Ridley Scott Dishes on Two ALIEN Prequels And Much More at Hero Complex Film Festival

     June 13, 2010

Legendary director Ridley Scott helped close the first Los Angeles Times Hero Complex Film Festival in style Sunday. He screened two of his most accomplished films, Alien and Blade Runner, and in between simultaneously inspired and gave the world some awesome news on his two upcoming Alien prequels.

In the original Alien, right before Kane (John Hurt) gets planted with a Face Hugger, he sees the skeleton of a giant being sitting in a chair. This being is regularly referred to as “The Space Jockey” and Scott said he always wondered who being was and what was its story. He said that being now has a story. The script has been written and he is currently in preproduction on a set of films that will begin to tell how “The Space Jockey” fits into the world of Alien.

Hit the jump to read more details about these upcoming Alien movies as well as the entire run down of Scott’s Q&A. Plus, don’t forget to read about Leonard Nimoy from Friday and Christopher Nolan from Saturday.

Festival host and moderator Geoff Boucher started off the Q&A by asking Scott how he was doing. He recently had knee replacement surgery and is still on the mend.

- Scott was amazed we were going to watch two of his films back to back. He joking said he wished we had done it when Blade Runner was released because it was a box office failure, not in small part because it opened the same day at E.T.

- As a child, Scott thought science fiction was sort of cheesy until he saw the Mad Max films and the art work of Moebius, who he mentioned on SEVERAL occasions.

- He told the story of how Alien came to be. He was trying to get something going after The Duelisits and after a meeting in Hollywood, his producer took him to see Star Wars at the Grauman’s Chinese. Scott said he felt a vibe in the packed theater that he hasn’t felt since and walked out sick with envy. A few months later, the script for Alien came across his desk and he had to do it.

- He said he was the fifth person the script was sent to and it was in danger of being killed. When he realized he knew how to shoot it, he went in and proposed they don’t change one word.

- The original budget was 4.2 million dollars, but after spending several months drawing storyboards, the studio got excited and doubled the budget. He feels storyboarding is almost as important as writing.

- When he can, Scott will spend two hours in the morning each day just reading with no distractions. He thinks it’s essential to read things pure.

- Scott loves the Alien franchise and was kind of upset they never asked him to come back. In fact, he didn’t even know they were making a second one when they started.

- He stressed that, though after Alien he had two flops with Blade Runner and Legend, filmmakers should be their only critic. Money doesn’t matter as long as you are proud of it. That dogma has paid off as both films are now revered.

- This was when he started talking about his new Alien movies. He said he was always amazed that no one explored the backstory of “The Space Jockey” in the sequels because it’s so obvious in the first movie. So now a script has been written and it’s being prepped. The story has no set timeline except that it’s WAY before the first Alien so that they can fit in enough history for two movies. Scott explained that once you learn the history of how the jockey encountered the aliens, you’ll also want to learn about how he got there.

- He’s done a lot of underwater research for the upcoming movies.

- This film will go very deep into the possibilities of terra forming and the realities of what it would actually take for humans to leave earth. He then started talking sort of technically about light speed and stuff.

- Sigourney Weaver wasn’t cast until 3 weeks before shooting and though she’d gained acclaim on Broadway, she hadn’t really done a film at the time. When he met her the short Scott (who is 5 foot 8 inches) was extremely impressed and kind of taken back by her size. She tested on the actual set, because they were close to shooting and it was being built. Scott said he could have cut the test into the movie.

- While casting Blade Runner, he decided he might want Harrison Ford for the lead role but his producers hadn’t heard of him. Ridley then said he was the guy who flew the “maltese falcon” which got a laugh. Anyway, he figured if Spielberg and Lucas cast him in their new movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, he must be good. That film was shooting down the street from where Scott was so one night Ford showed up for a meeting in full Indiana Jones gear. He got the job that night.

- He believes all the on set friction between him and Ford has been largely overstated, however, believes that tension keeps people honest on a set. He had a very specific look for Blade Runner and hated having to explain himself over and over.

- Scott operated the camera himself on Alien and Legend.

- Filmmaking is a team effort without question. The director is the coach and must be left in control.

