We’re as curious as anyone about what’s up with Ridley Scott’s Prometheus – a film that began life as a prequel to Alien and then morphed into something else entirely…sort of. Kevin Pollak recently had screenwriter Damon Lindelof on his chat show, and during the two-and-a-half-hour chat, they eventually got around to discussing the scribe’s involvement with Scott’s first sci-fi project in over two decades. The following are some of the highlights.
Right off the bat, Lindelof makes it clear that the idea of making a prequel to Alien that ties directly into Scott’s classic film is not one he was interested in. “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.”
Lindelof factored this view in with the current state of the Alien universe (which has shifted away from the self-contained stories to the whole Alien vs. Predator series – with arguably disastrous results), and took a look at Jon Spaihts’ original draft before pitching his own take.
While the media has sort of “recreated” history, basically insisting that Lindelof had an idea so great that they scrapped Spaiht’s vision completely, the writer wants to set the record straight by insisting that wasn’t the case.
“So I read it (Spaiht’s draft), and it was good. This was not a disaster. There were really good ideas in that script. So I sent off an email…. Ridley works with these guys, Michael Ellenberg and Michael Costigan. I basically sent them an e-mail and said, here is what I think, and here is what I would do, if you were interested, and the next morning … I get the call and they are like “We like your take, can you come in to Scott Free?” I walk into a room and there is Ridley Scott and an executive at Fox and I verbally present, here is everything in the script that I like now, here’s some of my thinking on it — what’s the lay of the land? What are the issues that you guys are having? And we have a great 90 minute meeting in which I do a lot of listening. Again, I don’t want to say I went in and WOWed them, when what really happened was I gave a really short presentation and then Ridley talked about the movie he wanted to make. And then, they decided to hire me.”
From there, Lindelof details spending time with Scott working out the fine details of the filmmaker’s vision. “And then Sir Ridley Scott and I, and Michael Ellenberg, sat in a conference room for four hours a day, three days a week, and sort of went over it, again and again and again until I understood exactly what he wanted to do and I wrote it. It took me two weeks to write it, not a lot of time — the time-consuming part was the collaboration because he thinks, and I know this sounds like I’m brown-noising but, Ridley Scott is a true genius and he thinks in visual terms far beyond the comprehension of mortals like us but also understands story and mood and tone.”
Lindelof is typically vague about what we can expect from the film, but does assure Pollak that his take will be different.
“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?”
So, what can we infer from this chat? Prometheus will be something of a prequel to Scott’s Alien, but not the traditional prequel we all expected when the project was announced. Back then, everyone assumed the film would revolve around the events prior to the Nostromo crew finding the alien life-form and bringing it back on the ship. Instead, Lindelof and Scott seem set on making a film that tells a different tale – and looks at one of the galaxy’s most feared predators in a new – yet hopefully still terrifying – light. How close will Prometheus be to Scott’s Alien? We suspect we won’t know the answer to that question until the film releases next summer. Until then, we’re pleased to hear Lindelof’s take on the project – it seems like this highly anticipated feature is in good hands.
In the meantime, check out the entire Lindelof interview here.