Elysium: Matt Damon and Jodie Foster

At the center of the chaos on Earth, between the two worlds, is Max, played by Matt Damon. “Max needs to get to Elysium to save himself, but in his desperation, he gets involved in a plot that makes him realize that the problem is much bigger than him,” says Blomkamp. “And he ends up fighting for something more than himself, fighting to save other people on Earth.”

“Max, like a lot of people on Earth, has always aspired to get to Elysium,” says Damon. “That was his dream. But he grew up. You get the idea that he’s been a petty criminal, but on an Earth where resources are so scarce that everybody’s hustling in some way, he’s just doing what he’s got to do to get by. He’s been beaten up by life and now, he’s resigned to his life on Earth. He doesn’t dream about Elysium anymore. But in the movie, he’s put in a position to become the only person who can change things.”

Max is an entirely different look for Damon – shaven, tattooed, muscle-bound. “Neill was very specific about every detail and how he wanted the character to look,” says Damon. “He provided us all with pictures of the characters. I don’t think anybody had ever done that for me before – literally handed me a picture of the character with his shirt off. So I went to my trainer and I said, ‘Make me look like that,’ and a great trainer can do that.”

Damon says that he was inspired to join the project by the chance to work with Blomkamp. “Like everybody, I saw District 9, and like everybody, I freaked out,” he says. “Neill jumped to the top of the list of people that I wanted to work with. So when I heard that he wanted to meet with me about his next movie, I met him for coffee. He pulled out a kind of graphic novel that he had designed himself that explained the whole world of Elysium. He’d designed it all, built it all already. He just needed us to help him bring it to life. And that was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster stars opposite Damon as Secretary Delacourt, the hardline official determined to protect Elysium for the wealthy. “As the Secretary of Defense, she sees it as her job to keep immigrants out of Elysium,” says Foster. “She sees Elysium as a utopia – what Earth could have been, but wasn’t. She’s finding herself handcuffed by a new, more liberal administration, but she’s 108 years old; she remembers when Earth was falling apart and why they created Elysium in the first place. She knows what will happen if you let everybody in – it’ll end up just like Earth. If you try to give Elysium to everybody, you’ll end up giving it to nobody.”
“I love the themes of this movie,” Foster says. “The richer have become richer and the poor have become poorer – that extends to everything from who gets to be healthy to who gets to have children, who gets to have a family and who gets to escape the poisoned environment. The chasm has become so enormous that, in the movie, it’s literally two different worlds.”