“It was surreal,” admits Drew Goddard during our recent webcam interview (watch above) as we talk about his Oscar nomination for “The Martian” screenplay. “When I was growing up in New Mexico it actually seemed easier to go to Mars than to go to the Oscars.”
As proven by the picture, while it may be easy getting to Mars coming back is no cakewalk. Based on the bestselling novel by Andy Weir, this 3D epic tells the story of an astronaut (Matt Damon) who must use ingenuity and optimism to survive after he is stranded on the red planet.
The film gave Goddard, an avid sci-fi fan, the opportunity to work with one of the defining filmmakers of the genre, Ridley Scott. “One of the things that’s fun is that when people ask me what it’s like to work with Ridley, I can just point to ‘The Martian’ and say, ‘that’s what it’s like.’ If you look at the sort of warmth and compassion and camaraderie amongst colleagues, that’s what Ridley Scott’s set is like.”
This in-demand scripter reveals, “I try to only work on projects that speak to me emotionally and that I love and that makes the hard parts easy.” During our chat, he spoke in-depth about the adaptation process, which demands making many difficult choices. “With any adaptation, you have to make hard decisions. You’re going to have to cut things that you love, and it helps if you can build around a central idea and give yourself a spine.”
Goddard has already won the National Board of Review award for Best Adapted Screenplay and contends at both the Writers Guild and USC Scripter prizefests. As part of the team of "Lost" writers, he shared in the 2005 WGA Award for Best Drama Series and contended in that category twice more (2006, 2008) as well as in 2007 with Damon Lindelof for their script "Flashes Before Your Eyes."
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