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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Robbie Stamp/Nick Goldsmith interviews



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Robbie Stamp - executive producer

Q. Can you take us through the story of how this cult classic was brought the big screen?
A.
As people will know, it's been a 25-year saga. I've personally been involved for about nine. Very sadly, Douglas [Adams] died four years ago this May, aged 49, of a heart attack. I was left as executive producer, and just worked with Disney, with Spyglass, with Jay Roach to try and revive the whole thing - but most particularly talking to Douglas' family, as to whether or not they wanted, if we possibly could, to go ahead and make it happen.
And they felt very strongly that Douglas so desperately, desperately wanted there to be a movie for so long that it would be a vindication of everything Douglas believed if we could make a great movie. So we set about doing so.
Then we were lucky enough to meet Garth [Jennings] and Nick [Goldsmith] on a boat on a canal, which is ironically just ten minutes down the road from where Douglas used to live, and we started a relationship over a cup of tea and biscuits, which is a very English way to start a relationship, and just took it from there really.
I knew that the movie finally had found the people to bring it home after 25 years.

Q. There was reference made to the fanbase and there has obviously already been one negative review from a person who claims to be very knowledgeable about the book. How important was that in the context of a film that's designed to appeal to people around the world - the majority of whom may not have even seen the original material?
A.
That review was written by the unofficial biographer of Douglas Adams and it didn't represent all the other fan voices that are out there. You only need to go out there and see dozens of other terrific fan reviews.
I'm genuinely sad that he didn't like the movie, genuinely sad, and I don't like to think he took much joy in writing that either.
But from our point of view, it's very much two or three different reactions that could come from it. One is, ok, I'm a bit nervous, but that's in the minority. The second is that I'm perfectly capable of making up my own mind, thank you very much. And the third is that having read a 10,000 word critique, I probably don't agree with him anyway.
I think that the vast majority of fans' response has been great and we've certainly seen the vast majority of non-fan response has been positive as well - which is just as important to us.
We always felt that we knew we needed to bring the vast majority of fans with us and I think we're doing that. You only need to go out and look at the other reviews out there to see that we're doing that. But we knew that we needed to reach out to an audience.

Q. Have members of the Douglas Adams' family seen the film and what was their reaction?
A.
One of the crucial moments for all of us was the family seeing it, especially his daughter, Polly, and her ten-year-old friends - and they all loved it. I mean genuinely, genuinely loved it. Had they not been able to look us in the eye, that would have been awful, it really would.
That was a very, very critical moment. But they had been involved - as I was very keen that they would be involved, and comfortable and happy with what we were doing. Had they said we don't want this to happen, it wouldn't have happened.
And they were delighted. And having Polly's 10-year-old saying 'it's cool', that was great for me. I'll take that.

Q. Let's turn it round, then, what has the reaction been of test-screen audiences who have no knowledge of the previous version?
Garth Jennings:
Oh it's been great! That was one of the best days I think I've ever had - was test screening the film in Pasadena. I'd never been there, had no idea where it was, turned up to this complex that was situated on a giant mall, and there was queue going round the block to get into it. It was revealed afterwards that only half the audience had heard of the book; the other half had just come along to this weird sounding movie.
The first five minutes were terrifying because you're wanting it to work and at that stage as well, I hadn't finished, and it turned into the best evening ever. Just two years work had worked and it was great. It was a proper comedy and it was really satisfying.

Q. If you discovered the world was going to end in ten or 12 minutes time, how would you spend those minutes?
A.
In honour of Douglas [Adams], I would just open some champagne and drink myself silly with a very large glass of champagne.

Nick Goldsmith - producer

Q. The film ends with the reference to the Restaurant at the end of the Universe. Is that to deliberately set it up for the sequel (because as some people know, that's the next book)?
A.
No, we just needed something fun for Mos to say at the time. I guess so. Everyone knows that this is famously a trilogy of five. But who knows what's going to happen next. Yes, there is another book. It is called Restaurant at the end of the Universe, so we'll see what happens.

Q. But you've not been pitching the idea already?
A.
No we haven't. I mean, it's take 20 years or so to get this one to breathe. There's a lot of people involved. We'll see what happens.

Q. Due to the complexities of production were there ever any moments when the 'don't panic' motto turned to panic?
A.
I think Garth and I spent a good nine months revising for this project before we got the go-ahead. Garth had written storyboards for most of the film, we were very, very well prepared. I mean this was our first film, so we did over-revise. But I think on the whole, there weren't any actual panics. Panic didn't set in - at least not any that I can remember.
Garth: That's true. It was quite straight-forward.

Q. If you discovered the world was going to end in ten or 12 minutes time, how would you spend those minutes?
A.
I would maybe take my dogs, and maybe Bill's dogs, for a very last walk, since Bill's not around - he's just calling them.

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