He was, however, effusive in his praise for his leading man, who he has caught at the perfect moment of his career. McConaughey, coming off an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club (2013) and praise for several roles on big and small screens, caught Nolan's eye in Mud (2012), which proved to the hard-to-please director that McConaughey had developed some real dramatic chops.
"I needed someone who is very much an everyman, someone the audience could experience the story with," Nolan said. "He's just a phenomenal, charismatic presence in the movie. His performance is shaping up to be extraordinary."
McConaughey and a cast that includes a blend of Nolan veterans and some new faces in Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Michael Caine (Harry Brown), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Bill Irwin (Lady In the Water), Ellen Burstyn (Requiem For A Dream)), Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), David Oyelowo (Jack Reacher) and Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games), benefited from the director's commitment to shooting real locations and making sure that they had fewer green screens to stare at than might be expected from a film set partially in space.
"We have spatial interiors... We built closed sets and shot it like a documentary, like they were really there," Nolan explained, adding that he pushed the effects team to speed up their research and design stage so giant monitors could display environments for the cast to see while performing.
Prodded by moderator Todd McCarthy during the luncheon, Nolan would really only confirm the film's wormhole plot and that it'll see the crew travelling to places that couldn't be reached via normal speeds thanks to time limitations. He admitted that the film – which blends Jonah Nolan's work on astrophysicist Kip Thorn's pitch about the space phenomena with some ideas of Chris' own – is partly inspired by his own youth seeing such cinematic landmarks as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Star Wars (1977).
From the sounds of it, we're in for something on a huge canvas, and very different from anything Nolan has worked on before. Expect the unexpected, then, when Interstellar arrives on 7 November.