February 11, 2016 / 4:43 PM / 3 years ago

Obama reveals his inner nerd, picks Mars companions

U.S. President Barack Obama smiles at a reporter's question after delivering his statement on the economy in the press briefing room at the White House in Washington, February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said he would want both brains and brawn beside him should he ever end up on Mars, an interview with the self-described “nerd” in Popular Science magazine revealed.

Asked to choose as a companion on Mars between Mark Watney, the astronaut played by Matt Damon in last year’s space hit “The Martian” or Ellen Ripley, the alien-blasting hero of “Alien,” Obama said he could not pick just one.

“As long as it’s a hypothetical question, can’t I pick both?” Obama said in the interview, published on Thursday.

“If I’ve got Matt Damon growing potatoes and Sigourney Weaver taking care of any unwelcome intruders, I like my chances,” he said.

Obama has said his favorite movie of 2015 was “The Martian,” in which Damon uses his knowledge of botany to grow potatoes to survive being stranded on Mars.

“There was one line Matt Damon delivered where he said, ‘I’m just going to science the heck out of this,’” Obama said in a speech last month, offering a sanitized version of Damon’s line as an example of “the American spirit.”

Obama has been a big promoter of science, technology, engineering and math education during his time in office, hosting an annual White House science fair that he has said is one of his favorite times of the year.

Asked whether he considered himself a nerd, Obama said: “I’d like to think I have at least a little nerd credibility built up.”

“What’s remarkable is the way ‘nerd’ is such a badge of honor now. Growing up, I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid who read Spider-Man comics and learned how to do the Vulcan salute, but it wasn’t like it is today,” he said.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Alistair Bell

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