Drew Goddard cut his teeth in the entertainment industry as a writer for Joss Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Since then he’s stayed largely in the TV world, having worked on Alias, Lost, and Marvel’s Daredevil series, but he continues to flex some increasingly big movie muscles. He wrote Cloverfield, he directed Cabin in the Woods (which he co-wrote with Whedon), and he was supposed to write and direct The Sinister Six before the Andrew Garfield-version of Spider-Man fell to the wayside.

Goddard’s latest movie credit is as the screenwriter of The Martian, which he adapted from Andy Weir’s fantastic book about an astronaut who gets mistakenly left for dead on Mars. In fact, Goddard was the original director on the project but had to pass when The Sinister Six got the greenlight. The Martian then became a Ridley Scott movie, which was a bit of a dream come true for Goddard considering it was another Ridley Scott movie that helped fuel his interest in becoming a filmmaker in the first place.

We spoke to Goddard on the phone earlier this week, where he told us about all of this, the difficulties of turning The Martian into a movie, and even a bit about Robopocalypse and his own next directorial project.

 

On the sci-fi movie that changed his life:

“It’s funny, but it was Blade Runner. Star Wars obviously I grew up with, so that was the first one for sure, but when Blade Runner came out…a lot of kids at that time, we all said, “Oh, hey, Han Solo is going to be in this other movie. This looks cool, let’s go see this other Han Solo movie!” And it wasn’t a Han Solo movie at all.

“It’s this crazy existential treatise on existence, really. I think I was 7 and it blew my mind. It was like, ‘Wait, what? The bad guy can win? The bad guy has the most interesting arc in the movie and the good guy just sort of shoots people in the back and gets beat up a lot?’ It just changed the way I thought. I remember it so specifically. To this day I can trace a lot of things I like about storytelling to that movie.”

 

So then did he geek out with Blade Runner director Ridley Scott while making The Martian?

“Every day! Every single day I’d bother him with Blade Runner questions. He was very sweet about it, but at some point I’m sure he thought, ‘Okay nerd, quit talking about Blade Runner.'”


 

Will Ridley Scott be doing a The Martian director’s cut that includes some of the stuff from the book that wasn’t in the final film?

“I haven’t talked to him about this, but I doubt there will be. I’ve seen all the cuts and I think without question the best version of the movie is the one that’s on screens now. There may be fun deleted scenes, because we definitely shot scenes that we cut. This is a Ridley question, I suppose, but I definitely think he put the best version on the screen.

“It didn’t change any more or less than any other movie I’ve been on. You always go ‘Okay, this works. This doesn’t work. Some of this part works, this other part works way better than we thought.’ And you start putting things in other places to see if you can get away with it. The real challenge of the book is that there is so much stuff and you can’t gather it all or your movie would be at least three hours long, so you have to make some tough decisions. There is certainly stuff from the book that I really miss because I love it, but I also understand why we couldn’t do them.”

 

On his favorite part of the book that didn’t make it into the movie:

“I knew even when I was going to direct it that things were going to get cut. When you do this long enough, you can see what everyone is going to want to cut. In the book there’s this great, running flashback that shows how the HAB gets made and how the fabric gets made and how the four-year process of building it leads to its eventual tear. I love that scene so much because it’s so bizarre and incongruous to the rest of the story, but that’s also why it had to get cut. I was on board, but it was also my favorite thing in the entire book.”

 

 

On the hardest part of adapting the book?

“The big challenge is just having a guy alone on a planet. So much of the book is his voice, so the question is how do we get that across when we can’t just read narration from the book. The book is all in past tense, so how do you make that active? How do you make it active, but still keep his voice real? It was a challenge, but to me it was a fun challenge.”

 

Was deciding to not direct The Martian one of his hardest career decisions?

“Yeah, but the reason I had to make it is because I had three projects that got greenlit at the same time. So even though it’s a hard decision to have to make, it’s a good decision to have the option to make. This falls under the category of high class problems.

