×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘I Origins’ Helmer Mike Cahill Talks Science and Sequels as Sci-fi Pic Prepares to Open Karlovy Vary

Variety speaks to writer-director Mike Cahill, whose sci-fi mystery “I Origins” opens the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival on Friday.

The pic, which was purchased by Fox Searchlight for worldwide distribution, stars Michael Pitt as a young scientist whose work investigates the human eye. His research leads him to the discovery of links between the human physiognomy and psyche, with implications bordering on the mystical. The film, which also stars Brit Marling and Astrid Berges-Frisbey, received Sundance’s Alfred P. Sloan Prize, as did Cahill’s previous pic, the science-themed “Another Earth” in 2011. Cahill is now preparing a sequel to “I Origins.”

What makes you continue to create films like “Another Earth” and “I Origins?”
I’m most interested in movies that fulfill an existential fantasy of ours, and I love romance. So it’s kind of a combination of the two. Love is very important and citing the fear of death is also fundamental. I like narratives in which our existential fantasies are fulfilled.

Are you interested in the sciences?
I’m obsessed with science and science fiction. Scientists are my role models in life. People get really excited to meet a celebrity — I get very excited to meet a scientist. I think what scientists are doing are asking the big questions, like “Why are we here?” “What is this all about?” We’re a blip — you’re born, you’re a teenager, you’re middle-aged, you’re dead — and then that’s like 100 years, but the universe is 13.7 billion years. So I need to know why we are here. I don’t want to be known, I want to be engaged with the big questions, and so probably every film I’ll ever make will try and tackle the big questions through science or sci-fi.

What can audiences expect from “I Origins?”
I think they will be very surprised. The movie starts off as if it were an indie, small movie. As it goes midway through, and to the third act, the movie gets bigger in scope. It’s still intimate, but it’s bigger in theme. It’s bigger in global repercussion, if you will.

Were there any challenges?
The biggest challenge was keeping it true to the scientific practice, while also keeping it entertaining. I wanted it to be authentic. I wanted them to feel like real scientists. I wanted the work they were doing to be legitimate and reflect the reality, and yet at the same time, do so in an entertaining way, and to depict scientists as real people and not as the cliché that they end up often portrayed.

When writing the script did you do a lot of research?
Absolutely. 100%. I spent so much time researching. I spent countless hours in the lab working with scientists learning how to extract DNA. My family is comprised of scientists, so I have a fortunate in to the scientific world. And also, I’m just crawling my way into any talk or lecture just to learn. I think science offers new frontiers and artists are trying to convey emotions, new emotions, rare emotions to try and transmit them to the audience, and science offers a really wonderful new landscape to tell stories and it will continue for the rest of our lives, and that’s so beautiful.

Future projects?
I’m working on a sequel to “I Origins” and I’m working on a movie about aliens. The sequel takes place about 20 years into the future after the repercussions of Dr. Ian Gray’s discoveries take hold. If you stay to the end of (“I Origins”) and watch the post-credits, there’s a teaser of what is to come.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • They Shall Not Grow Old restoration

    Peter Jackson Documentary 'They Shall Not Grow Old' Nabs Limited China Release

    The Peter Jackson produced and directed World War I documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” will hit Chinese theaters on November 11. Though it will roll out nationwide, it will do so via the China’s National Arthouse Alliance, which has limited screens. The 2018 documentary puts together interviews with WWI veterans and more than 100-year-old [...]

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    'Zombieland: Double Tap' Hopes to Recapture Raunchy Zombie Magic, 10 Years Later

    Audiences may have a few questions about the sequel to 2009’s hit “Zombieland,” which opens Friday. Why did it take 10 years to make a second one, after the first grossed $102.4 million worldwide on a $23 million budget, making it the third-biggest zombie movie of all time (second-biggest if you don’t count “Hotel Transylvania,” [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Accused of Firing VP Who Complained of Gender Pay Gap

    A former vice president at AMC Theatres filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, accusing the company of firing her after she complained that she was paid far less than her male peers. Tonya Mangels, who was vice president of product marketing, said that in March 2018 her supervisor inadvertently sent her a spreadsheet that included [...]

  • Sir Elton John poses for photographers

    Elton John Calls 'Lion King' Remake a 'Huge Disappointment'

    Elton John isn’t feeling the love for Disney’s latest live-action remake. In an interview with GQ U.K., the legendary musician criticized Disney’s remake of “The Lion King,” citing the film’s music as a “huge disappointment.” “The new version of The Lion King was a huge disappointment to me, because I believe they messed the music [...]

  • Fiddlin'

    Film Review: 'Fiddlin''

    Not many forms of music have “old-” actually built into their name as a prefix. So it’s a given that the practitioners of the 200-year-old genre known as “old-time music” will wear their antiquity proudly in “Fiddlin’,” a documentary set in and around the 80th annual Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Va. What may not [...]

  • Jonah Hill attends the press conference

    Jonah Hill Passes on Role in 'The Batman'

    After being offered a role in “The Batman,” Jonah Hill has moved on from the project. Why exactly Hill is passing is currently unknown, and insiders tell Variety that when the news was initially reported, it was very early in the negotiations and that a deal was far from closing. The news comes after Zoe [...]

  • Daniel Kaluuya Elizabeth Moss

    SCAD Savannah Film Festival Honorees Include Daniel Kaluuya, Elisabeth Moss

    Daniel Kaluuya, Elisabeth Moss, Danielle Macdonald, Aldis Hodge, Valerie Pachner, Samantha Morton, Sienna Miller, Alan Silvestri and Olivia Wilde are set to be honored at the 22nd Annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival. Breakout Award honorees include Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Jharrel Jerome, Mena Massoud and Camila Morrone. Macdonald, who appears on Netflix in “Unbelievable” and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content