With Passengers now in theaters, Collider sat down recently with the filmmakers at a press conference in Los Angeles to discuss the new sci-fi action-adventure scripted by Jon Spaihts and directed by Morten Tyldum, the Best Director Oscar nominee for 2014’s The Imitation Game. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as Aurora and Jim, two strangers on the trip of a lifetime, bound for a human colony that’s 120 years away, who find themselves in peril when their hibernation pods awaken them 90 years too early. Their only companion is Arthur (Michael Sheen), an android bartender onboard their luxury starship who becomes the ultimate confidant.
The intimate story is set on a large stage against the huge backdrop of space. It’s filled with high stakes action, romance, and stunning visual effects where everything hinges on two heroic characters who must face extreme situations and make extraordinary choices. Tyldum felt Lawrence and Pratt were the perfect actors with the right chemistry to bring Aurora and Jim to life and play these epic roles. Without giving away too much, we’ve put together a list of 12 things we learned from talking with the film’s director, writer and stars:
Jon Spaihts’ inspiration for writing this story began with his fascination with the notion of the vastness of space and the metaphorical value of that — how alone we are traveling between the stars and how it can produce a solitary experience vaster than anything we would normally ever know in our lives. He listened to a lot of Thomas Newman scores to capture the right tone while writing the screenplay.
JON SPAIHTS: Somebody asked me once who’s the most lonely person in the history of the human race. It’s probably one of the Moon astronauts. The person that was probably the farthest from the nearest human being in human history was Michael Collins, the astronaut in the command capsule orbiting the Moon when the other two guys got to land. He’s on the far side of the Moon from those guys. He’s farther from the nearest human being than any other person has ever been. I thought, “Alright, what if you take that distance and magnify it by many orders of magnitude?” I fell in love with the notion of a man stranded alone between the stars and where that story would take him. Thomas Newman was my go-to mood music for writing the film. When he ended up scoring the film, it was like a dream come true.
There is one scene Spaihts hopes audiences will love the most.
SPAIHTS: There is a wonderful and terrible scene in the middle of the movie where the relationship between Jim and Aurora suddenly changes. I think it is the most amazing and punishing and brilliant thing in the movie. I hope people see it like I see it. When I watch that scene on screen, I forget I’m looking at a movie. I’m just living in that moment with those characters and feeling their feelings, and that makes me forget myself.
Passengers is an intimate story about two characters alone and trapped in time, but it also has this vast, epic scope. It’s a film about what it is that we as human beings fundamentally need to live a fulfilled life. That’s what Morten Tyldum found was most important at the movie’s core and what made it so unique.
MORTEN TYLDUM: We always live ahead. We’re always planning what we’re going to do in the future. What happens if you take two characters and say, “There is no future. There is only now.” What is it that we need now? To me, these two characters need two things. They need to love something and they need to fulfill something in themselves. Jim needs to build something. Aurora needs to write a story. She thinks it’s about something great outside of her, but it’s actually a story about herself. That is what I think we all need as people. We need to be able to feel love and we need to be able to complete something in us. That was what was important for me in attacking this story. You take something that is so private and personal and intimate, and at the same time, give it this big scope of space, this spaceship, and this world which is very unique and only belongs to this film.