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Adam Sandler gets serious in sci-fi film Spaceman | Radio-Canada News

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The inspiration for Johan Renck’s new film Astronaut is more down-to-earth than you might think.

Although the sci-fi film revolves around a Czech astronaut venturing into mysterious purple space dust, Renck says what attracted him to the script was the main character’s relationship with his own life and with the broader experiences of men with their feet firmly planted on Earth.

“It’s 100 percent a film about myself, an earlier version of myself,” Renck told CBC News.

Astronaut, based on the 2017 novel by Jaroslav Kalfař Bohemian astronautfollows astronaut Jakub Procházka as he realizes his marriage is falling apart at the worst possible time: as he embarks on a six-month, year-long solo mission in space.

Played by an unusually somber Adam Sandler, Jakub begins to recognize how his professional ambitions and selfish pursuits have damaged his relationship with his pregnant wife, Lenka, played by Carey Mulligan. Her only comfort is a large spider-like alien named Hanus (voiced by Paul Dano) who helps her come to terms with her grief, but who may or may not exist outside of her imagination.

Renck, now married with a family, says he similarly realized his habit of prioritizing his own wants and needs above those of those close to him – and left behind a “streak of broken marriages” and relationships as a result. Astronaut was a way to prevent others from making similar mistakes.

WATCH | Adam Sandler and director Johan Renck discuss Spaceman:

Adam Sandler and director Johan Renck explore loss and regret in Spaceman

Johan Renck’s latest film, released on Netflix Friday, stars Adam Sandler as Jakub, an astronaut dealing with a crumbling marriage during a year-long solo mission in space. Renck discusses the film’s thematic connections to his own life and the message he hopes to send to men on Earth.

“What a terrible human being and what a miserable life I had when I was that person,” Renck said. “It’s time to talk about it. Because I think everyone faces communication challenges based on their own wants and needs and how they are prioritized.”

The Swedish director both created the highly rated 2019 HBO miniseries. Chernobyl and directed David Bowie in his last two music videos. AstronautRenck’s study of loneliness and regret shows that Renck addresses men in particular.

“Traditionally, you know, (we’ve lived through) a thousand years of patriarchy where man’s choices guide everything that everyone has to identify with,” he said. “So this is a bit of an atonement here for all of us men and for all the vanities that we pursue in terms of success or whatever.”

A large spider is inside a spaceship.
Hanus, a large spider-like alien in the film, is voiced by Paul Dano. (Courtesy of Netflix)

Adam Sandler takes on the dark lead role

Adam Sandler might seem like an odd choice to play such a serious role – and the actor seems thrilled to have pulled it off.

“Man, oh man. I never thought I would be in a movie like this,” Sandler said in an interview with CBC News. “It looks so cool, it looks so cool.”

Known for starring in slapstick comedies, including classics Merry Gilmore And Billy Madisonas well as acclaimed dramas Love drunk on punch And Uncut gemstonesSandler says the storyline immediately appealed to his interest in romance, heartbreak and “looking back on things and realizing I’m not handling them properly.”

A man in a yellow T-shirt floats inside a spaceship.
Sandler portrays the dispirited astronaut, languishing in weightlessness on a mission to collect purple space dust while communicating sporadically with humans on Earth. (Courtesy of Netflix)

Renck says Sandler was exactly the man he was looking for.

“I was super excited to work with such a talented and capable actor, and actually, I’m attracted to actors who play serious roles, because I believe in this kind of theory that when you Take away the comedy, they somehow become more naked than anyone else,” he said.

Sandler plays the dispirited astronaut, languishing in weightlessness on a mission to collect purple space dust while sporadically communicating with humans on Earth through technician Peter, played by Kunal Nayyar of The Big Bang Theory. He says his character’s loneliness was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which much of the Netflix film was filmed, adding another dimension to Jakub’s sense of detachment.

“It was at a time when you weren’t free to let people come to your house and just hang out, or you had to be careful who came over. So yeah, I spent a lot of time alone and connected to that.” Sandler said.

Dano, whose character offers little comic relief, says he had recurring nightmares about spiders, but cherished the role of the intergalactic arachnid sage from a lost civilization, despite his unsettling physical appearance.

“It was a spiritual guide similar to a doula…and I thought it was really beautiful,” he said.

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