By Jeff Otto | The Playlist July 22, 2011 at 2:31AM
And Five More Things We Learned At Comic-Con
Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” has been shrouded in secrecy and confusing rhetoric almost since we first heard of the project. First it was an “Alien” prequel and then it wasn’t. Now it is again. But not really. Whatever. At least they are now discussing the project and promising some footage and/or trailers surfacing by fall. And they’re at least sure enough about it to start shedding at least a little light (which will most likely give us even more questions).
Yesterday at Comic-Con The Playlist was on hand at a press event at the Hilton Bayfront, right next store to the madness of the San Diego Convention Center. Writer Damon Lindelof was there, along with surprise guest and “Prometheus” co-star Charlize Theron. Footage debuted when the two later appeared for the Comic-Con faithful in Hall H, and Ridley Scott joined via satellite from Iceland. Only at Comic-Con... So as we piece the mystery that is “Prometheus” together, we’ve thrown together a few nuggets of knowledge we learned at Geek Bonnaroo on the would-be (but maybe not) “Alien” prequel.
1. Scott is currently shooting the film with two different cuts in mind.
All four original "Alien" films were released as R-rated cuts (indeed, of the six films so far, only "Alien vs. Predator" was PG-13), but rumors have been rife that Fox is keen for the film to be open to a wider audience, and is pushing for a more teen-friendly rating. In Hall H, Lindelof asked the director, "Is the PG-13 going to inhibit you from telling the story you want to tell?" and Scott responded "No, not at all. I have a responsibility to my studio, but I always make sure we have both options. You’re crazy not to. Tom and I will both look at it and decide what the best way of going. I’ve fundamentally covered our ass. But there will still be naked push-ups." -- the naked push-ups in question being part of the footage shown, a glimpse at Charlize Theron's character. Reading between the lines, this means that, gorier, nuder material is being shot, but don't count on it being part of the theatrical release; an unrated DVD/Blu-Ray will likely surface around Christmas 2012.
2. It was definitely developed as an “Alien” prequel.
When Damon Lindelof got the call from Ridley Scott requesting his services, “Prometheus” was the “Alien” prequel. But Ridley hoped Lindelof could help to take it in the direction of a standalone project. “I was obviously a massive fan of his work and sort of trembling when he called me,” says Lindelof. “He said he was going to send me a script written by a guy named Jon Spaihts. It had a lot of great ideas in it. But it was most definitely an 'Alien' prequel and I think Ridley really wanted to push the movie into original territory. One of the pitfalls of a prequel, if you don't handle it right, is that the audience kind of knows what's coming because they've seen the sequel, the original movie. He was also driven by these bigger thematic ideas and we started having these conversations. We worked together for a few months rewriting the script until he was satisfied that it was its own movie."
3. Charlize Theron will play a high-powered (she compares the character to Ivanka Trump) head of the Weyland-Yutani company. Theron can also now cross Scott off her director bucket list.
Charlize revealed that Ridley Scott was her “dream director” and she had met the director several times socially. She even hinted that there may have been some off-the-cuff talk of “Prometheus” long before casting. “I always listened with one ear because I was so jealous,” says Theron. “I used to always joke when I had bad experiences with a first-time director, I used to turn to my producing partner and say, ‘I want to fucking work with Ridley Scott. I’m so tired of this shit. I want to be around someone who knows what they’re doing and takes control. He was always that guy that I always sort of fantasized. When ‘Mad Max’ pushed, Ridley reached out to me.”
While Lindelof admits that the character was kind of thin at first, the inclusion of an Academy Award-winning movie star upped his game a bit. “Suddenly it was, 'Wow, if we're going to entice her to be in this movie, we're going to have to do some more work on this character.”
“I thought that there was great potential to explore the themes the movie was already exploring through the eyes of a character so different from everybody else on this mission,” says Theron. “To experience [this world] through the eyes of someone who comes from such a cold, economic, business kind of sense of it. When Damon and I spoke, we explored how to make her more layered. That was when I really got excited.”
