How 'The Martian' Re-Created Mars on Earth


To convincingly film Matt Damon as an astronaut marooned on Mars, director Ridley Scott and the creative team behind “The Martian” didn’t have to leave the green planet for the red one.

“I’d gone to Jordan before, when I was making ‘G.I. Jane,'” Scott explains to The Hollywood Reporter. “In summer, it’s 120 degrees. But there’s a perfection to the simplicity of the environment. There’s no vegetation. It’s crisp and magnificent. I knew it was the one place to do a strange planet.”

In fact, it’s such a comparable environment to Mars that it has doubled as the planet for scenes in “Total Recall,” “Red Planet” and “Mission to Mars.”

At a distance of more than 7,700 miles from Los Angeles to Wadi Rum, Jordan, it hardly compares to the nearly 34 million-mile flight from Earth to Mars.

The unforgiving topography of Wadi Rum, the desert in southern Jordan, is nearly undistinguishable from the terrain on Mars, making it an ideal location to shoot some of the comedy-drama’s most striking scenes.

The attention to detail was brought to the soundstage too.

The creative team used a thousand metric tons of custom-colored sand and soil to transform the soundstage, which was larger than a football field, to resemble the surface on Mars.