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Interstellar, the Christopher Nolan-directed space epic you've either seen or heard about these past two weeks, has already grossed over $132 million worldwide, fulfilling its destiny as 2014's most anticipated film.
Which is why the fact that a behind-the-scenes book— ($30.75, Titan)—has already been released is no real surprise.
What is more of a surprise is some of things the book has to tell us about the film, from its conception right up its release this month, including Louisiana storms, dead Templar knights, and torturous filming equipment.
Here are the more eye-catching revelations:
1. Nolan had been preparing for Interstellar since he was a child.
Nolan saw Star Wars 12 times in theaters as a youngster, and he did extensive research into the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey after his father took him to see it. He and his brother Jonathan (who wrote the first three drafts of Interstellar's script) used to watch Super 8 footage of space launches as children, and their uncle worked on the Saturn space program. All in all, it was inevitable that Nolan—if he didn't become an astronaut—would one day end up making a film about outer space.
2. Interstellar is a reaction to a decline in the U.S. space program.
During the early stages of the film's production, the future of space travel looked bleak. America was cutting back its space program, and it seemed like interest in space was dwindling. Interstellar was intended, in part, as a reaction to that, or, as producer Lynda Obst puts it, as a reminder of "our ability to use technology for all mankind, not for drones or bunker bombs."
3. "Sci-fi" was a dirty word on set.
The phrase "No, that feels too sci-fi" was in constant use during production. That means that chrome spacesuits and sprawling spaceship sets were out, the wardrobe was mostly purchased in charity shops, and the sets were deliberately cramped and intimate, echoing the feel of modern-day spacecraft. All of which is further evidence of Nolan's early obsession with space—that "used future" look (or "NASA aesthetic," as he calls it) has its beginnings in late-'70s sci-fi such as Star Wars and Alien.
4. The whole film was made with one camera.
It was a good one, though. Nolan's filming technique is a bit unusual—he used one handheld IMAX camera (which was "torture" to carry) and shot in 35mm and 65mm film. He'd shoot a take from one angle half a dozen times, and then move to another angle and do the same again. Most peculiarly of all, though, is that he'd shoot intimate scenes with IMAX, as well as the major visual shots or action sequences.
5. The crew literally weathered a storm to make it.
To simulate the turbulent descent onto the ice planet that appears later in the film, the main unit—who had been filming on a soundstage—scrambled into a Learjet equipped with a nose-mounted IMAX camera and flew straight into a massive storm system that had appeared over Louisiana. That's commitment.
6. Nolan became a father during filming.
Interstellar, Nolan insists, is a film more about family than space. It's fitting then that he had his first child in the middle of production. "Even when I was watching early sequences of the film," he says, "I was experiencing them on an emotional level completely different from when I wrote the script."
7. The story was developed and influenced by a theoretical physicist.
There's a decent chance, if you've seen Interstellar, that you found yourself slightly baffled by the film's science. Well, you've got theoretical physicist Kip Thorne to thank for that. His bestselling book, Black Holes and Time Warps, was a major influence on the film, hence the wormholes, Tesseracts, gravitational anomalies, quantum theories, advanced mathematics, and even more advanced physics. So in other words, don't feel bad: It literally does take a genius to figure out what's going on.
8. There is hardly any CGI in the entire film.
Obviously, if you're making a film set in space, you're going to use a little bit of digital wizardry. But computer effects were largely avoided for Interstellar in favor of location shoots across the world, on-set camera trickery, and 60-foot projections of the cosmos on set backgrounds. The lack of green-screen and CGI had a knock-on effect on the actors' performances, too. After all, it's much easier to act like you're on another world when you actually feel like you're another world.
9. The composer had no idea he was working on a sci-fi epic.
Instead, Hans Zimmer—who has worked with Nolan on almost all of his films—was asked to write a piece of music to score a small, heartfelt scene where a parent talks about their child. Nolan then revealed his plans for Interstellar, and Zimmer based the film's soundtrack around that one piece. Oh, and they recorded the whole score standing among the graves of medieval knights in Temple Church, London. Because why not?
10. A director's cut is coming.
In fact, it has been assembled and ready since last May, half a year before the film's release. No word on a release date, yet, of course, but it's definitely out there, somewhere in the infinite vastness of space and time.
Originally published at .