“The truth is I tried to figure out how to have my cake and eat it too. My biggest fear was actually that the movie would never get made. At the time it wasn’t a bestseller, it was an eBook. I didn’t know that we could really get it made. It’s delicate and all about the people who are there at that time that year because movies are built on momentum and I didn’t want to lose momentum. So it was important to me to not wait for two years until I was done. “

 

But Fox would still have waited for him to direct it:

“Fox was great and supportive. They said, “Look, if you’re telling us you can’t be involved unless you’re the director, we will wait for you.” And I said, ‘No, no, let’s compare our lists of directors and if there’s someone we all agree and they say yes, let’s do it.’ And Ridley Scott was the number one on both of our lists and he read it that day and said yes, so it all happened so fast. 

“Literally he read it on a plane and then said yes when he landed. I don’t know that there was time for the decision to be difficult. When Ridley says yes, you’re just thrilled. When Simon called me to say he was officially in, I did one of those cinematically goofy hoots as I yelled and pumped my fist.”

 

On not having to dumb down the science of the book:

“It wasn’t so much of simplifying it so much as it was that at some point the scenes just become too f—king long. You just can’t spend that much time talking about it. But that’s just screenwriting. You have to get in and out as quickly as you can or the audience will get sick of you. They just will. So the challenge is always trying to figure out how to say something in the most concise way without sacrificing the intelligence of the book. Figuring out how to not dumb it down was the challenge. The challenge is trusting that audiences would go with it. And it can get hard because you second guess yourself. But when we showed it to an audience, the first thing out of their mouth was that they responded to the dense science.”

 

On the sci-fi optimism of The Martian compared to the sci-fi pessimism of Robopocalypse, another book he adapted:

“There’s something about sci-fi movies in general that tends to be pessimistic. So that’s something that attracted me to The Martian. Every page of Andy’s book is so optimistic. I wrote a couple drafts of [Robopocalypse]. The truth is I like both. I’ve got both sides. I’ve made movies where we ended the world. Both are things I respond to and every movie is different. The one thing I try not to do is repeat myself. Maybe I was just at a happy place in my life and [The Martian] really spoke to me.”


 

On the one theme that unites Buffy, Angel, Cabin in the Woods and everything else he works on:

“It’s never conscious when I figure out what attracts me to projects. All I know is that I have to be haunted by it. I have to not stop thinking about it. It’s only after we’ve made it that I can look at it and realize what the themes are that I keep coming back to. There are certainly themes of characters taking care of one another in the face of doom. That’s been in everything I have ever done.

“Everything I have ever done is summarized in the final scene of Cabin in the Woods, where a character says “I’m sorry I let you get attacked by a werewolf and ended the world.” And then other person says “I get it,” and they just hold hands and the world ends. And I didn’t even write that scene! Joss [Whedon] wrote it. But there’s a reason I was attracted to his work so strongly, because I think his work is always about that also. His work is always about characters taking care of one another in the face of craziness, for lack of a better word.

“It’s also in the movies I love that have nothing to do with me. Even something like Blade Runner. Everyone rightfully says it is a noir, but it’s also about characters desperately trying to stay alive, desperately trying to seek out more life and connection with one another. That’s in every frame of that movie. These are the themes I keep coming back to.”

 

On how long it will be before he directs again:

“Hopefully not too long, but I do not make it easy on myself. There are projects that are much more likely to go that I would say yes to, but I don’t know man. The problem with directing is that it’s at least two years of your life, so you have to be really inspired by it. Whereas with screenwriting there’s comfort in knowing I can work with other directors. I like having that choice. So the truth is I just go year-to-year and project-to-project and when it’s right, it’s right. When it’s not, you keep trying to find that thing that is worth spending two years of your life on.

“That being said, being around Ridley has been great because he sort of slaps me when I say stuff like that. He’ll say “Just start shooting, man. Quit f—king around.” And I think there’s something to be said of that. So hopefully it will be soon.”

 

And what will that movie be?

“It’s an original idea of mine that’s haunting me. I hope to be done with it by the end of the year, and then I’ll find out if anyone will give me the money to actually do it. But I’ve certainly been having fun with it so far, that’s for sure.”

 

The Martian is in theaters now.

 

Article source: http://www.movies.com/movie-news/drew-goddard-interview-the-martian/19294?wssac=164&wssaffid=news