PROMETHEUS
We attend the world exclusive footage reveal and Q&A


On Tuesday 10th April, we had the pleasure of joining the cream of the crop in Leicester Square and be the very first in the world to witness an exclusive footage reveal of the most anticipated sci-fi blockbuster, Prometheus, set to hit our screens this June.

 

While the 13-minute clip left us salivating in our seats, the Q&A with director Sir Ridley Scott, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron only left us counting down the days to the big day...

 

 

CHAIR CHRIS HEWITT: Ridley you had an idea for a prequel to Alien based around the Space Jockey for a long, long time but at what point did that coalesce into something solid, into this?

Ridley Scott: I must have thought about it for three or four years and thought in all of the films nobody had asked a very simple question which was - who is the big guy in the chair, who was fondly after Alien called The Space Jockey.  I don't know how the hell he got that name; there was this big boned creature who seemed to be nine feet tall sitting in this chair and I went in to Fox with four questions. Who are they? Why are they there? Why that cargo and where were they going or had they in fact had a forced landing? And so in fact it was a study of a pilot. I went with two writers, John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof and we came up with the screenplay, the draft. It's interesting when you start off with an idea like that and you don't know whether it's going to be a prequel or a sequel, it gradually adjusted itself into much larger questions and therefore now the actual connection to the original Alien is barely in its DNA.  You kind of get it in the last seven minutes or so.  There is a little bit of it right at the end that gives you a connection.  That's about it.

 

CHAIR: Noomi, let's talk about Elizabeth Shaw.  This film is about faith versus science and she represents the faith side, doesn't she?

Noomi Rapace: Yes; she is a scientist and she grew up in Africa and her father was a priest, so she has been raised close to God, seeing different cultures and different people living under different conditions from a very early age.  She has been travelling around, seeing different life forms since she was quite young.  But her father died when she was young so she has been on her own and she has been able to turn and to use God and things that have happened to her in a constructive way.  So she became a scientist, but she still has a great gift of believing.  It's an interesting conflict that we [points to Ridley Scott] were talking about a lot, being a scientist but still believing in God.  What she's looking for out there and this whole mission is very personal to her; it's like something she has been living with and waiting for and wanting to do her whole life, in a way.

 

CHAIR: And is it about retaining faith in the middle of horrible things happening to you?  Visiting hell, essentially?

NR: Yes.  She goes through a lot of things in the movie and she transforms.  You know in the beginning she is not maybe naïve, but she is full of hope and a true believer and then things happen and she becomes a survivor and a fighter and a warrior in a way.  I'm not sure that she is so convinced at the end of the movie.  I think she realises that it wasn't really what she expected.

 

CHAIR: Michael you play David, the ship's android, the sort of ancestor if you will of Ash Bishop and Alien Resurrection's Call.  Did you look at Lance Henrikson or Ian Holm's performances in any way?

Michael Fassbender: I didn't; obviously I'd seen the films before, but for some reason I didn't want to go there...  I copied other things.  Actually, I watched Blade Runner, for some reason I watched that and of course Ridley had suggested The Servant.  So I watched The Servant with Dirk Bogarde and then there was Lawrence of Arabia and The Man Who Fell to Earth.  And then Greg Louganis the diver popped into my head, I don't know why.  Just the way he sort of moved.  As a child, watching the Olympics, I was [like], 'Wow, who's that guy?'  It was such a weird walk it made me laugh, but it also felt very efficient, centred, like yoga with economy of movement.  So I thought that would be interesting to take something on board.

 

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CHAIR: And Charlize, what can you tell us about Meredith Vickers?  In this series company employees tend not to be trustworthy.  How about Vickers, where does she come out?

Charlize Theron: It's weird because I guess there's a lot of her that makes her the enigma that she is in the beginning that comes across very quintessentially 'suity'.  I guess, like detached and cold and that she really is just there for the sole purpose of making everybody's life hell, as suits tend to want to do!  That she's just causing a lot of red tape and she's not a believer, she's not a scientist, she really is just there to make sure that you think that everything is going to plan.  But then she's actually there for a very personal reason, of which I cannot speak.

 

Q: Charlize, we get a really great glimpse of your character - it was quite telling in the clip that we saw; everyone wakes up after the two years of sleeping and they're throwing up and getting sick, and your character is doing push-ups.  You get the sense that if anyone is going to make it out alive, it's going to be her.  Could you expand on her as that kind of steely character.

CT: I have Sir Ridley to thank for that because initially when I got the script, I spoke to Ridley and we were wondering how we could maybe play more on the mystery, because otherwise she just becomes like a one-dimensional suit.  There was this amazing performance that Tilda Swinton gave in Michael Clayton and Ridley and I were talking about how when you see her, she doesn't say anything in the beginning of that film, the first time you see her.  The panic that is instilled in her says so much without her ever having to say anything.  And I said it'd be great if we could come up with something like that, and then Ridley came up with that idea to put me in a physical position where physically I'm saying ten times more than I could verbally. When he called me with that, I thought, 'Oh, f**k yeah, that's the girl I like; the girl that wakes up early, does the push ups, and is like, "Did anybody die?"'

 

Q: How conscious were you of fusing the world of Prometheus with the world of Alien - the derelict ship, the Giger designs, the biomechanical?

RS: You know, one of the problems with science fiction, which is probably one of the reasons why I haven't done one for many, years, is the fact that everything is used up.  Every type of spacesuit is used up, every type of spacecraft is vaguely familiar, the corridors are similar and the planets are similar.  So what you try to do is lean more heavily on the story and on the characters to give you lift-off - bad pun!  During the design process, I think we come up with a lot of fairly cool looking things which evolve from the drawing board.  Then you suddenly start to come up with evolutions of different looks so that as a total package, the film feels quite different.

