Ridley Scott Talks PROMETHEUS, Viral Advertising, TRIPOLI, the BLADE RUNNER Sequel, PROMETHEUS Sequels, More

by     Posted 2 years, 143 days ago

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No matter how much time you get with director Ridley Scott, it’s never enough.  After all, you could spend an entire interview discussing the original Alien, Blade Runner, or his under-appreciated gem, Kingdom of Heaven (specifically the director’s cut with forty additional minutes that completely changes the film).  So when I got to participate in a roundtable interview with Scott yesterday in London for Prometheus, his first sci-fi movie in thirty years, you could say I was a bit excited.

During the twenty minute interview, Scott talked about how Prometheus came about, it’s relation to the original Alien, the viral marketing, technology, his fascination with robots and artificial intelligence, and so much more.  In addition, Scott talked about other projects like Monopoly, the Blade Runner Sequel, what ever happened to Tripoli and what it was about, and reveals that he already has ideas for the Prometheus sequel, assuming he gets to make one.  Hit the jump to either read or listen to the interview.

Note:  The following interview contains MASSIVE spoilers.  While I debated posting this until after release, with Prometheus already playing in Europe, I decided to let our readers judge for themselves when they want to read it.  I strongly suggest not reading this interview until after you’ve seen the movie.  Once you do, you’re going to love hearing about Scott’s ideas for the sequel and how he came up with the idea for this film.

As usual, I’m offering you two ways to get the interview:  you can either click here for the audio, or the full transcript is below.

ridley-scott-prometheus-set-imageQuestion: How are you doing today, sir? Congratulations.

Ridley Scott:  Thank you, sir. Look at this technology (he’s talking about all the recorders on the table). Jesus Christ. 40 years ago when Kirk said “Beam me up, Scotty” we used to think that was fucking ridiculous, remember? Seriously, that’s been 40 years and then when he says the “disintegration” of his matter into the “reintegration” of his matter in the next space, that right there is light speed. So they touched on light speed. I’ve talked to NASA about this and they’ve said that’s light speed. So “Can you do it?” They said “Yeah. Have you got seven glasses of water?” I go “Not the seven glasses of water trick, please.” There were all scientists in the room and he started to explain to me the relativity and the speed of light. “Can you do it?” “Yeah.” He said the only barrier is “us.” He said, I can mathematically explain how, but we haven’t gotten there with that.  And with that, first question.

When you did Alien and Blade Runner back in the seventies you obviously had technology for those audiences, it was ahead of its time. You make a movie like Prometheus now and you are dealing with a society that is so technology based, how do you go about creating this world where there are still new things and…

prometheus-ridley-scott-set-imageScott:  Since the thirty years since Alien there was no technology… It was all live action shooting, even the models had dolly grips pushing the big model and I could see you walking “Cut. Back up.”  There were lots of smoke and wind machines and that was it. There were no digital tracks and all of that shit and then the star fields where a guy with a toothbrush on a black background and you would get a universe.  I said, “Wow, it’s beautiful. Can you give me a red one?” He said “Yeah,” takes that toothbrush and goes “bam.” Then I photograph it and… The beginning of Alien was flat art work, I just panned across it. I just panned across it and Jerry’s music put the rest to right.

Can you talk about approaching how you wanted the technology to look in this movie? Because it’s unclear when it is relative to Alien, but this is more advanced technology that they are using than other people have been in Alien.

Scott:  Yeah, but I couldn’t help that, because I didn’t know, did I? (Laughs) For all intents and purposes this is very loosely a prequel, very, and then you say “But how did that ship evolve in the first Alien?” Then I would say “Actually he’s one of the group that had gone off and his cargo had gotten out of control,” because he was heading somewhere else and it got out of control and actually he had died in the process and that would be the story there. That ship happened to be a brother to the ship that you see that comes out of the ground at the end. They are roughly of the same period give or take a couple hundred years, right? Other than that, there’s no real link except it explains, I think, who may have had these capabilities, which are dreadful weapons way beyond anything we could possibly conceive, bacteriological drums of shit that you can drop on a planet and the planet… Do you know anything about bacteria? If you take a teaspoon and drop it in the biggest reservoir in London, which also scares the shit out of me, and amazes me that there are not huge guards around it… That’s the way to do it. You don’t do 9/11, you just get a teaspoon of bacteria, drop it in, and eight days later the water is clean and then suddenly on the eighth day the water goes dense and cloudy, but by then it’s been sent to every home and several million people have drunk it, you’ve got bubonic. It’s that simple. That’s how scary it is, so these evolutions of these guys who have developing galloping DNA, it’s like “How can DNA that quickly, sitting in front of my on a table…” That’s because your mind doesn’t allow you to accept that that may be feasible, that’s the deal. In the same way that we have been here three billion years, we know we’ve been… The Gulf of Mexico they believe is a huge asteroid. That was an impact zone, you know that? Yeah, for that big a thing to actually hit our globe, it would have had to adjusted the spin, the axis. That probably created the first massive cataclysmic thing which took away all of the dinosaurs, so that after that you’re left with water, that’s why the Grand Canyon was a sea and it is now a dry valley…

