Damon Lindelof Talks ALIEN Connection to Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS

     June 28, 2011


Ridley Scott’s Prometheus has had a bit of a complicated history. Initially the film began as a straight-up prequel to Scott’s Alien and was going to act as his first sci-fi film in 25 years. However, after Damon Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek) was brought in to do some rewrite work on John Spaihts’ script, the project was suddenly referred to as “an original story,” though Scott maintained that fans would be able to spot “strands of Alien’s DNA” in the new film. Confused yet? Well recently Lindelof appeared on the brilliant Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show and spoke at length about the genesis of Prometheus and its connection to the Alien universe. Hit the jump to read what he had to say.

damon-lindelof-imageKevin Pollak’s Chat Show is a web-based series of lengthy and uncensored interviews. His guests include Jon Hamm, Matthew Perry, Dana Carvey, Jason Reitman, Rob Reiner and many, many more. The low-key environment and no time-limit format provides for some incredibly intriguing and candid conversations, as was the case with Damon Lindelof’s appearance this past weekend.

The good folks over at SlashFilm have transcribed Lindelof’s comments regarding Prometheus, in which he begins by explaining what he thinks the best approach for a prequel should be:

“It started as an Alien prequel. That is what everybody wanted it to be. Obviously, Ridley Scott has not made a science fiction movie in 25 years, since Blade Runner, so the idea that he’s returning to this genre is huge. But there is a real issue which is — what is the state of the Alien franchise at this point in our lives? There has been Alien vs. Predator and all these things, and its been completely and totally diluted. I’ve always felt that really good prequels should be original movies. And the sequels to those prequels should not be the movie which already exists because, with all due respect to anyone who makes a prequel, but why would you ruin the greatest twist in the history of cinema, “Luke, I am your father”, by showing me three movies which basically spoil that surprise. You can do movies which take place before Star Wars, but I don’t need to see the story of the Skywalker clan. Show me something else which I can’t guess the possible outcome of. There is no suspense in inevitability. So a true prequel should essentially proceed the events of the original film, but be about something entirely different, feature different characters , have an entirely different theme, although it takes place in that same world. That was my fundamental feeling about what this movie wanted to be.”

ridley-scott-imageLindelof goes on to clarify his contribution to the script:

“And truth be told, it wasn’t script doctoring in the strictest sense because the draft that existed before I came on was written by this guy named Jon Spaihts and it was very good. And there were a lot of things in the movie, Prometheus, which were Jon Spaihts and I feel like somewhere in the media reconstruction of this story, the tale is that I come in, I pitch an entirely new story, and its so original that everything else gets thrown out and that’s what we’re doing. In my brain, that’s not exactly what happened. But I also do feel that this movie is the movie I would want to see as a fanboy, take place in that Alien universe, which precedes the events of the original Alien, but is not necessarily burdened by all the tropes of that franchise with Facehuggers and Chestbursters, and all that stuff that I love…but its sorta like, we’ve seen it before, can we do something different this time? And thats the movie that Ridley wanted to make. And when you’re working with an auteur, you basically just shut your mouth and listen and try to transcribe and channel the vision of that person, and get out of the way.”

So it sounds like Lindelof is taking a similar approach to the way he tackled Star Trek: creating a prequel-ish film based on an existing franchise, yet still enabling the new film to keep the audience on their toes. He and the screenwriting team on Star Trek did a bang-up job, so hopefully Prometheus is just as fresh.

For those unaware, Prometheus stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba. The film hits theaters on June 8th, 2012 in 3D.

Here’s the full interview.  Thanks to TrekMovie for the time index.

  • [23:00] Intro of Lindelof
  • [26:00] Lost, including criticism of finale (and talk about other show finales), and “feud” with George RR Martin
  • [50:00] Inspirations, including (George Lucas & Stephen King)
  • [59:00] Early writing and time at NYU
  • [1:07:00] Early life in Hollywood
  • [1:15:00] More on Stephen King and King film/TV adaptations
  • [1:26:00] Admits likes Star Wars more than Star Trek (in series of This v That questions)
  • [1:27:00] Genesis Lost and his starting his JJ Abrams collaboration, and becoming showrunner, and even more Lost
  • [2:10:00] Cowboys & Aliens and working with Jon Favreu, and collaborating with Orci, Kurtzman and other writers (on C&A)
  • [2:18:00] Prometheus (and working with Ridley Scott) and its connection to Alien franchise
  • [2:24:00] How the writer’s strike allowed him to produce Star Trek while also working on Lost
  • [2:25:00] More on Ridley Scott and Prometheus [fun fact: took 2 weeks to write first draft of script]
  • [2:34:00] Talks briefly about newly announced 1952 project with Disney, clarifies he won’t be working on it until after the Star Trek sequel
  • [2:38:00] Wrapping up and outro
  • [2:43:00] Damon playsLarry King Game (doing bad Larry King impression)


  • murdernexxus

    Awesome…. I like how this guy thinks

    • Edward Lee

      Oh, yeah. He really thought things out on LOST and then on trashing LOST’s longtime fans for not liking his ending. Damon’s the real great brain.