- Working in advertising was his film school and didn’t get into films until much later. He was 42 when he directed Blade Runner and felt a lot of pressure.

- He has been doing physical therapy for several months now on his rehabbed knee and sees Harrison Ford every day at the same gym. Said he has put on a lot of muscle for Cowboys and Aliens, which begins shooting this week.

- Scott wasn’t able to pick which of his brother Tony Scott’s films was his favorite but he said his two student films, One of the Missing and A Loving Memory, were the best student films he has ever seen.

- They are currently on the 4th draft of a screenplay for the sci-fi The Forever War, based on a novel by Joe Haldeman. He hopes to make it in the future.

- Scott’s favorite Star Wars film is Episode 4, A New Hope, because it is so romantic. As a producer, he looks for “romantic bones in a director’s body” and that was Lucas at his most romantic.

- Growing up, his family was very strict and didn’t talk about sexuality. So, at the time, he felt sci-fi was very tawdry and he was discouraged from seeing the movies. The Day the Earth Stood Still and On the Beach changed that, followed by 2001.

The rest of the questions were from the audience.

- When setting up shots, it’s all through intuition from a lot of preparation. He used to do 100-150 commercials a year so he is used to shooting very fast and doing everything on the fly.

- He never rehearses with his actors outside of table reads. Many times, the first time he sees anything play out is on the set. He said that’s okay because the actors he hires do their homework.

- Boucher asked about a Robin Hood sequel but instead of answering that, he just started talking about his Robin Hood movie. He loves the Mel Brooks film, not so much the Errol Flynn, and felt the film was a challenge because everyone has incorrect preconceived notions of Robin Hood and he wanted to go against that.  He would, however, like to do a sequel.

- Alex Billington from FirstShowing.net said that in the past Scott said that “Sci-Fi is as dead as westerns” and asked why he changed his mind? He said he didn’t remember saying that but now has a western in development, and it’s being written by Larry McMurtry (Brokeback Mountain).

- If he had done the sequel to Alien, he would have made the movie he is making now about “The Space Jockey.”

- Blade Runner is so radically different from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? because that book has way too much going on to be just one movie. It was Hampton Fancher’s choice to diverge from the book.

- The title Blade Runner came from a William F. Burroughs story and they bought the rights for $4,000. This sounded like a joke but maybe it wasn’t.

And that’s the end of the weekend. It was a total blast. A class operation that ran smoothly and professionally thanks to Geoff Boucher, the Los Angeles Times and the Mann Chinese Cinemas. Here’s hoping they do it again next year.

  • http://ciclotimia.blogspot.com/ [A]

    Fantastic. This one and Nolan's — I bet they were great experiences.

  • http://twitter.com/genreaddict Genre Addict

    That's great to hear that the Space Jockey will get a backstory at long last. Been wondering about it since the very first time I saw Alien.

  • bygnerd

    It's actually not a joke… the title was purchased separately. They optioned a novel solely to use the name. It's not a Burroughs novel, rather it's by Alan Nourse. Burroughs had written a treatment of that novel which is how it came to Scott's attention.

  • thebearpaw

    Beautiful! I'm a fan of Ridley Scott and just now heard there will be not 1 but 2 Alien prequel films!? That's fantastic!


    I read once in a comic book, about Alien Space Jockey origins… The Jockyeys were on a their ship and they were either transporting Alien eggs OR they had them for themselves as FOOD cargo. They were a delicacy i think. But, alas, one got out and their ship turned to shit! The ship crashed…..
    I only read that one part as it was an episodal comic that i never saw the start or next chapter, so some of my memory may not be accurate.

    I wonder if any of that will be part of these actual movies?

    Also, Scott is really down to earth Director, he's great! And his Robin Hood was fantastic! Hope it gets a sequel! (and a bloodyer Directors Cut) just a bit short of battle violence.

