Matt Damon: the refugee crisis is a reason to release The Martian

Matt Damon

Matt Damon believes that Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis has given his new science fiction thriller The Martian an added layer of importance.

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The optimistic tone of the film (which sees experts both on earth and in space try to help Damon’s stranded astronaut get back to earth) is seen by Damon as especially meaningful ahead of its international release in October.

“It’s a reason to put this out there for us,” Damon said during a press conference at the Toronto film festival. “It’s a really optimistic and hopeful movie and sometimes our job is to put something like that out during really tough times.”

His co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor also shared his thoughts on the real world importance of the film. “Politicians don’t really represent human instinct,” he said. “There are choices made politically that don’t represent me. I still believe in the sentiment of this film and it does represent the better part of our nature.”

The press conference also saw director Ridley Scott address the controversy surrounding his biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings, claiming he doesn’t regret his choice of a largely white cast.

“I’ve got no regrets on anything with Exodus,” he said. “I’m very proud of it but when they start saying “Well gee, shouldn’t Moses have been black and shouldn’t the wife be Ethiopian”, well I don’t know, I wasn’t there. And also, I would never have got it, it would have been limited.”

The poorly reviewed film received just a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and came under fire for “whitewashing” a story with actors such as Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton starring.

His new film The Martian, about an astronaut stranded on Mars, has been praised for its diverse cast, which includes Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Donald Glover, Michael Peña and Mackenzie Davis. Oscar nominee Chastain spoke of her pleasure to be starring in a film with strong female roles.

“I was really happy that out of a crew of six people, two of them were women,” she said. “That’s actually better odds that the current NASA program. It makes me happy to see more than just one type of person on screen.” Co-star Michael Peña joked that he was “the first Mexican in space”.

The Martian marks a return to science fiction for Scott, after Alien, Blade Runner and Prometheus, and he credits Stanley Kubrick as his main inspiration in the genre saying that Alien was “definitely affected by Stanley”. His latest film has already been compared to Gravity but Scott believes they exist in different worlds.

“Cuaron’s film is terrific but that is really about the reality of NASA and what actually goes on,” he said. “Just the exercise of doing all that and what goes on in space is absolutely bloody magnificent and it’s a real son of a bitch to shoot. I have great admiration for him.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Benjamin Lee, for theguardian.com on Friday 11th September 2015 21.20 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010