Director: Peter Chelson
Writers: Allan Leob (screenplay), Stewart Schill (story)
Starring: Britt Robertson, Asa Butterfield, Gary Oldman
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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The first human born on Mars travels to Earth for the first time, experiencing the wonders of the planet through fresh eyes. He embarks on an adventure with a street smart girl to discover how he came to be.As I mentioned in my review of “The Space Between Us”, I became a fan of Asa Butterfield when I saw him as Jake in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, so when I was given the chance to interview him I was very excited. He was a complete sweetheart and we got to talk a bit about London (I loved it when I went there!) and about the Miami weather. Without further ado…Here’s Asa’s interview:
First of all, how are you liking Miami so far?
Asa: It’s nice. I went to the beach yesterday. London is just cold and gray all the time.
What’s your dream role?
Asa: My dream role? I get asked this a lot and I can never give a good answer because I never really think about it. I kind of just play it as it comes, what roles and scripts I read.
Do you have a preference? For example, do you prefer sci-fi since you’ve done “Ender’s Game” and “The Space Between Us”.
Asa: I like doing all sorts of films actually. I don’t tell my agent that I want to do sci-fi or western, it really depends on the script and the character. I do like fantasy and sci-fi because it gives more freedom to do a lot of things.
So what drew you to do this movie?
Asa: It had a lot of different things going on, a lot of different genres. I felt the character was very interesting: playing someone that is experiencing everything we take for granted, experiencing it for the first time and the wonders of it, and making all those mistakes. I thought it’d be very funny, different, and challenging –which it was.
How did you prepare for this role?
Asa: There was the walk since coming from Mars to Earth you’d feel a little heavier, so I practiced with weights on my ankles and waist to see how much more difficult it’d be to walk and run around, and it affected the way I moved. I also watched films of people coming from space and I tried to recreate it but without the weights.
What do you hope people take away from this movie?
Asa: I hope they open their eyes to what we have as a planet, which we are very lucky to have and a lot of people ignore or don’t realize.
Is there something specific you want people to open their eyes to?
Asa: Well, yeah, the landscape, I think the natural side of it, like you see in the film some mountain views, but also the human aspect of it. Like going to see hot air balloons which Gardner sees for the first time, which most of us don’t even give a second glance to because we are all on our phones now.
What do you think you have in common with Gardner and what did you learn from playing that character?
Asa: We are both very curious and interested in things. I really like learning about weird things and I can spend a whole evening reading. Just like how Gardner is fascinated by everything he sees.
Did you practice to be surprised since there are a lot of moments in which you have to act surprised?
Asa: I did my surprise face in the mirror all day (laughs). No, I’m joking. I don’t know. People ask me how I prepare to be a certain character and I can’t explain, because it’s more than acting, it’s mental, it’s what’s inside your head and you can’t really explain that. So, I don’t know is my answer (laughs).
You haven’t done a lot of romantic scenes in the movies you’ve been in, so how was doing the romantic scene with Britt Robertson? Was it awkward?
Asa: No, it’s not awkward. When you have that type of relationship that you have to sell on screen, it’s always a lot easier when you get along with that person. Britt is very sweet, very chilled out, which is great because I kind of felt anxious and she was very relaxed. And, in those kind of scenes, you just can’t take it too seriously or otherwise it does get awkward, and then on camera you’ll go ‘why do these guys look so awkward?’ when you’re watching the film.
Gardner grows up having everything he needs, but he wants more; he just wants to connect. Do you believe that there is anything more valuable than human connection because, at the end of the day, that’s what the movie is about.
Asa: I’m glad you got that because it is about science fiction, but it’s ultimately about these connections and relationships between these characters. And I do lean towards human contact, someone to talk to. I do like being by myself, having alone time, but I do believe it’s important to have that connection, so living on Mars would be a struggle for me.
If given the opportunity to live on Mars, would you take it?
Asa: No. I would like to go into space; I would like to go into zero gravity because I have pretended to be in zero g so many times. It would be awesome to experience that, do different types of experiments. But Mars is a little bit too far away.
How did you feel working with Gary Oldman?
Asa: Uh, Gary Oldman is an amazing actor to work with, as an actor. But, as a guy, he’s so kind of…normal, and funny. He doesn’t take himself too seriously at all, which is great to see in someone like that because, again, it relaxes the whole atmosphere on set. Because no one is going like ‘Oh, Gary is coming, let me do my tie up’, because his hair is a mess and yeah, it’s great.
Which director would you like to work with next?
Asa: I don’t know; I’m open. I don’t like to set myself any goals because I feel bad if I fail to reach them, so I just go with the flow. I’ve worked with some incredible directors that no one has ever heard of, so I think it’s not fair to set those goals.
Can you tell us a bit about any new roles you’re working on now?
Asa: Yes, I was filming last year; it’s called “The House of Tomorrow”, which is an independent American film. I played with Alan Wolf, which we are sort of in this punk rock band, and it was incredible.
You’ve played a lot of characters throughout the years, is there one that stood out to you the most?
Asa: I really like Gardner, really. It was fun bringing him to life because he is so different character than all the other ones I’ve played.
Since you started acting so young, do you feel like you missed out on things?
Asa: I think I may have missed out on little things, but it didn’t really faze me. I’d come back to school and it didn’t really make a difference. It didn’t feel like I’d been away. But I did mature pretty quickly, which I am still not sure if it’s good or bad thing. I mean, I still act pretty immature, so I guess it balances out.
Were there any other space movies you watched to get into that mode?
Asa: It does have some references to E.T., which I think is quite sweet. And they make a lot of references to Wings of Desire.
If you wouldn’t be into acting, what do you think you’d be doing?
Asa: I’d be out with a camera in a forest or some type of savannah, just filming the animals. I love nature, I love animals –always have, and I really love photography as well.
Do you ever want to be on the other side of the camera?
Asa: I would love to be a cameraman. Directing, maybe, but cameraman definitely.
If you were told today is your last day on Earth because tomorrow you are leaving to Mars, what would you do?
Asa: Oh my God, what am I going to do? So many things. I will have to say I would spend it with my family, do the nice thing. And stash as many things as I can to steal to Mars.
So, what’s your favorite thing about Earth?
Asa: Music. I love hip hop, but classic hip hop. From early 2000s: Eminem, Tupac, Biggie Smalls. I also like reggae and soul music.