Thanks to movies like Blade Runner and Alien, Ridley Scott is a legend in the world of science fiction. But while he’s done quite a few non-sci-fi movies in recent years (Prometheus notwithstanding), he returned to the genre with The Martian. So what brought him back around?

Turns out the levity that Mark Watney brought to the table had something to do with it.

“Because The Martian was a more optimistic view, I thought [that] was kind of interesting,” Scott says. “I like the dry humor, the gallows humor, that you can joke about having nearly died.”

The journey to Mars was also a huge draw for the director, even though he would never go himself. “Absolutely, no way,” he says. “I wouldn’t need to; I’ve just done it.”

Find out more about Scott’s thoughts on Mars space travel—including what he would’ve done with the knowledge of water on the Red Planet—in the video above.

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Ridley Scott Directed The Martian for the Lols