Christopher Nolan has never been one to reveal much in interviews, especially ones conducted while he’s in the middle of post-production on a film. So it’s lucky Hollywood Reporter film critic Todd McCarthy got as much out of the secretive director, who is currently finishing up his first cut of his new film Interstellar, as he did during the CinemaCon lunch Wednesday.
What we did learn: Nolan is holding steadfast in his commitment to shooting on film, despite the industry’s overwhelming conversion to digital projection. (In fact, Paramount Pictures — the distributor of Nolan’s film — is making an exception by releasing the movie in film and digital. Most of its other releases will debut only in the high-tech format.)
Also, Nolan is not yet convinced of 3-D movies, primarily because he believes it limits “the shared audience experience.” However, the director was particularly impressed by Baz Luhrmann’s use of the extra dimension in The Great Gatsby. “I thought the 3-D was an absolutely extraordinary thing to see,” he said during the lunch, attended primarily by theater owners and technology companies. “My resistance to 3-D is what I think is right for the things I want to make.”
Nolan — who has cast Matthew McConaughey in his upcoming space story, due Nov. 7 — says he was convinced of the recent Academy Award winner’s range after seeing an early cut of his work in Jeff Nichols’ 2012 film Mud. “I admired him as a movie star and I knew he was a good actor, but I didn’t know how much potential he had until I saw that early cut. It was a transformative performance,” he says.
While Nolan wouldn’t reveal much about what McConaughey’s character does in his upcoming movie, he did say he “plays an everyman, someone who is relatable, someone the audience could experience the extraordinary events of the film with.”
And hiring McConaughey made this year’s Oscar season a bit more conflicted for the director, who reminded the audience that he had worked with three of the five Best Actor nominees in his past movies: McConaughey, Christian Bale (The Dark Knight), and Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception). “I didn’t know who to root for,” he said with a laugh.
While spare with the details, Nolan’s new film seems to be bringing out the nostalgia in the 43-year-old director. Raised in both the U.S. and London, he remembers seeing Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey when he was 7 years old and it being an indelible experience. “I remember the feeling of magnitude and otherworldly experience. I remember the feeling of how big the screen was,” he says. “I had no idea what the film meant, but I had this extraordinary time being taken away to another world.”
That experience clearly stayed with the director, who said he wanted to re-create the tone of “the golden age of blockbusters” that he experienced when he was a child.
“Family film [back then] could be very broad-based and universal in its appeal. It’s something I want to see again, in terms of the tone of the film. It’s not just a film that someone watches, but has an experience. It harkens back to films I grew up with — films that took me to the place I had never imagined.”