      • Brett

        I love how people need to elevate themselves by bringing other people down. Damon enjoys doing that, like when he trashed the actress in First Class, now he has to go and trash George Lucas. So Damon, you didn’t need to see 3 movies that spoiled something from a film you liked when you were a wee little boy? Don’t see it. We don’t need you making decisions for the rest of us. Some of us liked the Prequels and are glad Lucas made them. If you didn’t and don’t need to see them, don’t. And when you can create something on the level of Lucas, then open your mouth. Right now, your big claim to fame is Lost, a show which made the Prequels look like Gone With The Wind. In fact, they still show the prequels on tv. How many stations are lining up to watch Lost?

      • Tarek

        No need to trash Luca$. He trashed himself a long time ago, far far in my memory. ^^

  • j jonah jameson

    And in cheaper, better 2D of course.

  • Reggie

    I was really hoping for a more Alien-ish set up story but I guess this sounds interesting keeping fingers crossed that we at least get some backstory on the space jockey in this.

  • Pingback: Screenwriter Damon Lindelof Talks About Prometheus — Cinemart

  • SV7

    I’m still confused…
    But can’t wait!

  • tarek

    Alien is back! and Sir Ridley Scott is back! What a good news!

  • Jason

    “with all due respect to anyone who makes a prequel, but why would you ruin the greatest twist in the history of cinema, “Luke, I am your father”, by showing me three movies which basically spoil that surprise. ”

    That’s a rather stupid comment.

    Just because something is labeled as a “prequel” doesn’t mean it’s meant to be experienced before the previous films.

    • Bill Graham

      He also goes on to make an incredibly valid point. He says that if you watch the “prequels” after watching the first few films, and you HAVE such a legendary twist, what is the build up? Just to that point where you know you will arrive?

      There is no suspense if you are telling the story leading back to the inevitable twist. You want your audience to be on their toes. You want to give them a story within that same universe, but stories they don’t know the ending to already. Especially if it is one of the biggest twists in the entire history of film.

      • Jason

        Bill, are you paying attention to what you are replying to me with?

        You are literally repeating exactly what I am arguing against. He made no valid point.

        His comment only makes sense if you watch the prequels BEFORE the first three that came before. But why would anyone do that? Just because something is a “prequel” does not mean it should be seen before.

        As to, “what is the build up” there is plenty left to be filled. Now, I am not insinuating that the Star Wars prequels did fulfill that but if you think there is no suspense in a prequel simply because you know where things will end up then your and his view of suspense is extremely limited.

        You know that movie “All The President’s Men”? Every American who went to see that movie when it came out knew what the ending was as it was news all over the country when it was happening. Yet, the movie had plenty of suspense (I thought) and kept everyone on their toes.

        There’s more to “build up” and keeping audience on their toes then just simply twists. Even the Star Wars saga is far more than just a twist in the second film. If that was all it was to build up to then it wouldn’t have won such an audience over the years.

      • Brett

        Damon Lindeloff is a new breed of animal: the ignoramus. Because the intelligent would be better off if they just ignored him and his arrogant, ignorant self. He feels Star Wars would be served better if the prequels weren’t made? People can watch the films either way and its up to them to decide. If life moved according to Damon, the prequels wouldn’t exist because HE didn’t need to see them, when he could have just not watched them if he felt that way.
        But he feels they just never should have been made. How self serving. There is a large, non vocal majority of people who are glad Lucas made them, they are played on tv all the time so viewership and interest is there. You can’t say the same for Lost, a show whose writing was so bad, it makes George Lucas’s prequels appear like they were written by Tennesse Williams.
        And stations ARE still airing the prequels; even The Phantom Menace. Remind us, how many stations are broadcasting Lost? Basically, there’s more interest from people in the Phantom Menace than your $#it show, Lost.

      • Bill Graham

        First off, Jason, I do apologize. I did misconstrue his comments. He is basically saying that if you watch Anakin grow up, you will definitely spoil the twist of the original films. That you don’t want to ruin that twist by watching those films prior.

        HOWEVER, you and I both know that because the new films are more recent, a lot of kids experienced them in theaters as complete STAR WARS newbies. In that sense, you are ruining a huge twist. WHY? Why not continue the story of Luke, Leia, and Han AFTER the film?

        Why continue to retread a story where you can potentially spoil a huge, cinematic twist, or simply give more background to a story you already know the outcome of. Why not continue it BEYOND that point, as Timothy Zahn did with his excellent Thrawn trilogy?