ridley-scott-set-image-prometheusI’m going to switch to a completely… In your sci-fi projects you have been almost obsessed with AI and robots. Why is that fascinating?

Scott:  I don’t know. I think it evolved out of the box in Blade Runner because Roy Batty was an evolved… He wasn’t an engine. If I cut him open, there wasn’t metal, he was grown and the growth pattern came out of the idea of… the idea of a replicant came from a student who was at Carmel who was reading her dad’s script who was actually helping on Blade Runner and said “You shouldn’t call them robots, you should call them replicants.” She said, “I deal with replicants and replications every day,” but he’s grown and then within twenty years you get the first bill not passed in the Senate where they applied for replication of animals, sheep and goats and cattle and animals and they turned it down, but if you can do that, then you can do human beings. If you go deeper into it and say “Yeah, but if you are going to grow a human being, does he start that big and I’ve got to see him through everything?” I don’t want to answer the question, because of course he does, but then in Alien, and Alien had nothing to do with… Ash in Alien had nothing to do with Roy Batty, because Roy Batty is more humanoid, whereas Ash was more metal and Ash’s logic was on every space ship “if I have a space ship worth god knows how much money and I’ve got to have a company man onboard and that company man is going to be a god damn secret,” and the secret… “I’m not going to tell you this, because of the evolution of our robots… He is going to be a perfect looking robot.” So that was the Ash thing. Now I’m doing this and I thought it was an interesting acknowledgement, the marvelous idea of Ash, which I think is a pretty good idea. It was a one off for that to be a surprise, that “Ash is a god damn robot” and we gave all the clues early by having stiff joints and doing his thing. I just wanted to have the same idea that  the corporation would have a robot onboard every ship, so that when you are asleep in hyper-sleep for three or four years going at 250,000 knots an hour, you will have  guy wandering around like a house keeper. He’s a housekeeper and he’s got full access to everything. He can look at all of the films. He can go into the library… he can do whatever he wants, and that’s David.

prometheus-ridley-scott-noomi-rapaceThis originally started out as more of an Alien prequel from what I’ve read or heard. What was the central idea that caused you to extrapolate outward from that and create something that’s more of its own film and has some of its own ideas?

Scott:  The very simple question was “Who the hell was in that ship? Who is sitting in that seat?” and “Why that cargo?” and “Where was he going?” no one asked the question, so I thought “Duh.” It’s a “duh,” isn’t it?

[Everyone Laughs]

Scott:  They’re all bright guys… Jim and David and the French guy, and I thought “Wow, duh.” And I just kind of say and thought about it for a while and I was busy, so I didn’t really do anything about it and then when they finally put it to bed in Alien vs. Predator I thought “You know what? This is a good idea here.” The more I talked about it, I thought “God damn….” I was going to call it Alien – Paradise, because I thought that had a spooky connotation to the idea, because it concocts our notion and idea of paradise and “what is that?” And paradise to us suggests religion and religion says “God” and then God, who created us, and that’s certainly… you’ve got a scientist who believes in God and there’s lots of scientists who believe flatly in God and even though they may be in quantum physics, they say “I get to a wall and sometimes wonder “who the hell thought of this one?” and I can’t get through the wall. When I get through the wall more is revealed and I still see another wall, so who is making this shit up?”

ridley-scott-imageThe creator-creation dynamic is playing out threefold in the film, so it’s parent-child, god-man, and then man and AI and kind of delving into facing your creator and it doesn’t pan out very well for any of them. Do you think that that’s the fundamental appeal of this kind of myth in the sci-fi realm? It’s that cautionary tale about over reaching your bounds.

