Interview: 'Prometheus'/Sci-Fi Writers Damon Lindelof & Jon Spaihts

June 11, 2012

Prometheus Interview

"There’s a cult of existing intellectual property in town." To put a final wrap on our Prometheus coverage, I am presenting our interview with the film's co-writers, Damon Lindelof (of "Lost", Star Trek) and Jon Spaihts. We've spoken with Spaihts before, including a focus on world building and his favorite android characters, now it's time to get into the grittier details of Prometheus with both of them. I didn't go into this looking to answer all of the questions the movie brought up, but I did ask them as many questions about writing it as I possibly could. We cover everything from Ridley to the Alien franchise to characters. Dive in!

I've been considerably anxious/excited to talk with these two, as they are individually (and separately) the two writers who envisioned and crafted Prometheus for Ridley Scott to direct (read or watch my interview with Ridley here). The questions I asked in Part 1 are very open starting questions related to Prometheus: why did it take so long for Fox to make this, how did each of them contribute to the screenplay, how did they balance asking more questions, etc. Part 2, I ask about how to make sci-fi thrilling and where the genre can go from here. It's a fascinating discussion and enlightening to listen to them talk for 20 minutes about sci-fi.

Watch my first segment, Part 1, with Prometheus writers Damon Lindelof (left) & Jon Spaihts (right):

Watch my second interview segment, Part 2, with Prometheus writers Damon Lindelof & Jon Spaihts:

Both of these were shot on my Flip, apologies for the background noise and framing. They're mostly spoiler free. A big thank you to Damon Lindelof, Jon Spaihts and 20th Century Fox for this fantastic opportunity. While the debates on Prometheus have risen to a boiling point rather quickly, this interview was conducted before its release, before I had time to observe the discussions. I was interested in talking with these guys about various science fiction storytelling elements, how they played into Prometheus specifically, how they were able to use these to craft this screenplay. Most of all, I was happy to openly discuss science fiction with these two, and hear them talk about everything that goes into writing big-scale Hollywood sci-fi scripts.

Ridley Scott's Prometheus, his first science fiction since Blade Runner in 1982, finally arrived in US theaters June 8th. Read our interviews with Ridley Scott & Michael Fassbender. Once you see it, Sound Off!

Damon Lindelof on Prometheus

The full transcription of my interview with Damon Lindelof & Jon Spaihts will be added here.
Don't worry, it's still coming soon. Stay tuned!

