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The Incredible, And Strange, Challenges Filming In Zero-G Caused For The Life Cast


After the critical and financial success of both Gravity and The Martian in recent years it's no surprise that another space set disaster film packed with Hollywood's finest is on the horizon in the shape of Life. But Life is a little different. Because like the old quote about Ginger Rogers, who did everything Fred Astaire did except backwards and in high heels, Life is set to possess the same pulsating yet fraught tension and compelling storytelling as its most recent predecessors, but is all in zero-gravity, as well. Meaning, there will be a quite a few additional hurdles for the characters to overcome. It also meant that simply filming Life came with its abundance of challenges, too.

Back in August I had the great pleasure of visiting the set of Life across the pond in ol' London town. (Well, Shepperton Studios in Surrey to be precise, but that's by the by). During these pleasantries, I was part of a pack of journalists that sat down with Life's impressive ensemble, which includes Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ariyon Bakare, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Olga Dihovichnaya. It was during this chat that Life's cast opened up about just how aware everyone on set had to be regarding the zero-gravity. Ryan Reynolds, who plays Rory Adams, the engineer on the International Space Station, admitted that you had to suddenly be aware of every single body movement that you made as the character. Reynolds explained,

It's tough. I remember the first day, maybe it wasn't the first day, it was the fourth day or something, and we were doing a scene in the kitchen, the Unity Kitchen. At one point I started doing something like this, and I realized you can't do that. That's gravity. If I were to lean on my hand it would just be like that. You constantly have to re-evaluate how you just sit.

These were sentiments that his co-star Jake Gyllenhaal, who portrays the ISS's doctor David Jordan, echoed. The Nightcrawler actor confessed that he inadvertently almost added an extra $250,000 to Life's budget just by sipping on a water bottle. Jack Gyllenhaal recalled,

JAKE GYLLENHAAL: I had a water bottle in my mouth like this, because the water bottles were sticking out like a straw. It was like this in the scene, and I was talking with the water bottle in my mouth. They cut and Daniel walks up to me, and he's like, 'If you continue to do that, that's going to be two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for that shot.'RYAN REYNOLDS: Because the water bottle would float beside you.JAKE GYLLENHAAL: And I was like, 'Oh shit, you're right.' Daniel's like, 'Either we cover that shit in green or you take it out of your mouth.' [Laughter]

Rebecca Ferguson seemed to have mastered her approach to acting in zero-gravity conditions, though. The Swedish actress, who stars as Miranda North, the head of disease control on board the ISS and is tasked with protecting Earth from any life-form that they find on Mars, admitted that her method was just to make sure that her hands were always up. Rebecca Ferguson noted,

Like, a natural position would always be, we talk about it, would be hands up. Your hands would always go up.

Of course, there's a bit more to Life than the six members of the International Space Station pirouetting and dancing around in zero-gravity. Life's cast and crew were very wary about giving too much away about the film to us, but they were happy to divulge that it's set in the "not too distant" future and that it involves a life-form being brought on board the ISS that then causes quite a bit of chaos to its inhabitants.

_Life's _producing team of Dana Goldberg, Julie Lynn, David Ellison, and Bonnie Curtis also opened up to us about the use of zero-gravity in the film, providing further revelatory tidbits about what makes it so unique, too. You can click over onto the next page to check them out.

Greg Wakeman Life

It turns out that David Ellison and Dana Goldberg, two of the co-founders of Sydance Media, were the ones that pitched the idea of an "incredibly tense science-fiction thriller on the I.S.S. all in zero G" to writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese (Deadpool) after watching Mars Curiosity land on Mars. Their interest piqued, David Ellison recalled how the idea just grew and grew, remarking to us,

We kind of got the idea of, what if the Curiosity Rover discovered life on another planet --- you know, a single-celled organism --- and brought it back to the I.S.S. for analysis and once you introduced it to an environment it started to display signs of intelligence? And that was really the core concept that we fell in love with and pitched to Paul and Rhett. They came back a couple of weeks later with a fully fleshed-out pitch for the movie and pitched the two of us at our office at Paramount and we fell in love with it. And very thankfully, the very first draft of that script is very reflective of the movie we're making today.

During our discussion Dana Goldberg made it clear to us that the main thrust of Life is its verisimilitude. Throughout production, because of its basis in real-life events and the fact that it's set in the near future, they wanted to make sure that Life was as real as possible, all without jeopardizing the story-telling and entertainment. So much so in fact, that David Ellison admitted to us,

Almost the entire movie takes place on the International Space Station, and all of it's in zero G.

Expect things to get really claustrophobic and pretty intense with Life, too, because it's going all out to get under the skin of its viewers and provide a tight, visceral experience. It has even been given the freedom of an R-rating to do just that, too. You can get a sneaky peek at how Life will unfold by taking in its trailer, on the next page:

We don't have to long to wait until it is with us, too, because _Life _will be released on March 24, 2017.