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Thursday 2 April 2020

Ron Howard: Colonising Mars a tantalising possibility for human race

"Human beings by nature are explorers... Having been to the moon, the great question for many people is where next and why would we go. Mars is a tantalising possibility," Howard said

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New Delhi: After exploring the possibility of travelling to the Red Planet in his docu-drama Mars, director Ron Howard is back with the second season that predicts what life would be like for earthlings on the planet.

The director-producer says Mars is fascinating for scientists and space travel enthusiasts because it presents the possibility for the human race to extend its existence beyond Earth.

“Human beings by nature are explorers… Having been to the moon, the great question for many people is where next and why would we go. Mars is a tantalising possibility,” Howard said.

“It’s a great challenge, but it’s also an ideal jumping off place for even deeper space exploration and may also feel if human beings do not continue to explore, that there’s a possibility that there’s no guarantee that they can extend the existence of the species beyond Earth.”

The second season of the National Geographic series will continue the last season’s unique hybrid format of scripted and documentary sequences to predict what life will be like on the Red Planet forecast by what’s happening today on Earth.

The show, which airs on National Geographic and Hot Star on Saturday, will also feature interviews with SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Ellen Stofan, former NASA Chief Scientist, among others.

Howard, 64, says working on the show has made him a believer when it comes to a life on Mars.

“It’s a very forbidding place to try to exist, but it is possible,” he says.

“When I first began working on Mars, I thought it was just a good adventure story that would inspire people to think about what’s possible. As I’ve done the research and participated in these interviews and making these episodes, I now really believe in not only the viability but the need to push for this exploration.”

Howard, who has delivered some of the biggest Hollywood hits such as A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Da Vinci Code, Rush and Solo: A Star Wars Story, says his fascination with space exploration started with Apollo 13 that he directed back in 1995, featuring Tom Hanks.

“My fascination with the cinematic possibilities of space really began with Apollo 13, a movie that I directed in the mid-’90s. And, it was very exciting to not only present the drama but also try to be as authentic and realistic as we could be in transporting audiences into the experience of space travel and all of that adventure that goes with it.

“As far as Mars goes, the biggest challenge is taking the need for a large cast of characters and a television budget and competing with movies that have done so much about space travel. And I’m very proud of our technical team and the actors because they worked very hard to give audiences something that feels very cinematic and very much like a transportive experience,” the director says.

Apollo 13 is one of the few films in sci-fi genre that continue to find relevance even today, something that Howard had not thought was possible. The director, however, is excited about the boom in the genre which is a direct result of technical advancements.

“As a producer and a director, movie and television technology has reached a point where you can finally present these ideas in a very realistic, exciting, and entertaining way. And so that makes it a subject that’s exciting to deal with as a storyteller because you really feel like you can take audiences somewhere in an exciting way,” the director says.

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