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Fresh from their panel at WonderCon 2012 in Anaheim, California, on Saturday, director Ridley Scott, screenwriter Damon Lindelof (Lost) and actor Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class) met with the press to discuss one of this summer’s most highly anticipated blockbusters.
When Ridley Scott announced he would be interested in revisiting his groundbreaking sci-fi horror film Alien several years ago, fans collectively held their breath in anticipation. As details about the production began to emerge, it was learned that the new film, Prometheus, would ultimately not be a direct prequel to the Alien franchise. Asked about that decision, Lindelof said, “There’s an inevitability to watching a prequel, where you’re like, ‘Okay, if the ending of this movie is just going to be the room that John Hurt walks into that’s full of eggs — there’s nothing interesting in that,’ because we know where it’s going to end.”
“Real good stories, you don’t know where they’re going to end,” he continued, “so this movie, hopefully, will contextualize the original Alien so that when you watch it again, maybe you know a little bit more, but you don’t fuck around with that movie. It has to stand on its own.”
During their Saturday panel, the filmmakers briefly discussed the possibility of a sequel to Prometheus. When they were asked if that film would veer further into Alien territory or explore new ground, Lindelof replied, “If we’re fortunate enough to be able to do a sequel to Prometheus, it will actually, I think, tangentialize even further away from the original Alien.”
That being said, the filmmakers demonstrated they understand what fans are clamoring to see. “When you go to the concert that is this movie, you want the Stones to play ’Satisfaction,’” Lindelof said. “So there is this sense of us [the audience] saying, ‘We want you to do something new, Ridley, but just give us a little bit of ‘Space Jockey.’ C’mon, just play it — even in the encore!’”
Given that the original film was released more than 30 years ago, Scott was asked about the advances in technology and how they affected Prometheus. “It’s easier to carry it out,” he said. “It’s still as difficult to write something. In fact, it’s getting more difficult because there are almost too many movies being made.”
When asked how he approached creating the Prometheus universe, Scott was candid: “You think about everything down to the shoelaces.” While doing research for the film, Scott even took inspiration from a recent Steve Jobs biography that mentioned the Apple co-founder’s work with the durable Gorilla Glass. “Now, if I’m in 2083 and I’m going up into space,” Scott said, “why would I design a helmet that has blind spots when what I want is a globe where … I’ve got 360 [vision]?”
“Glass by then will be as light as this,” the director said, picking up a plastic water bottle. “And you wouldn’t be able to break it with a bullet. So there was this set-to I had with somebody important who said, ‘It looks old-fashioned,’ and I said, ‘No, it doesn’t. It looks finished.'”
Nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in Shame, Michael Fassbender was asked about the challenges of playing the android David, a character that isn’t quite human. “Well, you want to play with as much of those human traits as possible,” he said. “But you’re always playing, you know, you don’t want to make a sort of direct, definite choice. You’re sort of playing with the ambiguity [of] is this robot starting to develop a human personality?”
“What was important is a story thing,” Scott added. “There’s nothing new about an android, there’s nothing new about a robot. In fact, it’s 800 years old — that idea — so then, embrace who it is, and by embracing it he becomes that much more interesting because he’s just part of the ship.”
Lindelof then recalled an important conversation with Scott early in pre-production about Fassbender’s mass-produced android character. “The idea that we all have our iPhones, yet we put different cases on them and different apps on them, and so — this David, himself — once you take him out of the wrapping, would begin to sort of customize himself,” the writer explained. “He could change his hairstyle. He could change the way that he speaks. He could have different applications based on what this unit is designed to do.”
The iconic, avant-garde score for the original Alien by Jerry Goldsmith is so revered by fans that Scott was asked about what audiences could expect from his latest film. “The score is, again, always a challenge,” he admitted, citing the difficulties involved in bringing together all of the elements to create a memorable score. “You don’t really know what you’re going to get until you’re actually in Abbey Road, which is where I did all the music — in the Beatles’ place. You start to hear it then, and then you don’t really know until you start putting it on to the film. So, everything is trial and error, you know, and you’re always looking at finding something more.”
Very little has been revealed about Prometheus in any of the trailers or marketing materials, and Lindelof admitted to being astonished by the patience of the franchise’s fans.
“We’re doing this dance together as filmmakers, where people want to know more about it and we say to them, ‘Do you really want to know?’ and they go, ‘No-no-no-no. We don’t. We just want to go into the theater not knowing if there’s a bomb under the table or not, or when it’s going to go off,'” he said. “Ridley has always had a tremendous amount of faith in the audience’s intelligence, and he directs in a way and tells stories in a way that you come up to them as opposed to it talks down to you, and I feel Prometheus is a proud member of that thing he does so well.”
Prometheus opens June 8.