How Hector Hammond channeled Carl Sagan to become Green Lantern's evil geniusS

After the flashy Green Lantern footage was premiered we sat down with cast and crew to talk about the ring-slinging space corps. But we were most surprised to learn Peter Sarsgaard's inspiration for his mustachioed character. Spoilers ahead...

Here are the highlights of the Green Lantern press conference. Mark Strong talks about Sinestro, Peter Sarsgaard spills about science influences, and Ryan Reynolds explains how this role was already destined for him, as the studio's sample mask was already made to fit his face perfectly.

Green Lantern seems like it might be a tough one for audiences because you have aliens and superpowers. Do you see it as a tough story to explain?

Martin Campbell: I think the actual story itself is very simple. I know there are many complex narratives and many other characters with the origins stories goes on to the dark side in later comics. But no, I think it's [the film is ] very straight forward.

How Hector Hammond channeled Carl Sagan to become Green Lantern's evil geniusS

What specific Green Lantern Comic did you read to help with this character?

Ryan Reynolds: It's such a vast universe for this character. I read a few different ones, but for the most part this is an origins story, so I mostly focused on the Secret Origins - a much more in-depth interpretation of that basic story line. Geoff Johns described this thing as sort of a version of Star Wars... in the DC universe And I think that's a pretty apt description, because there's so much you can find out of these comics... This guy has a very distinct story point, he's a bit of a fractured human, he's seen some difficult stuff in his life, he's watched his father die. And then we move on to find him a little bit later in life he's arrogant cocky and aimless. Then this extraordinary power is bestowed upon him and it puts him on a bit of a humbling past.

Is this costume tighter than the Paper Man costume?

Reynolds: Um wow. So you're the guy that saw Paper Man? This costume is a motion capture suit. Because it's not seen on camera, they managed to find the most aggravating substance on Earth. We're shooting in Louisiana which is pretty close to the sun in terms of the hottest place... So the suit, it's been difficult running around in a leotard. But then again, filming this time of year in the deep South, it's got to be difficult, so I can't be too hard on the suit.

What was the casting process like?

Reynolds: We have these things on our industry called a lifecast, and it's a mold of an actor's head and you can build a prosthetic around that...The effects house that was asked to make the Green Lantern mask had no idea who was auditioning, but they arbitrarily chose my head from the vast catalog of actors' heads to build the mask around. When I showed up to the set [for his screen test/audition] my mask fit a little bit better than maybe, Regis Philbin's or Richard Chamberlain's audition.

How Hector Hammond channeled Carl Sagan to become Green Lantern's evil geniusS

Peter, can you tell us about your character?

Peter Sarsgaard: He's a biologist. He teaches at the University, but in his private time he's quite interested in extremophiles, animals that live in extreme environments, as a way to learn about creatures that could live on another planet. You know there's a fine line there between science and wishful thinking. I thought a about a lot of people who sort of stretched our ideas and added a little bit of creativity to science. Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, and people like that. When I was young I read more things like that, I would say, as opposed to straight comics. A sense of wonder about the world where you start filling in gaps. Which is what most scientists try not to do. So I really thought of him as kind of a dreamer in a lot of ways.

How did you prepare to play the villainous Sinestro, who's more of a mentor in this film?

Mark Strong: Sinestro makes me have to look at who he is and what he stands for. He's an incredibly fearless, organized exponent of the Green Lantern corps, who believes that he knows best. In this movie, he becomes mentor to the newly minted human. He guides him through his first sets. So I don't think of him as a villain. He's just an incredibly powerful presence. Who knows what he believes. And he wants to do right. If there was anything to cause him to spill over to the dark side it might be his unquestioning belief in his own righteousness.

[Movie stills via Entertainment Weekly]