And let’s face it, when it comes to strong female roles, who better than Ridley Scott to deliver? “I mean, Ripley is like the classic, right?” says Theron. “Any girl that ever saw that was like, ‘Yeah, it’s time to dance.’ Ridley was the first person who really took full advantage of how you could explore themes that previously only men had been allowed to explore. The way he shoots women, he’s constantly layering, constantly adding. She is the suit that runs the company and puts this whole thing together and we’re talking about a lot of money. I watch the Trumps. I know Ivanka Trump. She’s running that ship. Women who come from those environments tend to do really well. I think there’s something about a girl kind of being in the shadow of her father. Those are interesting themes to play upon if you’re creating this woman who comes from incredible strength and just, real balls."
4. It isn’t really as big a secret as it seems to be (at least it won’t be soon).
“I have to take responsibility for the fact that I keep gravitating towards things that have a little bit of mystery around them,” says Lindelof with a smile. “‘Lost’ has taken its rightful lumps for the idea of perhaps being a little bit too secretive. But this was Ridley's thing. The movie comes out a year from now and I can guarantee you all that our desire to keep secrets is really just driven by the fact that we don't want to tell you everything about the movie right now. You're going to see some things in the late fall and certainly in January and February of next year that are going to start overtly declaring what “Prometheus” is so that by the time you buy your ticket, it's not going to be, 'Oh my God, what the hell is this movie?' At the same time, we do want to keep that fun interplay alive. I think a lot of what's driving interest in this movie is this idea of, 'Just what the fuck is it?' ”
5. There will be no green screens.
One thing that is becoming quite clear the more we talk about “Prometheus” is that few expenses are being spared. What Ridley wants Ridley gets. “One of the things that was really important to him in terms of the constructions of the sets,” says Lindelof,” is that if you're building a ship, he just built the ship.” It’s important to Scott for the actors to see exactly what their characters are experiencing. "I was working for three weeks and I was like, 'Where's the green screen, man?'” says Theron. “And Ridley was like, 'I'm not doing green screen. What are you talking about?' In my head, I was like, 'Oh, we're going to be in front of green screens.' Everything was built and if it wasn't built and you were looking out a window ship, he would have computerized this CG imaging that would play out the scene of what was happening outside. It just kind of grounds everything so much for actors. It's all there and it's all physically being lit.”
6. It will be conceived for and shot in 3D.
“Ridley [is] directing a movie in 3D for the first time,” says Lindelof. “He's shooting it in 3D. It's not a conversion. Just the way that it's going to look and feel has to be special. I've never been on the set of a movie that was actually shooting in 3D before so every time you walked into video village, there were essentially five massive HD screens. You walk in, you get a pair of glasses and you can actually see the shot and you suddenly understood, like, 'Oh my God, they actually designed this movie for 3D.' Ridley is a shot maker. He makes beautiful art. And so the idea of going in in post and putting things in there digitally is not going to happen in this movie. Any movie that's going to be in 3D has to answer, 'Can you justify this being in 3D? Why should this be in 3D?' The answer to that question for 'Prometheus' is that it creates a very immersive environment. Sometimes very confined spaces, sometimes very wide open spaces. But the only way to really trick your brain into feeling that you're really in the movie going through these experiences with these characters is that the 3D really helps bring you into that immersive environment."
Indeed, Scott seems to have the zeal of the convert about the format, boldly telling the audience from the "Prometheus" location in Iceland that he'll never shoot in 2D again: "3D has been a wonderful exercise. I started as a cameraman, so I quickly realized that it's really about lensing and picking the right lenses to make the 3D work. I've had help from Darius [Khondji] (the DoP who previously shot 'Alien: Resurrection') and his crew. Now that I've done it, I'll never work without 3D again, even for small dialogue scenes. It opens up the whole universe."
"Prometheus" is currently set to hit theaters on June 8th, 2012, and it looks like we'll get a teaser trailer some time in the fall.