Damon Lindelof Explains How And Why He Reworked The ‘Prometheus’ Script So It Wasn’t A Direct ‘Alien’ Prequel

Damon Lindelof Explains How And Why He Reworked The 'Prometheus' Script So It Wasn't A Direct 'Alien' Prequel

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." 

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Agree with Najo. The leftovers is a good balance between his desire for mystery with (at least during this season) providing more hints and speculation than I would’ve expected from him, and I could not be more thrilled with the results.


The argument about smart people doing dumb things damning the whole film is a bit silly. Alien might be the best sci-fi film ever and it’s protagonist risks her own death for the ship’s cat. The arrogance of man about his place in the universe is a central theme to the series and as phony-seeming as Prometheus’ characters and their motivations might seem, they are still superior to those of the Martian–a far more dumbed down sci-fi actioner that also looks amazing.


Lindelofs work on The Leftovers is sensational. I’m willing to give him multiple chances as a result.


The ideas are good, but the execution was horrific – and I don’t use the word as a pun. All the being that created man can think of is to run around like a neanderthal and try to murder his creation. Some of the world’s top scientists go to another planet, encounter new beings, and don’t estimate that some create that looks like a snake might be dangerous. Ridiculous. I had such high hopes, but they were uterly dashed. Scott redeemed himself mightily with The Martian, not to mention he made Blade Runner and Alien. But is Lindelof redeemable? Will he write the sequel? If so, hopefully better than this.


I’ve read Jon’s script and honestly totally agree with the changes Lindelof made to the final film. That said, I’m not an Alien fanboy, so I don’t have the same emotional attachment as someone who is. The religious and spiritual subtext creates a sci fi thriller that also makes you think. I understand the sentiment of not liking the deviations from the original series but if you take the movie out of that context its certainly compelling in its own right.

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