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Chris Nolan and Matthew McConaughey Rock the Con with Surprise 'Interstellar' Footage

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 24, 2014 at 8:07PM

After a quiet first day at Comic-Con, Hall H was finally rocked by a movie of clear scope and ambition that was not an imitation of other things. Christopher Nolan came to Comic-Con for the first time with fellow Con virgin Matthew McConaughey to show an early trailer for Paramount release "Interstellar" which hits theaters in November.
McConaughey at Comic-Con
McConaughey at Comic-Con
After a quiet first day at Comic-Con, Hall H was finally rocked Thursday afternoon at the Paramount panel by an original movie of clear scope and ambition. Christopher Nolan came to Comic-Con for the first time--making an unannounced visit with fellow Con virgin Matthew McConaughey --to show an early trailer for Paramount release "Interstellar" which hits theaters in November. The movie looks gorgeous as well as emotionally wrenching. 

Nolan set out to make a "similarly ambitious" space movie along the lines of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" of scale and scope on an enormous screen that "engages audiences," he said. "I'm interested in people, in subjectivity vs. objectivity. Each of us is imprisoned in our subjective view of the world, trapped within our own perceptions of the universe, so a question of point-of-view naturally leads to mental processes."

Nolan first called McConaughey to meet; they talked for three hours, McConaughey said, then the director sent him a script. He plays Cooper, a pilot-engineer and widowed father of two children who is depressed by how grim and narrow the world has become--until he's drafted to go on a space mission to basically save the world--with fellow astronaut Anne Hathaway. But he has to leave his family behind. Nolan shot on 35 mm and IMAX. But he moved right along, said McConaughey, with only 2-3 takes.

"Chris is out for what's original," McConaughey said. 'Everything he wants to do has to be original. He's a man whose reach exceeds his grasp, with this film that's true, it's by far the most ambitious film Nolan's ever directed. You'll see why."

Nolan grew up as a science fiction fan as well as admiring astronauts. "I like the idea of being on the cusp of a brand new era of exploration and traveling outwards now," he told the hall. "I was excited by the idea of taking my brother Jonah's script about Cooper, played by Matthew, and his family and follow them on this incredible journey, into another galaxy, a big journey... for me primarily it's a thrill trying to make a large-scale science-fiction film about a journey to the stars which has to be about the audience experience, taking you with us."

Nolan worked hard to "create the reality of this kind of space machine," he said, using innovative mixes of different techniques, and created views out of the space ship interiors for the actors. Of course he's using the IMAX high resolution format, he said,"which is the biggest possible way to see the film and immerse audience in it. It's the perfect way to paint this on a large canvas, trying to show the biggest possible images imaginable."

Nolan said he "learned on the journey of making the film so far that it's about human beings, what it is to be human. That's what our place is in the universe. The further you travel out the more you realize that it's what's in here --and who we are as human beings."

His research was deep with scientist Kip Thorne, his resident expert on space travel and wormholes. "We had a lot of intense conversations," Nolan said. 

This article is related to: Comic-Con, Comic Con 2014, Interstellar, Chris Nolan, Matthew McConaughey, Trailers, Trailers

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.