Matt Damon said he ignored the fact that he was working in the world’s second-largest garbage dump to make “Elysium,” the new film by Neil Blomkamp, the director of “District 9,” that screened exclusive footage at Comic-Con on Friday.
The scenes in “Elysium” — about a world in which the earth has become one massive slum and the rich have moved to a new planet — were shot in a Mexico City garbage dump, in which the dirt was mainly fecal matter.
While non-actors wore masks, Damon, as a desperate parolee, had to breathe the filthy air while playing an action role.
“The helicopters would come through and we’d be black with dust,” he told the crowd, “and Neil would come over with his mask and said, ‘I promise you the photography looks great.'"
Regardless of the grime, with “Elysium” Blomkamp has made another intensively political film disguised as a science-fiction-action thriller. In many ways it echoes his first film, the low-budget “District 9,” a sci-fi drama that was a commentary on apartheid, in which the segregation of aliens served as an allegory for the shantytowns of South Africa.
“The theme is about wealth discrepancy, separation between rich and poor, but in a sci-fi setting. The films I want to make need to take place inside interesting environments,” Blomkamp said.
He added to Damon’s story: “One morning we drove into garbage dump which I’d chosen and fought for, and the car suddenly smelled like a sewage processing plant.”
Jodie Foster appears playing an icy villain on the planet Elysium, where all is polished and clean, and where Damon’s character is desperate to go.
Most exciting to the audience was the return of Sharlto Copley, who brilliantly played the Afrikaans policeman who transforms into a giant insect in “District 9” and plays a terrifying, filthy and cloaked villain in “Elysium.”
Said Copley: “There’s politics and social commentary, but it’s also a kick-ass, fun, loud, and bloody science fiction action movie.”