Cannes: 'Last Days on Mars' Director and Olivia Williams on Making the Mars Sci-Fi Thriller (Video)
The Directors' Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival doesn't have a reputation for being especially inclusive to films in the sci-fi genre, but Ruairi Robinson's Last Days on Mars is the exception to the rule.
"I think the festival director [Edouard Waintrop] seems like the awesomest guy in the world and he like the kind of stuff," Robinson says when he sits down with star Olivia Williams for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on the morning of the premiere.
Robinson makes his feature film directorial debut with the project, which stars Williams, Liev Schreiber, Romola Garai and Elias Koteas and has its premiere at Cannes on Monday night.
Written by Clive Dawson, the sci-fi horror film follows a group of humans who have been on Mars looking for signs of life for six months. Just as they're about to leave, they discover something interesting, but they soon realize that the discovery has very dark consequences.
"I'd been looking around for a few years for a paranoia sci-fi project, that's kind of my thing," he says, adding that he's a fan of The Thing and the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. "There's been kind a lack of those movies in years."
Robinson says they moved very quickly through the development process, which was a different experience for the director -- who spent several years working on another project, Akira, that never made it to the screen.
"That's not a phrase you hear very often in movie making: 'It went through development so fast,'" says Williams.
Williams, who started off her career with the post-apocalyptic film The Postman opposite Kevin Costner, plays Kim, one of the ambitious scientists on Mars.
"She's as unpopular as most women in history who turn out to be right," jokes Williams.
Robinson says that shooting the film was slightly similar to the story line of a group of people stuck in isolation in very tight quarters. Before all the terrifying action takes place in the film, there are some entertaining scenes of the characters bickering after spending so many months together.
"It was kind of a pressure cooker environment. It was very hot and they're wearing these big, uncomfortable suits," he tells THR of the shoot.
There was added pressure on Romola Garai, who was dealing with the side effects of pregnancy during the shoot.
Says Williams of Garai's challenged with the astronaut helmets: "She had a very strong character preoccupation, which was not to be sick on set, or in her goldfish bowl."
When a sci-fi film has a seemingly ambiguous ending, it can mean that a sequel could be in the works, which is what one story on the internet hinted at for Robinson's film.
"I read that on the internet," says Robinson. "That's like a line twisted out of context. The story I think ends in an interesting and ambiguous note that could lead on, but it wasn't planned to be that way. That's the ending of the story."
"I think maybe the musical version needs to be made next," jokes Williams.
Watch THR's interview with Robinson and Williams above to hear more about Last Days on Mars.