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Ridley Scott Talks Blade Runner, Alien and Its Prequels, and a McMurtry Western

Ridley Scott Talks Blade Runner, Alien and Its Prequels, and a McMurtry Western

Sir Ridley Scott blew off the Cannes opening of Robin Hood and the recent Produced By Conference, blaming recent knee surgery, but the filmmaker turned up in a L.A. for a fan-friendly–safe–chat about his two classics Alien and Blade Runner at the LAT’s inaugural Hero Complex Film Festival. TOH contributor David Lewis was there.

The Hero Complex Film Festival — a short, but successful, fanboy-friendly three-day affair — came to a close Sunday evening with a double-header of 1979’s Alien and Blade Runner (1982), split by a Q&A with the films’ director Ridley Scott. In addition to discussing those films, the prolific filmmaker touched on future projects.

While Scott revealed precious little info about his recently-announced return to sci-fi, what he did say generated fervent applause from the audience (some of whom waited in line for three hours to grab a choice spot at the Mann Chinese 6 theater). Scott is returning to the Alien universe, after thirty years and five sequels and spinoffs that he had no hand in–“They never asked me back! But there’s no bitterness,” he said, casually adding “only a little bit…” The two planned prequels would deal with the mysterious alien giant (“Space Jockey“) glimpsed near the beginning of Alien, after the crew lands on the hostile world. Scott hinted that the films would answer the question of the creature’s origin, and visit its homeworld. He also added, somewhat cryptically: “inside the suit is a being.”

Scott’s other upcoming SF foray is an adaptation of Joe Haldeman’s acclaimed Forever War, which the director described as a space take on the Vietnam War.

After nearly thirty years of Earthbound films (Thelma and Louise and Gladiator among them), what Scott could do in a sci-fi setting with 2010 cinema technology is a mouth-watering prospect. Scott discussed recent real-life scientific advances such as the prospect of “terraforming” other worlds (something he feels may have been currently possible had JFK’s space program continued unabated), adding that “movies allow us to cheat like Hell” in anticipating scientific progress.

Most interesting is the fact that Scott is also planning a western, and noted that the screenplay — by Western legend Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove)– is already on its way.

But the fans ate up Scott’s comments on his early SF efforts, and moderator Geoff Boucher (@LATherocomplex) was adept at steering the motormouth Brit in the right direction.

When asked what he would have done if he had been offered the first Alien sequel (James Cameron’s Aliens was released in 1986), Scott took the safe route by stating that he has always wanted to investigate the origins of the enigmatic, fossilized Space Jockey.

Scott was amiable and funny, noting, among other things, that Alien star Sigourney Weaver’s formidable height made him think of her as “mummy,” and that Blade Runner star Harrison Ford showed up for his first meeting with Scott in his full Indiana Jones attire — he was shooting Raiders of the Lost Ark across town. On the Blade Runner set, Ford would question some of Scott’s directorial choices, including why the set was constantly raining. Scott said he would simply reply, “because I want it to fucking rain! I got tired of explaining everything.” Such autonomy is necessary as a director, Scott continued, because committee thinking tends to inflate budgets [Ed. note: like Robin Hood?]

Blade Runner, a box-office and critical failure in 1982 (it opened opposite E.T.!), has since become a well-respected cult item and has gone through at least three re-cuts on its way to finding the mass audience it deserves. After Boucher gushed that the film hardly dates at all and only seems to get better with age, Scott joked: “See? I was right the first time! You guys (critics) were wrong!”

The Hero Complex Fest also included a Leonard Nimoy Q&A following a Friday night screening of Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country and Christopher Nolan discussing two of his best films Insomnia and The Dark Knight” Saturday afternoon.

[Image courtesy of Olivia Hemaratanatorn]

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