Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace & Charlize Theron Interview For ‘Prometheus’
In the distant future, two superpowers control Earth and fight each other for all the solar system’s natural resources. When one side dispatches a team to a distant planet to terraform it for human colonization, the team discovers an indigenous race of bio-mechanoid killers. Ridley Scott, director of ‘Alien’ and ‘Blade Runner,’ returns to the genre he helped define. With ‘Prometheus,’ he creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race. ‘Prometheus’ stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Rafe Spall, Logan Marshall-Green, and Guy Pearce. Look out for ‘Prometheus’ in cinemas June 1st in the UK and June 8th in the US.
Michael, I believe you were speaking to Ridley Scott years before ‘Prometheus’ actually started filming. How did you get involved?
Michael Fassbender: To get the call from Ridley Scott…I think we met first in 2008, Ridley invited me to his office, he’d seen ‘Hunger’ – one of the wonderful things about Ridley is that he sees everything. He still has that passion for film out there, like ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ with Noomi Rapace, I remember he was telling me about that at the time. You get the offer and you think, “Oh my God, this is amazing, I’ve got to go home and really start working and prepare.” I really believe in preparing, preparing, preparing, preparing, so that when I come on set I can allow things to happen, but have an idea of where I’m going with it.
There seems to be a lot of mistrust and mystery onboard the Prometheus spaceship….
Charlize Theron: Yes, if we told you why, we’d have to kill you (laughs). There’s definitely a mystery, an uneasiness, we don’t really know each other. I play a character, Meredith Vickers, who works for the company that has sent out this spaceship into this mission. I think the environment and the circumstance lends itself to mystery. For myself, for my character, I felt like Ridley Scott really celebrated that. All of these little things started to happen where he’d bring me in on days that I wasn’t on the call sheet. I’d be like, “What am I doing here,” he’d say, “I want you to stand in the corner and lurk.” (Laughs) But I think for my character definitely, and all of the characters, towards the end of the film, there’s somewhat of a more personal connection to this journey that they’re taking, that you might not have seen in the first or the second act.
Noomi, I understand your character Elizabeth Shaw has a huge arc in ‘Prometheus’?
Noomi Rapace: Oh yeah. Well Elizabeth Shaw, she’s a scientist, an archaeologist. But still she believes in God, she has very strong faith. She’s a dreamer, she has a lot of passion. She’s the one that has sort of convinced people to go on this journey. This is her dream, she’s been dreaming about this as long as she can remember, to go out there. And she is convinced that she’ll find something that she’s been looking for, probably her whole life. So it’s a very personal journey for her. In the beginning she’s very….I wouldn’t say naïve, but she almost has these childish expectations. I think she’s convinced that she’ll find all of the answers and everything she’s been waiting for her whole life. But then things happen in ‘Prometheus,’ and she kind of changes into more of a tough survivor, her fighting instinct wakes up and she becomes a survivor more. There’s definitely a big transformation in the movie for her.
How was it to work with Ridley Scott on set, that whole process on a film of this size?
Michael Fassbender: It was a lot of fun, I was pretty nervous, on the first day I didn’t know what to expect. Then it just became like play really (laughs). Even though we were both very serious about the work, it was a joy. No idea was stupid until we tried it and put it on the floor. If it worked it worked, if it didn’t it didn’t. But what’s really impressive about Ridley Scott and watching him work, you’ve got 350 people on set, and each department has got to come and bring their top game to set. Seeing someone have involvement and instilling passion in each of those departments is pretty amazing to witness, and to have the precision in each department, and to have the imagination, enthusiasm, energy….that’s what sort of makes him the master, you know? You have to be a ringmaster, especially with something of this size, this magnitude.
Being a ringmaster, then capturing moments….
