There’s no denying the sheer size of Rebel Moon. Zack Snyder’s new sci-fi extravaganza for Netflix unfolds over two movies and countless worlds, populated by rebels, farmers, robots, warriors, and everything in between. It’s fair to say that the former DC filmmaker has spared no expense in bringing his enormous vision to life.
“Zack has been working on Rebel Moon for at least over a decade, and you can feel that on set,” says star Michiel Huisman in an interview with The Digital Fix prior to the Rebel Moon release date. Certainly, we haven’t seen many new movies with this level of ambition behind them. Snyder is borrowing liberally from the best science fiction movies, but doing it with his own sense of epic scale.
Rebel Moon follows former Motherworld military fighter Kora (Sofia Boutella) as she is drawn back into conflict when Admiral Noble (Ed Skrein) picks a fight with her quiet farming community. With farmer Gunnar (Huisman) in tow, she goes off to put together a band of warriors, including the renowned General Titus (Djimon Hounsou) and the notorious rebel Darrian Bloodaxe (Ray Fisher).
Fisher, for his part, is a Snyder veteran thanks to his role as one of the coolest DC characters, Cyborg, in Justice League. “One of the big things that I brought to this is just letting folks know they were gonna have a really good time,” he says.
Fisher adds: “I’ve said it before that Zack is like my brother. The way that he makes films and the way that he and [producers Deborah Snyder and Wesley Coller] and everyone he’s worked with before run their camp, it’s almost indescribable unless you’re a part of it just how cool and easy-going the process will be for the scale of work we’re doing.”
Scale is a word that comes up over and over again when it comes to Rebel Moon. While there is some seriously impressive CGI on show, there are also huge practical sets, including the farming community of Veldt. After all, the best movies are a mix of real and imagined.
“Among the houses and structures that were built [for Veldt], there was a river flowing through it,” says Huisman. “That’s just amazing, especially since of course on a film of this scale, there’s always going to be a lot that’s added in post. It’s great to have something you can play off.”
Numerous cast members spoke with admiration for Snyder’s ability to hold the entire complexity of the Rebel Moon universe in his head, drawing diagrams and images to explain and explore elements that would be added in post.
“I love imagining,” says Boutella. “Sometimes it’s so nice to have it practically there in front of you because you don’t have to imagine and can just be, but I also like imagining things that are not there in a weird way.”
Boutella threw herself right into the practical side of Rebel Moon, performing as many of her own stunts as possible and giving the stars of the best action movies a run for their money. Watch out, Tom Cruise. This even extended to a jaw-dropping moment during her climactic fight with Skrein, in which Boutella’s background in dance and gymnastics came in very handy.
“There is a stunt move that we called The Dolphin,” the star explains. “It’s a move where I go backwards and hold on to a bar and sort of swivel around. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I asked [Ed Skrein’s stunt double] to teach it to me and he did. I was really proud to be able to do it because in my mind it was really hard.”
It’s fair to say that the stars of Rebel Moon were keen to push their limits, in terms of stunts and, as Willy Wonka would probably say, their pure imagination. That made it a heck of a first ever feature role for E. Duffy, who plays the badass refugee warrior Millius and describes the set as “like a sci-fi summer camp”.
They add: “I had an excellent welcome wagon, so I felt very comfortable throughout the whole thing. Even though it was such a massive production, it was very personal and people were so kind to each other.”
Staz Nair has worked on DC shows like Supergirl and was a part of the Game of Thrones cast, but he says it was “overwhelming” to work on a movie as enormous as Rebel Moon. As rebel Tarak, he has an unusual affinity with huge, fantastical creatures. But it was actually the more grounded side of the story that drew Nair into the cast.
“When you look at something like DC or Marvel, which I’m a big fan of and grew up loving, you’re watching superheroes. This is a story of heroes,” he says. “We are flawed. We are coming up against our own personal demons and taking them on for the sake of the greater good.”
Hounsou, meanwhile, explains that his decision to take on the role of General Titus was partly driven by his love of Snyder movies like 300, but also the real world importance of Rebel Moon’s story.
“Reading this story and getting the resonance, how real this was put together, definitely got me into getting behind and wanting to be a part of this story, which really speaks volumes about our social interactions that have tremendous impact on our day-to-day, certainly in the way we’re treating our planet. There was various political messages and also a message about trying to save our planet.”
As Nair puts it best: “It’s more relatable to see someone who is broken, who is flawed, who has the potential for greatness but also the potential to be broken. That’s definitely what spoke to me. It’s a story about people, not just some larger than life superheroes.”
Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire is on Netflix from Friday 22 December, with its sequel Part Two: The Scargiver arriving on Friday April 19, 2024.
For more tidbits from the Rebel Moon cast, find out why Djimon Hounsou won’t be in Gladiator 2 and learn whether Sofia Boutella is up for Star Trek 4 in the future. Alternatively, find out our picks for the best Netflix movies and check out everything new on Netflix this month.