Scott:  Totally. Very good. Yeah, we go too far, but then you can’t simply go too far, because by going too far “Are we living better today, despite all of the problems that exist, than the fifties?” Yes, of course we are. Then the eighteen fifties? No comparison. The nineteen hundred? No comparison in every shape and form, but are we heading towards a much larger problem? Definitely.

What was behind your decision not to rely on CG in this?

Scott:  We had the right budget, but I didn’t have all the money in the world and I kind of wanted to do it on budget, that’s what I do, and also I kind of like to build sets if I can. If you can build sets and you know exactly how much you need, it’s much cheaper than saying “I don’t know what I’m going to do in this scene, but I just want a load of green screen out there and we will try and put something there later…” That’s fucking expensive. That’s how these films go millions of dollars over budget, because they’ve got no target.

prometheus-movie-posterThis is more a return than a departure, because this movie has had the most attention, as well as the most secrecy involved at the same time. A lot of people are excited and interested in it, because of the film’s connections, and people are also curious about the secrecy surrounding it. Can you talk about how you get a movie like that? It’s very different from your other movies, your more recent movies.

Scott:  It was just… you know increased security. Everyone’s got a script with their name printed right across the middle of it, so if that goes out I know it comes from you and you’re in trouble. That was it and because I’m still very much into advertising, I’ve always wanted to evolve this kind of viral advertising, which would be ads talking about anything but the film. The film isn’t mentioned, so you’ve got Peter Weyland saying “Hi, I’m Peter Weyland and I’m the god you know and I own the world” and I have the Weyland Corporation where he mentions Prometheus, but you don’t know what the hell it is and then David later says “Hello. I’m David. I work for Weyland Corporation,” then at the end he puts his fingerprint on and he’s got a “W” in his fingerprint. Then we have one thing with Noomi applying for a job to Peter Weyland and that’s the best form of advertising, because people are going “What’s that?” As soon as you’ve got “What’s that?” you’ve just done the job.

Charlize Theron hadn’t really acted for a while before this and Snow White.

Scott:  No, she hadn’t.

Did that go in her favor? Did she bring a lot of enthusiasm to the set?

Scott:  We were pretty lively anyways, but she definitely brings… It gets lively with Charlize.

Would you care to explain?

Scott:  No, I mean I’ve known Charlize for a while and so she would say “Come on, give me a fucking movie!”

prometheus-david-Michael-Fassbender-poster[Everyone Laughs]

Scott:  She’s good. She’s a good girl.

I don’t want to spoil anything with your answer, but this film opens a lot of doors that are not answered and you have…

Scott:  In the next one…

My question is how far have you thought? Or have you talked to Damon (Lindelof) about where the possibility of a sequel will go? Have you already opened those doors in terms of you already know where these answers are and it’s just a matter of making it or are you sort of like “We will think about that a little bit assuming the movie is a hit. Let’s talk later.”

Scott:  It’s a bit of each. You do a bit of each and I’ve opened the doors. I know where it’s going. I know that to keep him alive is essential and to keep her alive is essential and to go where they came from, not where I came from, is essential. That’s a pretty open door and then rather than going to that, I don’t see landing in a place that looks like paradise, that’s not how it’s going to be. There is a plan, yeah.

How important is it for you to be directly involved as a director in that?

Scott:  Totally. I develop everything. I do. I learned that a long time ago. It’s never going to land on your desk, you have to come up with what you want to do with the story and I think sometimes it can take two or three years. I want to do a western really badly and I think I’ve got a western this morning, finally after two and a half years of talking and writing and talking and… I think I have it, which is kind of interesting. And then the evolution of writing it… Has anyone written a book here?

[Everyone says “No.”]

Scott:  Try writing a book, dude. That’s difficult. Writing a screenplay is like writing a book, it’s that simple. You’ve got a blank page and that’s it, a blank page and then you go from there and everyone has their own method. I know some start here and end here and I’m good with writers. I think I would never try to write… I’ve written two or three screenplays before, but I wouldn’t do it. It takes too long and I would rather… The time it would take me to write a screenplay it would take me the time to make two films. I would rather make the movies and I’m a better moviemaker than I a would be writer.

