Christopher Nolan Never Wanted to Direct ‘Blade Runner 2049,’ Explains Why Pre-Schoolers Must See ‘2001’

The director says he won't be rushing out to see the Dunkirk-themed "Darkest Hour" either.
Christopher Nolan and Emma ThomasWarner Bros. Pictures presentation, Arrivals, CinemaCon, Las Vegas, USA - 29 Mar 2017
Christopher Nolan
Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

Christopher Nolan is continuing to make the press rounds as “Dunkirk” keeps on thriving during the awards season. The film has eight Critics Choice Award nominations and is nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at the Golden Globes. Oscar nominations in both categories seem like a no-brainer at this point, and yet Nolan is keeping the promotional train going for his WWII epic.

The director recently spoke with the Los Angeles Times, and the discussion touched upon three movies that Nolan is semi-associated with given his filmography: “Blade Runner 2049,” “Darkest Hour,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Despite being a huge fan of Ridley Scott’s original, Nolan revealed he never once considered directing a “Blade Runner” sequel. It turns out all those rumors he was in contention for “Blade Runner 2049” were more than false.

“There are a lot of movies that are on such a pedestal that to try and either remake them or follow them up would be too tricky,” Nolan said about directing “Blade Runner 2049.” “I have to find a way around things. So, like, ‘Interstellar’ is very much, as people would say, in dialogue with ‘2001 [A Space Odyssey].’ You have to find your own way around.”

Nolan may not have wanted to direct “2049,” but his love for “Blade Runner” meant there was no way he was going to miss Denis Villeneuve’s sequel. The filmmaker said he watched the sequel with great admiration and he tips his hat to Villeneuve for pulling off such a colossal endeavor.

“It was a real pleasure,” Nolan said of “2049.” “I love [director] Denis [Villeneuve]. He bravely took on what he referred to as a suicide mission, following such a huge film that I was such a fan of. I thought he did a great job. Those guys really went for it. You have to admire that.”

As for “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Nolan confirmed that he showed his children Kubrick’s masterpiece when they were only four years old. While some may think it would be useless to show such a young child a movie as surreal as “2001,” Nolan disagrees and thinks that’s exactly the point.

“I think they’re able to absorb it on the most important level at a young age,” he says of why pre-schoolers should watch “2001.” “That’s what happened to me. I saw it when I was 7 years old, and that’s the level I think it works the best — pure cinematic spectacle. I was extremely baffled by it, but excited by it.”

Nolan compared the experience to watching “Star Wars,” which he also saw for the first time when he was seven years old. He admitted that he did not understand the story but would never forget the experiential sensation of watching Lucas’ space opera. When we’re young, Nolan says, the experience comes first, which is most important.

“That’s why fairy tales and movies like ‘The Lion King,’ ‘Mary Poppins,’ ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘2001’ are not a million miles removed in terms of people’s elemental experiences of watching them when they’re young.”

Last but not least is “Darkest Hour.” The Joe Wright-directed Winston Churchill biopic presents the other side of the Dunkirk story. While Nolan’s “Dunkirk” follows the solider’s perspective, “Darkest Hour” tracks the political one as Churchill must decide whether or not to surrender to Hitler.

Despite the fact that “Darkest Hour” stars Gary Oldman in a performance that could very well win him his first Oscar, Nolan has not yet seen the movie. Oldman played Detective Jim Gordon in Nolan’s three “Batman” movies.

“I love Gary. I made three movies with him and I’m pretty fascinated to see the work,” he said. “But I’d be lying if I said having spent two years doing a film about Dunkirk that I want to go out and immediately see another.”

Nolan said he needs a palette cleanser on all things “Dunkirk” for now. But that might be difficult considering the film is expected to earn multiple Oscar nominations later this month. Head over to the Los Angeles Times to read the director’s full interview.

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