INTERVIEW WITH GARY OLDMAN & ASA BUTTERFIELD
This year is shaping up as a brilliant year for people that love space-orientated films. Of course we have the big blockbuster Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 heading into cinemas very soon but this has so far been a year when there have been plenty of films out there for those that like their space movies to be a little more serious.
We’ve already seen Life – a film which saw Jake Gyllenhall and Ryan Reynolds battling a space creature on the International Space Station in a film that was a seriously good suspense thriller and of course there was Passengers – a film which tested the audience’s moral stance as Chris Pratt decided to ‘wake’ Jennifer Laurence despite the fact it would ruin her life. Another film that crept into Australian cinemas with very little fanfare was director Peter Chelsom’s (Serendipity, Hector And The Search For Happiness) new film – A Space Between Us, a film that sees a human born on Mars travelling to Earth for the first time.
The star of the film is Asa Butterfield, an actor who is not a stranger to science fiction after his wonderful portrayal in Ender’s Game. As an actor Butterfield has also shown that he can handle seriously dramatic roles – something that he proved with brilliant performances in the Holocaust drama The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Hugo. In The Space Between Us Butterfield has to mix his sci-fi knowledge with his dramatic acting experience and he does it wonderfully well.
In fact it was because the role was so challenging that he accepted the opportunity to play it in the first place. “Firstly I think Gardiner is an interesting character,” says Butterfield. “Whenever I read I script I always look out for originality and characters which will challenge me and will give me the option to do something completely different and this was exactly that, because he is so unexperienced in the real world and I thought it would be interesting to try and convey that kind of feeling. Gardiner has lived his whole life on this space station on Mars. Ever since he was born really so he has had a pretty limited experience of the outside world. Pretty much all he knows is what happens on Mars and the few snippets of information that he gathers through different things to find out about Earth, which is something that he loves and craves. His whole life revolves around this idea of one day getting to Earth.”
With such a dramatic move from Mars to Earth Butterfield says some of the challenges facing Gardiner are things you normally wouldn’t think of. “The first thing to affect him is the change in gravity,” he explains. “That causes difficulties for him with walking and running… just about doing anything really. But he eventually gets to used to that but then his whole experience with social interaction is so limited that he has no idea what to do in certain situations. He doesn’t know how to read social cues and doesn’t understand sarcasm, there are a lot of different things that actually come across as pretty funny in the film and they were really fun to play with. There is also a sense of belonging which I think we can all connect with as well – belonging somewhere and feeling like you are worth something. Gardiner doesn’t really feel that at the start of the film because nobody knows that he exists. In his own words – ‘how can he be indispensable if nobody knows that he is alive? And so his whole motive of finding somewhere where he belongs and feels safe is something that I think everybody needs and that everyone strives for.”
Butterfield says one of the other things he loved about working on The Space Between Us was that he got to work with Hollywood star-on-the-rise Britt Robertson and screen legend Gary Oldman. “Britt has been so much fun to work with,” he says. “I mean this whole story revolves around Gardiner and Tulsa’s relationship so Britt and I had a lot of fun. The way their relationship evolves throughout the film is kind of interesting because they balance each other out. Tulsa is this maniac kind of energy and Gardiner is much calmer. Gary was brilliant to work with – he is a really nice guy and he is a phenomenal actor as well so getting to work with him for a few weeks was a lot of fun. I think I’ve learnt a lot as well, I mean he is cool and he is really, really funny and he makes the whole mood on set feel really, really light and not too serious.”
Oldman, like Butterfield, says that what made him want to work on the film was the script. “Firstly it was a very good script,” he says thinking hard. “It was unusual and it had this great charm to it. It’s a family movie and I thought it was a great character and a great script and it was a chance for me to finally get to work with Peter Chesolm whom I have known for over twenty-five years.”
He says the challenge of playing such an intriguing character, like Nathaniel, also drew him to the film. “This man that has such as a single obsession and passion,” he says with passion himself. “He has this drive which I guess you could say is kind of loosely based on this kind of Richard Branson like businessman/scientist/entrepreneur. He fulfils this passion and this ambition only to then be thwarted and then presented with an even greater challenge which is the young boy – Gardiner. When we first see Nathaniel we wanted to see the youthfulness, the drive and the energy of someone that can run Genesis – that can literally come up with these ideas and then make the material up. So he wanted to see that drive and that passion and that enthusiasm. And then we have that bit where I step back from the company and years later you see that not only being outside, not only taking a backseat but also becoming more and more reclusive but he also has the strain of keeping that secret of Gardiner. It’s taken its toll on me and it is only when they start discussing about bringing him back that it reignites the fight in Nathaniel. When you see those interviews with Richard Branson you really do think that everything is possible… you can see it in their DNA – they are driven and they are unstoppable.”
If you missed The Space Between Us in the cinemas don’t worry you can pre-order it on DVD/Blu-Ray right now.
Written by David Griffiths