Magnus Carlsen: World Champion, Model, Actor?

by ChessBase
11/3/2014 – Magnus Carlsen made a very successful career as a chessplayer, created headlines as a model, and now there are rumors that he might appear in Christopher Nolan's new movie "Interstellar", alongside Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine. For Enzo Catalano it is the "most awaited movie of the year" and he speculates about Carlsen's role in it.

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Magnus Carlsen to appear in the upcoming movie "Interstellar" by Christopher Nolan?

by Enzo Catalano

Christopher Nolan's upcoming movie "Interstellar" is opening in the next days and it is for sure the most awaited movie of the year, featuring a cast that is nothing short of stellar (no pun intended, or maybe it is) and promising to be a space adventure of the epic scale of "2001: A Space Odyssey".

Stanley Kubrick, chess fan and director of "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Foto: Wikipedia)

Christopher Nolan, chess fan and director of "Interstellar"
(Foto: Richard Goldsmith,, Source:

There is a lot of mystery about the movie, with details about the story remaining scarce, and this is not new for Nolan who has done the same for other movies of his in the past. But this time there is an extra twist in this secrecy in the form of a famous person who is rumored to play a part in the movie but whose identity Nolan is not willing to disclose in his latest interviews. This person does not appear in the trailers nor is he listed in the credits. I think there are clues that indicate that this person might indeed be Magnus Carlsen.

Preparing for a career in film? Magnus Carlsen with Liv Tyler (Foto: G-Star)

Magnus Carlsen and Gemma Atherton

1 - Checking the full list of cast and crew of Interstellar on IMDB, it can be seen that the very last entry is taken by Matt Damon (as uncredited), to whom Carlsen has been likened several times for his resemblance. Indeed, in a famous April Fool's prank the ChessBase folks came up with the story of Matt Damon being the second cousin of Carlsen (a pretty good prank at that).

Matt Damon (left) and Magnus Carlsen (right)

Magnus Carlsen (left) and Matt Damon (right)

Searching the web for information about Matt Damon in "Interstellar" produces quite a long list of references dating back even to last year (like Indiewire and, and there is even a short clip on YouTube from an interview with Damon for the launch of "Monuments Men" where he is asked how it was to work with Nolan on "Interstellar" (around 2:40 in the clip), and Damon goes on praising him and saying that it has been nothing but great. It sounds now rather strange that Nolan would not disclose the identity of this person in his latest interviews. Moreover, in a report from a preview in Los Angeles I have read that Matt Damon appears in the movie but he is almost not recognizable, which might indicate that it is actually not him - Carlsen, maybe?

2 - Chess is not something that is alien to Christopher Nolan. The plots of his movies have sometimes been described as possessing the qualities of a chess game, and other times his characters have been likened to "just chess pieces in a game". In "Inception" he made a couple of explicit references to chess - for example the character played by Cillian Murphy is called Robert Fischer, a clear homage to one of the greatest chess players of all times.

Bobby Fischer

In "Inception" there is also another reference in the form of the totem used by Ariadne which happens to be a chess piece, and specifically a golden bishop (the totem is the object that the characters use to help them distinguish between dreams and reality). For "Interstellar" Nolan could have thought "I might just as well feature a true chess icon this time".

3 - "Interstellar" opens in most countries next week between November 5th and 7th; those are also the days in which the World Chess Championship match begins (the opening ceremony is on Nov 7th), the rematch between Anand and Carlsen, and it might be a good way to create a resonance between the two events (not that "Interstellar" needs any more buzz than what surrounds it already, but it could be good for the WCC match). So can it really be that Magnus Carlsen has a part in "Interstellar"? The answer is just a few days away, but if that were true it would be a real treat for all of us chess fans and aficionados around the world, and especially for those of us who have looked in awe and delight at HAL 9000 playing chess with Frank in "Space Odyssey". Maybe Carlsen plays an artificial intelligence like HAL...

Interstellar Trailer


About the author

Enzo Catalano lives in Berlin, where he works as a software engineer for an American multinational. According to himself he is "a chess fan and a chess player, but not a very good one at that".

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


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