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Sunshine - Could it happen?


Interview by Rob Carnevale

WITHOUT wanting to terrify the life out of people, the premise for sci-fi thriller Sunshine is true. The sun could die and, as yet, there are no plans to kickstart it.

Dr Brian Cox, the film’s scientific adviser, explains why it is possible and his role on the film, as well as why being aware of his mortality makes him happy…

Q. Did you come in from the start on this and is it possible?
Dr Brian Cox: I came in as the actors were beginning to be cast. But to be honest I think my initial role was just to look over the script and see that there was nothing obviously wrong in there. If there was something obvious, then the audience will immediately come out of the film.

But I really noticed that Alex [Garland] is a fan of science as well as science fiction. He’s a detail guy and he knows what he’s doing. So my role turned more to working with Cillian in particular, but also with the actors to tell them just how big the sun is. It’s immense. You can fit a million earths inside it. It loses four million tonnes of mass every second which just turns into energy.

But that’s they key part of the film. When the actors are acting to a blue screen they need to know that in order to be able to react to it as it gets closer every day. It’s true, by the way, the fact the sun is going to die. It really is and not everyone knows it. This might happen in a long time but it can’t lose four million tonnes a second and not die.

Q. Were you surprised at how closely the film stuck to the science?
Brian Cox: The underlying message that we’re all eventually doomed actually makes me quite happy because it’s true. I had a lot of conversations about Alex about this because it upsets him and I think it’s the reason why he began to write the script. To me, it gives me perspective.

If you watch the film in its entirety I hope you’ll get some sense of perspective about how small we are. But also how powerful we might become. We see that this sun is beginning to fail and that’s what humans are like – they’ll try and fix it. I love that and I think that message comes through.

Read our review of the film

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