A young adult movie set in space may not sound like a particularly affecting story, but the script for Crater (on Disney+) made Isaiah Russell-Bailey and McKenna Grace (who work alongside Kid Cudi) emotional.
"Reading the script was definitely a powerful moment, ... I don't usually feel the deep emotions while reading a script," Russell-Bailey said. "Once I finished, I immediately started bawling, and I showed it to my mom and she had the same reaction."
"I don't cry very easily during films or while reading scripts, but it got me very close so I was like, I'd love to be a part of something like this," Grace said in a separate interview. "I thought it was so exciting."
What is 'Crater' about?
Crater definitely has a bit of The Goonies energy to it.
In the film, directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, we start by meeting Russell-Bailey's character Caleb, who has been raised on a lunar mining colony. His father Michael (played by Scott Mescudi aka Kid Cudi) was a miner who died on the job, which means that Caleb is being moved to Omega, part of the "benefits" he receives after his father's death. Omega takes 75 years to get to and due to cryostasis Caleb will be the same age when he reaches Omega.
Caleb doesn't want to leave his friends behind. So before he heads to Omega, Caleb and Dylan (Billy Barratt), Borney (Orson Hong) and Marcus (Thomas Boyce), and a new friend from Earth Addison (Grace), go on one last adventure together, hijacking a rover to explore a crater.
Russell-Bailey highlighted that he saw a lot of similarities between himself and his character Caleb.
"He reminds me a lot of me, with how I am with my friends," Russell-Bailey explained. "I don't like to leave my friends out. I don't like to let them down. I'm very loyal to my friends and I have a very tight knit, close group of friends who I'm ride or die for."
"Caleb is a leader, not a follower, which is something I tried to live my life being all the time."
While Caleb's father has died, Crater includes some heartfelt flashback scenes to show the close relationship between this father and his son.
"Working with him was great to build the father and son relationship," Russell-Bailey said about working with Kid Cudi. "We decided to hang out before having to shoot so we [could] connect with each other and get a feel for each other's personalities."
"We also just bonded over common interests. I love music. He loves music. He's an artist. I want to produce soundtracks or beats for movies, or songs for artists someday. So we just connected over our love of music and music production."
Wire troubles and cast bonding
While Grace is only 16 years old, the teen actor has already been part of some massive, star-studded productions, including The Handmaid's Tale, Designated Survivor and I, Tonya.
When it came to joining the cast of Crater, she was particularly struck by the ending of the film.
"I thought that it really grounded the film and took it into more of a real place, which I think is probably hard to do whenever you're writing a film about a couple of teens going on a road trip across the moon," Grace said.
She also highlighted the close bond these characters have, which led to some pretty fun moments on set for this cast of teens, including harness work with wires and eating space ice cream.
"I think that it was really fun for all of us, getting to be on the wires together," Grace said.
"There was a time in the scene, when we walk out of the rover for the first time. What you don't see is that all of us were on wires, but the ... wires are weirdly at an angle. So all of us are like leaning forward trying to hold on to stuff so that we don't fly out of the rover before we're supposed to. Everything was so jam packed in there and I think I was the last person to leave the rover, so I was just squished against a wall behind everybody. Everybody was just accidentally hitting each other with their oxygen tanks."
Ultimately, as Russell-Bailey points out, what makes Crater so appealing to watch is that there's something that taps into a childlike curiosity when a film is set in space.
"[An astronaut] is something that I know I wanted to be when I was younger," he said. "Everything looks so beautiful when you see it on the screen."
"There's [something relatable] about wanting to be on the moon or in space in some way."