Ridley Scott was going to do a prequel to Alien. Then it was going to be two prequels, or a prequel and a sequel to the prequel that was still a prequel to Alien. But he decided to just make it an original science fiction movie, and a new sci-fi movie from the director of Alien and Blade Runner ain’t too shabby.
So Damon Lindelof was hired to adapt the prequel screenplay into the new movie Prometheus. Lindelof and Prometheus star Charlize Theron came to Comic-Con to tease a little about their new movie. I got some alone time with Lindelof to dig for remaining Alien references in Prometheus, and confirm that the explanations I thought the final season of Lost revealed really were the answers.
Q: It’s exciting that the Alien prequel turned into an original story. Will there still be some nice details for the Alien fans to get out of Prometheus?
DL: When I was younger and I first saw Alien and Blade Runner, I had it in my head that one of them was a sequel to the other. I didn’t know exactly which came first but clearly Ash is a robot so I just always figured Earth is having this issue with these blade runners and these replicants, but meanwhile the Nostromo was off having this adventure on LV-426 so I just grouped them together. I didn’t realize until about three or four years later, those movies aren’t related to each other in any way. They were just both directed by the same guy. So that’s the way that I really think of Prometheus. This movie is going to be in the same lexicon of the Ridley Scott science fiction ouvre. You could hold it up next to Blade Runner or Alien. It’s almost a mash-up in terms of the fundamental ideas presented in both but for fans of either of those movies, there are going to be all sorts of Easter eggs, for lack of a better word, that synchronize it in that world of the Ridley Scott science fiction ouvre.
Q: Maybe a mention of Weyland-Yutani?
DL: I don’t want to comment directly on that. I’m going to be overly protective of that kind of stuff.
Q: Is it still a good old-fashioned spaceship movie?
Q: Actually I was thinking Alien where people live on a spaceship for two hours.
DL: I do think that this movie will evoke the movie that you’re describing, although it doesn’t spend as much time on the ship as Alien does.
Q: What fun can a guy like you have in that canvas?
DL: An incredible amount of fun. What actually happened is this guy named John Spates actually wrote a really good Alien prequel script and when it was presented to me, it was presented with the caveat of is there a way to make this have nothing to do with Alien? Can it be its own original movie? For me it was really just a matter of taking the stuff that was the subtext of that draft and making it the text of a new, original movie and moving the stuff that were the tropes of the Alien movies – awesome tropes by the way, face huggers, chest busters, xenomorphs – and moving that kind of stuff way down below. If you were going to it and wanting a taste of that it would be there but that’s not what it’s about because the audience has already experienced all those things. Not just in the original Alien or Aliens but Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection and Alien Vs. Predator so it’s gotten to the point now where something bursting out of somebody’s chest or sticking to their face isn’t new and exciting anymore. That idea is 30 years old. So how could we infuse this movie with new ideas that made it feel original and at the same time pay homage to the fact that we’re building it on the foundation of that earlier movie.
Q: Does it rule out doing an actual Alien prequel?
DL: No, I don’t think it does. I think that there might actually be people out there who watch Prometheus and say, “This is an Alien prequel” but it’s a prequel in sort of a different sense than I’m used to. Isn’t it more interesting to think of a movie that takes place in the Alien universe, there are some familiar things that you will see along the way but if there were a sequel to Prometheus, it would not be Alien. That to me had to be the goal. God willing, if Prometheus is successful, and there is a sequel, it won’t be Alien because the end of this movie, if this movie is A to Z, Z is not there’s a bunch of eggs laying on the floor of LV-426. Z in this movie is entirely different although people will watch this movie and say, “I feel like I have a different contextual framework now for the original Alien, I’m going to watch it again. I feel like I know a little bit more than I knew before.”
DL: Yeah, you sort of get into this dance with the audience where ultimately I think we realized that people had theories that were better than what the show gave them in their heads, and in some cases might have been better than what the show gave them. They didn’t want to be told that their theories were wrong. Once we started moving out of question mode and into answer mode, people would get more and more angry at the show because the show moved into a modality where it was essentially saying, “You know all the countless hours that you’ve spent thinking about the show and coming up with ingenious and brilliant theories for what the answers to some of these mysteries might be? Well, now we’re going to tell you that you’re wrong for the next three years.” I completely and totally get that frustration because as a fanboy, I experience it myself.
Q: But you’re missing the fun if you don’t go with that.
DL: Totally and I’ll take that. There was a point in my life where it was upsetting and frustrating but I’ve now reached a point where I’m enormously grateful for it because people engaged with the show on that intense of a level. It’s like if you’re going to be really angry, I’ll take that over couldn’t care less.
Q: I see them bringing in the next reporter but as they give me the wrap up, are you putting pen to paper for Star Trek 2 yet?
DL: Fingers to keyboard.
Q: But are actual script pages getting written?
DL: It is definitely starting, continuing.