When Sir Ridley Scott needed a rewrite for his Alien prequel which had been in development for a decade, he looked to Lost co-creator (and one of the producers of the 2009 Star Trek movie) Damon Lindelof. Together they crafted what has become Prometheus, a sort-of prequel to the franchise that Scott launched in 1979. Speaking exclusively with Movies.com, Lindelof talks about how he sees Prometheus fitting in with the Alien universe, what it was like working with Ridley Scott, and more. We also get a little bit of info on Damon's next project, 1952.
Movies.com: As I understand it, the scripting process for Prometheus was pretty tight and compact, as opposed to the Star Trek sequel which was drawn out for over a year. How would you compare and contrast your process working with JJ Abrams on Star Trek with Ridley Scott on Prometheus? Did you prefer having a faster process versus a more lengthy one?
Damon Lindelof: For me it is all about the collaboration. This time around I was much more hands with Bob [Orci] and Alex [Kurtzman] from the ground up [on the Star Trek sequel] and the reason it took so long was not a byproduct of anything other than we had a lot of things going on and it was hard to get us all focused on the same thing at the same time. Once we got focused the writing went actually as quickly as it did for me on Prometheus.
And I think it is worth mentioning that when I came in on Prometheus, my work was very intense and stretched out over the course of seven or eight months, but I was working off this really good script that John Spaihts had written. So I was never looking at a blank page saying "oh god, what do we do here?" The foundation and much of the building was there and I'm working with Ridley Scott, who knows exactly what he wants to shoot. So I feel like the work on Prometheus was a little more like a 'for hire' job. The plans were already there and I was hired as a private contractor to come in and sort of execute them. As opposed to Trek, where we were both the architects and the contractor. And that is a much more time-consuming process.
Movies.com: With Prometheus there seems to be an obsession with the specific word "prequel," but we can all agree this is set in the Alien movie universe...
Movies.com: So if someone is a superfan of the Alien franchise, will they get a payoff - in terms of references big and small - that average filmgoers wont?
DL: I count myself as an Alien superfan, which for me covers Alien and Aliens, not that the other movies were terrible, I would just say I am a superfan of those two movies. And obviously that canon stretches out into a variety of other things, including Alien vs. Predator, etc, etc. And so if you are talking about a fan on that level, I would not want to know what nuggets or Easter eggs are in the movie because we have given you the ones that we want you to know about before you buy your ticket. Weyland plays a role in the movie, so that sort of cements it in that universe. And there is an android in the movie, played by Michael Fassbender, which is standard operating procedure for an Alien movie to have an android. So [those] are the two things that we wanted to say are the clear tips of the cap to the original Alien and Aliens, but other than that part of the fun of watching Prometheus is seeing where it connects and where it doesn't connect.
Movies.com: But without getting specific, the film does offer those Alien superfans little nuggets and Easter eggs and moments of delight that pay off their fandom?
DL: The answer is yes.
Damon Lindelof talking to Michael Fassbender on the set of "Prometheus" - Lindelof sees inclusion of android in the film as one of the key elements linking it to Alien universe
[Kerry Brown/20th Century Fox]
Movies.com: As a fan yourself, now seeing where Sir Ridley Scott has taken your writing, can you talk about what were some of your favorite moments in Prometheus?
DL: I bear the burden of kind of hating everything that I write - I know, boohoo for me. Like I read this interview in Entertainment Weekly with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and how, besides the editing process, they had never actually seen any of the eight movies that they had collaborated on and I said "Bullshit! What do you mean? You don't go to your own premiere?" But I have come to understand it because when you live that intimately inside of a movie, it is very easy to go to a place of all the things you wish it was and all the things it could have been. All of this mixed with my fundamental sense of self-hatred and a very real - this is not an act I put on - and a very real sense that I will be discovered as a fraud and in fact have been called out as such on numerous times over my career. That is one of the things that drives me and I don't want to lose that part of me, but it also does take away from my ability to enjoy these things just as movies. Maybe ten years from now I will be able to watch Prometheus with some sense of objectivity and be entertained by it.
Movies.com: By the way I'm sure you heard that Lance Henriksen said he "heard through the grapevine" that there is a digital version of him in the film. Do you care to comment on that?
DL: I am a huge fan of Lance Henriksen, but I can 100% assure you that he makes no appearance in Prometheus
Movies.com: Do you feel Prometheus is set up for its own sequels?
DL: Yes, if people want them.
Movies.com: Would you want to be involved in the sequel?
DL: My feeling is, that if the movie is well-received and people want another one, then that would be the appropriate time for those talks to take place, but I'm not going to count my chickens before they are hatched. As amazing as an experience as it was, I am really interested in doing some original stuff. And I don't just mean stuff that came out of my head, but more along the lines of not doing prequels or sequels or comic book adaptations. While all that stuff is amazing, I would like to challenge myself and try to do something in a different space
Movies.com: So speaking of original stuff, there has been some talk about this project 1952 -- is that your next thing?
DL: That is my hope. Brad Bird is hopefully going to direct it. Movies come together and fall apart all the time. So my hope is that we can get this one made because I think it's very cool. We are making progress, but we are not there yet.
Prometheus opens in the US on Friday, June 8th
What about the Star Trek sequel?
I also talked to Damon about the 2013 Star Trek sequel. To read my Lindelof Star Trek interview, visit TrekMovie.com.