NASA’s announcement that a rover had discovered saltwater on Mars — and with it, potential life on the planet — surprised and delighted the general public on Monday morning.
Filmmaker Ridley Scott, on the other hand, was nonplussed by the red planet revelation.
“I knew that months ago,“ Scott, the 78-year-old director of this Friday’s sci-fi pic The Martian, told Yahoo Movies on Monday. The Martian stars Matt Damon as an astronaut/botanist who gets stranded on Mars, and has to find a way to survive on the barren planet for up to four years — a seemingly impossible feat that requires him to manufacture his own water supply by splitting and fusing elements in his lab. Scott and his screenwriter Drew Goddard worked closely with NASA to make the film’s science as realistic as possible, though the space agency couldn’t answer all their questions.
"When I first talked to NASA, we got into all kinds of stuff and I said, ‘So I know you’ve got down there [these] massive glaciers.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, that the massive white thing [on the surface of Mars] that gets covered with dust, we think that’s ice,’” Scott recalled. “And I said, 'Wow! Does that mean there was an ocean?’ Are we right now what Mars was 750 million years ago?’ And they went, ‘Uh, good question.’ So they want to go up there and find out.’”
The Martian, which also stars Jessica Chastain and Chiwetel Ejiofor, hits theaters on Friday.