a) Reading Alien Zero
Damon was sent a copy of what he assumed was the latest draft of what Jon Spaihts had written called Alien Zero.
Jon was the only writer on the project before Lindelof.
He read it and enjoyed it, finding some ideas that he thought were exciting and original.
He thought these ideas were potentially dangerous and he liked this sense of danger.
He was thinking to himself “Oh, this is sort of unexpected, but it’s not unexpected just to be shocking. It’s cool.”
b) Deciphering the Hollywood Game
However Damon realised that he was being asked to replace the previous scriptwriter, it seemed unfair to him and and he was asking himself, "Why is Jon Spaihts not continuing on in this project?”
Figuring out why they were sending the script to him, to Lindelof it was a sign that they're ready to make a radical or drastic change by replacing the writer.
This sort of thing never happened in the world of TV which he knew about, where it was exactly the opposite, but this sort of behaviour had taken place in the scriptwriting for Alien 3 and indeed Blade Runner.
c) Recognisably an Alien film
In Damon's view, despite the exciting ideas, what Jon had done with Alien Zero was a much more dyed in the wood Alien prequel,
It had all the things in it that one would associate with an Alien movie and later he would use to the term "Reboot" to describe it.
d) Removing the prequelness
Damon wanted to remove the obvious prequel-ness that would have made it feel as if one was going into the movie knowing the inevitability of exactly how the movie was going to end.
He didn't find connecting dots a rewarding experience and his idea was that putting a puzzle together and popping that final piece in leading to suddenly understanding what one was seeing, and this would connect to the story in unexpected ways.
e) Thoughts in relation to the Star Wars Saga
So it would have been like for him the trouble he had with the Star Wars prequel showing the how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader.
As far as he was concerned, the idea of the Star Wars prequels, they're making three movies where they tell the viewer such as Lindelof what he already knows, but he wanted to do something to embed a new idea in it that he didn't already know about or introduce a different thematic.
He thought of things such as what if Obi-Wan Kenobi had stolen Anakin's girlfriend away from him, and that when when he would watch Star Wars again, he'd realise "Oh, that’s why Obi-Wan Kenobi is letting Darth Vader strike him down, ‘cause he feels guilty. That’s why Obi-Wan Kenobi is watching over Luke, the progeny of the guy that he screwed over."
Although realistically speaking, how such an idea would have benefited the movie would be another question.
f) Playing with the creation myth
He saw how in Jon Spaihts's script for Prometheus, there was a creation myth as more or less shown in the opening of the final film.
Lindelof thought about this film being a movie about scientists who are searching for the existence of their own creators, and so there was this sort of religious spirit, a pseudo-spiritual things told in scientific language.
But what really interested him in the script was that there was a robot going along for a ride, named David and Lindelof thought how cool this was , there were these idiot humans basically on a journey looking for their creator.
His own response to that was that as with science fiction movies, "don't cross this line; there are questions that mankind should not answer, do not reanimate dead bodies.", then it went in the direction of "Well, let's fu--ing do this anyway", which then it doesn't turn out well for the characters.
Because it's an Alien movie, the audience would know how it was going to end.
g) Chain of creators
But his view was that it was an interesting idea, he was seeing an interesting chain there because an android was there, he's with his creators, and they're seeking out their creators,
Of course this android, the smartest character in the story was not impressed by his creators.
He went ahead with the idea of taking those ideas, making that be what the movie was about, and film wouldn't show anything showing any of the familiar Alien tropes until the end of this move
Then the idea would be that if there was a sequel to Prometheus, it would not be Alien, but it would go off in another direction and therefore it would be exciting to watch because the viewer would not just be connecting dots.
What would be inherited from the Alien movies would come through instead as afterthoughts rather than the film's foundations.
