I'm a big fan of Andy Weir's debut novel The Martian. I was actually listening to the audiobook on the day in April when I visited NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, where the book is partially set. (It's also set in space and on Mars.) I was out there doing some reporting for my day job with Air & Space / Smithsonian, and it was in that capacity that I got on the phone this week with Matt Damon, who plays the story's protagonist, stranded astronaut Mark Watney, in Ridley Scott's film adaptation, due out Oct. 2. The film hasn't screened for critics yet, but the fact its release date was moved up by nearly two months suggests the studio is convinced it works.
Because I am a trained professional, I refrained from asking the first few questions I wrote down.
I did ask him about his upcoming fourth installment in the Jason Bourne series (discounting the Jeremy Renner-starring, set-in-the-same-universe The Bourne Legacy), because I got a little more time with him than I was told I'd have, and he'd already answered my questions about The Martian and Interstellar. (I later thought of some follow-ups I should've asked, as I invariably do after any interview with a hard-to-get subject.) Bourne doesn't have anything to do with my magazine's purview, unless the next one addresses drones in some way, but many of us are fans of the series, including my boss, so.
I gently condensed and edited the interview for clarity and to make myself sound less anxious, which is my goddamn right.