Chris Pratt is willing to take a trip to outer space and get frozen in time, if it means he’ll go on the journey his character James Preston does in his upcoming movie Passengers.
Co-starring Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence, Passengers is a futuristic plot line that seeks to jump audiences to outer space with Morten Tyldum’s detailed direction.
Writer Jon Spaihts was excited to develop a story on the idea of having a storyline surrounded in space. He’s been fascinated with astronaut Michael Collins who has orbited the moon and described him as being someone “who has been furtherest from the nearest human being in human history.”
He developed James Preston using this theory and writes in forms of human intimacy throughout his scripts. He works on Preston overcoming loneliness in outer space.
Once Jennifer Lawrence read through it she immediately came on board on to play the character of Aurora Lane.
Both Lawrence and Pratt’s characters are sent on a mission to outer space to be frozen in a time capsule and to wake up in several years. However, the story lines progress when the both wake up earlier than planned.
Q: This is a very unique project in several ways. This is an original story and even though it’s set against a huge background in outer space and it has beautiful effects, this is a story about people. So Jon, let’s kick it off. Can you talk about your inspiration for starting this story?
Jon Spaihts: I was fascinated by the notion of the vastness of space. And the fact that it can produce a solitude, a solitary experience faster than anything that we can experience in our life. Just the metaphor and the value of that. How alone we are traveling between the stars caught my attention and so let me ask you once. Who is the most lonely person in the history of the human race. And it’s probably on of the moon astronauts. A person who has been furtherest from the nearest human being in human history was Michael Collins the astronaut in a command capsule orbiting the moon when the other two guys had gotten to land. He’s the furtherest side of the moon from those guys. He’s farther from the nearest human being than any other person has ever been. And I was like “alright what do you think of that distance” and magnify it by many orders of magnitude. So I just fell in love with that notion of a man scrambled in between the stories and where that story would take us.
Q: Did you listen to a lot of like lonely themed songs to write this?
Jon Spaihts: The beautiful thing is I listened to a lot of Thomas Newman scores to write this I don’t know why. He was my go-to mood music for writing the film and ended up scoring the film, which was a dream come true.
Q: How did this isolation with intimacy affect your direction of this?
Morten Tyldum: I mean what happens is that you try to find what’s important for you and the story finds a core and to me this movie is actually about the fundamental needs to live a fulfilled life. What is that we as humans need? That’s the interesting thing to explore. If you take the loneliness. To me they’re also trapped in time, we always live ahead. We’re always planning on what we’re doing. What happens when two characters say they’re the future, they’re assuming now. What is it that they need now and to need these two characters, they need two things they need to love something. They need to love and they also need to fulfill something in them. They need to build something in them. He needs to prove something…He’s thinks it’s about something great outside, it’s actually a story about herself. And that is why I think all we need is people. We need to be able to feel love and we need to be able to complete something in us, and that was what was important for me throughout this story. I think that’s why it’s a unique story. It’s an important and intimate story, it’s intimate about these two characters. It also has his boss Arthur so, it was a juggling act, that was what was unique that you can take something that is so private and personal and intimate and at the same time give it this scope of space and this space ship in this world. This is a unique story that belongs to this film.
Q: Speaking of love, Jennifer, did you love being alone with those two knuckleheads?
Jennifer Lawrence: I did. I had a blast. It’s really rare that you get to be so intimate with film making it’s normally an ensemble, I’ve never worked with so few actors before. And it is such a human story. There’s so much interesting conversation. There’s more from Jon. It’s just an original story. We just keep diving in and I’ve always wanted to know what the focus is. So I was very excited to be stuck in space with them.
Q: Michael, can you talk about the physical requirements of being Arthur in a whole rig. You’re character has no legs.
Michael Sheen: That’s right. I was so excited on my first day to walk onto the set to meet Jen and Chris. I thought I was going to look fairly spiffy when I put on my costume and then I was given tights, and I had to wear it all the time and I blew my chances with Jennifer.
