Matthew McConaughey’s first trip to San Diego Comic-Con is a big story. Christopher Nolan’s first trip to Comic-Con is an even bigger story. The two of them showing up to present new footage from the upcoming space-exploration thriller Interstellar? Well, that’s easily the biggest story I was able to cover at Comic-Con on Thursday.

The powerhouse duo surprised crowds by showing up unannounced at the tail end of the Paramount panel in Hall H. Matthew McConaughey took the stage first, following a new Interstellar clip that largely relied on old newsreels of politicians (like John F. Kennedy), physicists (Neil Degrasse Tyson was spotted) and former astronauts (such as Buzz Aldrin) talking about risk being "the price of progress" and how our community used to take such pride in moments of human accomplishment. They talked about the need for us, as a human population, to explore – particularly in outer space.

Such is the predominant theme of Interstellar.

McConaughey spun a story about how he got the gig, recounting how he traveled from a set in New Orleans to Los Angeles, and spoke with Christopher Nolan for nearly three hours… except not about the film. The director must have liked what he saw, though, because he eventually offered McConaughey the role of Cooper, a former pilot and an engineer who’s the widowed father of two kids. McConaughey explains that when the movie begins, the planet is "just maintaining." But we aren’t growing crops or filtering waters. We’re doing the bare necessity to survive. Then, McConaughey says, something happens that rekindles Cooper’s desire to fly again, to be a pilot and to take part in "the greatest mission mankind has ever taken." To do that, however, he has to leave his children behind.

Before Nolan came on stage, McConaughey talked a bit about how the director works. He says that even though Interstellar is a massive-scale blockbuster, the director worked very quick, giving it an indie feel. He said they often limited scenes to two or three takes. At the same time, he described Interstellar as "by far the most ambitious film Nolan has ever done."

With that, Christopher Nolan took the stage, to the thunderous applause of the Hall H crowd. What did he have to say about his latest film, his most ambitious film?

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