Ariana DeBose tackles zero gravity in new space thriller, ‘I.S.S.’

Manny Carabel/Getty Images for Tribeca

In the new space thriller I.S.S., in theaters this weekend, Ariana DeBose stars as a scientist making her first trip to the International Space Station, when tension flare between the Russian and U.S. astronauts after a conflict breaks out on earth.

DeBose’s character has to decide if she’s going to fight for control of the space station, or wait and hide. She tells ABC Audio that she’s “a fighter,” so if she were in that same situation, it’s pretty likely punches would fly.

“I’m very malleable to my surroundings and I’m instinctually driven,” she shares. “So if my gut says I need to start throwing some punches, I will probably just do what I have to do, to be honest.”

While I.S.S. wasn’t actually filmed in space, there have been a few recent or upcoming films that will, including one starring Tom Cruise. But director Gabriela Cowperthwaite says that that after reading about what spending time in space can do to you, she’s happy her production was confined to the ground.

“We’re not supposed to be there,” she explains. “It’s just like zero gravity, [it’s] like terrible. Your eyes, what happens to your … organs, just like, it’s not good.”

Making the zero gravity scenes look realistic wasn’t easy, says Cowperthwaite, who recalls trying a few different methods before getting it right.

DeBose says they finally decided on putting the actors in harnesses. “And for every one of us that’s hooked up there, [there were] like two people behind the scenes operating our particular harness,” she explains.

“It took quite a bit of rehearsal and choreography to figure out how six people fly in a tiny, tiny space,” she says, but it created “more of a real feeling.”

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