Michael Fassbender: Exactly. We try and capture moments in cinema, you don’t know how they come, there really isn’t much of a formula to it. It’s just those moments in films that make films, you know? I think a lot of directors don’t even see it brewing in the atmosphere, it’s happening in the atmosphere but a lot of directors don’t even see it. Ridley is very in tune with it, it’s like, “We’ve gotta go know.” He sees something happening within the actors, that something special is about to happen. You need to be pretty in tune, then at the same time looking at the camera department, looking at the art department, hair and make-up, wardrobe, each department, having an eye on everything. That’s pretty extraordinary.
How was it for you being a part of this Ridley Scott adventure?
Charlize Theron: It was amazing. I’ve always felt….out of Ridley Scott’s generation of filmmakers, there’s really a handful that are iconic. I think that for every actor there’s one of those guys that you always dream to work with, and Ridley Scott was that for me, SIR Ridley was that for me (laughs).
Noomi Rapace: What I love about acting and creating movies….for me it’s the best. It’s everything, because you have to start from zero every time, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done before, it doesn’t matter if you’ve done good or bad projects before. The only thing that matters is what we do today, what we can make out of this movie. Then it doesn’t matter that Ridley has done some of the most amazing movies for so many years, or even the actors like Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba….it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter if you’re a big Hollywood star, an unknown actor from another country. Everything that matters is what we do on the particular movie you’re working on. You forget about the whole world around you, it fades away that Ridley Scott is such an icon, you forget about it and step into another world together and you just work really hard. Then when you finish the movie, when you step out, then you start to realise that it was quite big, you think, “Maybe I should have felt the pressure, maybe I should have been more nervous about it.” (Laughs) But you don’t really feel it when you’re inside.
Preparing to play David, I believe you didn’t revisit the “Alien” films, you took your influences from a variety of sources?
Michael Fassbender: Right. I didn’t watch all the “Alien” films before this, I’d seen them all before, but for some reason I decided not revisit them before filming. We had some other ideas….I did watch Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ funnily enough. There was something in the replicants that I thought was interesting, especially Sean Young’s character. But in terms of the inspirations for the character of David, me and Ridley were discussing things, he wanted me to watch ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ a film called ‘The Servant’ with Dirk Bogarde, and then I watched ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ with David Bowie. I read certain things, watched certain things….when you’re reading the script, certain images or people come to mind. That’s how I approached it from there. To bring something totally different, I didn’t want to be influenced by what those guys had done in the earlier, sort of “Alien” films, you know?
Was there a particular scene you filmed or period of time on set that really stood out for you?
Noomi Rapace: I remember we were doing a quite disturbing scene, it wasn’t even close to anything I’ve done before, it was very different. It’s this scene that is really disturbing and quite twisted, and we were working on that sequence for a couple of days. It was almost like stepping down into hell, in a way. It was really physical and mentally it messed me up a lot. And I remember one day Ridley came to me and….what I love about Ridley is that he’s so passionate and so in the action and in the characters, it’s like he’s a breathing and thinking and living them. I was doing these really weird things and Ridley was like, “Do you have another take in you?” I was like, “Yeah, yeah yeah.” He said, “OK, lets go. Go, go, go, she’s ready. She‘s ready now. Go!” I never felt like I was carrying it all alone, it always felt like we were sharing something, like we were doing it together. I’ve never worked with anyone who shares it so much.
How do you prepare yourself for such different parts, from something like ‘Young Adult’ to ‘Prometheus’? Very different roles, with what I imagine being very different directors.
Charlize Theron: Every time I start a new film, it’s somewhat from scratch. You can’t come into the new job carrying leftovers. For me it’s somewhat easy because I’ve never worked with two directors who are similar, and I’ve never worked on material that you kind of approach the same way. I think that’s what makes it fun, and definitely what makes it interesting. I don’t think I’d ever want to go and do something that felt like it was kind of regurgitated from the last job. I haven’t seen ‘Prometheus’ yet though, maybe it is similar, who knows (laughs). But seriously, it is very very different. Jason Reitman is night and day different to Ridley Scott. And there’s a certain energy that carries from those being so different, but at the end of the day they’re human beings, the roles, so there’s probably some correlation that could be similar, but the circumstances are so different.
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