By Christopher Rosen
Updated May 23, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT

Most of Ridley Scott’s The Martian takes place on Mars, but don’t expect to see any xenomorphs during the space adventure.

“Just geology,” the Alien director said to PEOPLE of his new film, which focuses on an astronaut named Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon), who gets stranded on the Red Planet following a mishap. “The last thing Mark’s thinking about is life on Mars. He’s thinking about how to save his life on Mars.”

Based on the book by Andy Weir, Scott’s The Martian features an all-star cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Sebastian Stan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean and Donald Glover. But it’s Damon who stands at the front, playing a man with only a finite amount of time to figure out how to survive after a storm leaves him behind on Mars and presumed dead by his crew.

“He finds he has a problem, and instead of him collapsing into terror—because he’s got 28 days to live — and that’s if everything goes well for him — he knuckles down and actually starts to work it out,” Scott said.

The Martian is the second movie in a year to feature Damon lost in space, following Interstellar. Both of those movies share another connection, too: Chastain, who stayed earthbound in Christopher Nolan’s space drama but plays an astronaut in The Martian.

“Through Interstellar and watching the fun that Annie [Hathaway] and Matt had playing astronauts, I thought, ‘I really want to do that,'” Chastain said. “It was about two weeks later, Ridley called me and asked me if I would play an astronaut in his next film — I jumped at the chance, of course. It has been great to do the research and learn as much as I can about space.”

And as for working with Damon in The Martian, Chastain can’t say much … but she’s excited for people to see the finished product.

“I need to do another film with Matt, because we have very little scenes together in this film, and he is a pleasure to work with,” she said. “I have been a fan of his work for so long — everything from Good Will Hunting to The Informant. He is just brilliant, and I think his performance in The Martian is going to blow people away, to see him as they have never seen him. It is exciting for me to watch.”

The Martian is out on Nov. 25. Check out new photos from the film below, and head to PEOPLE for more exclusive pics.