Comic-Con: ‘Interstellar’s’ Nolan, McConaughey make surprise showing

July 24, 2014 | 6:27 p.m.
Christopher Nolan made his Comic-Con debut and surprised attendees of the Paramount Pictures panel by appearing alongside Matthew McConaughey. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey surprised attendees of the Paramount panel in Hall H and made their respective Comic-Con debuts. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

With this year’s Comic-Con feeling relatively light on huge tent pole movies compared with recent years, Hollywood observers wondered in the run-up to the convention whether the studios had any surprises up their collective sleeves. In its Hall H presentation, Paramount offered two fairly big ones in the forms of actor Matthew McConaughey and director Christopher Nolan, who took the stage to offer an early look at Nolan’s upcoming sci-fi epic “Interstellar.”

FULL COVERAGE: Comic-Con 2014

Despite his fanboy-fave pedigree thanks to films like “Inception” and the “Dark Knight” trilogy, Nolan had never actually attended Comic-Con before. “I’ve heard a lot about this really being a place where people are most passionate about movies and popular culture in general, so I thought I’d come see what all the fuss is about,” he said. “I’m not disappointed and I’m extremely honored to be here.” Making his own first Comic-Con appearance, McConaughey smiled wryly at the crowd and, true to form, offered his trademark “All right, all right, all right.”

Debuting a sweeping new trailer for “Interstellar,” which hits theaters Nov. 7, Nolan kept the plot largely under wraps, as is his wont, though he did talk of doing significant background research on wormholes. But while story details may have been scant, Nolan spoke in broad terms of his aim to recapture some of the sense of wonder about the cosmos that he felt as a boy, saying the biggest influence on the film was Stanley Kubrick’s “2001.”

