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article imageTIFF 2015: Ridley Scott, NASA on making The Martian Special

By David Silverberg     Sep 14, 2015 in Entertainment
Legendary director Ridley Scott sat down with journalists at the Toronto International Film Festival for a candid conversation about his latest project The Martian. Joining him was the writer Drew Goddard, The Martian author Andy Weir and NASA experts.
Scott, 77, is a blunt no-BS kind of guy. When he first meets reporters at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Toronto to promote his new Matt Damon-led film The Martian, he begins by saying he never thought he'd be here. Here, as in still working.
"After Blade Runner, which I thought was a disaster, I thought I'd be left homeless, sleeping on a park bench," Scott said. He's not joking, not smiling. Andy Weir, the author of the bestselling book The Martian, turned to him in shock and exclaimed, "I love that movie!" As did the other film fans in the room, nodding their heads in agreement.
But Scott isn't one to take compliments and blush. He said he was fifth in line when he was handed the Alien script, which surprised him but not so much that he didn't go full-throttle to make the sci-fi classic.
Now Scott is back in a different kind of space, thanks to Weir's hot book that topped the bestseller charts. With a cast studded with Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Jeff Daniels and Donald Glover, The Martian follows astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) after his mission to Mars fails and he is presumed dead after a fierce storm. How does a man survive on a hostile planet for months, and even years?
Matt Damon stars in The Martian  directed by Ridley Scott
Matt Damon stars in The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott
Via 20th Century Fox
The film, due for a release Oct. 2, premiered at TIFF on Friday night.
When screenwriter Drew Goddard was asked what Scott brought to the film, he said, "We all know about this technical talent, but he's also warm, optimistic, and a very kind guy. His personality doesn't get enough credit."
Scott, for his part, said he enjoys working with writers especially, seeing himself as a "book editor who relies on intuition." He's also a thorough researcher, having brought in NASA engineers such as Dr. Jim Green to assist in making the film as realistic as possible.
Goddard said about the film's realism: "We wanted to make it as scientifically accurate as possible, without dumbing it down..."
Dr. Green said he was excited to be involved in the film because "this kind of scenario, a planned mission to Mars, can happen within our lifetime. It's not far-fetched." Later in a discussion with this reporter, Dr. Green said such a mission is likely viable within 20 years, and the work by various technologies such as the Curiosity Rover, is paving the way for astronauts to explore the surface of this mysterious planet.
Scott has long been fascinated by science fiction, and space exploration put onto film. He cited 2001: A Space Odyssey as a definitive film for any space fan, and in previous interviews admitted The Right Stuff got him first interested in space. He also name-dropped Carl Sagan as an inspiration for The Martian.
When Scott was asked if the survivor theme was central to his many film, such as Alien and Gladiator, Scott replied quickly with, "Aren't all films about survival? Heck, we were told to lighten up by the studio," he added, with a laugh.
For more TIFF 2015 coverage, go to this page.
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