Directing “Blade Runner 2049” was no small task for Denis Villeneuve, especially with Ridley Scott involved so heavily in the film’s development and production. Scott, who directed the landmark 1982 original, was an executive producer, which didn’t exactly relieve any of the pressure Villeneuve was facing. The director revealed to Deadline that having Scott on set wasn’t ideal sometimes, so much so that Villeneuve once asked Scott to leave set.
“The thing is, he was there a lot and not a lot, for the best (laughs),” Villeneuve said about Scott. “He was there a lot because I was dealing with his screenplay, I was dealing with his ideas, I was dealing with his universe, with his characters. I was thinking about Ridley all the time. I had a responsibility to respect, to honor the legacy of the original movie.”
Scott appeared on set one day during a scene in which Villeneuve was directing Scott’s original “Blade Runner” star Harrison Ford. Villeneuve told Deadline that it was “unbearable” to have Scott over his shoulder as he directed Ford. The director was already facing the pressure to honor Scott’s legacy, and the last thing he needed was Scott to actually be on set watching him direct his former star.
“I made a joke, I said to him, ‘Hey Ridley, who is your favorite director?’ And he said, ‘I love Ingmar Bergman and Kubrick,'” Villeneuve said. “I said, ‘I love Bergman too. So Ridley, how would you feel if you were on set directing and you had Bergman just behind you?’ And he burst out laughing and he walked off the set. Because I was trying to direct Harrison Ford and I was like, ‘Nope, it doesn’t work.'”
Fortunately, Scott wasn’t always breathing down Villeneuve’s neck during the making of “2049.” Scott had promised Villeneuve when he signed on that he would give him the freedom he needed to craft his own “Blade Runner” vision, and that promise was never broken for the most part.
“He told me right at the start he would give me all the space, all the freedom, he would step away and that would be my responsibility, and if I needed him, he would be at the other end of the line,” Villeneuve said. “Otherwise, I would be alone. That was the best gift to receive, because I would have never been able to work with Ridley behind me.”
“Blade Runner 2049” is still playing in theaters nationwide.