Morten Tyldum: I just want to say the things that Michael is doing is just incredible. He’s having to pour drinks by being smushed around in a machine and make it look like it’s the real natural thing. I mean they’re trying to grab a glass without looking at it. I mean it all happened like this and I mean it’s incredible and then also performing and giving these beautiful levels of humanity and also being non-human at the same time, which is incredible. So I was just blown away every time we had Arthur on set because it just seemed so effortless, and it’s so hard and so complicated so kudos.
Michael Sheen: I make a mean Martini.
Interviewer: And you’re also really good at cleaning that Martini with your face.
Michael Sheen: Yes. It’s a little twitch that I have that. I’ve been thrown out of a couple of bars [laughs].
Morten Tyldum: It was an improv wasn’t it?
Micheal Sheen: It was. I said lets just have fun with this one and I thought I know what I’ll do and I did it in the movie.
Q: Chris, Jim needs tangible things in his life and that’s one of the things that I noticed that’s kind of juxtapose world. There aren’t a lot of tangible things where your breakfast comes from a machine, things are done for you. Is that something you really related to personally.
Chris Pratt: Yeah, I guess so. Like that’s a big part of who the character is. You know he’s leaving earth for a reason and men like him were no longer in this world of earth in the near distant future where everything is automated and you don’t fix things anymore you just replace them. So he’s leaving that world for a new world where he can be a pioneer and be someone crisp. He’s finding a world that has his types of problems. And I guess that’s bit of a throwback. There’s part of me that longs to you know simplify my life, especially now. You know we’re on this press tour and I’ve got like a team of babysitters around me. I’ve become from a increasingly useless. I almost seem to have no idea when my phone was turned on. If I turned around because I hear I buzz I would go Ahhhh… they will bring it to me. I don’t if that’s sort of a tactic to keep them employed or something, but I’ve become more and more of a baby so I guess I kind of relate to that in a way…
Q: By design this is a huge film from the ones you’ve done in the past. But did it feel like on of the more intimate projects that you’ve done, almost like a stage production because of the small cast and the way it was shot?
Chris Pratt: There were certainly elements of that. You know it more intimate, it was different for me in several ways. Some days it would feel like a stage play. But unlike a stage play, this is a giant movie that’s really told in snapshots so there’s not a lot of scene, things are more than a couple of pages long. We have few scenes but it’s tiny little glimpses into the period of time that we’re watching these characters for that ends up being a long time. And so it did feel more intimate than anything I’ve every done, there wasn’t as much. You couldn’t distribute the responsibility of the acting to a large cast so I was in almost every scene along 99 % of the whole movie I had to show up and be there all day but it didn’t necessarily feel that way like a play, where you’re just sitting and talking. There were moments it felt that way, but there were also moments that were very physically grooming where I was essentially a prop where I was just hung by wires flipping around where I don’t say sh*t but I did bounce into some things. So those days were physically grueling. Either they were tiring in one way, but weren’t mentally exhausting. I was just a prop, but there are other day said to be mentally exhausting. So there’s certainly a great balance of those things and it’s certainly different from anything I’ve ever done before. And more intimate, not only in the story telling portion but just in the process of film making. It would be just Jen and I or Jen and I and Micheal and that’s what we had. And we’re on this great big set. This beautiful set. They built this practical set, the grand concourse is four stories tall, 1000 ft long and it’s huge. It’s a practical set and they had 8 miles of LED lights, and being up there really was lonely in that way. It was just us.
Q: My question is obviously going to be about diversity for Chris and Jennifer, because you’ve obviously seen the pods. So the purpose of this Homestead program is to colonize some planets, so the ideal homesteader would be young, straight, and healthy. Do think the passenger list, the girl in the pods, do you think would be diverse adults and create LGBT people as well as older adults who may or may not be able to have offsprings and colonize the planet.
Jennifer Lawrence: Well hopefully we’re well into the future where none of these things are even a conversation anymore. Where they’ve gone from issues, to conversation, to hopefully forgotten and everybody is treated equally. So of course I’d assume that there’s diversity.