 

Q: Noomi, how does it feel for you to take on this big part?  Is it a big pressure for your career?

NR: The first time I met Ridleywas in August, almost two years ago, in LA.  He'd seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo a couple of times and he said to me that he loved my performance and that he wanted to work with me.  I thought I was going to just pass out!  I don't really get nervous; it's not that I have many people in the world that I really admire and don't really know how to behave around, but I thought I was going to die.  He came back to me a couple of months later and said to me that he wanted me to play this character in 'the prequel to Alien'.  The magic is that as soon as you step in and start to work, I don't feel nervous, I don't look at it from the outside, it's almost like you're stepping into another universe.  You don't really reflect, you don't judge it, you don't think about doing a lead with Ridley Scott, how other people see it around you.  You melt into that world; it's only when you're done and you step out that you realise there was a lot of pressure and that you probably wouldn't be able to do it if you started to think about it.

 

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Q. And Charlize – do you feel much the same about this movie? Do you feel any pressure in any way? Are you clicking on the Internet, watching what people say about the trailer or do you let it all wash over you?

CT: I think Noomi articulated it really well.  I think all you can do is try to stay on a path and I think if you think too much about what the outside world is gonna think, it stifles the creativity.  I think it's fear-based and I don't really know how to work from there.  I do have a sense of fear every day going to work, but I think it's something that I like.  I mean, I do like the feeling of waking up on my own, having this moment of like, "Oh, f**k, I hope I can do this today," because it makes you realise that you're working with a director or with a cast that are keeping you on your toes.  Nothing's like, 'I can do this with my eyes closed', and I think that is ultimately what every actor wants, something that challenges you to that point.

 

MF: Just a healthy dose of respect and disrespect.

 

Q. Charlize, did you feel you had anything to prove in terms of potentially being compared to Sigourney Weaver?

CT: No, no.  I think that kind of role - I don't want to speak for Noomi - but it was probably more Noomi's character.

 

Q: Noomi, did you feel like you had any pressure?

NR: No, we talked a lot and it's not Ripley.  The amazing thing with working with Ridley is, it feels like you are so much inside the characters and every character in the story and I never felt alone in there.  We were doing quite disturbed things some days and it was quite tough and you came home and your mind and your soul and your body were a mess, but I always felt really happy.  It never felt like I was carrying something really heavy on my shoulders, even though it was quite tough some days; it always felt like we were doing something together.  And it's definitely not Ripley, but she feels like she's in the same family, in a way, she's a survivor and a fighter in the same kind of way, a little bit similar to Ripley.

 

CHAIR: Michael, can we just talk a little bit more about David.  Was there an attraction for you, playing that extra layer of a robot without a soul looking to become human?

MF: I don't really know exactly what's going on with David to be honest!  There are a lot of things there.  Because he's the one android amongst humans, and the humans don't really like having a robot around that looks like them, who can figure everything out quicker than them and is physically stronger than them.  There's something a little bit off-putting about that.  Is that the future?  It's like the idea of engineering people for example.  He's asking his own questions.  He's curious like the gods in old Greek mythology – being jealous of human beings for their mortality and for what that must be like to experience.  Also, he has been programmed like a human being, so will his programming start to form its own personality outside of the system that was programmed?  Or the idea of human beings – are we all programmed anyway as well?  Is someone creating us?  Are we programmed to go into a certain job, to make a certain decision at thirty-two that will lead to something that happens at thirty-five...  Is everything pre-programmed for us in life?  That's kind of interesting.  Or do we have free choice?  So we just sort of played around with all those things.  I tried to keep it ambiguous.  It was something that Ridley said to me at the beginning, when we're watching him it's like, 'Is he taking the piss?'

 

RS: And actually you should mention the fact that it's categorically not a secret, what he is.  From the beginning, there is no point hiding it doing a science fiction movie today.  To me it's a nod to Ash as well.  You can't say it's going to be a big deal to review somebody aboard the ship who is actually an android or a replicant or a robot.  So what you delved into was another layer of a great deal of humour and wit, getting inside this character that you knew what he was from the very beginning, you think he is a housekeeper or a butler.  Then what is he doing?  He picks up dirt from the floor like a housemaid, but then he walks around very strangely.

 

MF: There is a lot of fun to be had with the character and that was something at the forefront of my mind.  And the jealousy of seeing human beings and of being left out.  Plus there is something quite childlike about him.  He has two and a half years while everyone is asleep, he's got to occupy himself and keep his imagination going.

 

CHAIR: What does he do?

CT: Does he have an imagination?

 

MF: Well, that's what I'm saying, Charlize.  We don't know!  He doesn't know!

 

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CHAIR: So there could be a prequel, David – just simply watching you for two and a half years walking round the spaceship.

MF: Well, I wanted him to have a little disco dance at the end, while the credits are rolling, in his little private disco.

 

Q: Question for the actors: given what Ridley did to his poor actors on the original Alien film, were you constantly living in fear everyday on set?

MF and CT: What was the fear?

 

Q: The scene in the original Alien where the actors were surprised by something bursting out of the actor's chest.  Was there an extra level of anxiety that that brought to you?

MF: I never knew that!  So, no I was living in bliss, ignorance and bliss.

 

RS: There is a scene that could be called the equivalent of that in this film.  But that was private, no one witnessed that.  It's your scene [points to Noomi].  But we can't say what it is.

 

NR: I did!  I dreamt nightmares for two weeks.  I had these weird f**ked up images in my head, so yes it did affect us.

 

 

Words by Louise Robina Happé

 

Prometheus opens in cinemas June 1st.

"That’s the girl I like; the girl that wakes up early, does the push ups, and is like, “Did anybody die?” - Charlize Theron

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