Ridley Scott's Western + More New Info on His Alien Prequel!
by Alex Billington
June 14, 2010
Well isn't this ironic. Last night I attended the final day of the Hero Complex Film Festival, which included screenings of Alien and Blade Runner with a live Q&A with Ridley Scott in-between. I took the opportunity to ask Ridley a question I've been waiting to ask for years: Way back in late 2007 he said "sci-fi films are as dead as westerns," but now has the Alien prequel and a Forever War adaptation in the works, so what made him change his mind? Well, instead of actually answering, Ridley started to ramble on about westerns and then revealed he was "working on one" that Larry McMurtry (Brokeback Mountain) is currently writing.
So not only are sci-fi films no longer dead (Star Trek, Avatar, District 9, Moon), but apparently neither are westerns, especially if he wants to make that film sometime soon. I'm wondering if that western he's talking about might be the Boone's Lick adaptation (of his own novel) that is listed on McMurtry's IMDb page, but I suppose we'll find out sooner or later. Scott never actually gave me a straight answer to my question, but it was interesting to hear that bit about the western. And because it's Ridley Scott, I'll let it slide for now, as long as the Alien prequel turns out good. Speaking of which, he talked a little bit about that project as well.
We already know quite a bit about the prequel, from an update in April, but Scott confirmed a few details. He explained: "I sat thinking about the franchise, which now has died… And I always thought, 'no one has ever asked… who the hell is the Space Jockey?' So it's written and I'm prepping it now." So it's about the big alien who was found dead in the chair in the spaceship in the first Alien. Ridley added that it takes place "way before" Alien because he's going to try and "squeeze in" two prequels, as we already know. But why?
"Because if you explain who he was and where he comes from, then that will deal with the savagery of this version [the 1979 Alien], which is pretty savage. Then you may want to find out where they came from, so you may want to go to him, and go to there place where his people come from."
My guess is we're probably going to see a story about how this guy died, then see the backstory behind his mission and where the aliens originally came from. Interesting - kind of reminds me of The Thing prequel.
Scott then started talking about NASA and doing underwater research, then suddenly changed topics and said something about a "wonderful planet" called Europa that's near the "big gasses/gas columns" (in deep space) that were discovered around 20 years ago. I think he's confused because there's a moon of Jupiter called Europa, but no planet. He then goes on to say that "we're going back to Zeta 2 Reticuli." Now there is actually a star in our galaxy called Zeta 2 Reticuli some 39 light years away that not-so-coincidentally was discovered to have a planet orbiting it that even has creepy real-life ufo rumors linked to it. That's a bingo!
Remarkably, that's still not all he said! Although he was starting to ramble at this point, Scott stated that the "[Alien prequel] is going to go further into that world of terraforming," which is the process of modifying a planet's atmosphere to be livable. It also may explore the idea of what it will take to travel to these places. He then mentioned that if JFK had continued with the space program, we'd probably have a colony on Mars by now. Then he begins to ramble on about lightspeed and beaming people up, through dematerialization, like in Star Trek, like it's all going to be real one day soon. And finally, here's why he explained all of that:
"The closer it is to the truth, and the closer it is to the technological feasibility, then it becomes that much more interesting, and if it's a film like I'm going to do, then it becomes a lot more frightening."
I'm not exactly sure what to make of this, but I think he revealed some interesting details about the prequel. If you put the pieces together, and this is just an educated guess, it sounds like the prequel might be another spaceship thriller about the "space jockey" from Alien and that will lead into another prequel about where he came from. That gels with the statement that they would "stick with the original concept of only one alien on the ship" as announced last year. And he may also be mixing in ideas about lightspeed and dematerialization as a way of intensifying the sci-fi horror, which also sounds like it may involve humans traveling to this Zeta 2 Reticuli system, where we'll encounter this "space jockey," as there have to be some humans in the movie.
At least that's one possibility, but I'll leave it up to you guys to make what you will of all this. I pulled all of these quotes from my own recording of the Q&A, so I know they're accurate. It's always great to hear about future Ridley Scott projects, but this Alien prequel sounds like it's going to be very interesting. And speaking of which, in regards to The Forever War, Scott said they're currently on the fourth draft of that screenplay because it's such a complex story to adapt. Any idea what he's talking about with the Alien prequel?
Update: Quint of Ain't It Cool News also pulled this interesting quote from the Scott Q&A: "I think beneath that [Space Jockey] carcass… it's not a carcass, it's a suit. Inside the suit is a being." Even more to chew on!