Matt Damon Talks 'Martian' & 'Interstellar' Irony & Why He Wouldn't Go To Space... Yet
The 44-year-old actor recognizes the irony in his latest role. Matt Damon stars in The Martian , a big screen adaptation of Any Weir's best selling novel of the same name. In the book, Damon's titular character is left stranded in space, fighting to survive in the unfamiliar elements by his lonesome. Of course, the actor played a role that fits that description perfectly in 2014's Interstellar. But this time, audiences will likely be rooting for his character to survive. "I have done a lot of space travel in the last couple years on screen," Damon says. "It takes a certain type of person, like the pioneers who crossed Death Valley in a wagon, [to go to space]."
And he's right. We live in a culture that often idolizes astronauts and their extraterrestrial feats — the men and women who risk their lives traveling into the gravity-less abyss to learn more about the unknown landscape of space. But for Damon, pretending to be one of these said men is enough. "It takes a special type of person who wants to push the envelope, to find where the very edge is and go there. That is how we evolve and that is why we are here on the West Coast. I’m glad there are those types of people already, but I think it would be tough for me to do it," he says. "I will let Space X and those guys get out there for maybe 20 years or so before I go on a flight.”
And though he'd prefer his feet fully grounded on earth, Damon, along with the team behind The Martian, hope the adaptation will inspire a generation of young people who might consider a career in science. "Drew Goddard adapted the screenplay and the first thing he said was, ‘I want this to be a love letter to science’, and that is a really wonderful thing to put out into the world," the Bourne actor says. "I don’t have any lofty expectations, but I hope some kids see it and geek out on the science and enjoy it and it might be one thing of many in their life that pushes them in that direction.”
Directed by Ridley Scott, the film follows Astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) who is presumed dead after a storm on Mars and is left behind by his crew. But he isn't dead, and finds himself barely alive and without a way to communicate on the foreign planet. For a majority of the film's acts, audiences will see only Damon on screen as he tries to survive and innovate in harsh, Martian environments. "It was a challenge, just me in all these scenes, but it was me and Ridley Scott and that is a very easy decision to make," Damon says. “It’s an illusion that I carry the movie, it’s actually all down to Ridley. I will get a lot of the credit for what he did, because he has to keep the audience with just one actor up there, he has to keep them involved and keep the story going and was really the reason I wanted to do it.”
The other reason the adaptation was an easy sell for Damon was the writing. The original book by Weir is chalked full of humor, especially surprising in light of what this character is going through. "The humor and the way that us mere mortals are captivated by the way [astronauts] can do this and seem calm when they are in these incredible high-stress situations, that was what was so attractive about the character, how he kept his sense of humor and this practical, logical, solve-one-problem-at-a-time type of thinking that these guys can actually do.”
The Martian will hit theaters Oct. 2. Watch the first full trailer for the film below:
Images: 20th Century FOX