prometheus ridley scott Ridley Scott Interview For Prometheus

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. Ridley Scott offers his signature brand of action, thrills, astounding visuals, scares, and much, much more, when ‘Prometheus’ is unleashed in cinemas June 1st in the UK and June 8th in the US. ‘Prometheus’ stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Rafe Spall, Logan Marshall-Green, and Guy Pearce.

You haven’t directed a science-fiction film in decades, with both of them (’Alien‘ and ‘Blade Runner‘) being two of the most revered genre films of all time. What inspired you to return to the genre?

Ridley Scott: Over the past few decades, I think we’ve been ‘action filmed-out’ and ‘monster filmed-out’ and almost ‘science fiction filmed-out‘. So the baseline question is, “How original are you going to be?” The reason I haven’t made another sci-fi film in so many years, apart from the fact I’ve been busy making other films and exploring different genres, is because frankly I haven’t come across anything worthwhile for me to do with enough truth, originality and strength. ‘Prometheus’ has all three.

The central metaphor for ‘Prometheus’ is the Greek myth of the same name?

Ridley Scott: Yeah. The film’s central metaphor is about the Greek Titan Prometheus, who defies the gods by giving humans the gift of fire, for which he is horribly punished. When you talk about the myth on which the title is based, you’re dealing with humankind’s relationship with the gods – the beings who created us – and what happens when we defy them.

The idea for ‘Prometheus’ began with the mysterious figure only briefly seen in ‘Alien,’ that giant fossilized creature with a burst-open chest, which came to be known as the “Space Jockey”. But then it starts its own mythology, but in the same universe?

Ridley Scott: Something that had stayed with me ever since ‘Alien’ was the mystery behind it. All the questions of, “Who was he? Where was he from? What was his mission? What kind of technology would his kind possess?” I thought those questions could provide a springboard for even larger ideas. So, yes, ‘Prometheus’ began life years ago as an Alien prequel before evolving, into another universe. Out of the creative process in developing the picture emerged a new, grand mythology, in which this original story takes place. The keen fan will recognize strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, far-reaching and provocative. ‘Prometheus’ is the singular genre tale I’d been searching for.

The answers in ‘Prometheus’ to those questions related to the “Space Jockey” lead to something more grandiose and elaborate….

Ridley Scott: Yeah. I think what got eventually used up was the Alien, the seventh member of the cast in the first one, who was pretty formidable. The cast I had was absolutely wonderful, but without that guy in the rubber suit, the film wouldn’t have had its terror threat. Which is what I think we really got, super-charged terror in that first film. Also, partly because the actors were wonderful and were doing that – because if an actor is not showing fear or terror, the audience aren’t going to feel that either. I landed luckily on a man called H.R. Giger, who was actually at a peak in that time in terms of his designs. The studio at that moment didn’t want to go with Giger because they felt it was a bit too obscene, I said, “Obscene is good, it’s certainly intimidating.” So eventually we ended up with that. Now, on watching the three films that followed, no one asked one big very simple question, and I was amazed at that, because it was an evolution where you could certainly go into the next story by saying, “Who was the guy in the seat? Who was this popular character that got this name ‘Space Jockey’?” I dunno where that name came from (laughs), but it did. This big skeleton lying in this giant seat. Who’s that? Why was he there? I had always figured that….. what I call it, “The Battle Wagon”, this giant boomerang spaceship, it didn’t crash, it parked. Why did it park there? No one brought up those questions.

prometheus ridley scott noomi rapace 1 Ridley Scott Interview For Prometheus

So, I went back to Fox, recently, about three years ago, and said, “I think I’ve got a notion to re-charge this genre, recharge this franchise into something else.” They agreed and I began with the writer Jon Spaihts, then later Damon Lindelof. It became a….it’s interesting because when your writing, as you know, it’s entirely organic. When I’m working with writers, literally sitting at a table for days, sometimes weeks, where there’s always an answer to your problem – depending on how much you want to beat your head against the wall (laughs). One morning, one minute, one hour, your suddenly gonna get, “Of course, why didn’t I think of that.” It was an organic process, which gradually shifted miles away from the origin of ‘Alien,’ and evolved into what this film is now, ‘Prometheus.’ There’s a connection, that was the fuse, but now this is different. It leads us somewhere else.

What is your process of casting in your movies? You’ve put together a great cast for ‘Prometheus.’

Ridley Scott: Frequently, I’d already have done my homework, so I kind of know who I want already. And that doesn’t undermine my casting directors, at all, because I know what I want. I need a very good casting director to persuade and negotiate and all that stuff. But, I look for people like Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, because they’re free-thinking, free-moving artists who think on their feet. Because filming isn’t like theatre, most film is actually like the antithesis of theatre, theatre you can sit and rehearse for three and a half months….I don’t know what you do for three and a half months, I would actually shoot myself (laughs). I love to rehearse around a table, with the people that I now feel very comfortable with. Because when I cast people, frequently I don’t even talk about the part, I just chat so that I can get to know the person. When the person is able to open up, then I feel like, “OK, they’re relaxed, lets now talk about the part.” So I obliquely get them talking about themselves, then once they’re being themselves, I look at how they’re gonna think and add to the part. Because you can always get a good read, but frequently that’s as good as it ever gets. So often you can be disappointed. When you cast people like the people in ‘Prometheus,’ they go home and they go do their homework. They will come in with ideas and say, “I thought of this, what do you think?” That’s what I’m looking for. My job is to be constantly surprised by what they do, so I’m grabbing the moments, which wasn’t even discussed sometimes. I think that’s what makes movies interesting.

Noomi Rapace caught your eye with her performance in the original ‘The Girl with the Dragon,’ right?

Ridley Scott: Yeah. Noomi combines a rare intelligence and physicality. She owned that part in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.’ It was so powerful that when Noomi and I met, I expected a tough, hardened individual, instead, Noomi was lovely, kind and smart. It was a terrific mix that would serve her well playing Shaw.

Michael Fassbender is fantastic as David, what was it about him that interested you? When I spoke to him he said you had a discussion with him about the role a while back.

Ridley Scott: I think Michael Fassbender is….for a while now he’s joined the ranks of one of the best three or four male actors in the world. If I can get Michael to do anything, I’ll take it. So he was my first thought, my first idea, my first choice. I went to him and much to my surprise after a very brief conversation he said, “I’ll do it.” Michael Fassbender is a master of everything really, also I think he’s a very good mime artist. I figured within this character of David, there’s a lot of humour in David….your allowed to smile in this movie, even laugh in this movie. I think even in the very first ‘Alien’ there was a little bit of humour between Harry Dean Stanton and Yaphet Koto. In this film I think there’s even more humour, and if you watch the film at the very beginning, very carefully, what Michael Fassbender does with the part of David is kind of wonderful actually. Because he’s walking around all by himself for about the first four or five minutes, and we think, “Who’s this person?” You might think he’s a housekeeper, a butler, what is he? We made no secret that he’s a robot, android, or replicant, because there’s no point in hiding that anymore, it’s such a part of the genre. I didn’t want to make it that special, but I wanted to make it more special the fact that conversely, because he was that, and was accepted as that, the crew around him would accept that. One member of the crew doesn’t accept that because he’s uncomfortable having a replication of a human being around him. So there’s constant little jabs and digs at who he is and sort of, “Who does he think he is?” As this person who has been created. It’s humorous and then it gets dangerous.