  • Pingback: Ridley Scott Talks ‘Alien’ Prequel Details - Screen Rant()

  • Pingback: AvPGalaxy – Ridley Scott Talks Prequels()

  • Pingback: Ridley Scott Describes Alien Prequels He’ll Probably Never Make | Celebrities.com()

  • Paul

    I'd much rather have a solid conclusion to Ripley's story than a pointless backstory to the Space Jockey but hey, maybe a return to science fiction can encourage Ridley Scott to really push himself again. He's an excellent filmmaker but I've felt in the past few years he's come off too much as a 9am to 5pm filmmaker. Just doing a job and not being passionate.
    And hey, maybe after doing two Alien Prequels Scott will be charged enough in the Alien Universe to close off Ripley's story with a final Alien 5. That would blow my mind!

  • Pingback: Daily Link Roundup: Monday, June 14 | Real TV Addict()

  • Anon

    I hope not, that sounds rather lame

  • http://twitter.com/wmmvrrvrrmm Dominic K

    It might be nice to have the whole Q & A word for word instead of the summary. There's a lot that he talked about and we barely get a glimpse of it here, we have to wait for other other details to come out on other sites of the Q & A. If someone were to give me an audio recording of the whole thing I would transcribe it word for word.

  • Pingback: Alien Prequel - Seite 28()

  • Pingback: Neuigkeiten aus Film und Fernsehen 15.06.2010 - PS3 Forum - PS3inside()

  • guest

    Nobody else seems to have noticed the little mention of Joe Haldeman's “The Forever War” which is an absolutely amazing book… I found that line almost more exciting that the whole rest of the story!

  • Tarek

    I love Sir Ridley scott. He is sooo talented!

  • Popjohn

    I saw that reference to “The Forever War” and was also excited. Hopefully he will do it justice should it actually get off the ground…

  • Pingback: “Alien”: diretor Ridley Scott vai reiniciar franquia | GRÁTIS | Das Fútil()

  • Trick

    Scott said he (more or less) he wasnt satisfied with the direction of the series so I dont expect him to make any sequels anytime soon
    if he was in fact approached for a second film instead of Cameron, we would have seen a space jockey origin movie
    Scott basically would have been moving backwards
    according to his comments that evening

  • Trick

    actually a summary of his Q&A is quite fitting for this particular evening
    Im not sure if he normally is this forthcoming on his theories and ideas but
    that evening Scott got very…descriptive
    almost confusing
    not as technical as Nolan the evening before but
    more descriptive

  • Pingback: MTV | MTV At The Movies » Blog Archive » Ridley Scott med nyt om Alien-prequels()

  • http://alienexplorations.blogspot.com/ Wmmvrrvrrmm

    He is often forthcoming when he gets into a flow. I suppose I'd find it important to transcribe every little syllable of his interviews especially when it dealt with complex ideas to do with Alien and Bladerunner. I remember transcribing the Don Shay interview on the Alien laserdisc years ago and got every little detail to the syllable down and shared it on the internet and weeks later a simplified version appeared in a Fanzine and half of what was there was now gone. I managed to transcribe his DVD commentaries and it is very enjoyable to work out what it is that he is talking about, it gives me the chance to join in the thinking process. It is nice that people have shared as much as they could, in these summaries, but from a summary, I'm not going to get those complicated descriptive ideas that he has. If I had been there it would be a different situation. Well, if someone out there has a recording of it, I'd like a copy to transcribe syllable for syllable. I suppose I'm going to have to build a document out of the skeleton of what the sites have been able to share so far.

  • Pingback: TrekMovie.com Sci-Fi Movies: The Hobbit, Alien, Dr. Strange, The Thing, Oz, Fraggle Rock, The Green Hornet + more | Your Entertainment Now()

  • Buchhunter13

    I love the Alien movies. it's good to see Mr Scott doing a new Alien movie

  • Pingback: Black Angel | 3inQ()

  • Pingback: Hero Complex Film Festival covered far and wide | Hero Complex – Los Angeles Times()

  • Pingback: Alien Prequel Comments From The Ridster! | Hardcore Nerdity()

  • Kaze

    they released a script piece on yahoo at one point for alien 5 involving nuclear bombs being dropped on an infested earth from 2′s satellite and Ripley and weyland(+bishop) having an argument as to why they shouldn’t….it was really a rather interesting piece.

  • Joly

    naturally like your website however you have to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very troublesome to inform the reality nevertheless I will definitely come again again.