Ridley Scott’s The Martian is about to hit our screens in a big way with an all-star cast. With the likes of Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig and Chiwetel Ejiofor, it’s set to contain as many stars as it does, well, stars. Sub-par astral jokes aside, we’re celebrating this star-studded space epic by taking a look back at our favourite films with extraordinarily stellar cast lists – with some bonus The Martian cast members before they went supernova.
The Martian will be released in the UK on the 30th September.
Inception – Chris Nolan (2010)
This Nolan favourite is probably one of the first that springs to mind – led by Leonardo DiCaprio and supported by the likes of Michael Caine, Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this is a high-calibre, high-tension, thundering freight train of a watch. Cobb (DiCaprio) is a world-class thief, highly skilled in the art of extraction – the process of entering into another person’s dreams to steal their secrets and hidden ideas without their knowledge. When businessman Mr. Saito (Ken Watanabe) enlists Cobb to perform his riskiest and most complex job yet, Cobb must call on his accomplices Arthur (Gordon-Levitt), Eames (Hardy), Ariadne (Ellen Page) and their teacher, Miles (Caine), to implant an idea into the mind of energy business heir Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy). However, with the ever-increasing complexity of the dream levels and the haunting intrusions of Cobb’s ex-wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), the whole mission threatens to fall apart.
Interstellar – Chris Nolan (2014)
It’s another Nolan film, but, come on – you can’t deny the man’s ability to conjure up a great cast when he wants to. This film calls upon Nolan regulars Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway as father and daughter, as well as Nolan-newcomers Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain and Matt Damon. Coop (McConaughey) is an ex-engineer living in a time of severe draught and devastating famine, with no solution in sight. It’s when he stumbles upon a NASA base near his home that things fall into place and he becomes involved in an interstellar expedition to find a new planet capable of sustaining human life. Accompanied by Brand (Hathaway), he sets off on a life-long mission, leaving behind his children Murph and Tom – much to Murph’s frustration and dismay. The team shuttles through space on the Endurance in search of three scientists previously sent out to test separate planets for habitable atmospheres, but the chances are slim and time is running out back on Earth.
A memorable appearance in this film is Matt Damon’s Dr. Mann, one of the NASA scientists sent out on a previous mission. Desperate and dishevelled, he is all alone trapped on a far-away planet and thought to be dead… sound familiar?
Love, Actually – Richard Curtis (2003)
Probably one of the most beloved British films of the noughties, this film had to make the cut with its laundry list of acting greats. Alan Rickman, Emma Thomas, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman and a whole host of others star in multiple intertwining story arcs all centred around love and loss and Christmas time. Each role is an absolute delight to watch, with some really great performances – not forgetting national treasure Rowan Atkinson’s star turn as an infuriatingly thorough jewellery salesman, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as a love-struck kid and, of course, The Martian’s own Chiwetel Ejiofor in one of his first ever big-screen roles.
The Holiday – Nancy Meyers (2006)
Another Christmas movie, and another all-star, feel-good classic. This house-swap holiday rom-com sees Iris (Kate Winslet) escape the UK for LA, while career-driven Amanda (Cameron Diaz) takes her place in a sleepy Surrey village. Both women are looking to get away from the men in their lives (Rufus Sewell makes a great appearance as dashing but dastardly ex-love interest Jasper), but soon find love in their new towns with Miles (Jack Black) and Graham (Jude Law), respectively. The mixture of UK and US actors in this one is a lot of fun, and with a lovely appearance from Eli Wallach (of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly fame), it really goes all out on the star front.
Ocean’s Eleven – Steven Soderbergh (2001) and sequels
In this quintessential heist movie, con-artist Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is looking to pull of his biggest job yet – targeting three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously to the tune of $150 million. He goes about putting together his dream team – or all-star cast – including Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon, again), Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle) and Frank Catton (Bernie Mac). They must pool their varied skills to create an unstoppable team who must act as if they have nothing to lose, when really the stakes have never been higher. Every member of this A-list cast brings something to the table here, but Julia Roberts as Tess Ocean deserves a mention as a great supporting role – particularly in the sequel Ocean’s Twelve when Roberts plays Tess… playing Roberts.
Pulp Fiction – Quentin Tarantino (1996)
Quentin Tarantino is arguably the master of the star-studded cast, with this being perhaps the best loved (and most-quoted) of his works. Throughout the movie, we follow hitmen-partners Jules and Vincent (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta) around town while they attempt to recover a briefcase for their employer, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Meanwhile, Bruce Willis’s character Butch, an aging prize fighter, must leave town after a fatality in the ring and a pair of lovebird thieves decide to hold up a diner with unexpected results. The unrelated storylines eventually become intertwined featuring the likes of Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth, and it’s all topped off with a great cameo from Tarantino himself.
Tropic Thunder – Ben Stiller (2008)
Hold on, we’re about to get meta – here’s a movie with an A-list cast… playing an A-list cast. A case of the ‘dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude’, if you will. Robert Downey, Jr., Ben Stiller and Jack Black play the egotistical cast members of a Vietnam war movie, shooting in South East Asia. During the shoot, however, things go awry and they are unwittingly thrust into the midst of a real-life drug war. Believing they are still playing their roles, the actors continue to stay in character until it becomes clear that the danger they face is undoubtedly real. What’s great about this film is how it uses its stars to parody real-life Hollywood stereotypes, making fun of its actors in the process.
Mars Attacks! – Tim Burton (1996)
Deep breath now, this is going to be a mouthful – Jack Nicholson, Glen Close, Danny DeVito, Natalie Portman, Tom Jones, Martin Short, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox, Jack Black and (breathe out) Sarah Jessica Parker all have a role in this thoroughly enjoyable alien invasion comedy. When alien ships are spotted circling the earth, President Dale (Nicholson) must inform his citizens of the impending danger and seek a solution from top scientist Professor Kessler (Brosnan). When the aliens descend, however, and start wreaking havoc, the people must fend for themselves and we follow various groups as they attempt to fight back with various levels of success. In the end, it’s up to a young man his record player to end the invasion with explosive results.
Article contributed by Darcy Giles.