As the writer/filmmaker responsible for the densely-detailed and intense films Donnie Darko and Southland Tales, Richard Kelly returns with another mind-bending sci-fi tale called The Box.
StarWars.com caught up with Kelly after a recent visit to Skywalker Ranch and ILM, to chat with him about his love for Star Wars, NASA's approval of The Box and why Jabba the Hutt should be the next Tony Soprano.
In addition to expanding on Richard Matheson's short story "Button, Button" for the plot, you also use a lot of your own parents' background stories in The Box, especially with your father's work at NASA. Why did you want the film to reflect some of your own family's history?
It just felt like the right thing to do. This felt like the kind of film I think they would appreciate. They love Alfred Hitchcock. When I found the solution to this story, and linking to my dad's work at NASA, it all came together. It felt like a way to kind of pay tribute to them and to their experiences. And that they would get a kick out of seeing elements of who they are portrayed by Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. Obviously, they're not playing my parents but it's an interpretation of them.
You don't get that many opportunities in life to try to do something cool like that for your parents. This felt like the moment to do it.
How did NASA feel about you not only using them as a story component, but actually shooting some footage there as well?
All the NASA stuff at Langley in the film was shot at NASA's Langley Research Center. It took about a year to get full cooperation from NASA and NASA headquarters and everyone at Langley. They all read the script and signed off on it. We signed a Space Act Agreement and it was a big deal.
No one has ever photographed that hangar before; no one has ever been inside that wind tunnel. There are these legendary buildings over at Langley that have never been shown before on film so it was really kind of setting a new precedent to get access to all these facilities.
My dad's work with NASA probably had a lot to do with granting me permission, and that the film might shed some light on the Viking program which was a very significant event. It's not the most well-known space mission, however anyone you talk with at NASA always go back to Viking as one of the greatest achievements in the history of space exploration. Putting a robot on Mars and sending photographs back was a profound accomplishment.
If you go online to the website YouAreTheExperiment.com you can see some of these prequel videos I put together. The first one incorporates a lot of real footage of the real scientists on the day -- June 20, 1976 -- responding and reacting to photographs being transmitted back.
Full interview here:
Richard Kelly Talks NASA, Free Will and the Hutts