Though some might find it challenging to act in a film without a scene partner, Matt Damon joked that he enjoyed the experience on “The Martian” because “I’m a raging narcissist, so it was very natural.”
Damon was appearing with director Ridley Scott following a screening of the film at the Palm Springs International Film Festival as part of the fest’s “Talking Pictures” program on Saturday afternoon. The pair had to arrive straight from a delayed flight at the airport, but the packed audience didn’t seem to mind waiting a few extra minutes for the pair, who were greeted enthusiastically. The event was moderated by Variety's Jenelle Riley.
“The Martian” marks the first collaboration between Damon and Scott — in fact, the pair had never met before Scott expressed an interest in the script, which the actor was already attached to. But the collaborators had nothing but high praise for one another, with Damon noting that Scott tends to employ the same crew over and over again because “they don’t want to miss an opportunity to work with him.”
Scott is a meticulous planner when directing, but also said that there are times when “things don’t go quite the way you planned and the emotion takes over, which I happen to think is beautiful.”
The pair discussed the climactic scene where Damon’s astronaut Mark Watney is sent back into space with the hope his crew will be able to intercept and receive him. Damon revealed that Scott “did a really tricky thing” when they shot the scene. “The rest of the cast had already wrapped and it was just Ridley and I,” said Damon. “He got the sound from their side of the scene and he piped it into my helmet, but didn’t tell me he was going to do it. So suddenly I heard the voices of my friends and it struck me I hadn’t heard another voice for years. I’d been communicating by email. these people were coming to save me, these people who had sacrificed a year of their lives for me. And I just wept. It wasn’t planned or forced, it was about him creating an environment. And it was the dream of an actor because you just have to show up and be relaxed.”
Scott said they used the first take, and only did two total. Which prompted Damon to quip, “We’re really lazy.”