By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 16, 2012 at 8:59AM
We're now only a little over two weeks before "Prometheus," the much-anticipated sci-fi opus from Ridley Scott, set in the same universe as his solid gold classic "Alien," begins to roll out in theater: the film opens internationally on June 1st, before coming to the U.S. the following week. And as such, the publicity tour for the film is starting to gear up, with the films' stars, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron gracing magazine covers the world over.
As such, a few more tidbits about the film's production are starting to leak out, and we've scoured the web and the newsstands for a few select highlights on the film's genesis and production, as well as a hint on where Scott's other sci-fi follow-up to "Blade Runner" might be heading. Check them out below.
1. Screenwriter Damon Lindelof's first conversation with Ridley Scott happened over the phone at the side of the road.
While writer Jon Spaihts was the first writer on board and is said to have come up with many of the concepts in "Prometheus," it was the presence of "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof that pushed the film over the greenlight finish line. But the writer tells EW that when the initial call came from Scott, he literally had to stop everything, without knowing what the project might be. "I was driving down Ventura Boulevard in the Valley and my agent called and said, “Are you available to talk to Ridley Scott in five minutes?” I slammed on my brakes for some inexplicable reason and pulled over. I didn’t want to be driving through some bad cellular zone on the phone with Ridley Scott. So I just sat there and prepared to sit there for two hours. Because ‘Are you ready in five minutes’ when you’re talking about someone of Ridley Scott’s stature, just be prepared to wait a while. And as I was sitting there I was praying that it was the 'Alien' prequel that I had been hearing about. As a fanboy, I knew that they were developing it. I said to myself, Please let it be that. And sure enough, five minutes later, my phone rang and it was Ridley. There was no pomp and circumstance. There was no assistant saying, “Please hold for Ridley Scott.” It was just him. And he doesn’t know that he’s Ridley Scott, so he just dove right into the conversation. And he basically said, “Hey dude, I’m going to send you a script. Let me know what you think.” And I’m not going to be like, What is it? I just said, “Yes, sir. I look forward to that.” And that was the entire conversation. And so about an hour later this guy shows up at my house with a screenplay and says, “I will be sitting in my car. When you are finished with the screenplay, you can hand it back to me.” So at this point, I’m like, It’s the 'Alien' prequel! Because with this level of tightened security what else could it be?"
Over the decades, there have always been rumors that Scott might return to the sci-fi franchise he birthed with only his second film. But as it turns out, "Prometheus" is the first time he's had any involvement with any of the sequels or spin-offs: while James Cameron, David Fincher, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and, um, Paul W.S. Anderson have all had their shake of the dice, Scott was never actually asked to return for any of the prior films, something he tells the print edition of Entertainment Weekly that he was "marginally hurt" by. But then again, he might not consider this a return to the franchise anyway: while the film might have its origins as a prequel, he says that the film has changed so much in development that it might be difficult to call it a direct prequel: " 'Prometheus' originated from a very simple question that haunted me after the first 'Alien,' and no one answered in subsequent Alien films: who was the “Space Jockey”—the big guy in the seat? We didn’t know if it was going to be a sequel or a prequel. I think you might not even argue it’s a prequel because it moves so far away from the original."
3. Charlize Theron was originally going to play the lead role, but was happy to settle for something smaller.
Given that she's the biggest name in the cast, and yet her role seems to be something of a supporting one, it might not surprise you to learn that Charlize Theron was originally intended for bigger things when it came to "Prometheus." According to Entertainment Weekly, when the project first came to her, it was with the idea that she'd played Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, the lead in the film. However, the actress was already committed to "Mad Max" sequel/reboot "Fury Road," with Tom Hardy, and reluctantly had to turn it down. When that film got pushed back over a year, Theron returned, for the smaller role of sinister Weyland-Yutani executive Meredith Vickers. The Oscar-winner doesn't feel hard done by, however, saying "I'd rather be a smaller character in a great film than the lead in a shitty movie." These are the words of someone who starred in "Aeon Flux"...
Perhaps the highlight of the film's viral campaign was the Weyland-Yutani ad for their David line of androids, one example of which, as played by Michael Fassbender, is a key character in "Prometheus." The actor told GQ that he was given three films in particular to watch by Scott in preparation: David Bowie starrer "The Man Who Fell To Earth," 1963's "The Servant," with Dirk Bogarde (after which Fassbender rung Scott and told him "I get it -- I'm the butler") and "Lawrence of Arabia." The latter, in particular, proved a key reference point, with Fassbender saying of D.E. Lawrence "He's an outsider as well. In the end, he's neither British nor Arab. There's something in that, I think - the robot not being accept by any of the humans." It proved so crucial that the actor and writer Damon Lindelof even speculated that David might have spent the years when the other characters were in hypersleep watching David Lean's epic over and over again, something that Fassbender tried to replicate: "I had 'Lawrence of Arabia' on a loop in my room throughout filming. Jesus, I watched it so many times."
That wasn't the only film that influenced the actor. While he didn't go back to watch earlier "Alien" movies, or the android performance of Ian Holm or Lance Henriksen, Fassbender did watch Scott's other man-machine saga. The actor tells the U.K. print edition of Esquire that "I didn't revisit ['Alien'] before we did this... I watched 'Blade Runner,' though. I took a look at Sean Young and Rutger Hauer. I love Rutger Hauer in that... that's why I watched 'Blade Runner,' there's something in those androids." He expands: "What I was trying to play with, if you programme something, do the programmes start making hteir own links to each other, to other sort of spark points or link points? Do they start to develop personality traits of ahuman? If they're designed to respond quite human-like but without the emotion, is there the chance that they will start to develop some quite human personality traits? Insecurity, the feeling of being left out, because they know that they're not the same as human beings? It's the same thing between humans and the gods. Before there was 'one God' there was the idea that the gods looked down on the humans and there was a certain amount of jealousy towards the humans. The idea of mortality."
5. Scott has dicussed his "Blade Runner" follow-up with original writer Hamilton Fancher, and doesn't rule out the possibility of Harrison Ford returning.
"Prometheus" isn't the only return to sci-fi that Scott has in the works: last summer, it was announced that the director was attached to a follow-up to his other classic of the genre, 1982's astonishing "Blade Runner." With the helmer still busy on his current project, movement's been slow, but Scott tells EW that he's starting to look for pensmiths on the project, including meeting with one of the brains behind the original: "I'm meeting with writers, and I've also gone back to Hampton Fancher [who wrote the first draft of the original], and he still speaks the speak." As for rumors that popped up a while back that Harrison Ford was being courted to reprise the role of Deckard, Scott denies that there's been any movement, but won't rule it out if the story calls for it. "I'm not sure that's going to be a story point," he told EW. "But if it were, nothing would please more more."