November 21, 2016
What parts of the science were already there before you joined on to the Arrival movie project?
There are three levels that one could take the science at. One is the “what the aliens are really doing” type thing, which is future science we don’t know yet, at the other end there’s the high-school level physics, and in the middle is the leading edge of what physics might have to say about it if a great big black spaceship showed up in your backyard today. I was trying to channel the last of those things, what the high end of physics today would say about these, and they had ended up quite a lot with what the high school physics version would be, which didn’t seem like such a good fit.
They hadn’t really thought about it. Movies are made or broken by the personal stories, and the science is mostly just dressing. It’s fun for science-types to see the science as right or wrong. There’s some movies where the science is close enough to what we have that what you can do in the movie really makes a statement about where science can go today. This movie, the science is far enough away from what we have today that it doesn’t point us in any particular direction. I had fun figuring out a few things I hadn’t figured out about interstellar space travel, and so on, but this movie is much more about alien communication, which happens to be a topic that I’ve thought a lot about, than it is about some space travel.