Ridley Scott & Damon Lindelof 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 from June 1st in the UK and June 8th in the US. ‘Prometheus’ stars Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Rafe Spall, Logan Marshall-Green, Emun Elliott, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Vladimir ‘Furdo’ Furdik, Patrick Wilson, and Benedict Wong. Directed by Ridley Scott, ‘Prometheus’ is written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof (Lost, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek). Check out my previous ‘Prometheus’ interviews here: Ridley Scott. Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, and Charlize Theron. Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, and Guy Pearce. Charlize Theron.
At what point during the films development process did you realise ‘Prometheus’ was becoming something bigger in scope and ambition than you had initially anticipated?
Ridley Scott: The original film, ‘Alien,’ was kind of boxed into an old dark house theory, with seven people wondering around. Then an eighth presence that became very dangerous. So in a sense it was a very contained movie. I knew that by stepping out of that arena, what I must do would have to be kind of epic. In the sense of it’s going to have to ask larger questions, bigger questions. The starting block question was always: Who was the skeleton in the seat, in the ‘Alien’ movie? What did he mean, what was his intention by having such a cargo? And once you open that door and you step through into that new world, then it opens up into a huge arena. There’s absolutely no problem in filling the walls in what would be called “epic”.
Damon Lindelof: I think that the size of the movie, of ‘Prometheus’….”epic” is a word that gets sort of thrown around willy-nilly, but obviously Ridley’s desire to return to this universe that he left over 30 years ago, there had to be a reason behind it. I think the idea that ‘Alien’ was his first movie and ‘Blade Runner’ was his second sci-fi film, why come back? What more have you got to say? The answer is that he has a lot more to say, he’s been thinking about it all of this time. A big part of it is, “I worked on a much smaller canvas last time, now it’s time for me to do my Sistine Chapel.” Just to open up the world, so that it’s not as claustrophobic, but at the same time, in addition to the movie just being bigger in scope in terms of the way that it looked, it also felt like it was bigger in terms of its thematic intent. Now that he’s older, he’s starting to ask different questions about mortality, the meaning of life. Why are we here, what is our purpose? As I started having these conversations with him as we were developing the screenplay, suddenly it was like, “Wow, Ridley Scott wants to do some more profound sci-fi. God I hope he doesn’t fire me because this sounds pretty cool!” (Laughs).
For me, the sets and visuals in ’Prometheus’ are astounding. What is it about practical sets that you prefer over CGI?
Ridley Scott: You know, CGI is purported to be saving money and cheaper, but it’s not. I think if you know what you’re doing….it’s based on the premise of knowing what you’re doing. If you don’t know what you’re doing everything’s gonna get out of control, it’s all gonna be about how you’re going to band aid or mend what you didn’t get the first time round. If you know what you’re doing, whether you’re green screening or whether you’re on a practical set, if you’re in control, it always lands on budget. So there’s no surprises. But my preference is to build as much set as possible. Mainly because I want to keep the actors really engaged. If I give the actor a great room, they’re gonna walk into that room and come alive. If the actor walks into a green screen box, the actor could feel exposed.
What was the process like of getting Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron on-board as the three leads in ‘Prometheus‘?
Ridley Scott: The script was coming together, so I knew I needed to start looking for a leading person. And I thought Noomi Rapace was particularly a combination of intelligence and physicality. She really owned that part in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.’ I was very impressed with her. I met her and I was surprised to find this really beautiful, very intelligent, very elegant woman. It was a terrific mix for Shaw. And Michael Fassbender, he’s one of the best actors we’ve got out there right now. I just point blank asked him about joining. He read the script and point blank said “Yes” and that was that. When he’s that good you don’t question it (laughs). Charlize Theron is very smart and beautiful – and she plays a very smart person in ‘Prometheus.’ That intelligence can be played but it has to be there as well. It‘s a combination of beauty and intelligence. In a funny kind of way it was like playing a Black Widow, that’s hard to play. I think she done it brilliantly.
Michael Fassbender’s character, David, he brings such an interesting dynamic to ‘Prometheus’?
Damon Lindelof: Yeah. Here’s a bunch of humans who are seeking out a race of beings who may or may not have created life on earth. And they bring with them a synthetic human who they’ve created. You now have a couple different generations, so you have this character David on this ship with them who basically has a perspective of, “Hey, I get to hang out with my creators all of the time and this isn’t anything special. You guys….you might be disappointed, I have to be honest.” (Laughs) Suddenly bringing that into the mix is interesting.
With the visuals, thrills, themes and philosophical questions raised in ‘Prometheus,‘ what do you hope people take away from the film?
Damon Lindelof: I hope that there’s a level of satisfaction in watching this. That ‘Prometheus’ justified its own existence. It is set in that same ‘Alien’ universe so they’ll feel a sense of, “It’s nice to be here again.” But at the same time I hope there’s enough originality in the movie so they’re genuinely surprised. I hope it answers, satisfactorily, all of the questions people were asking in advance of it. In terms of how does it connect to that previous movie, but at the same time distinguishes itself enough as an original movie to say that if there was a ‘Prometheus 2,’ it would be even further a field of what we knew, and entered into territory of that we didn’t know. So
Ridley Scott: First of all I hope they are really entertained, and then I hope they’re really frightened – and I hope they’re really stressed to hell (laughs). And then, most of all, I hope that they talk about it afterwards in the car par, wherever they go to eat afterwards, and then breakfast time tomorrow morning (laughs).
Damon, how did you find it collaborating with Ridley Scott on ‘Prometheus’?
Damon Lindelof: Collaborating with Ridley Scott, I think that the word “visionary” or “auteur” or “icon” gets thrown around too much, but every time I was in a room with him, I kept on sort of travelling out of my body and looking down and saying, “Oh my God dude, you’re talking to Ridley Scott now, don’t say anything stupid. He’s looking at you funny, he think you’re an idiot right now. Shut up, stop talking!” (Laughs) Even when ‘Prometheus’ premiered I just sort of looked over my shoulder and there he was on the blue carpet talking, I was sort of like, I can’t believe I get to be on this side of the carpet. Not one of the screaming people trying to ask him to sign stuff (laughs). Its been a real pinch-myself experience.
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