SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details about Paramount’s Arrival…: What would Arrival star Amy Adams expect if aliens suddenly landed on Earth? “I’d like to imagine they would be as patient as our heptapods,” the actress told the Venice Film Festival press corps this afternoon. She was referring to the octopus-like giant extra-terrestrials with whom her linguistics expert character, Louise Banks, must find a way to communicate in Denis Villeneuve’s lyrical sci-fi drama.
The well-received film that’s based on Ted Chiang’s short story, Story Of Your Life, debuted for the press this morning and will land on the red carpet later this evening. Multiple Oscar-nominee Adams is particularly gaining praise for her expressive performance as a woman who becomes a bridge to the unknown when 12 UFOs being to mysteriously hover over Earth — and who ends up on an emotional journey herself.
Villeneuve, who is not in town owing shooting commitments on the Blade Runner sequel in Hungary, told me that Adams was the first choice to play Louise and that she signed on essentially immediately. Today, Adams was asked why she thinks she was identified from the get-go. One question she now asks directors, she explained, is “’Why do you want me to play this?’ And if they ever tell me it’s because they want someone likable, I don’t want to play it.” Per Adams, Villeneuve’s response to her query was, “I need to see what she’s thinking, and I can see what you’re thinking when you act.”
A central theme in the story is communication, but it’s not a talky film. Renner suggested, “I think the most effective communicating is without words. I always feel like I f*** up a conversation because of words. I can communicate a lot through physicality.” He did note however, that his mathematician physicist character Ian is “pretty far from playing an archer” in reference to his Avengers Hawkeye persona.
Renner said that if aliens ended up on Earth in 2016, his guess is they’d say, “Why did we land here?” Turning serious, he added that a fascinating aspect of Arrival is that it touches on the idea that “when humanity is at its worst, that also allows it to find itself, to find unity in that division. If we could all accept the fact that we are one… but there’s a lot of obstacles that get in the way.”
Arrival, which Paramount releases domestically on November 11, steers clear of the bluster and pyrotechnics of some showy sci-fi. The core beats through Adams’ Louise who also comes to possess the ability to know the future. Would Adams want that same ability? Not so much. “I think I would be anxious,” she said. A “great choice we have as humans is to appreciate the moments in between the big moments. I don’t want to know.”