Robert Zemeckis earned the Best Director Oscar for Forrest Gump, which was also named Best Picture. He has also directed numerous other hits, such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and the Back to the Future trilogy. When asked what attracted him to direct Contact -- "an exploration of humanity and life on this planet," in his words -- his answer is succinct: "Michael Goldenberg's compelling screenplay." Jodie Foster was involved in this project from the very beginning, and he talks about her involvement in this clip:
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"Jodie was always attached to this project; she loved the idea of the character, she loved the idea of the story, and in my mind she's perfect for the movie. I can't imagine another actress who can bring both the emotion and the intellect to the character which is needed. She's able to play someone who's a really brilliant scientist and also a complete human being; it's not like she played any of the science cliches, she played it as a real person and a real woman. And that's what grounds the entire movie in an emotional place where you can actually identify with this very very complicated and strange fantastic story, and still be able to understand it.
Jodie Foster says that Contact, though a large film, is at its heart very much a "small film about people." For Zemeckis, it was important to keep this in perspective while at the same time shooting a film on a tremendously large scale, including locations with 27 radio telescopes spread out over 22 miles.
Zemeckis talks further about this balancing act in this clip:
"Contact is a very large-scale movie; it's about an idea that is incredibly huge, but it's all held together by a story that's as simple as you can get. It's a story about two people, and it's a story about two people which is simple -- because their ideology keeps them apart and they're actually two people who love each other and that becomes the chemistry that allows this idea that is as big as the unviverse to explode on the screen.
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"I kept it all in perspective," he sums up, "by always remembering that this is a story about people, humanity, and human issues. And I always told the story through their perspective."