A few months ago, a trailer was released for Ridley Scott’s newest project, Prometheus. Dialogue-free shots of Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace and Idris Elba in very precarious situations set fans abuzz. The moment the first teaser spelled out Prometheus in signature Alien lettering, the film community began to anticipate what might just be one of the biggest films of the year.
Lucky WonderCon 2012 attendees were treated to a special 3D screening of the newest full trailer, in which more details about the Alien origin story are finally revealed.
After the panel, director Ridley Scott, screenwriter Damon Lindelof and star Michael Fassbender sat down to discuss more details about the making of Prometheus and about the ever-evolving film medium.
Being that things are quite different than when the original Alien was released, the sci-fi film industry has seen a growth from practical storytelling methods to utilizing more cutting-edge forms of expanding universes. Scott explained how he felt technological advances have affected his filmmaking: “It’s easier to carry it out, but it’s still as difficult to write something. In fact, it’s getting more difficult.”
Lindelof knows this first-hand, and discussed tackling the daunting task of a creating a prequel to a movie as popular as Alien: “I think it would’ve been really difficult to do a straight-up Alien sequel or Alien prequel because you’re beholden to so many of the things that came before it. For me, it was about getting a clear sense of the movie [Scott] wanted to make. The movie’s his vision, and I did my best to channel it.”
Since Alien is often considered a mix of horror film and sci-fi fare, Lindelof and Scott worked to create a new story that could once again mix up genres without outweighing the other. While this was important to the team creating the film, Scott kept one main thing in the back of his mind as guidance. “Bottom line: Just make a fucking good movie,” he joked.
He explains that he found it challenging to bring something new to the horror film genre. “What is [there left] to do with horror?,” he said. “That’s why there’s only a few really great ones. Thereafter, there are evolutions of copycats. There are two great horror movies I still haven’t got over. One is Texas Chainsaw Massacre by Tobey Hooper. The other great idea is the first Exorcist. Since then, there have been 90,000 clones of those ideas.”
Maybe there’s three great horror movie ideas?
“Jaws,” Fassbender chimed in. “I could not stand in the ocean after seeing Jaws.”
While Prometheus certainly has elements of a horror film, Lindelof wanted to avoid writing a screenplay that would fall into such a strict genre label.
“In this day and age, when you’re trying to market a movie you’re saying its this –it’s a romance, it’s a comedy,” he explains. “In Prometheus, there are funny scenes and romantic scenes, and there are a lot of action/adventure elements to this movie, but the fact that we can’t really put it in that box of ‘it’s a this’ is refreshing.”
Lindelof says he took an “old-school” approach to creating the script.
“You have a master filmmaker working with incredibly talented actors,” he explained. “You just have to be patient –we do not need to have things exploding every 10 minutes. It’s a little bit of an old-school approach to filmmaking in that it trusts the audience to have a little bit of patience.”
While there may not be an overabundance of explosions, Prometheus is sure to keep its viewers glued to the screen with its high intensity. In the trailer, the characters’ emotions are running high. They begin their journey in awe, and then head down an urgent path of pain and need.
Michael Fassbender’s character appears to be the most stable in the sneak peak clips. He plays David, the android counterpart to the ship, who serves as housekeeper and maintenance person. He describes his approach to David as a physical computer in human form.
“It can respond and understand human behavior, and it’s programmed to incorporate itself within a human environment,” explains Fassbender. “But the idea of the program then starts making its own connections –forming its own sort of ego, its own insecurities, jealously, envy.”
The character of David is left alone for two and a half years when everyone else is in chryostasis, and in that time he develops an imagination. “Imagination is a very human trait,” said Fassbender. “He’s curious –how far will that curiosity go?”
Lindelof thinks Fassbender was perfectly cast for the role.
“David is mass produced, so there’s 20,000 other David units out there who look exactly like Michael Fassbender. What a wonderful world that would be!,” Lindelof joked.
While fans have been given glimpses into the world of Prometheus, its ambiguity and originality are definitely the hooks that put the film ahead of others that have easily discernible stories. When looking toward the future of filmmaking, Scott has hopes that more original films will make their way to the screen, along with new talent.
To this end, he is judging YouTube’s first short film competition to discover new talent along with Fassbender, who just started his own production company.
“It’s [about] finding the new writers, finding the new Damon [Lindelofs], finding the new Ridley [Scotts],” says Fassbender about why he wanted to get involved. “The next generation is coming up, and they’ve got the ideas. If you take your eye off the ball, you’re just going to be left behind.”
Prometheus releases June 8th