The Culture Movies

'Passengers' star Michael Sheen: 'That idea of being a pioneer, I can see what is so exhilarating about that for people'

'Passengers' stars Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence as passengers on a 120-year journey to a new planet. Traveling in hibernation pods, both wake up 90 years earlier than planned. Sheen plays a robot bartender.

'Passengers' stars Michael Sheen (l.), Jennifer Lawrence (center), and Chris Pratt (r.).
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
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Caption
  • Lindsey Bahr
    Associated Press

It may be a space epic, but "Passengers" was actually a pretty intimate endeavor. Most days on set, the cast consisted of just Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, and Michael Sheen, who naturally got close quickly.

"I have friends I've known for over 15 years and I don't know them as well and they don't know me as well as we (all) do because we spent 16 hours a day, every day together," Lawrence quipped, not missing a beat in specifying that Pratt prefers "four Splendas" in his latte, not real sugar.

In the film, which is now in theaters, Pratt and Lawrence are passengers on a 120-year journey to a new planet. Traveling in hibernation pods, both wake up 90 years earlier than planned. Sheen plays a robot bartender and de facto friend of the two leads as they try to figure out what to do.

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AP: You didn't know each other before?

LAWRENCE: None of us did!

SHEEN: I remember the very first conversation we ever had. It was about ghosts.

LAWRENCE: Was it? I was staying in a haunted house! It was straight up haunted.

SHEEN: Within a minute we were talking about ghosts.

LAWRENCE: It was heavy on my mind ... It was really haunted. The Jacuzzi would turn on by itself. I woke up and it sounded like a spaceship was landing on my roof.

AP: Does every actor dream of being in a space film – strapping on a spacesuit and playing with weightlessness?

LAWRENCE: If we were actually weightless, it would be amazing. The truth is you're on a wire being held by your underwear in a 75-pound spacesuit having to float your arms up pretending to be weightless. So, yeah, I mean, watching it is amazing, but doing it...

SHEEN: Would you have preferred to do what they did on "Apollo 13," going on that actual airplane and dropping?

LAWRENCE: No, I would not.

PRATT: I would love that.

SHEEN: You would?

PRATT: That would be amazing.

SHEEN: That scares ... me.

PRATT: I would love that. I would do that in a heartbeat.

LAWRENCE: If I ever see you having a private conversation with one of our pilots...

SHEEN: "Just drop it, just switch the engines off."

AP: Does the idea of going on a 120-year journey to colonize a planet hold any appeal to you?

LAWRENCE: It does for me. It's a huge adventure. It's definitely a downside that by the time you get there, everyone you know and love is dead. If you could bring a couple of people, though ... if I could bring Michael and Pratt, I'd be like, "Guys, let's go on a vacation. Don't ask questions..." And then I would just sneak you into the hibernation pods and when you woke up I'd be like, "It's 200 years in the future!"

PRATT: "Ah ha, got you!"

SHEEN: It would be interesting to see if in 200 years in the future, anyone is watching any of the films that the three of us have been in.

LAWRENCE: Oh, of course they are!

PRATT: But it's crazy to think that just like, 200, 300 years ago, people did get to make that decision. They boarded ships headed westward where they truly knew they were never going to come back.

SHEEN: That idea of being a pioneer, I can see what is so exhilarating about that for people.

PRATT: We've run out of things to explore that are physical on this planet. There are no islands left, there are no landmasses left that haven't been colonized or explored. There's no unruffled earth to be discovered.

SHEEN: And yet, I've never been to Glendale.

AP: There's a pretty big twist in this movie that audiences are going to react strongly to.

LAWRENCE: They are! That's what's so amazing. We don't want to talk too much about it because we want people to be surprised, but it's such a controversial twist in the movie that we haven't even advertised. And that was what I really liked about the movie. Everyone who leaves is going to have a different opinion.

SHEEN: We're talking about the twist that I don't have legs?

LAWRENCE: Yes.

AP: What was the water bubble stunt like?

LAWRENCE: The hardest part was going upside down but not being able to blow the air out so water got in my nose and I'd have to swallow it.

SHEEN: It's like being water boarded.

LAWRENCE: Exactly.

SHEEN: But worse.

LAWRENCE: Way worse. "It's like being water boarded but worse." You can quote me on that.

AP: Is it refreshing to do an original blockbuster?

SHEEN: It's now becoming rarer and rarer to see a film on this scale that you come to completely fresh. It's not part of something you've seen before. It's not a rehash. It's an original story ... It's unlike anything I've ever seen before. Also it's a massive sci-fi film and there's a really intimate story going on too. I can see why this film could easily not work without these specific two people doing it.

LAWRENCE: Thank you, Michael!

SHEEN: This is "La La Land," right?

PRATT: He thinks we're talking about "Queen of Katwe."

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