We got to sample the sheer terror and intense isolation in “Gravity” back in April through the film’s first trailer, but just yesterday, Sandra Bullock and writer-director Alfonso Cuarón took the time to enlighten us on what it took to achieve that and more at a press conference at San Diego Comic Con. Read on for the highlights from the discussion on this magical space-set nightmare.
Press Conference Highlights
– The challenge was that Cuarón didn’t want to create a new world. He wanted to make “Gravity” feel like an IMAX adventure gone wrong. He aimed to honor reality as much as possible. He recognized that “Gravity” is a work of fiction and stressed, “In the frame of that fiction, we tried to be as accurate as possible.”
– Sandra Bullock on combining humanity with the fantastical. “To me, it was all sort of fantastical and futuristic, which made it exciting and magical and frightening all in the same breathe. But I had to be very true to what someone was dealing with who would be in my position, or the character’s position, which is factual today. And I wanted to be really accurate so we had a lot of incredible specialist who did just that … There was several times I was able to call up to space and ask questions and they answered … I had to be very human in this technologically advanced space that felt very futuristic to me because, A, it had never been done before on film, so I had the benefit of both.”
– A prank-free set. “There was a truce.” Bullock further explained, “This film was so hard. Pranks had no place. There was never downtime. How are you gonna prank someone who’s hanging from a scaffolding with 12 wires? We’re rigged up all day so we had a truce at the very get-go.”
– It would not have made sense to shoot this film using 3D cameras. Cuarón explained, “Because of the technology that we used, it was practically impossible.” Cuarón recalled one scene during which Bullock was on a rig, inside a cube that was just 9×9, and because he needed a view of Bullock, he’d have to go through holes in that cube and that would have been impossible to do using two 3D cameras. There just wasn’t enough space.
– They first started converting the footage to 3D three and a half years ago.
– Bullock on consulting with real astronauts. “They were so excited about the vantage point … It’s not just adventurers going up in pods … They have a deep, deep love and appreciation for our planet and civilization and what we’re wasting, so those were the nice conversations to have.”
– Bullock has yet to see the final film, but, “I hope people come out of this feeling is having been taken completely out of their bodies … wanting to go out and do something amazing with their life, if they’re not already doing it … There’s so many beautiful storylines in this film, you come out of it feeling, hopefully, that you’re given one more chance to sort of be born again to do exactly what it is your supposed to do in this lifetime, and that having been in the end of this horrific, beautiful, frightening experience.”
– Bullock on working with George Clooney. “We’re part of a close group of friends, so I’ve known George before the world knew, you know, handsome George, and the same person he was then is the exact same person he is now … He’s the ultimate team worker. You never know [when] you’re dealing with someone who’s had the level of success that he has, but all he cares about is being at the table, beginning of a film, reading the script, ‘What lines are great? How can I help?’ … You’re always grateful when you’re working with George because he wants everyone else to look better. He always wants everyone else to have their moment … He’s always looking out for everyone.” Cuarón added that there was a point during which they were working on a bunch of scenes with Bullock. “He could have just done his job and left,” but when he realized they were struggling, he offered to help. Clooney even rewrote one scene.
– As a kid, Cuarón dreamed of becoming an astronaut. “I remember when I realized being an astronaut was not going to be an option, I remember I said, ‘Well, then I’m going to be a director of films of space.’” However, after having done “Gravity,” he admits, “I will never do another film in space.”
– Bullock on female roles in the sci-fi genre. “I never thought of myself as a woman in the business until about six years ago when I was involved in a project and went, ‘Oh my god, the walls I’m running into because I’m female.’ I wasn’t raised that way, and I was appalled, I was depressed because I never felt like I wasn’t given the opportunities because I would find them, but for lead roles in films, the roles haven’t been as many as we like, but making this character female I think was hugely brave, but also it gives you so many different levels of angst and worry … It’s not like you’re going, ‘Oh, here’s a woman in space.’ It’s just a person.” Cuarón even admitted that he was pressured to make her role a male character, but clearly those voices weren’t powerful enough. Bullock joked, “But also I can be incredibly masculine.”
– Cuarón creating the feeling of anxiety and fear via visuals. “Part of the concept from the get-go was this idea that it should feel like an IMAX documentary or a Discovery Channel documentary that goes wrong.
– Fun Fact: The original title of the film was “Gravity: A Space Suspense in 3D.”
“Gravity” is due to hit theaters on October 4, 2013.