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Director Johan Renck Explains How Spaceman’s Stars Humanize His Heady Cosmic Drama

The eyes are the windows to Jakub’s soul with Adam Sandler, but then you have a situation where Paul Dano has to rely solely on his voice. Paul is completely mesmerizing as Hanuš. In some ways, the vocal performance reminds me of HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Did you and Paul arrive at the interpretation of the character’s voice together or is it something that he brought in himself?

No, no. I mean, it’s interesting that you bring up HAL. There were a few things … If you look upon it in a bigger sense of it, HAL and Hanuš come from the same well, you know what I mean? As does Yoda, to be honest, and a few other kinds of science fiction-like characters. And to some extent, it is like it’s almost inevitable that you will find certain similarities because in my mind, if you have a 14-billion-year-old character, you would assume that there’s almost a pitch-perfect Zen in that character. Somebody who’s lived since the origin of the universe, whose approach to the universe is like the universe is as it should be, to just understand the concept of that requires a perfect Zen-ness. So, to some extent, it’s like I definitely had no intention of it having a HAL-like likeness, but at the same time, I’m not going to let HAL corrupt who I need Hanuš to be.

So, for me, it was like I wanted a lot of Paul Dano in it, his kind of sort of cadence, apprehensiveness … almost sort of shyness in there. We treated the voice [that way] a little bit because he’s not human, he’s a spider creature. So, there was a little bit of a treatment going on in some of the frequencies of the register to just give it slightly more an airy feel to it. But like always, it’s a collaboration between me as a director and the actor in terms of what it is. But ultimately, I have to be happy with it because if I’m not happy with it, I don’t know what I’m doing. So ultimately, I’m going to have these two in some aspects.

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