The first human being born on Mars travels to Earth to discover more about his past and to meet his long-distance pen pal.
USA TODAY NETWORK
Asa Butterfield talks about the sci-fi drama ‘The Space Between Us.’
At the ripe old age of 19, Asa Butterfield has appeared in some really cool small films (“Son of Rambow”), a television series (“Merlin”) and, not for nothing, played the title character in a Martin Scorsese movie (“Hugo”).
After starring last year in “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” in 2016, Butterfield is back, starring in “The Space Between Us” as a boy born and raised on Mars who comes to Earth to meet his online friend (Britt Robertson) and find the father he never knew.
Thoughtful and polite, Butterfield spoke about the film, and his career.
Question: You get to play a guy who is so inexperienced, so innocent, that everything is new. Was that what appealed to you?
Answer: It was. This character I thought was just very different from anyone I’ve played, but I think different from any I’ve seen in film, at least recently. He’s kind of like a little kid who’s still inside a teenager’s body. He’s so amazed by so much and curious and naïve. At the same time he’s very different and confident and goes with his gut, and isn’t afraid to break the rules. He’s just, I think, very likable.
Q: He is. Is it ever difficult to play likable? Like, if you’re in a horrible mood one day on the set?
A: When you’re acting you do have to prepare yourself for doing that. You have to leave behind — or you try and leave behind — anything that’s going on in your personal life. I just focus on the scene and the moment. On this film it wasn’t too hard, because we were so focused on the day on getting it done, because we didn’t have much time and we didn’t have many resources. It’s quite an ambitious project, and then everyone had to really be focused on each day and come prepared.
Q: Do you like working fast?
A: Yeah. I mean, I like to keep moving. I don’t like waiting around for ages, of which there is a lot of in movies. You do have to just get used to that part of it, I guess. But the more I can stay in the zone, I guess you would call it, I do prefer to work that way. Saying that, it is also nice to have time to kind of figure out what the hell is going on, and sometimes you don’t have that on these sorts of things. You might only get three takes to do a scene; sometimes it takes longer than that to find those moments.
Q: Is it weird to work on a film, finish it and move on to something else, and then have to come back and do publicity for the previous movie?
A: It’s different, especially when there is a long gap. It definitely takes a bit of time and thought to remember everything and to figure out how to answer the questions people are going to be asking you. It’s weird. We’re in a really weird industry. Nothing else is really like it.
Q: You have to make the right choices, since things take so long.
A: It’s what people will remember you for, so you better be careful. Be selective.
Q: Do you feel pressure to make the right choice?
A: A bit. But I actually have an amazing support system around me through my mom, my agent — they really help me make those decisions. I don’t have to bear all the pressure on my shoulders.
Q: How do you choose?
A: I don’t look for anything in particular, like a particular genre. It’s all very much to do with the quality of the script and the character, as well. I think having a character piece is great. It will challenge you and be different.
Q: In this film, you have to sell good chemistry with your co-star. How do you go about doing that?
A: You do your part in being a nice person (laughs) and being easy to get along with. Britt didn’t actually start filming until two weeks into the shoot, so we didn’t have that kind of pre-rehearsal period you might have to get to know someone. We really just had to kind of hit the ground running. The first scene we had was the scene in the school, which is our first kind of meeting scene, as well, so it helped to have, not awkwardness, but kind of feeling around a bit. I think it was apparent in the scene and it really worked. And Britt was just lovely, really fun to play with and work with and totally on board with trying new things. It really just worked out.
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