Matt Damon is getting lost in space once more as he is playing astronaut Mark Watney in an adaptation of The Martian by Andy Weir, which is best described as Robinson Crusoe on Mars.
Andy Weir’s 2011 novel has been lauded for its accuracy and even retired celebrity astronaut Chris Hadfield gave it his seal of approval. No sooner had it landed on the bookshelves that talk began about a possible movie.
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. He has however has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meagre supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
In the novel, Mark is like the equivalent of a space age MacGyver stranded on Mars, as he comes up with inventive ways to stay alive. He has to make food and water on a planet where nothing grows. There is plenty of humour in the book, especially as the character ends up watching 80s TV shows and commenting on them.
The film is not a one man show however, as the cast includes Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristin Wiig and Chiwetel Ejiofor. The director is a man who knows how to do space opera, as sitting on the chair is none other than Ridley Scott whose Alien movies are keystones of the genre.
Damon has said that he was initially reluctant to take the role so soon after playing a similar character in the film Interstellar but explained that the script was so good that he could not turn it down. The star of the Bourne films said that he was ‘more than happy to go into space once more’ when he heard that Ridley Scott was the director.
In an on set interview Damon revealed that he had actually not read the book before accepting the role. “I first read the script and I really loved it. I had not read the book. I missed it when it came out and caused this whole sensation. I just thought that the script was such a great original story, and there are not a lot of original stories being made into films right now so I wanted to do it. When I got a call that Ridley Scott was going to do it that was the end of my deliberations and I just said yes,” he said.
Andy Weir (43) has been left overwhelmed at the success of his debut novel. The Californian was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at the tender age of fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He describes himself as a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight.
The idea of humans living on Mars has been inspiration for many science fiction writers over the years. NASA itself is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s. Watch this space!