LAS VEGAS – Press attending the hour long Q&A with Christopher Nolan at CinemaCon this afternoon had been warned that the usually secretive filmmaker was not expected to speak substantially about his highly anticipated new epic “Interstellar” and there would be no new footage from the film shown during the event. Moreover, I'd heard from a good source that moderator and Hollywood Reporter film critic Todd McCarthy was well aware it would be tough to get Nolan to say anything about Nolan's followup to “The Dark Knight Returns.” Well, kudos to McCarthy for not taking “no” for an answer.
There hasn't been much revealed about the November release outside of a short teaser, an interstellar space travel storyline, Nolan's involvement and a cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck and Wes Bentley.
At first, Nolan would only say that he was in the middle of editing the first cut and that he's “enjoying it.” Eventually, other details emerged. Nolan confirmed the film is “about using a warm hole to travel through other places we could never get to” and “where we are as people and where we might go.”
The film is “very different” from Nolan's past work and he was inspired by the movies he saw growing up during what he termed “the golden age of the blockbuster” — essentially, four quadrant films that didn't need a “family” label to appeal to all audiences. Nolan noted it's “really about going back to those sort of films.”
Like “Inception” and the last two “Dark Knight” films, Nolan has focused on as many real environments as possible. “We have spatial interiors…we built closed sets [and] shot it like a documentary like [the actors] were really there,” he said. Nolan insinuated that when the actors looked out the windows of their space vessel they would see a real environment and not a green screen (whether that means a star field of space or an alien planet, well, your guess is as good as ours).
Technically, Nolan says he shot with an IMAX camera on “Interstellar” more than any of his previous pictures. He also wants to give greater enhancement to the audio experience this time around.
“Very ambitious sound mix plans,” Nolan said. “[I want to] give audiences an incredible immersive experience. The technical aspects are going to be more important than any film I've made before.”
McCarthy also asked Nolan about casting McConaughey, this year's reigning Best Actor Oscar winner and a potential Emmy and SAG Award winner for his performance on HBO's “True Detective.”
Recognizing they landed the Texas native was an “ideal moment” Nolan said. “I'm thrilled for him right now.” It turns out McConaughey's venture into indie films helped land him the role. Nolan recalled, “I didn't know how much potential he had until I saw 'Mud.' Not just as a leading man, but sheer acting talent.”
He also remarked that in McConaughey he “needed an everyday man who can experience these extraordinary events.”
During a separate line of questioning, Nolan also let slip that Michael Caine's performance is something to watch out for. “It's exciting to have him do something he hasn't done before.”
Some other interesting notes from the conversation:
Still not in love with digital
Much time was spent on Nolan's preference for traditional celluloid over digital filmmaking. “Film is the best way to capture an image and project an image,” he said. “It's because it just works and works well.” Whatever new technology that comes along “always has to exceed the current standard” and, digital hasn't done that yet in his view. “I feel a responsibility to give the audience the highest quality image,” he said. “Not enough people in our business go to a theater and see the end result.”
3D a tough subject
Nolan didn't want to close the door on making a film in 3D, but it was clear he's not entirely comfortable with it. Intriguingly, he admitted he thought Baz Luhrmann's “Great Gatsby” was “quite extraordinary. Baz created an atmosphere that washed around you.” While there are no plans to dive into it yet himself, he thinks “anything that gives filmmakers new tools is a good thing.”
No plans for TV
Martin Scorsese and Alfonso Cuarón have brought their ideas to the small screen, but don't expect Nolan to anytime soon. “Never say never, but I love movies,” Nolan said. “Lots of great things are happening in TV but we're not here to talk about a TV.” And yes, that got the biggest reaction of the day from the ballroom of movie theater owners.
“Interstellar” opens nationwide on Nov. 7.