        I agree that there are films that have a known outcome, but still manage to pack suspense. But tell me how many films ride that outcome all the way through? Titanic… you see it sink. The King’s Speech? You see him deliver his staple speech. Frost/Nixon? You see the interview.

        All of these films you know the outcome. Yet they ride that through. You comparing that method to what we see in THREE prequels leading up to three more films that have that eventual coveted twist? Not quite the same.

        I agree that there is suspense to be had. But I still think his point is valid, ESPECIALLY in his example. Most series dont have the following or cache to pull off prequels.

        And Brett, you can argue all you want about how popular the prequels might have been for a while. They were new STAR WARS films… people ate them up. But I don’t often see the prequels on TV anymore. In fact, I can’t remember seeing them played anywhere in recent memory outside of a marathon showing all six films in a row. I see the original trilogy, alone, CONSTANTLY. That’s not a sign that one is empirically better than the other, but it does attack your main point of contention that because the prequels are constantly on TV (which they arent), they are better than LOST.

        LOST was a HUGE primetime hit on ABC. And the reason you don’t see it on other stations? IT ENDED LAST YEAR… They want those backend DVD sales. They had a finality to the show. It’s not something people want to watch a random episode of. This isn’t a comedy or something you can jump in and out of. It was episodic, leading to a huge overarching narrative. Drama’s simply don’t do quite as well as an evergreen compared to a timeless sit com.

        Millions of people watched the show, and millions more loved them. I love the point Kevin makes in saying you don’t get the hatred from the ending if the film wasn’t passionately followed.

      • Brett

        Not sure what state you live in Bill but in the New York/New Jersey area, the prequels are played all the time, especially on FX. In fact, they just played Attack of The Clones last night and I watched it. Not everyone dislikes the prequels — I saw the original Star Wars back in 1977, saw Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi both at the time they were in theatres so I’m an original Star Wars guy from way back. Yet still, I like the prequels better. Had Damon had HIS way, under his self serving logic, the prequels would never have been made. I’m glad the world doesn’t revolve around Damon. And Lost is not being aired on any channel I know. Lost is the biggest con ever aired on television, featuring the most disjointed, illogical writing I’ve ever seen so for Damon to criticize anyone — especially the man responsible for some of the most successful movies of all time makes him just look silly and immature.

    • mouche621

      Rather stupid indeed. How could such a smart writer deny the niceness of prequels to mythic sagas where all pieces smartly fit the puzzle in unexpected, rewarding ways. Not necessarily talking about Star Wars, just generally.

  • ewecfce

    Seems to me a great oppituniyu it lost , everyone that loved Aliens wanted to see aliens 2 aliens 3 , aliens 4 mabey even , fans love the characters of the alien specices and without that it aint nothink to do with the alien saga.

    Im not goin to see Terminator 5 , 6 or 7 without terminators am I , i guess im most surprised riddy couldent see the oppitunity it has lost ?? unfountantiy this movie will fail , not to metion 3D is the next logical step for films and they had it planed but not totally bypassed it ??

    • Old Soldier

      Uh,yeh, if you say so.

  • Bill Graham

    Your handle on English is obviously lacking, but just because the film’s title doesn’t include “Alien” doesn’t mean it will lack xenomorphs…

    THE DARK KNIGHT didn’t have Batman in the title, yet it still made a shitload of money… in fact, the most of any Batman film yet.

    We are talking about the same universe, with Ridley itching to explore WHAT happened to the space jockey… which had a burst chest. I’m not saying this film DEFINITELY has xenomorphs. No one knows outside of those directly in the know. However, to assume that they are going to play in the same universe and not include xenomorphs… that’s a little off.

    • Jason

      Bill, that’s not a good argument. “The Dark Knight” might have not had “Batman” in the title but everyone knows that “The Dark Knight” is another name that “Batman” goes by.

      Exactly how when anyone hears “Man Of Steel” they know it is referring to “Superman”.

      • Bill Graham

        And the argument that because this film DOESN’T have “Alien” in the title means it won’t have xenomorphs IS a good one? You just skipped over the rest of my points to trash the weakest link. Great.

  • Bradpitti

    Wish he would work on Star Trek – With the Same Passion. unfortunately he doesnt care about that Franchise :-(((

  • SirDude

    Ya, Star Trek was fun, but the science was awful. Lindelof should NOT write scifi.

    • Bill Graham

      Lindelof was a producer for TREK, not a writer. I’m sure he had some input as he mentions, going in and out of the writing meetings, but that was Orci and Kurtzman’s script…

  • Rob

    The funny thing is how he says there’s “no suspense in inevitability” and then describes any flashback onboard the plane in LOST as “having this tension because you know it’s gonna crash”