Chris Pratt: You know the point of colonization of these planets is to not necessarily to branch out because we’re seeking to survive. The work is still a cradle of civilization. It’s not a post apocalyptic movie so I don’t think there’s a scenario where you have a ship full of people where they’re like completing like send our most viable humans off. It was like can you afford the ticket? Then you can go. I bet you that far into the feature there’s probably people who are several hundreds years old. They have a bunch of money, there’s great technology in medicine. They keep replacing charts. Maybe like 300-400 years and they got a ton of money and they’re like so oligarch form Russia or something, they’re probably on there and they’re all kinds of people. Now Jim finds himself in what’s called a desirable trade, so his ticket is purchased by the Homestead company so in that regard I think anyone who is valuable to the homestead company, and would be worth money to the homestead company would go up. So that would include all people from the whole spectrum, anyone who can eventually provide a service. If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community and you’re really good at plumbing, you can get a plumbing job and give your money back to the homestead.
Q: For Jen and Chris, just a simple question. Why are you the cutest things on the planet and why did it take Hollywood so long to bring you two together?
Chris Pratt: Awww, how long do I have to answer.
Jennifer Lawrence: First of all, you’re adorable. I’ve tried to work with Chris before and it just didn’t work out so …
Chris: I was like “Nahhhh” [Laughs]
Jennifer Lawrence: That basically sums it up.
Chris: We were waiting for the perfect project and then we found it.
Q: When you think of working for the perfect project, what exactly in this script made you want to play your parts?
Jennifer Lawrence: I was the most originally story I can remember even experience in a very long time, not just reading or filming myself. I was the most fun I’ve ever had reading a script. It was just a total page turner. I loved the story. And you know when you’re reading the script, you don’t have all the special effects. You don’t have this amazing ship, all the other elements that came together to make this movie so impressive. All you had was this very human story between these two people. So I fell in love immediately with it and then Chris was already attached so I couldn’t have said Yes fast enough.
Chris Pratt: For me it was the scripts look. John just painted an amazing picture with this story. I’ve done some press for the last couple movieS I did and I know that a lot of times when the press probably hear these questions like “why don’t we see original movies anymore?” because I would be like promoting a remake or promoting something that fell under the umbrella of a larger franchise or something like that, and I heard that question and I didn’t necessarily have a great answer to why that happened so when I heard or when I read the script and realized that it was just so original, that it is a piece of intellectual property that’s not based on a previous title … It was like wow that’s really refreshing. I know that people are really hungry for this kind of thing. They want something original, so the script was just so fabulous and I was told when I read it to imagine Jen Lawrence in the lead role, I was like damn okay. I pictured Jennifer. Then I read the whole thing and then I called my manager and was like this is amazing but how possible is it that it could be Jen? If it wasn’t Jen, who could it possibly be. And there was no else that was exciting and so when she agreed agreed to do I was like “oh my god I can’t believe it.” It’s going to happen. And then Morten, being the director he is and I was huge fan of his, with Michael jumping on board we just kept getting dealt these amazing cards and I think it’s rare, just really rare to have projects like this, that just come together and are apart of the project.
Q: I was considering an extra cast member to the Avalon itself. It’s so vivid and so stunning and you said how many LED lights were used on set, how many miles?
Jennifer Lawrence: 8 miles.
Interviewer: That’s amazing.
Jon Spaihts: I wanted them to feel, I wanted to be able to act and it’s hard when you cut into a green screen….so we wanted to build as much as possible so we had this huge, huge set, you know it scared the studio. I have to give a shout out to our production designer who came up with the ideas, who is absolutely brilliant and we also wanted to make a space ship that is highly difficult. It has all these roading parts hat move to create gravity. But at the same time it’s also inspired by art-deco or or old artistry. You want to create something that will exist throughout time, that’s futuristic but also based on art history. It’s nothing that alienates you and that why I think it’s kind of unique. That is whole idea.
Q: Would you go [On the ship] and what would be the easiest part of the journey and what would be the hardest part of the journey?
Michael Sheen: When I was kid in school in the summer holidays my mom and dad used to go to work. I would sleep later every day until I would hear the car door slamming outside with them coming back from work, and I would get out of bed and go “I’ve been doing stuff all day.” And one time they went away for the weekend, I missed an entire day. I slept through an entire day. I was so shocked by it that I think if it was like 90 years of sleeping, I would freaked out. So just by missing one day it scared me, so I don’t think I would want to do that.
Passengers hits theaters December 21.