HNS recently chatted with The Space Between Us actors Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson and Carla Gugino as well as Director Peter Chelsom, Producer Richard Lewis and Space Consultant Scott Hubbard about the film. Check out all the scoop below!
*Interviews conducted with other media outlets as well.*
I thought that it was a really sweet love story but I also saw it as a love letter to Planet Earth. I felt very much inspired and appreciative. Is that something that was planned? I feel especially with the times, everybodys feeling very out of sorts. I felt this was a very inspirational movie, looking on the bright side of things.
Peter Chelsom: Music to my ears! Thats the point. I also feel, with regard to the times, that unifying experience for audiences is very important. And its not that I walked on set everyday wearing a so-called family movie making hat metaphorically. Its turned out that way and Im very proud of that and I think its… the best family movies I think are the movies that unite families in such a way that they all share exactly the same experience for exactly the same reasons as opposed to condescending to the kids and nodding to the parents. Its hard to get that right. And I would hope this does that. From everything weve seen from audiences, the 70-year-old enjoys it just as much as the 12-year-old and Im proud of that.
About accomplishing the effects of the varying gravity:
Carla Gugino: Yeah, its interesting, because we did a couple things for that. One was with our stunt coordinator, I did do some walking with just a bunch of weights on my ankles and legs, just to kind of feel what that would really feel like. But the other thing is because Albuquerque and Santa Fe are high altitude in terms of the breathing, because we obviously wanted the juxtaposition between my character running sort of more in a gazelle like way on Mars and then not on Earth. And it was interesting because it was only about half acting. Half acting and half altitude helping me out. (laughs) Yeah it was really amazing and that whole sequence when Im running after the airplane, cause of course as you know were shooting that for 8 hours or however long were shooting it, by the end, I was like, I gotta sit down!
Peter Chelsom: We have to really acknowledge the gravity difference because its a plot point in the film. Some films, Mars is a third gravity, space is zero gravity. We had to embrace it because its a film about a boy who is brought up in a different gravity, and thats the problem. So Asa has strapped all kinds of weight to him, got him running and got him used to what it would feel like to feel really really heavy. He did that for weeks, and then when you take the weights off theres a muscle memory that kicks in and he can do it. A lot of it is frame/ speeds slightly slow motion. Remember when the ship lands on Mars, theres someone running to greet them. That person for example is shot slightly in slow motion, but also theres a massive crane with a wire to a harness that hes in. Just like an inertia harness lifting him so theres an oddness to his run. Similarly to Carlas training and Asas training. So yes, thats how I dealt with it. Its tough. Being in harnesses is really tough.
Can you talk about how the collaboration (with NASA) came about?
Richard Lewis: I grew up in the Bay area. My dad taught medicine at Stanford. Scott is a professor at Stanford and ran the NASA Ames Program for years. So when this concept came about, there was a fellow writer, Stewart Schill, came to my office and we were working on another space project and he said, I have this wild idea, what would happen if an astronaut discovered she were pregnant on a flight to Mars? And I called my dad who is a heart specialist, and he introduced me to folks at NASA Ames. Didnt even know Scott was there and I said, So guys, what would happen? And there was silence for seconds on the other end and they said, Have you guys been listening to our phone calls? And I said, Ive never met you, I dont know what youre talking about. They said, We dont know whats going to happen. Were not prepared to give birth in a flight to Mars, were not prepared to abort, were not prepared to turn around. Cant turn around. So all that was real and then we started digging into the science of it and the pressure on the heart, my dad was telling me would be enormous because the gravity would be two-thirds greater, puts pressure on the bones. And then I met Scott at a science technology Hollywood event symposium. Handed him the script that we had at that point, he tore it to shreds.
Scott Hubbards: (laughs) No I didnt. Put a lot of yellow stickies.
