Christopher Nolan’s upcoming sci-fi epic Interstellar is about space. But as you probably guessed, he’s the kind of filmmaker where a story about space is far more than just a story about space, there’s going to be a lot more going on than just that. And according to Nolan, and just about everyone else involved, the movie is really about what it means to be a parent and a father. And just for the hell of it, there are some new photos as well.
The plot, as we understand it, revolves around a near future where global climate change has progressed to the point where the Earth won’t be a viable home for much longer. As a result, a team, including Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper, must travel through a newly discovered wormhole to explore nearby planets in the hope of finding one that will be a suitable candidate to colonize.
As we’ve seen in the previews, however, Cooper is also a dedicated father and has to leave his kids behind on his quest to save the human race (I just started humming the Star Blazers theme song). It’s the hardest decision he’s ever made, as illustrated by all those photos of him driving a truck and crying. Things are complicated even further by the time distortion caused by going through the wormhole—while he doesn’t age much, his daughter grows into Jessica Chastain while he’s away, which has to be one hell of a surprise.
Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Emma Thomas, Nolan’s wife and producing partner, says, “I do not think Chris could have or would have made this film 12 years ago when we didn’t have kids. Whenever I read that Chris’ films are ‘unemotional,’ I don’t agree, but I do find this one to be more emotional.”
This is, by all accounts, the most intimate, personal film Nolan has made, possibly ever, and will be an interesting thing to see how this differs from his previous work. And Thomas is not the only one talking about the issue family.
To unlock her role and her place in the film, Chastain says it took one seemingly small encounter. She says, “One day, I noticed this girl. She was really shy and sweet. I went up to her, and she told me her name. And she was Chris’ daughter. All of the clues fell into place. You had to be a little bit of a detective, and when I figured it out, I was incredibly moved: Interstellar is a letter to his daughter.”
This is point is driven home by the fact that, reworking the script he wrote with his brother Jonathan, Nolan changed the gender of the child from a son to a daughter. He says, “For me, the whole movie is about what it means to be a dad.”
And these aren’t the only people bringing their connection to family and the notions of what that means into their work on the film. It sounds like this is a theme that runs throughout the production. Composer Hans Zimmer was commissioned to score the movie before Nolan even started the writing process, and he recalls receiving a not from the director that read, “Once we become parents, we can’t help but look at ourselves through the eyes of our children.”
Interstellar opens everywhere November 7, though you can get a look at it a few days earlier on November 5 in select theaters. And if you look at these photos and think this one looks like an 8×10 of a college improv comedy troupe, you’re not alone.