Moonfall Director Roland Emmerich On Smuggling Science Fiction Into A Disaster Movie [Interview]

I had a blast with “Moonfall,” but one thing that kept sticking with me is that it’s not the movie that’s being sold. The trailers are all about the mass destruction, but that’s just the dressing for some wild hard sci-fi elements.

The whole marketing part is super-complicated. I hate movies where you have a feeling you saw the whole film, you know what I mean? And then it’s always like… give glimpses of something, but maybe not the wide room. Not this, not that. So I totally agree with Lionsgate, where they went with the marketing, because for me, it was important that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. That’s always, for me, something which I really, really insist on.

All of your movies have a sense of humor. They’re all goofy, but your storytelling and your characters don’t feel like they’re in on the joke. The humor always comes from a way that feels natural.

And it is. And it is. I mean, it’s never good to make fun of your movies. [Humor] always comes naturally out of the character and, most of the time, the conflict between characters, and that they don’t believe each other at the beginning, and then they start to believe. This time we have a conspiracy theorist who believes megastructures are out there in the world, or in the universe, for the whole film. And that was kind of just fun for me, because I think John Bradley did a really great job. That was actually something I always liked. And then we have this more emotional story with Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson, [and] with their kids, as an extra kind of storyline.

John Bradley is really funny in this movie. I know him from “Game of Thrones,” of course, where he just played such a sad, miserable character. So it was fun to see him cut loose here. Can you talk about working with him to make a character like that? He’s the film’s heart in many ways.

He’s such an amazing actor, and he brought so much heart to it. And I always like that he feels like he has intelligence. You know what I mean? There’s nothing really forced about it. We made him, on the other hand, also a little bit sad, because he always wants to have his mom know that he did something great.

I also want to touch on Patrick Wilson. He reminds me of … Well, here’s a strange jump back in time, but I always loved how Peter Cushing, in the ’50s and ’60s, would appear in all these horror movies, all these genre movies, and would take them so seriously. He would lend credence to how the movie felt. You bought it because he was clearly selling it. And I think Patrick Wilson, in a lot of horror movies, the superhero movies, and now “Moonfall,” he feels like a modern version of that, an actor who is so reliably straight-faced that you buy anything absurd because he’s telling you.

Yes Yes. I learned that actually when we shot “Midway,” you kind of really listen to him. You know what I mean? It’s very rare that you find an actor you really listen to. And so that was one thing. And then he is such an amazing actor, and he does it with so little, you know what I mean? … It’s just like, you believe this guy, whatever he says.

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