Moonfall: Roland Emmerich on creating the film’s mysterious villain

One thing that was blindly obvious from a visit to the editing bay by director Roland Emmerich’s latest action epic is that Moonfall has come to play.

“It’s this particular film style that I think we’ve invented. There’s a certain cheesiness about it, but there’s also realism, a lot of action, and then there’s a lot of jokes,” he explained as he rolled four scenes out to give a taste of what audiences can expect when the film hits theaters on February 4, 2022. “We do not take ourselves too seriously.”

Moonfall does not waste any time either. Within two and a half minutes after the first clip, which is also the opening scene of the film, cast, including Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson, make first contact with their opponent in space.

The film is about a mysterious force that knocks the moon out of its orbit around the Earth and puts it on a collision course with our home planet. Berry plays NASA director and former astronaut Jo Fowler, while Wilson is astronaut Brian Harper. Moonfall starts with a scene where Harper and another of his crew make repairs to their Endeavor shuttle in space.

First, we see the creature reflect in Harper’s helmet as he stares in disbelief and sees it whiz against them, killing them.

“The only people who witness it are these three astronauts, but one dies and another, the character of Halle Berry, is unconscious,” Emmerich explained. “Patrick Wilson’s Harper is the only guy who saw it and what happened. The problem is that [he got] only glimpses of it, and therefore no one believes in him. “

The scene ends with the unidentified culprit returning to his lunar base. So what is the alien way of life hell bent on interplanetary chaos?

“It’s a technical being, a nanosotherm, in a way,” Emmerich confirmed. “I do not want to give too much away, but it is created by the one who built the moon. Years later, this thing finally came inside the moon and [it’s] causing chaos and plunging the moon into our earth to try to extinguish all life. “

The filmmaker added: “This idea started about nine years ago when I read a book by two British authors called Who Built the Moon? They had the idea that the moon was constructed. Why is it exactly 400 times smaller than the Sun, so it “block it out perfectly? There is no other moon as far as we know. It was a cool idea and I went with it.”

The second scene that the Independence Day director shared is focused on the idea that Berry’s character does not buy what she is being sold when it comes to explaining what happened in the space of the opening scene.

“Harper is the guy who landed a shuttle without electronics, but he gets blamed for everything that went wrong on that mission,” Emmerich said. “Fowler is now acting director of NASA and confronts him with what’s happening on the moon.”

It’s a technical being, a nano-swarm, in a way. It was created by the one who built the moon.


The scene contains the slightest act of what was shown that day, but nicely cements the conceit that Fowler believes in his friend, and he is the only one who knows that the threat they face is very real, and that he is not an astronaut who made mistakes – or did something much worse.

The third scene, offered at Emmerich’s Centropolis Entertainment offices in Los Angeles, takes place on Earth while the moon is in a fast orbit toward our planet. It has a catastrophic effect on the gravity of this planet and creates wildly destructive phenomena such as a tsunami-like “gravitational wave”. One of the things on its way is the NASA base where Fowler, Harper and John Bradley’s KC Houseman are based.

“It is Houseman who theorizes that because the moon has much more gravity, they can use it to their advantage and help get them and their shooter to the moon,” he explained.

The director also talked about the casting that went into Moonfall.

“The first person I wanted for the movie was Halle Berry because I always liked her and I thought she was perfect for it. It’s almost like I have certain people in mind and I needed a strong woman for this. Halle has an attitude that worked perfectly for this. Luckily she said yes. Patrick Wilson was a given. I worked with him at Midway and I loved him. Then I discovered this English actor in Game of Thrones “John Bradley. We had a Zoom call and I was in love with him too. That was it for me. I had my trio.”

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The next scene that Emmerich offers takes place after Fowler, Harper and Houseman have successfully reached the moon and are on their way into the depths of the natural satellite itself.

Although unfinished at the time, the details and scope of the nanoswarm-nest are breathtaking, and even on an edit bay monitor, it was clear to see that it is on par with everything Emmerich has previously committed to the big screen. . Creating the complex techno organism also posed the biggest creative challenge.

“The biggest problem was the swarm,” he recalled. “There were endless discussions about it and we had two companies doing them. You had to make the outer swarms and you had to make swarms inside the moon. We had to collect them, exchange files and stuff like that. I think , It was the most complicated challenge for us.

“Almost nothing on Moonfall was there physically. When I started with Independence Day, what I was working on was mostly real, and I used models. Now almost everything is made by the computer. Very little is real.”

However, there was one thing that Emmerich had no choice but to have on the set. It was the space shuttle – or at least part of it.

“The Endeavor cockpit itself could be disassembled so we could film inside it from different angles,” he pondered. “It was in two or three pieces and was an actual training cockpit for astronauts. We found it in Florida. A guy had taken it from NASA and put it in a museum that went bankrupt, and we bought it. We did what we did. had to do and put [electronics] in it, and when we were done, we made a deal with someone else to sell it to them. “

Although he was happy to show clips in the editing bay, the filmmaker remained obligated not to give too much away, even when he made Moonfall’s trailer.

“For me, it’s really important. I’ll never give the story away,” Emmerich concluded. “I want to whet the appetite of the audience and hope people go and see it. I’m very strict when it comes to the trailer. I’m like, ‘Don’t fucking give the story away.’ I hate it. It comes with a number of issues because I have the feeling that people today would like to see the whole movie as a trailer and say yay or no based on whether you give them the whole story. I do not understand. That’s weird. “

Emmerich happily admitted that he sees Moonfall as the first film in a trilogy. He has mapped the arc and hopes to film the second and third films back-to-back, but he admits it obviously depends on how successful the first one is. Moonfall opens in theaters and at IMAX on February 4th.

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