The Creation of the Black Hole in “Interstellar”

And how it compares to real life.


By: Jason Reznikov, Journalist

The Movie

Interstellar is a 2014 sci-fi film starring Mathew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, and Anne Hathaway. The film was written and directed by the legendary Christopher Nolan, who also directed popular movies like Inception, The Dark Knight, and The Prestige. Interstellar grossed 677.4 million dollars at the box office against a budget of 165 million, and it received a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes alongside an 8.6/10 on IMDB, making Interstellar a success.

The Black Hole

The black hole in Interstellar is one of the most visually spectacular scenes in any movie ever made, but the realism and accuracy make it even more impressive. At the time of the film’s creation, there had not been an image taken of a black hole, as that would not happen until 2019. Because of this, there was no visual reference point for the black hole. Instead, the visual effects team responsible for the film, DNEG, partnered with Kip Thorne, a Nobel-Prize-winning physicist to create the most accurate black hole possible. This type of work required more than the standard software that is used for nearly all visual effects today, so DNEG created a new CGI rendering software for the sole purpose of creating this scene. This new software was based on Thorne’s theoretical mathematical equations, which led to not only a great-looking scene but also the discovery of new information regarding gravitational lensing and accretion disks surrounding black holes. When the first true image of a black hole was released five years after the release of Interstellar, the realism of the film’s black hole could finally be measured. Although at first glance they look different, when turned at an angle, Interstellar’s black hole matches up perfectly with the real version. Overall, the black hole in Interstellar is an incredible piece of film and is, all things considered, the highest-quality image of a black hole there is.


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