Richard Lewis: A lot of yellow stickies, a lot of questions. I had the pleasure then of going to NASA invited myself and my family, I have a son whose got his pilots license, hes been flying, hes obsessed with it. And flew down and saw the launch after the shuttle disaster Columbia. So it was the first return to flight after the
Scott Hubbard: the first female commander.
Richard Lewis: I met her. So, Carlas character was modeled after many of the women I met. Who you find out from talking to them, really put their life on hold. Many of them arent married because they didnt want it to get in the way. Some of them are married and dont have children, often because of all the complications and danger. So its really interesting to see. Its not that its sadness, they made a choice. And then when it came to the side of the Gary Oldman character, Nathaniel Shepherd that was a compilation of the obvious folks, Richard Branson, Elon Musk. I had the pleasure of meeting Elon in 2002. In which he pitched the ambition he had, before anyone knew Elon Musk, before any of this, before Tesla, before SpaceX and it was like Whoa! This guys going to Mars? Are you serious? And hes doing it. And we spent a lot of time going down to SpaceX, meeting a lot of people there, showing Elon footage, looking at their suits. And Richard Branson. I know also, I believe you see in the film, is a big fan of it. Hes promoting it on Virgin. So you have these disruptive entrepreneurs who are its what needed to happen – and Scott can attest to this as a former Marizard running NASA.
Scott Hubbard: Thats right, I was NASAs first Marizard. So after two missions disappeared in 1999, the administrator called me in to as he said fix the mess. So I got to put the whole NASA Mars program together that youve seen the last 15 years with Spirit and Opportunity and Curiosity and all that sort of stuff. So Richard and I, as he said, met through a national academy function theyve got which is to connect producers with experts, although theres this other connection through Stanford. In my old center did some of the only experiments of having living creatures gestating and give birth with micro-gravity. We launched a mission out of my center in the 90s that looked at pregnant mice giving birth on orbit and all of the anomalies that they had, and this got built into a lot of what happens to Gardner and all the funny things with his bones and lungs and heart and so forth. So its been quite an adventure. Working with Richards been absolutely terrific, a real great collaborator. Theyre storytellers, making movies telling story. I deal in science and engineering and so forth so its not always possible to make everything perfect, but I think the movie is incredibly accurate and realistic. The Martian is too to a degree, although it starts off with a storm that could never happen. The air on Mars is too thin to blow anything over. If you were in the worst dust storm/ wind storm on Mars it would be (blows one small breath) like that because the air is so thin. So these guys
Richard Lewis: Its a great movie!
Scott Hubbard: Its a great movie. Hidden Figures is stunning, I loved that as well. The difference is our ambition with this story is Gardner is almost like Columbus, not by choice, but hes the first person whos going
Richard Lewis: Hes the first martian.
Scott Hubbard: Yeah, hes really the first martian. And unlike the end of The Martian, which is get me the hell off this planet, we actually are going to stay there. So thats the ambition of the film, is hes going to be the first person born on Mars, a colonist, more will come. Probably Tulsa will come at some point. But thats his life. He resisted at first, all the way through the movie just wants to be on Earth, he wants to be human, and then he realizes he cant. And so thats his calling. Thats what hes doing and Garys character of course has his own, all his conflicts and ambitions, and medical conditions that hes afraid of and he has to overcome those. So they both risk everything. And yes theres a love story but theres a much bigger canvas that were trying to paint so again we started with What would happen if an astronaut was pregnant? which is not so much a love story. My wife teases me shes like, Youre just like every Disney movie, Bambi, you always kill the mother.
Richard Lewis: You always kill moms. What is the problem?
Scott Hubbard: As Carla says, shes the best mom I never had so I think thats part of it. That was a joy. These are all fractured characters, they all have real conflicts in their life. Theyre all missing something in their life. And it doesnt all get resolved, its not all neat and tidy but they kind of find each other.
The film is like a love letter to planet Earth. What is your favorite thing about Earth?
