So, what exactly is the world of “Prometheus” supposed to be? Well, we know it’s not a direct prequel to “Alien,” and as Ridley Scott recently explained, it won’t be until the possible third or fourth sequel when everything will connect to his sci-fi classic. It’s a world that wants to stand on its own while also eventually fitting into a larger universe. It’s a tricky balance and one that hasn’t quite found its footing, but in a recent chat with THR, producer and writer Damon Lindelof fully explains his approach when he was first hired to work on the movie after Jon Spaihts turned in his draft of the script,” titled “Alien Zero.” And more intriguingly, Lindelof reveals why didn’t want to just make a direct prequel to “Alien.”
“I thought that there were a lot of really great ideas embedded in it,” Lindelof said of Spaihts’ script. “…I felt Jon had done a number of really smart things, but I tried to figure out why is it that they are sending the script to me? What is it that they think that I can do? …the language of ‘Alien Zero’ was very much an ‘Alien’ reboot, in my opinion. There were facehuggers, and xenomorphs, and eggs, in the language of that movie, by page 30. I had heard [‘Prometheus’] was a prequel, and there’s a problem with prequels; there’s something I don’t like about prequels, which is there’s an inevitability, that you’re just connecting dots.”
READ MORE: Ridley Scott Says ‘Prometheus 3’ Or ‘Prometheus 4’ Will Finally Connect With ‘Alien’
“So this idea of the Star Wars prequels, for example, is you’re going to make three movies where you basically just tell me what I already know,” Lindelof elaborated.” At least embed a new idea in there that I didn’t already know, or introduce a different thematic [element]…And in Jon Spaihts’ script for ‘Prometheus’ was this creation myth. The opening of ‘Prometheus’ as you see it was in Jon’s script. …this is a movie about scientists who are searching for the existence of their creators, and so there’s this kind of religious spirit, a pseudo-spiritual thing told in scientific language. And then what was really interesting to me was there was a robot along for the ride, an android, named David in Jon’s script, and I was like, ‘Oh this is cool. These idiot humans are basically going and looking for their creator.’ And anybody who’s ever watched a science fiction movie knows, all great sci-fi is: don’t cross this line; there are questions that mankind should not answer, do not reanimate dead bodies. And it’s like, ‘Well let’s f—ing do it anyway,’ and then it doesn’t turn out well. And because it’s an ‘Alien’ movie, we know how it’s going to end.”
“But that was an interesting idea, because the android was there, and he’s there with his creators, and they’re seeking out their creators. And he’s not impressed by his creators. The android, he’s the smartest guy in the room, and I was like, ‘I’m going to take those ideas, and I’m going to say that’s what the movie is, and we don’t even get to anything, any familiar ‘Alien’ language, until the end of this movie and if there was a sequel to ‘Prometheus,’ it would not be ‘Alien’ — it would go off in its own direction. And therefore it would be exciting to watch because we’re not just connecting dots.”
It was those kernels of story that sparked something in Lindelof as he prepared to pitch Ridley Scott on how he would approach the material. And indeed, as we look at the recent news, it’s very much the path that Lindelof laid out with “Prometheus,” where getting to “Alien” is a few steps away, rather than the next step.
“ ‘Look, embedded in this script are these amazing ideas, and if you want to hire me, I play up this stuff and play down this stuff, but I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water because obviously there’s a lot of great things in Jon’s script,’ ” Lindelof recalls about how he went into his meeting Scott. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The key to all of this, however, is that if you’re going to build a new world, it needs to be compelling, and it’s certainly debatable whether or not “Prometheus” has earned that right just yet. But with the sequel shooting soon, we’ll soon know if their building a story worth of linking to “Alien.”