With that in mind, you have developed a lot of things over the years. To do more movies in this world  it could be quite different, because you were doing a movie almost every year or every two years while switching genres while this movie took a little longer, because it was so evolved… To get back into this world and maybe not make three or four other movies, because you were back in this world… how is that as a filmmaker who likes changing around and working?

prometheus-poster-viralScott:  I like to keep working.

Yeah. To get back to this world and not be able to do other movies, would that be tough to do?

Scott:  Unthinkinable.

So how do you manage that? Are you going to have to clone yourself? [Ridley Pauses]  Are you a robot?

Scott:  I am a robot.

[Everyone Laughs]

Getting back to what you were saying, you’ve been attached to a lot of different things and we’ve heard that you… I’m just curious, what do you think is coming up for you? I’ve seen your name on so many things. What’s the definite stuff?

Ridley Scott: What have you heard?

Monopoly, Brave New World, a Blade Runner sequel… There are a lot of things.

Ridley Scott: I’m on all of them. They are all happening now. Monopoly’s first pass is written. Blade Runner is in process now how having Hampton Fancher … I don’t know what to do with Brave New World. It’s tough. I think Brave New World in a funny kind of way was good in nineteen thirty-eight, because it had a very interesting revolutionary idea. Don’t forget it came shortly before or after George Orwell, roughly the same time. When you re-analyze it, maybe it should stay as a book. I don’t know. We tried to get it…

Tripoli was another one.

Scott:  Tripoli is great. It didn’t happen because of a personal thing. I felt somebody wasn’t well, so I couldn’t do it and I stopped, but Tripoli is great, because it’s about Thomas Jefferson and guy called William Eaton. William Eaton was a despot who was actually… He worked on the edge of the political arena in three states. The United States then was three states and Thomas Jefferson spent his entire treasury or 11,000,000 dollars with is approximately a third of the price of half the people I know in Hollywood’s home, he bought from St. Louis to the coast, from Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon needed to cash to go to Moscow. Big mistake. And then William Eaton goes out to the coast, where Pasha Bashaw of Tripoli who is a mother-fucking despot and gangster who was actually kidnapping and taking American frigates and crews. America only had three war ships, but there were a lot of commercial vehicles in that area… He was taking crews and putting them as slaves and taking them above deck and keeping them for ransom. So William Eaton said “Enough of this shit.” He went out there personally and started to create his one personal war against Pasha Bashaw and the Pasha was the pretender. His brother was a Muslim…. They were all Muslim, but the brother had fled to Egypt and Eaton went to Egypt and personally talked him into coming back. It’s a good story.

For more on Prometheus, here’s 4 Clips and Almost 5 Minutes of Behind-the-Scenes Footage and my other interviews from London:

And here’s a few more recent articles:

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  • Tyler

    Why the fuck would you post a spoiler-ridden interview RIGHT before the movies going to come out. After all the cast and Ridley’s hard work to heighten the mystery, this is like slapping the crew right in the face

    • Jeff Noble

      There is a red warning about spoilers on top of the screen. If people are pro-actively looking for spoilers, they’ll find it. They can’t blame anyone but themselves if they can’t have self-control.

    • Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

      as I said at the beginning, I’m offering this now because the movie is already out in Europe and the entire cast and filmmakers are doing an insane amount of press today and tomorrow and want to make sure Collider has it covered.

      • Yoyo

        Don’t even feel it spoiled much. Could care less how much I know going into it. Knowing the end won’t make the film any less enjoyable. The idea of “spoilers” is an exgerrated complaint among people.

  • sense 11

    Agreed the Kingdom of Heaven extended edition is absolutely amazing

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  • henrieta

    why nothing on the counselor??
    both scott and fassbender are doing it next

  • Chesterfield

    Ridley Scott is just a very cool dude. I really love listening to his commentary tracks, which he usually peppers with a very dry, typically English humor. Kingdom of Heaven is a magnificent film, easily his most underrated (because people haven’t seen it, they think they have because they saw it in the theater but they haven’t), and it feels completely different from the theatrical.

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  • tarek

    steve Frosty is the luckiest man on earth. Talking to Sir Ridley is simply like eating Caviar.

  • Spock Jenkins

    Just watched the movie here in U.K. and without spoiling anything, as I feared, I realised the trailers and promo materials gave away far, far too much of the movie, the entire film’s arc in fact.

    This is just unacceptable. Why did they reveal so much in the trailers??

