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Movie Sneaks: Christopher Nolan explains human touch behind ‘Interstellar’s’ feats

'Interstellar' director Christopher Nolan offers an insider's look at the sci-fi flick's imagery

Christopher Nolan's new science-fiction adventure “Interstellar” opens Wednesday, offering audiences a glimpse at a future in which an ecologically ravaged Earth is perilously close to no longer being able to sustain human life. Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a father of two and former NASA pilot called back into service to search, along with a team of astronauts that includes Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), for a new planet to call home. With the following photos, the writer-director offers an insider's look at some of the film's spectacular imagery.

A dust storm at a baseball field in this scene from

Paramount Pictures

WHIPPING UP A STORM: The look of our dust storms was based on research into the Dust Bowl, particularly Ken Burns’ wonderful PBS documentary on the subject. We actually had to tone down the imagery from the reality that Ken had unearthed — the real images looked too improbable.

A black hole in this scene from

Paramount Pictures

A HOLE IN THE UNIVERSE: The look of our black hole was based on real science; equations given to our visual effects team by Kip Thorne, our executive producer, that define exactly how the black hole’s gravity would warp space-time and bend light to create the otherworldly image. Their collaboration yielded great imagery and actually furthered the science of black hole research.

Astronauts and a rectangular robot in this scene from

Paramount Pictures

BOT: Our robot design was based on the idea of retreating from any notion of anthropomorphic appearance. The great actor Bill Irwin had to give the robots personality using the most basic of movements, even when wading through water [as CASE does here]. An incredible performance challenge for Bill, but one he rose to it admirably.

An astronaut upside down in a spaceship in this scene from

Melinda Sue Gordon / Paramount Pictures

AIMING FOR AUTHENTICITY: We built real, enclosed spaceship interiors, with the actual views outside the windows (no green screen). I wanted the actors and crew to be in a simulator, not on a set.

Matthew McConaughey and Mackenzie Foy in a scene from

Melinda Sue Gordon / Paramount Pictures

TIGHT BOND: The heart of “Interstellar” is the relationship between a father and daughter. Filming the scenes between Matthew and Mackenzie [Foy] was incredibly moving. They had both found the truth of an extremely emotional and charged situation. These are the moments that make you want to direct films.


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