Thrills, humor help lure Damon back into space for 'The Martian'

Sat Sep 12, 2015 8:36pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Hodgson

TORONTO (Reuters) - A skillful combination of suspense and humor in the story of an abandoned astronaut fighting to survive on Mars is what lured actor Matt Damon and “Alien” director Ridley Scott back into space for “The Martian”, the two men said on Saturday.

The movie, which is winning strong early reviews, had its world premiere on Friday at the Toronto international Film Festival.

Based on a novel by Andy Weir, it tells the story of Mark Watney, a botanist who is left behind and presumed dead after an expedition to the red planet is forced to evacuate early because of a storm.

Like a space age Robinson Crusoe, he is forced to improvise to survive, while using a wry sense of humor to offset the bleakness of his prospects.

"The story is really exciting, the nuts and bolts survival story is just great. But it's really funny also. So it's got a lightness to it," Damon, who recently appeared in "Interstellar" said in an interview.

"I read it really fast. I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen. But at the same time I was laughing through the entire thing."

Scott, who also directed the science fiction classic "Blade Runner", said he was drawn to the project after an initial read of the screenplay by Drew Goddard.

"When you've got a good writer like Drew you know within a page and a half whose hands you're in."   Continued...

Cast member Matt Damon arrives on the red carpet for the film "The Martian" during the 40th Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada, September 11, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch