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.