Sir Ridley Scott, the renowned filmmaker who reinvented the science fiction film genre wit ‘Alien’ and ‘Blade Runner’, offers his signature brand of action, thrills, scares, and much more, with his latest sci-fi opus, ‘Prometheus’.
With ‘Prometheus’, Scott has created a new mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey, aboard the spaceship Prometheus, to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.
Although he has not helmed a science fiction picture in three decades, Scott’s interest in the genre never abated. Having made two of the most revered genre films of all time, his return would only be triggered by a truly grand idea. “Over the past few decades, we’ve been ‘action filmed-out’ and ‘monster filmed-out’ and almost ‘science fiction filmed-out,” says Scott. “So the baseline question is: how original are you going to be?”
“The reason I haven’t made another sci-fi film in so many years, apart from the fact I’ve been busy making other films and exploring different genres, is because frankly I haven’t come across anything worthwhile for me to do with enough truth, originality and strength. ‘Prometheus’ has all three.”
The notion for Prometheus began with a figure glimpsed only briefly in ‘Alien’, and which seemed to be forgotten once the titular xenomorph burst, literally, onto the scene. But that mysterious being – a giant fossilized creature with a burst-open chest, which came to be known as the Space Jockey – was well remembered by the man who brought it to life. “Something that had stayed with me ever since ‘Alien’, was the mystery behind it,” says Scott. “Who was he? Where was he from? What was his mission? What kind of technology would his kind possess? I thought those questions could provide a springboard for even larger ideas.”
Strong female leads are a Ridley Scott hallmark: Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in ‘Alien’, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in ‘Thelma and Louise’, Demi Moore in ‘GI Jane’, Eva Green in ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, and Connie Nielsen in ‘Gladiator’. ‘Prometheus’ features not one, but two formidable distaff protagonists who further Scott’s impressive tradition. Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw is a scientist filled with faith and hope, but who transforms into a warrior when faced with the danger she encounters at her destination; Charlize Theron’s Vickers is a “suit” representing the interests of the mega-corporation funding the journey to a distant, foreboding world.
Rapace’s powerful and unsettling performance in the original ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, had captured worldwide attention – including Scott’s. “Noomi combines a rare intelligence and physicality,” says the filmmaker. “She owned that part in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. It was so powerful that when Noomi and I met, I expected a tough, hardened individual; instead, Noomi was lovely, kind and smart. It was a terrific mix that would serve her well playing Shaw.”
A call from Ridley Scott is a career defining moment for any actor, including Rapace. “After the meeting with Ridley, I thought even if I don’t end up working with him on ‘Prometheus’, I’m happy because I’ve had this hour with him.” It turned out that Shaw would be spending much more time than that with Scott, who cast her after a screen test he shot with the director of photography.
A very different kind of intensity is demonstrated by Meredith Vickers, a Weyland Industries executive who is onboard the Prometheus to represent the corporation’s mysterious interests. When Charlize Theron accepted the role, Vickers took on intriguing new dimensions.
Theron was drawn to the opportunity to explore the film’s epic themes from a perspective at odds with the rest of the crew’s. “For Vickers, this epic, two-year journey to another world has been boiled down to economics. She has a bottom-line kind of thinking,” says the actress.
But as with so much else about the mission, there are deeper layers and mysteries to Vickers’ ultimate goals. “She’s an enigma, and the mystery surrounding her was something I really liked,” says Theron.
CAST: NOOMI RAPACE, GUY PEARCE, IDRIS ELBA, LOGAN MARSHALL-GREEN, CHARLIZE THERON, MICHAEL FASSBENDER
DIRECTOR: RIDLEY SCOTT