By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com February 25, 2011 at 1:28AM
A project that we were actively dreading only a few months ago, we are now looking forward to Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" more than any film from the director in years. The helmer's always worked best in the sci-fi field ("Alien," "Blade Runner") and the idea that he's working on a project that's evolved from a full-blown prequel to the "Alien" series to (for the most part -- and we'll get to that in a moment) something very different, and more original, is a fascinating one. While the script has since received a major overhaul from "Lost" and "Star Trek" writer Damon Lindelof, if even a small fraction of the bold ideas featured in the Jon Spaihts draft we read make it to the screen, it's going to be very different from every other sci-fi tentpole out there.
Furthermore, the cast that Scott's been assembling around him is equally promising: "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" breakout star Noomi Rapace has the lead role, and it's confirmed she'll be joined by Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron in the project, while fast-rising "Monsters" star Scoot McNairy is reportedly circling another role, that of Rapace's love interest. Now, three new names have come on board, and they're an equally diverse and exciting bunch.
The ever-reliable Baz Bamigboye reports that three British actors -- Idris Elba, Sean Harris and Kate Dickie -- have joined Rapace, Fassbender and Theron in the project, in unknown roles. Elba's easily the best known of the trio, thanks to his indelible performance as Stringer Bell on HBO's "The Wire," but he's also racked up a fair few big-screen credits in recent years, mostly in the ignoble likes of "Obsessed," "Takers," "The Losers" and the forthcoming "Thor."
Harris is perhaps less of a name, but certainly a familiar face -- the actor broke through with his portrayal of Ian Curtis in "24 Hour Party People" (which we'll still take over Sam Riley's take on the Joy Division frontman in "Control"), and has turned in a series of chilling, often villainous roles in recent years, as a drug dealer in the Michael Caine vehicle "Harry Brown," and, unforgettably, as corrupt copper Bob Harris in the "Red Riding" trilogy.
Scottish actress Dickie, meanwhile, is the least well-known of the new additions, at least in the US, but she's been a staple in UK indies since her extraordinary performance in Andrea Arnold's excellent debut "Red Road." She had a recurring role in the series "The Pillars of the Earth," produced by Ridley & Tony Scott, which may be how the actress came to the director's attention. All three are terrific actors, and somewhat unexpected choices for a project like this, so we're excited to see how they fit into the mix. It's worth mentioning that there's no mention of McNairy in Bamigboye's piece: it's unclear whether the actor's still in talks for the project, or whether conflicts with "Cogan's Trade" and, potentially, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," which was also courting the new-found star, have ruled him out -- it's possible that Elba, or even Harris, have taken the role he was marked for.
As for the question of the film being a prequel or not, it seems increasingly likely that hints dropped by Michael Fassbender recently that the film had a "connecting vein" to the "Alien" universe were correct, with Bleeding Cool suggesting that H.R. Giger's creature will appear in the film, albeit in earlier form -- showing the beast before it's absorbed the elements of cat and human DNA that it picks up in Scott's original film. It's unlikely that we'll find firm details any day now -- Bamigboye reports that, with one exception, actors had to visit Scott's London production office to read the script. The director told him "I was insistent that the script not leak onto the internet, where it gets dissected out of context, which spoils it for everyone."
At the same time, Scott again denies that the film is a prequel, but does give a cryptic hint at the plot, however, telling Bamigboye that "It's the story of creation, the gods and the man who stood against them. It's not a small film. I'm using the giant James Bond 007 stage at Pinewood and six other sound stages to film it." In a way, we'd rather that the film broke free entirely, but it seems that, even if it set within the same universe (and it may simply be a question of an easter egg for fans), there'll be more than enough different here to prevent the film from becoming another "Alien: Resurrection." We'll find out how all the actors, and indeed the aliens, fit in when "Prometheus" hits theaters on June 8th, 2012.