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  • Ryderup
    Prometheus is so badly written.
    • peloquin
       I think you mean "Prometheus is so poorly written."
      • Ryderup
        Well, I'm swedish. "I can't create life..."
      • Guest
         It's badly and poorly written.
    • axalon
      Come on man, can we stop with the hyperbole for five minutes please? Yes, it stumbles its own feet a lot but if it were as poorly written as something like Battleship then people wouldn't have spent so much time talking about it.
      • Bart
        They're spending so much time talking about how bad it is. This is not hyperbole, the Prometheus script is massively disappointing. The fact that you bring Battleship into this discussion, as some kind of comparison, only fuels my point. Scott would have laughed at the muddled, nonsensical plot holes of this script 35 years ago. It comes down to people being yet again let down by one of their sc-fi filmmaking heroes.
      • Mjern
        Everyone expects a movie like BATTLESHIP to be poorly written at best. No one expects a Ridley Scott film to be written at the same level as movies like BATTLESHIP.
    • Will
      It is more likely that a lot of editing-out of dialogue ridden scenes occured. In his heart I think Scott needs three 3-hour movies to tell this story.
  • DarthVerous
    I love Damon Lindelof's comment about Battleship and how much it sucked. LOL! 
  • Drcherd
    cool cats and good last question buuuht yeeeeeah prometheus should of been written by some other fellows.
  • Buzzfunk
    Its really strange. They both strike me as smart guys. Really. Their comments made sense and I loved Damons comment about Battleship cause it's true.  However having the notion of a great concept doesn't mean that their execution was good. I would have liked to see some 'tougher' questions about the obvious illogical narrative errors in this movie. I guess i can deal with all of the open questions but there's a part of me still being frustrated because the problems keep this film from being a classic...unfortunately. 
    • ThisGuy
       Exactly this, These guys really need to be asked "why?" about specific things, cause there's so much about this movie and it's characters that is bothering people. I would enjoy that much more then general non-spoiler open questions. Still though, always enjoy writer discussions. .
    Really cool. Thanks Alex. // I would recommend that you put some kind of little "tag" in the picture so people know its a video interview. You could probably get some more hits that way. 
    • God forbid! The design on this page is flawless. Leave it as is!
  • LBR
    I liked it, it made me think about the film again, especially the story  of how the 'Alien' came from/through us. And i've been thinking about the film a lot, and i cant remember the last time i did that, perhaps with Inception. I just hope that further sequels /prequels live up to the story line and are not diluted in way that the original franchise was. That will be the real test.I can only think of the French Connection, working that well, and perhaps the newer Batman movies.
    • Will
      I have seen it three times now. Two was enough, really. The first I reacted to all the things it wasn't. The second time I took it at face value and followed things like: facial expressions, body language, dialogue, etc. This all convinced me that Scott has a very high overview of this universe he has created. The movie was undeniably beautiful. In fact, I thought all the action scenes overpowered the plot, which seems to be more thoughtful. I didn't like it the first time. The second time I liked it but thought it couldn't make up its mind what kind of a movie it wanted to be. I would have been happier with more plot exposition and less mutilation. The most intriguing part of the movie was the contents of the jars. What is it? And why did the engineer hate the humans? Too much unexplained. Will
  • racquetman
    I am glad they made an original story.  The large concepts were great to see, and I didn't mind being left with a bunch of questions to ponder.   However, I am scratching my head over the script and the characters.  Almost nothing these "scientists" did made any sense at all.  These two guys (Lindelof and Spaihts) seem to be intelligent, yet I saw very little intelligence in the writing.  I am beginning to learn that if Lindelof is involved, I'm not going to like it. 
    • Guest
       Well inteligent people can still produce shit. I believe the problem lies in the fact that Lindelof approaches movies like tv series. When you write for tv you have to keep things open for obvious reasons. Also he makes a fundamental mistake of putting action,events of the story before characters.A good plot is  driven by characters and not by random  events.  Or maybe he just does not know how to write realistic characters.  Just guessing .
  • Christopher Batty
    These 2 guys can't write themselves out of a paper bag. I'll be keeping an eye out for their names from now on. I won't be seeing their films. 
    • axalon
      Says the guy anonymously making comments from the internet.
      • Ryderup
        So, what are you daying... people shouldn't comment?
        • axalon
          No, they certainly should. But saying ridiculous things like "they can't write their way out of a paper bag" without even having read some of Spaihts' other work is absolutely ridiculous. I guarantee you that Christopher Batty wouldn't even produce a fraction of what we saw in Prometheus if Fox approached him with a blank page and said "write a prequel to Alien".
          • Mjern
            100% Right. That's why people aren't be allowed to critique professional athletes unless they're professional athletes and public citizens cannot critique politicians.
          • axalon
            I know you're being sarcastic, but in a sense you're right. Most people have no idea what it takes to actually get a movie started from the ground up. It's that level of ignorance that sparks  ridiculous statements like "this movie is horribly written".
          • rennmaxbeta
            Most people have a pretty good idea how movies are made these days. And bad writing is bad writing - it doesn't take a smartass to realise that. Why is your opinion worth more than someone else's, axalon?
  • Lindelof is such a hack writer. I always knew Lost was a joke and so is this guys writing. Too bad Scott had to choose him. Wrong move.
    • Halon
      Indeed. Lindelhof is going to ruin Star Trek 2.
    • LOSTNerdBomber
      I don't know, I still think about Lost everyday. That's gotta say something.
  • Buzzfunk
    Even tho I really am no batman fan, I didnt care for Dark Knight, I already know that while its ideas wont be as grand as Prometheus, Rises will be a better movie and make more money anyways...which is sad cause I really wanted Prometheus to succeed.  And to hear these two chat about their ideas is great but its sad to see that the average movie goer/fan can easily see through the plot holes. I really think Lindof doesn't 'get' the critic cause hes being a douche on Twitter.  Not to blame Damon only, I blame Scott for not doing his job. Some of the scenes are just not good, and I mean editing wise. Everything moves too fast, too quickly.  After seeing it a 2nd time, I have to downgrade my original 8/10 to a 6/10. It really is a shame....
    • Random guy
       The fact that people will go for a repeat viewing will make the movie a succes  in their eyes.And wallets.   It's the bottom line that counts for these hollywood types. I have a feeling  a lot of people will go to a repeat viewing just to make sure they were disappointed the first time around.  The story is just so poorly written and nonsensical at times. Overall the experience is pleasing to the eyes if you just do what they asume most of the audience does...leave your brain at home.  They sure can sell a concept I'll give them that .Advertising for this thing is awesome.  Too bad about the actual content.  I am not upsett about it it's just such a shame. Well,next please.Just use different screenwriters this time.  
  • Wow. You three covered so much in just 20 minutes.Thank you Alex, for the finest interview I've seen from among all the online press that I've consumed on the web in a decade, plus, of cinema coverage. The opportunity to see a long-form interview, on video, with the writers behind a production with as much going on behind-and-in-front-of-the-camera as PROMETHEUS, even now in the Blu-ray era, is too rare indeed.




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