Carla Gugino: Yeah, you know. I do think its funny because, my favorite thing really is people. Like I am a lover of people. And of the just the fact that everybody that we have a planet thats much smaller than we feel, I mean we all sort of want the same thing. We all want to be loved, we all want to have connection, and we all want to feel valuable, and have a life thats filled with meaning and all those things and yet were all kind of stumbling around trying to figure out how to do that. And I really thank my parents for it, but I had a very eclectic childhood and I think that part of the thing that came out of that was just a love for very different kinds of people. So unlike Kendra, who I think is actually really happy to be away from the messiness of Earth, and sort of to not look back initially until she realizes that she wants to do it for Gardner, I think Id feel really lonely somewhere else like that. So that would be the thing. But I will say that also doing all the work that we did on the Mars stuff on this, I was thinking the thing that it made me miss the most because Im from Sarasota, Florida originally especially living in New York now, about every 6 months, theres an inner clock of turquoise water. Warm. I need it now. So I guess thats another thing I love about our planet.
Peter Chelsom: Nature.
Asa Butterfield: Weve got varying answers now.
Britt Robertson: Weve switched it up. But Ill give you the true, honest answer. Because thats what youre asking. I would say specifically my dogs currently but like animals in general. I love animals. Its not that humans arent amazing, but theres something really beautiful about animals and what they bring into the world. Their unconditional sort of service to whatever it may be and their love and kindness . The love that animals bring into your life is far more rewarding than humans.
Asa Butterfield: Me, for my short and concise answer, it would be food. Good grub. My favorite kind of food this is where it gets a bit longer my answer. So we have beans and toast option, thats my lunch. Its very British. Baked beans, Heinz baked beans and toast. Spread some mayonnaise instead of butter. Fry some onions with the beans. Grate cheese on top. Maybe an egg, some sausages. Im telling you guys. Dont knock it til you try it. Breakfast? Probably like nutella pancakes with banana. And then for dinner, pizza.
You guys shot a lot of different locations. Do you have a favorite?
Britt Robertson: Vegas, baby!
Asa Butterfield: It was Vegas and Albuquerque, but youre right Albuquerque has a wide variety of
Britt Robertson: We also shot in Malibu and that was miserable.
Asa Butterfield: Did we? Oh yeah, we did. Oh wow I forgot about that. I just wiped that from my memory. We were out on a beach, in the sea in December.
Britt Robertson: It was cold. And the tide was rough, so we could barely get out there for long. I was knocked down like a million times.
Asa Butterfield: I remember we were just like soaked.
Britt Robertson: Yeah. In clothes which is terrible.
Asa Butterfield: It was just one day we were actually on the beach. I think. We didnt have enough time, so it was just like, Run!
Britt Robertson: Go, go, go, go! The madness of it all. Yeah, Malibu was my least favorite. Never thought Id say that.
You guys have really good on-screen chemistry. What did you do to prepare for that magic on film?
Britt Robertson: We made out a lot. (laughs)
Asa Butterfield: Loads of secret handshakes, which only us knew.
Britt Robertson: Most of our time spent together, actually the one time we hung out in Albuquerque is like the day we wrapped basically.
Asa Butterfield: And Halloween.
Britt Robertson: And Halloween yeah.
Asa Butterfield: Halloween. Where we all dressed up. Were you Batman? I was a clown. I think. Im pretty sure I had the clown.
Britt Robertson: It was like mismatched outfits sort of. His stand-in brought over just like all of the Halloween equipment he had for you, your brother, myself.
Asa Butterfield: my brother had a beat up pumpkin suit. Which looked amazing.
Britt Robertson: Oh yeah, he did! He had a literal pumpkin suit. It was so good. And tie. No, not a pumpkin. Like a suit with pumpkins on it. We rehearsed, we hung out. We were nice to each other as best we could, and you know, that usually helps. Just be kind. Its pretty easy to create chemistry if youre just like kind, respectful.
Asa Butterfield: Were actors. Its what we do.
The Space Between Us hits theaters nationwide on Friday, February 3rd!