Olivia Williams spoke with Uinterview about her new film Last Days On Mars with Liev Schreiber at the Cannes Film Festival. In the film, Williams slips into an astronaut suit for her visit to Mars in a mission that turns into a living nightmare. For the actress, playing the role of Kim Aldrich felt just as difficult as being an actual astronaut. “I flew in from Vancouver where I was shooting for The Seventh Sun and got out of the snowy, rainy and muddy costume and into a space suit and ran up and down a sand dune about 50 times in a row,” Williams told Uinterview exclusively. “Space suits really confine you, both as an actor and a human being.”

Williams first appeared in the film adaptation of Jane Austin’s 1816 classic Emma and then appeared in the post-apocalyptic film The Postman. She recently played First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson — and saw a lot of parrallels with her Mars character. "I just played Eleanor Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt basically in a space suit," she told Uinterview. "I wanted to play more of Eleanor, I mean I’m not kidding!


Q: What attracted you to this script? - Uinterview

I managed to read it all the way through. I’m really bad at reading scripts, and if I don’t like them, well…. It’s not that I don’t like them; I just tend to fall asleep around page 36 usually. For this one, I read it straight through and I loved it. It was character driven; it was a breakdown of the relationships between these colleagues, scientists, who are stuck in this confined space. It’s not a sci-fi story; it’s an internal story of human interaction and I love that.

Q: The movie is a UK/Irish production. Do you hope to bring sci-fi movie production back in Britain? - Uinterview

Yea, or not even reintegrate, but integrate for the first time. I take jobs on the basis that I like the script and it goes into a new and interesting area for me, and if it brings Britain and Ireland along that would be great. There is no reason not to. We have the technology, we have the skills and we have the imagination, and we might even have the space program for that.

Q: You have a number of fight scenes in the movie. What did you do to prepare for them? - Uinterview

I didn’t have a chance to prepare. I was cast very late because another actress who I stepped in for fell ill, and so I flew in from Vancouver where I was shooting The Seventh Son with Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore and got out of the snowy and rainy, muddy costume and into a space suit, and ran up and down a sand dune about fifty times in a row, so it was very tough physically. Space suits really confine you, both as an actor and as a human being. You could say I wanted my character to kneel down, but you simply couldn’t. So I think that contributed a great deal to that sense of panic and frustration the characters felt.

Q: Your character is quite tough. Did you model her on anyone? - Uinterview

She is as popular as every woman in history who thinks she’s always right. I just played Eleanor Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt basically in a space suit. I wanted to play more of Eleanor; I mean I’m not kidding! There’s a character from the Greek myths called Cassandra who is given the blessing of prophecy and the curse of never being believed that I believe is a human prodigy that has existed all the way through history and makes for fantastic drama, and I think Kim is the sci-fi of a modern Cassandra.

Q: What was your favorite memory from the set? - Uinterview

There was an astonishing day, which doesn’t really make it on to the screen because it was a dust storm, so all you really see is the dust. But we were on the most beautiful plane with these extraordinary well formation rafts, and some of the stills from the day were some of the most extraordinary things I have ever seen. And the landscape! He was in there with the fighting and the dust, and the fighting and the ground and in the spaceship and the height of the drama, but he shot that landscape very beautifully.