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Christopher Maracha, of San Francisco, salutes on his way up a convention hall escalator. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Elias Meraz, left, poses with cosplayer Alicia Bellamy, dressed as the "Scarlet Witch." (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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The Gonzalez family of Santa Ana takes a rest on the convention hall floor. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Fans pass by BBC America's "Orphan Black" ad on a convention hall wall. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Chris Beasley as the Hobbit's Gandalf makes his way through the crowd. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Kevin Uribe, of Red Bank, NJ, stands quietly, dressed as "Silent Bob." (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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John Whitt of Minneapolis spreads his wings as "Batman." (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Chris Vick of Los Angeles touches up his makeup during a break from his role as "The Spoon Killer." (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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"Orphan Black" fan Cynthia Perez walks away with a cardboard cutout of the show's character, Cal Morrison. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Fans pack an elevator to the convention center sky bridge. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Elisa Teague walks the convention center floor in an unconventional gown. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Bugs Mitchell of Westminster finds a quiet cove to check his email during Comic-Con. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Keeleigh West of Reno, Nev. spreads her homemade wings on the convention hall floor. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Chopper the dog moves through the Gaslamp Quarter with his owner Mark Shaffer. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Chris Clarke of San Diego reaches out to touch a macabre mannequin to see if it might be a real human in front of the Zombie Apocalypse Store in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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A cosplay group entertains passersby in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter during Comic-Con. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Andrew Knighton, under the gigantic eyeball, heads into the Comic-Con convention center. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Convention attendees gather around a scale model of Star Trek starship USS Reliant. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Convention-goers stop at nothing, even if it means waiting in long lines, to buy Marvel merchandise. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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A woman in a period gown takes the stairs after realizing it would be a tight squeeze into the elevator. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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The face of fictitious mascot and cover boy Alfred E. Neuman shines through in a compilation of Mad magazine covers. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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A pair of Supermen give onlookers a double take as they check out "Star Wars" merchandise at the convention. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Josh Roemele, 10, marvels at "Transformers" merchandise, just one item among a bevy of goodies. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Fans, dressed up and dressed down, take an escalator to the convention floor. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Cosplayers David Schoelen, left, and Paul Baum work up the right attitude. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Thomas Willeford of Harrisburg, Pa., appears in costume at Comic-Con 2014 as Steampunk Iron Man (circa 1889). (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Attendees enter the San Diego Convention Center as Comic-Con 2014 officially opens its doors for preview night Wednesday at 6 p.m. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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The Marvel booth at Comic-Con 2014 gives away free posters to the early arrivals during preview night Wednesday. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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A.J. Peplinski, 6, and his father, Allen Peplinski, of Las Vegas look up at a Bumbleblee figure from the "Transformers" movies at Comic-Con 2014. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Hannah Collier, right, explains the new video game "The Crew" to Robert Atwater at Comic-Con 2014. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Josh Buonocore of Orlando, Fla., takes a selfie with a zombie at "The Walking Dead" Terminus wall. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Children construct Lego projects during a contest at the Lego booth. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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San Diego friends Elizabeth Walsh, left, and Traci Haze clown around for a photo with a model of "The Hobbit's" Gollum. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Crys Harm of Langhorne, Pa., sports bright green contact lenses. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Zak Skelly rides on dad David's shoulders through a packed San Diego Convention Center. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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A Thorin Oakenshield figurine, part of the Hobbit collection at the Weta booth. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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A Han Solo in Carbonite. The life-size figure is part of a giveaway at the Sideshow Collectables booth. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Men are reflected in a glass case as they look over a Superman figure. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Adult Swim's master of ceremonies Randall Byers, center, supervises the Wheel of Wonder, which fans spin for prizes. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Kris Keyes as Dive Bomber, right, checks his email as passersby take his photo. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Renee White of Melbourne, Australia, snaps a photo of a giant Godzilla at Comic-Con in San Diego. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Comic-Con 2014 in San Diego officially opens Thursday but fans arrive early to pickup credentials on Wednesday. Travis Jackson with 1540 production helps with the construction of Warner Bros.' 24-foot tall sculpture of Godzilla behind Hall H. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Lauren Moyer assembles flowers and billboards for the Interactive Zone at Petco Park as part of Comic-Con. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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SAN DIEGO- July 23 2014: Emily Graham, of Vancouver Canada waits in line for a preview event at Comic Con July 23, 2014 in San Diego. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Arriving early at Comic-Con, para-olympic runner Blake Leeper of San Diego is the first double leg amputee in America in the Olympic games. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Anna Kegler, left, Rochelle Keyhan and Erin Filson, representing a group called geeksforCONsent at Comic-Con. The trio will be handing out anti-harassment paraphernalia at the convention. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Docy Elliott of Ottawa, Canada, is already in costume (Goku from "Dragonball Z") as he arrives early to pick up credentials. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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A worker helps assemble a giant billboard for the new NBC show "Constantine" near Petco Park as part of Comic-Con preparation. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Passersby look at a re-branded Hard Rock Cafe -- now the Ascension Cafe -- which is a Comic-Con placeholder touting the Syfy show "Ascension" in San Diego. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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The city of San Diego gets into Comic-Con as trolley cars are wrapped in ads from the CW's new "Gotham" television show. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

“I grew up in a time when to be an astronaut was the highest ambition,” Nolan said. “The idea we’d keep exploring space, pushing further and further out, seemed inevitable. I felt that had fallen off greatly over the past couple of decades.” McConaughey called the movie “by far the most ambitious film Nolan has ever directed.”

Paramount’s panel also featured a surprise appearance from  Dwayne Johnson, who invited attendees to free screenings of his new film “Hercules,” as well as offering early looks at the animated-live action hybrid “SpongeBob: Sponge Out of Water,” the Michael Bay-produced “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” the found-footage thriller “Project Almanac,” and the comedy sequel “Hot Tub Time Machine 2.” Of the latter, costar Clark Duke had this to say: “If you only see one ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ sequel this year, make it this one.”

— Josh Rottenberg | @LATHeroComplex

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