When you think of the future, odds are, you picture deftly designed spaceships, artificial intelligence and highly advanced technology that doesn’t require the user to lift a finger. Jack Plotnick’s Space Station 76 does involve spaceflight, a mechanical hand and a robotic doctor, but they all look as though they were plucked straight out of the '70s.
The story takes place on the Omega 76, a refueling station hovering out in space. Patrick Wilson is at the helm as the ship’s disgruntled captain, Glenn. Things haven’t been the same since his assistant captain, Daniel (Matthew Morrison), left and even though his replacement, Jessica (Liv Tyler), is the best of the best, Glenn has zero patience for her concerns regarding the threat of asteroid pockets. Meanwhile, Matt Bomer’s Ted is hard at work as the ship’s mechanic while his wife, Misty (Marisa Coughlan), prances around with their daughter, Sunshine (Kylie Rogers), until she feels like knocking on Steve’s (Jerry O’Connell) door, leaving Sunshine to entertain herself all on her own.
While in Austin, Texas for Space Station 76’s SXSW world premiere, we had the opportunity to sit down with Plotnick, Wilson and Bomer, and get a sense of how this zany scenario began. Plotnick explained:
“The idea came to me, it was a bunch of years ago, maybe almost 10 years ago, and I wanted to come up with something that would sort of explore what it was like to grow up in the suburbs in the 70s, but I thought it would be cool to use outer space as a metaphor for, you know, unrealized dreams.”
This is a particularly bold, out-there concept, so it was of chief importance that Plotnick had a firm understanding of the tone and how to achieve it, and Wilson was confident that he was going to nail it:
“I couldn’t imagine it in anybody else’s hands, you know? Because this was such a different type of movie like you said, I just knew. I knew it would be his film, his vision and that always takes the weight off an actor especially when it’s a job that you’re only going for a few weeks and you don’t know how much money there is - not to be paid, but money that you can see on the screen, you know? So you’re always, ‘Aw, I don’t know how it’s gonna turn out,’ but you felt like everyone had the same confidence in Jack that we did, and so you knew that it was gonna be truthful to the vision of it. That’s the last thing you want on a movie like this is to do it and go, ‘Ah, that wasn’t what I thought.’”
In the end, Plotnick did accomplish what he intended, particularly when it came to the costume and production design. The Omega 76 is absolutely brimming with highly nostalgic '70s throwbacks, but one of the best of the bunch is Bomer’s mechanical hand, a rickety glove-like device that lets out a mechanical squeak every time Bomer flexes a finger. Think C-3PO-type movements. Plotnick noted:
“Do you know who did the sound for your glove? Specifically, the woman who created the sound for your glove literally did C-3PO’s arm sounds.”
You’ll be able to catch Bomer’s robotic hand in action, meet Omega 76’s in-house psychiatrist, Doc Bot, spend some time with Sunshine’s doomed pets and more soon enough because Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions just scored the international rights to the film. Hear more about what you’re in for with Space Station 76 straight from Plotnick, Wilson and Bomber in the video up top.
Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.