“Big things have small beginnings.” Borrowed from David Lean‘s Lawrence of Arabia, that line is the mantra and succinct summation of Michael Fassbender‘s synthetic, David. The scene-stealing standout from Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus, David is an early Weyland Corp. model, designed not only to look human but to mimic human behavior, who contracted more than a few human characteristics in the process. The very same robot who, with a stroke of ego, curiosity, and a touch of envy, seems to have put mother nature on the course to create Alien‘s iconic “perfect organism”.
If you need a refresher, David set in motion many of the most catastrophic events in Prometheus by using Noomi Rapace‘s Elizabeth Shaw and her lover/partner Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) as test subjects. David infected Charlie with the mysterious black goo, set up Shaw to get impregnated Charlie, released the so-called Last Engineer, and ultimately set off a chain of events that led to the birth of the Deacon, AKA the awfully familiar-looking alien that carved its way out of the Engineer’s chest at the end of the film. David also got his head ripped off in the end, but don’t you worry, he’s back for Alien: Covenant, and you better believe he’s up to his same old tricks.
Last summer, I was lucky enough to visit the set of Alien: Covenant in Sydney, Australia, where I had the opportunity to tour the sound stages and sets, obsessively pore over concept art, and speak at length with the cast and crew of Ridley Scott‘s latest entry in the Alien saga. While there, I joined a small group of journalists to speak with Fassbender, and he had some rather interesting things to say about how David has changed in the ten years since we last saw him and how he’s ben spending his time.
To get the obvious question out of the way — yes, we will see him as a disembodied head, but yes, he will also get his body back. On a broader scale, we learned that David and Shaw landed on an Engineer planet (as they set out to do at the end of Prometheus), where they have spent the last ten years. Or at least, he has. It’s not clear how long Shaw survived or what state she might be in at the time Covenant picks up. But let’s just say, things don’t look good for her. Much like LV-223, the planet they landed on in Prometheus, this new planet is littered with the bodies of Engineers — this time taking a cue from Pompeii, the strewn corpses charred and eternally fixed in their moment of death. From there, it’s a bit of a mystery, and everyone on set was keen to keep their secrets under wraps, but there were a few hints to be gleaned.
According to Fassbender, the biggest change we’ll see in David is an even greater shift towards his human characteristics:
It’s been ten years since we last saw him, without any maintenance. So those human qualities have sort of gathered momentum a little bit, I suppose. They’re as much a part of him now as his synthetic qualities.