Director Ridley Scott spoke between screenings of Alien and Blade Runner at the Los Angeles Times Hero-Complex Film Festival last night. Scriptflags was present when the British Director was questioned on his upcoming return to the franchise.
In the original Alien, the first alien we are actually introduced to is the skeleton of a giant deceased “being” sitting in a chair. This being is regularly referred to as “The Space Jockey”. Scott has said he always wondered who or what this being was and what was its story. He said that being now has its story. The script has been written and he is currently in preproduction on a set of films that will begin to tell how “The Space Jockey” fits into the world of Alien.Scott stated to the audience “I watched the franchise zip along for the next twenty, thirty years. I let it go, because Blade Runner followed,”, “I started to think about the franchise again, which now has died on the road somewhere. In the first film [Alien] when John Hurt climbed up, looked over the horizon and said the immortal lines, ‘Good God, what is this?’ what we saw was appropriate for “Good God”, because it was a massive giant lying in a chair, and the chair was either a form of engine or some future technology. I always thought, ‘Nobody’s asked, “Who is the giant?”’ He’s come to be called ‘the space jockey.’ I thought, ‘Who the hell is the space jockey?’ And so it’s written and I’m prepping it now.”, “If you explain who he was and where he came from, then that will deal with the savagery of this version, which will be pretty savage. Then you may want to find out where they came from, the place where his people come from.” As a child, Scott thought science fiction was sort of cheesy until he saw the Mad Max films and the art work of Moebius, who he mentioned on several occasions. He told the story of how Alien came to be. He was trying to get something going after The Duelisits and after a meeting in Hollywood, his producer took him to see Star Wars at the Grauman’s Chinese. Scott said he felt a vibe in the packed theater that he hasn’t felt since and walked out sick with envy. A few months later, the script for Alien came across his desk and he had to do it. Scott said he was the fifth person the script was sent to and it was in danger of being killed. When he realized he knew how to shoot it, he went in and proposed they don’t change one word. The original budget was 4.2 million dollars, but after spending several months drawing storyboards, the studio got excited and doubled the budget. He feels storyboarding is almost as important as writing.“The first Film [Alien] was honestly The Old Dark House, seven people in the old dark house with a visitor. This will go further into the world of terraforming. We’re thinking about doing it. In fact, if Kennedy had been allowed to continue his space program, we’d probably be on Mars now with a population of nine-thousand people. That’s how far we should have gone.” Scott also mentioned -he loves the Alien franchise and was kind of upset they never asked him to come back. In fact, he didn’t even know they were making a second one when they started and when he can. If he had made the sequel to Alien he would have made the Movie he is making now -about the "Space Jockey". Scott will spend two hours in the morning each day just reading with no distractions. He thinks it’s essential to read things pure.. so much for fresh frakin details.Update: AICN reports that - Scott states, one to one that the Space Jockey: “I think beneath that carcass… it’s not a carcass, it’s a suit. Inside the suit is a being.” An interesting hint at to what he’s doing with the prequels, perhaps? + Scott has stated the new films have involved “a lot of underwater research”. So what does that mean? An ocean planet origin for the jockeys? He also mentioned the theory of Near Faster-Than-Light travel, which is complete science fiction at the moment; “Mr. Spock stuff” as he called it, rearranging matter essentially, but theoretically possible. “But what we’re allowed to do by movies is to cheat like hell. But I think the closer it is to the truth, the closer it is to the technological feasibility then it becomes that much more interesting. And if it’s a film like the one I’m going to do, then it becomes that much more frightening.” “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.”Scott is actually spending time with real NASA scientists who do research at the bottom of the ocean, to simulate conditions in space. They’ve given Scott some ideas of real planets where he can set his prequel. That would show that the colonies Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) visited evolved from our own universe.“They got me going about this wonderful planet which is out near the big gas, you know those massive gas columns that we discovered about 20 years ago,” Scott said. “Just to the side of that, there’s this wonderful planet called Europa. Around that is Io and Zeta II Reticuli. We’re going back to Zeta II Reticuli.”The part that’s still science fiction is traveling light-years away and sustaining human life for the journey. Scott’s going to take the real science of that and make it scary. “Actually, you’re dematerializing and rematerializing, because light speed is that. You can’t travel in that space of time, so you have to think about ‘How do I mathematically change my matter, material presence?’ It sounds like magic, but if we said in 1900 that I was going to have a cell phone, I’d be able to pick this up and talk to London, they’d put me in jail or a lunatic asylum. That’s how far we’ve come. I think the closer it is to the truth and the closer it is to technological feasibility, it becomes that much more interesting. If it’s a film like I’m going to do, it’s going to become that much more frightening.”