when/if they’ll return.
For McConaughey to land the part, Nolan had to first get a sense of McConaughey on a personal level. In fact, the two didn’t even discuss the project until later. “[That first meeting] maybe it was about the movie to him because he knew the film, but I think he wanted to meet me and see if I was the man he thought I was,” McConaughey told Variety at the premiere. “We talked, we got to know each other. What’s good about a dinner like that is, you do get a sense of, ‘is this somebody I want to go on this journey with?’ He says he wasn’t questioning my acting ability and I don’t think he was, but it’s also important, who do we take the journey with, what’s our work ethic, do you want to go do press junkets with these people, do you want to travel around the world, and talk about what you made together.”
And clearly, McConaughey was the man for the mission.
On the red carpet, when faced with Cooper’s hypothetical dilemma, team “Interstellar” made one thing clear: family comes first.
“I have a little girl now, I’m staying right here,” said Jonathan Nolan, who co-wrote the script with his brother. It was a collaboration that made a movie this technologically complex and emotionally profound a whole lot simpler, he says. “There’s no politics, there’s no nonsense. You just get down to work and we have that shorthand, having grown up watching the same movies and reading the same books. We wanted to explore very, very big questions with this film and really push out, quite literally, into outer space, so we felt like we needed to have a very grounded story at the center. It always had to be about family, so getting a chance to work with my family was just the icing on the cake.”
Hans Zimmer shared the story of how the first musical notes for the movie came to be. Nolan hadn’t told his friend and frequent collaborator anything about the story and instead sent him an envelope containing a single page, and challenged the composer to write for one day based off that. As Zimmer recalls, “it was typewritten, on thick paper, none of that computer stuff so I knew there wasn’t a carbon [copy]. It was a fable about what it means to be a parent, what it means to have children,” Zimmer told Variety. “He knows me very well, he knows my family, and it [the story itself] was about my son. When I had something, he came over, he sat on my couch, I played it for him, he turned to me and said, ‘I now know what the heart of the movie is.’ And we never strayed from that. The bigger it got, the more personal it became.”
For Chastain, her co-stars became like family. “Did you just see that hug? I love these people,” she said, all glammed up in a Givenchy Couture lace gown. “Being on a set with Annie, Matthew, Michael Caine and Chris [Nolan] and Casey Affleck — I just want to surround myself by people that inspire, and make me work harder.”
Wes Bentley, who plays one of the crew members on the mission to reach the black hole Gargantua, said: “I think Chris Nolan above all else is a family man, he loves his children, he loves his wife, he’s got a huge heart and that is the most significant thing in the film, you spend half the time in the film, and it’s three hours long, crying, because you’re so moved and he blows your mind in that sense. All the other stuff just falls into place.”
When asked if he’d leave his family behind for a chance to save humanity, Bentley said, “I still don’t know what I would do. I would want to do whatever is best for my children. It’s a true dilemma, and that’s the genius of this film.”
Putting the groundbreaking scientific and visual aspects of the film aside (cool fact: it was shot on a combination of 35mm anamorphic film and 65mm Imax), producer Lynda Obst described her first reaction to seeing the completed film for the first time. “I wept,” she said. She knows a thing or two about making futuristic films with heart, having served as executive producer on “Contact” in 1997, also starring McConaughey.
And she wasn’t the only one weeping on Sunday night. Amid the near-deafening Imax speakers you could hear intermittent sniffling throughout the three-hour picture.
The after-party in the adjacent Ray Dolby Ballroom kept with the inter-galactic theme, with a spinning bar and floral arrangements designed to resemble our solar system. When told of the audience’s tears throughout the film, Jonathan Nolan seemed pleased.
“Well, good, that’s what we’re going for,” he said, helping himself to some hot chicken pot pie and ginger-glazed root vegetables.