To celebrate the DVD & Blu-ray release of Interstellar, let’s take a look at 15 things
you probably didn’t know about Christopher Nolan’s epic sci-fi movie.
For Interstellar, Christopher Nolan returned to the same glacier where he’d filmed Batman
Begins. Since the director’s last visit, a volcanic
eruption had left the glacier scored by grey ash, but this grittier look gave the location
the feel of a hostile environment, which was what he wanted for the film’s Ice Planet.
Both Chile and England’s Morecambe Bay were originally considered as filming locations
for the movie’s Water Planet. But the Interstellar team found what they
were looking for in the shallow yet seemingly endless Brunasandur lagoon in Iceland.
The film’s costume design team had just 12 weeks to design and build Interstellar’s
astronaut suits. Because of the amount of time the cast spent
wearing the suits, the oxygen units in them had to work so the actors could breathe when
they had their helmets on. The suits also contained a system of cold
water tubes to stop the actors from getting too hot.
And backpacks with integrated air cooling systems were also made to keep the actors
from overheating and their glass visors fog-free. All in all, the costume weighed between 30
and 35 pounds.
The astronauts’ helmets were created using a 3D printer and were custom fitted for the
actors and their stunt doubles. A sound system was installed inside the helmets
so the cast and director could communicate.
Nolan wanted the movie’s mechanical astronauts, CASE and TARS, to be minimalist in design.
He and production designer Nathan Crowley tried out possible designs by gluing together
popsicle sticks, and later they tested out different combinations of earth magnets.
They finally decided on a blocky, 5-foot-tall plank system that unfolds magnetically.
The movie’s special effects co-ordinator Scott Fisher and his team built 8 robots for
the film. Fisher estimated that 80% of the robot footage
in Interstellar is practical effects rather than CGI, which was mainly reserved for especially
complex robotic movement.
On set, actor Bill Irwin not only performed the voices of both CASE and TARS, interacting
with the rest of the cast, but he also operated the robots via a mechanical puppeteering rig.
However, for some scenes that required more movement, the 200-pound rig was operated by
stuntman Mark Fichera. According to Irwin, TARS personality is a
mix of gym teacher and ex-Marine. In the final film, we only hear Irwin as TARS,
while actor Josh Stewart voices CASE.
When we see Cooper speeding through corn fields in his truck, chasing a drone, Matthew McConaughey
is really in the driver’s seat, but it was actually a stunt man in a special rig on top
of the truck who was operating the vehicle’s controls.
For Interstellar’s scenes of life during dust storms, Nolan was inspired by filmmaker
Ken Burns’s documentary about the effect on 1930s Depression-era America of the period
of environmental disaster known as the Dust Bowl.
Nolan even incorporated interviews with real people from Burns’s documentary into Interstellar.
To create Interstellar’s dust storms, huge fans were used to fill the air with C-90,
a non-toxic biodegradable material made from ground-up cardboard.
Although Cooper’s home is located in America’s heartland, filming actually took place just
south of Calgary, in the Canadian province of Alberta.
Christopher Nolan didn’t want to shoot a separate farmhouse, corn field and mountain,
and place them together digitally. So, after local rancher Rick Sears found a
piece of land that worked for the movie’s requirements, he helped the Interstellar team
build a road to the location and plant 500 acres of corn about six months before filming
For the design of Cooper’s home, Nolan was inspired by the paintings of artist .
He wanted the house to look contemporary but not futuristic, and for its architecture to
have a timeless feel. The house was built from scratch by the movie’s
art department in less than 10 weeks and was pretty much like a real home, but without
Former US astronaut Marsha Ivins shared her experience of space and life as an astronaut
with the movie’s cast and crew during a visit to the Interstellar set.
Ivins also sent Anne Hathaway video footage she’d recorded during her space missions
and gave the cast notes about how to move in Zero Gravity.
Research by theoretical physicist Kip Thorne forms the scientific backbone of Interstellar.
Thorne spent time with the Interstellar cast to help them understand the science behind
the film. And, to ensure Interstellar’s universe was
as authentic as possible, Thorne also worked closely with the movie’s visual effects
supervisor Paul Franklin. Thorne produced mathematical equations on
the effects of gravity on light around a blackhole and through a wormhole.
Then Franklin and his visual effects team used those equations to write new software
that created the film’s blackhole and wormhole.
Christopher Nolan asked Hans Zimmer to start writing the Interstellar score before the
script was even finished, and, initially, he didn’t even tell the composer what genre
the movie was going to be either. Instead of a script, Nolan gave Zimmer a one-page
scene about a father and his relationship with his son.
Zimmer drew on his own personal experiences as a father to write the first piece of music,
which became the basis for the whole score.
The large pipe organ at London’s 12th-century Temple Church features heavily in the film’s
score and was played by Roger Sayer, Director of Music at the Church.
The organ was built by Harrison & Harrison in the 1920s for a ballroom in Glen Tanar
Castle in Scotland and was relocated to Temple Church in the 1950s.
Well there you have it, 15 things you probably didn't know about Interstellar!
Let me know in the comments below, what you thought of Interstellar.
And what’s your favourite Christopher Nolan movie & why?
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