Prior to the release of New Line Cinema’s “Martian Child,” Inferno had the extremely fortunate opportunity to sit down with John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Bobby Coleman, and the producers (David Kirschner, Corey Sienega) and screenwriters of the film. The following are excerpts from the overall interview.
Torch: What made “Martian Child” so appealing?John Cusack: It seemed like a really nice, smart family movie. And it’s a director that I’ve worked with. Then they told me about the cast and it was filled with great people. And they asked if we could get my sister to do it, and Angelica Huston, and all these people that I know. I like the idea that the kid doesn’t really fit in and these two people don’t necessarily fit into the world that easily. They’re reaching out to each other.
Torch: How did you become involved with the project?Amanda Peet: They went to a few other actresses but my agent was pushing for me, and then I read the script and I loved it.
Torch: How was it working so much with Bobby Coleman?Cusack: I liked it. He’s great, a great actor, and a great kid. It’s scary how, you couldn’t think somebody at 8, how could he be like a wily pro? He’s only been alive for 8 years.Peet: Yeah, he’s amazing, he’s so good.
Torch: Why Bobby?David Kirschner: He stood out. He could go right into his character and come right out of his character. He’s truly an actor. There’s a scene on the dome, and you hear his voice hitch. I don’t understand. I’m not an actor, but how does a little kid get in touch with that? He could break your heart with that. That wasn’t a direction; that was him. I think that’s just a talent that you either have or you don’t. He had it. He had us in tears. Corey Sienega: He told us that he really liked Dennis, as a different person. He was sort of protective of the character. He treated him like a friend, so he had this respect for him. Kirschner: We saw a lot of cheesy little kids that have the perfect smile that looked like they had been made by Mattel. He just seemed like something Mark Twain might have written about, or Ray Bradbury. He has this messy happiness.
Torch: How was it working with John Cusack?Bobby: It was really fun working with John Cusack. He taught me a lot. Everyday was different because he improvised so much and he just taught me to loosen up. It was so cool. Torch: How did you understand Dennis so well?Bobby: Well my parents and my sister really helped me out. When we got the script, we all read the script together and we got out of it, feeling like those kids left in foster care. We came to the conclusion that you just shut down and be quiet, and you just go away hiding in a box.
Torch: What about the change from the 2002 novel, in which David was a gay man?Cusack: I guess they would have probably have had to cast someone else. I don’t think it was New Line’s point of view with the movie. They were more interested in the relationship of the father and son and the science fiction stuff, and kind of fitting into society. Seth Bass: This was not based on the book. This was based on the short story in which there was absolutely no mention of personal life. When the book first came out, my first thought was, “Oh God, they’re going to come after me!” because I’m gay, and I’m an author that has written a lot of things about gay characters. That was just not what we had started with or set out to do. Jonathan Tolins: He wrote a short story, the producers bought the film rights and we created a story. And as we sold our project he subsequently wrote a novel which was an autobiography.