“wr i t i n g t h e b o o k wa s a l a b o ur o f l o v e ”
How long did
take you to write?
About three years. That includes the research. I didn’t sit down to do all the research and then write it. It was interspersed. Also it was a labour of love so I was doing it in my spare time and posting it to my website. I’d sometimes go months without touching it. It went from website to Kindle to a paperback bestseller to blockbuster film. Did you ever imagine such a journey?
You fantasise about that stuff, in the same way you fantasise as a kid playing Little League Baseball about being in the World Series. Translating that to British, when you’re a kid playing football, you fantasise about playing in the World Cup! Were you included in the filmmaking process much?
They don’t have to include me; my only job is to cash the cheque! But they chose to involve me, which was great. Drew [ Goddard] talked to me a lot. He was then offered the Sinister Six movie, which is a dream come true for him. That was about the time that Matt Damon signed on. The studio were like, “We have a very serious actor, so let’s see which other directors are interested.” And Ridley Scott expressed interest! For a science fiction buff like you, that must have been a dream!
Of course. I love Alien and Blade Runner. I have not actually seen Prometheus, so I have no opinion on it. I’m also a big fan of science fiction TV shows. Any particular favourites?
Oh yes, absolutely. I think you might have heard of it: Doctor Who! The correct answer by the way is the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. He’s the best! Does Matt Damon satisfy your vision of Mark Watney?
When I saw the viral trailers, I got really excited. That was the first time I saw Matt Damon being Mark Watney and he’s nailed it. It’s exactly how I imagined Watney’s speech pattern, body language, affectations. Were you on set at all?
I was invited but I have a significant fear of flying, which I know is ironic! I live in California and they were filming in Budapest, so that was too much for me to consider. I would not have been able to handle it. Have you watched other recent space movies, like and
I really liked Gravity. There were some scientific inaccuracies but that’s fine, it’s a movie. Interstellar I didn’t think was that great, because it was all pretty cool science up until the end, when it starts to get really esoteric, and I’m not as into
that stuff. Does it bug you when films get the science wrong?
You can violate physical law all you want in a movie as long as you’re internally consistent about it. That’s all I want. So, if you say “We have a warp drive and it lets us go 100 times faster than light”, I’m like, “Fine”. But if you can do that, it should not take you 10 hours to get from Earth to Mars. It should take you seconds!