    Story-wise, I felt short-changed, as they clearly revealed nothing in order to push through with a sequel…

    • Guns Of Navarone

      I don’t entirely agree with that (having just seen it myself). Yes they leave a question unanswered but they do answer the question from Alien 1. What the thing was. Leaving a question unanswered is kind of good though as I wouldn’t want a story as complex as that wrapped up in one film. I would prefer another film to continue it along otherwise it would have seemed very rushed.

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  • Rohan

    Man, Frosty, you forgot to ask Ridley about ‘The Counselor.’ But, good interview. I enjoyed it. Good questions and answers.

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  • SP1234

    Wish we heard more about the Blade Runner sequel, at least about the development.

  • Matt P

    The Gulf of Mexico was an impact crater? The Grand Canyon was a sea and now it’s dry??? Whaddahell?? I really enjoy Mr. Scott’s movies, but I please beg of him to never talk about the real world ever again.

    • Daveh

      You have an issue with the truth?

  • LV426

    I hope Ridley has a 40 minute extended edition ready for Prometheus! I saw it last night and I absolutely adore it, it’s awesomely epic! However I felt there was a lot held back for a 15 certicate and a 2hour run time! Release the extended edition in a few weeks please!!

  • John

    Prometheus is a very bad film with no collected story or some logical articulation, clearly the writers are impossibly average and one wishes for the great film making of the 70s and 80 s. Two and a half hours for what? dreadful violence one sees onee thousand times on other similar films and performances by so called actors. I wonder if they ever went had time to go to a drama school because they must spent all their time in the gym. Scott surely is a very imaginative artist but that film is not worth the 9 pounds i had to pay. Clearly they spend millions on advertising and now masses are queuing up to watch a story about a mission to a planet to discover that we may come from some bigger human beings who actually give birth to the one and only alien Ridley Scott created some 20 + years ago. The visual effects are poor and the setting not at all convincing. i t could be any mountainous area in canada etc… I loved Aliens when he did it but he knew how to balance true action with some difficult scenes of alien violence. Now 90 percent of the film is violence, and they script unbelievably poor. Dont be tempted to watch it. Where have the great film makers of the past gone? if cinema goes on like that then I dont want to watch a film ever again.

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  • bones

    john^^^ seriously.. im an alien fan watched it when i was 4 yrs old.. i have them on all formats in all special editions for as long as i can remember,,, prometheus is actually pretty good story wise yes it might move alittle fast at the start with only a glimpes of how they got their but the story is about the “space jockey” they made a quick link and were done with it ridley focused on them they caused all they trouble within the alien series,,,, i and many others thought the visiuals were good and ridley hates to many and i agree its still never real enough and dampens the film also noted by afriend the environment was different inside visually because there were no secretions from the aliens themselfs at that point outside tho there is the belief a system like yours with a planet the same distance etc can exist ………. and was never ment to be 1 film

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  • Paul

    prometheus was very average, basically terrible story telling, good special effects, but you know, today’s moviegoer is generally retarded and lives on Facebook, so it was geared towards the special crowd with low iq’s. very disappointing overall…

    • Kemixtry

      You forgot to say ‘I’m my opinion’. I just love self confessed intellectuals who regard a movie as dumb because they didn’t get it, yet they are intelligent so it mustn’t be them that’s the problem.
      This story delves into the supposed beliefs of the alternate thinker who doesn’t blindly accept the religious connotations of the world. It is an education in principal but you don’t have to accept it if you want, you can always go back to the Matrix sequels debate.

      • Howard Stein

        Unfair. Don’t berate the viewer. The movie has giant plot holes. The opening is about an advanced being sacrificing himself to create the originins of life (on Earth?)? puh-leeze. Even if this is what Scott intended it just isn’t defined clearly in the presentation. And what is with these advanced (?) beings batting around human beings ala James Arness in “The Thing”? The petrifed exoskeleton’d space jockey idea from the first movie – out the window. I know Scott cautioned us a good while back that that would be the case, but its still a bad idea. And this film had terribly ordinary creature designs; giant tentacled starfish with vagina – really?

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  • IT UP

    Though there’s a lot of competition
    (ie Spielberg, Stone, Eastwood, Lucas et al)
    Scott is surely one of the deepest ruts up there.

    EUGENICS predictive programming does NOT
    make for enduring, or even, finally, interesting art.

    Scott should know b etter

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