- Damon Lindelof: So I read it, and I like I said, it was, this was not a disaster. This was not a triage situation, there were really good ideas in that script. (Kevin Pollack chatshow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzRjHDAgRmk#t=9099)
- Damon Lindelof: It was a very good script by Jon Spaihts. Essentially, what Jon had done was a much more dyed-in-the-wool Alien sequel, in that it had all the things in it that we would expect to be in an Alien movie, from face-huggers to chest-busters to eggs. But there were also some original ideas in there, too. And what I pitched to Ridley was, ‘I don’t think this movie needs the face-huggers and chest-busters and all the things people are going to be expecting. I think these other ideas are original enough to power the whole thing.’” (The Guardian, The Guide, 26th May, 2012.)
- The Hollywood Reporter: Since the inception of Prometheus, Ridley has said it “possesses the DNA of the Alien series.” What mythology did you inherit, and where did you have freedom to create your own?
Damon Lindelof: When I came in, there was a script that had been written by Jon Spaihts, who I share screenplay credit with, that I thought was quite good, but it was a dyed-in-the-wool Alien prequel. And I fundamentally felt like the best version of this movie would be to strip away its own inherent prequel-ness, which made it feel like you go into it knowing exactly how the movie is going to end. Connecting dots is not that rewarding of an experience. What’s rewarding is putting a puzzle together and popping that final piece in, and suddenly you understand -- this actually does connect to the world I know but in unexpected ways. So it was really about embracing something that felt a little bit more original and unexpected. Not to say that there would not be tips of the cap or strains of the familiar tropes of Alien, but they'd be more like afterthoughts as opposed to the bricks upon which the foundation was constructed. (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/, 7th June 2012)
- Interviewer: Speaking of the film’s interpretation of those Alien
mysteries, there was already a draft of the script written when you
signed on, correct? Did you connect with the original interpretation and
Damon Lindelof: Yeah, I was sent a draft of what I’m assuming was the latest draft of what Jon Spaihts had written, who was the only writer on the project prior to me. I got the script with the sort of mysterious request of “tell us what you think.” These are essentially job interviews, situations like this, and you don’t know what they like or what they don’t like, or if they even know what to do at that point.What seemed really appealing was the idea of looking at that theme [of creation] not through a supernatural construct but through a sci-fi construct, in the same way that Frankenstein looks at life after death in terms of what’s grounded in a scientific reality as opposed to a paranormal reality.
- Damon Lindelof: I read the script. It was called Alien Zero. It was written by Jon Spaihts, who I was honored to share a writing credit with on Prometheus, that’s what it ended up becoming. I thought that there were a lot of really great ideas embedded in it. But when you are reading a script in this context, you’re being essentially asked to replace someone, right? I have to ask myself, “Why is Jon Spaihts not continuing on in this project?” And this is something that’s very unfair that happens to writers, which is, the way that filmmakers signal the studio that they’re ready to make a radical or drastic change is they replace the writer, which never happens in TV; it’s the exact opposite. I felt Jon had done a number of really smart things, but I tried to figure out why is it that they are sending the script to me? (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/damon-lindelof-struggling-depression-why-838257)
- Well, namely, the language of Alien Zero was very much an Alien
reboot, in my opinion. There were facehuggers, and xenomorphs, and
eggs, in the language of that movie, by page 30. I had heard this thing
was a prequel, and there’s a problem with prequels; there’s something I
don’t like about prequels, which is there’s an inevitability, that
you’re just connecting dots.
So this idea of the Star Wars prequels, for example, is you’re going to make three movies where you basically just tell me what I already know. At least embed a new idea in there that I didn’t already know, or introduce a different thematic. Like, what if Obi-Wan Kenobi had stolen Anakin’s girlfriend away from him. And that way, when I watch Star Wars again, I’d realize, “Oh, that’s why Obi-Wan Kenobi is letting Darth Vader strike him down, ‘cause he feels guilty. That’s why Obi-Wan Kenobi is watching over Luke, the progeny of the guy that he screwed over.” So you know, embed a new idea. And in Jon Spaihts’ script for Prometheus was this creation myth. The opening of Prometheus as you see it was in Jon’s script. Oh this is a movie about scientists who are searching for the existence of their creators, and so there’s this kind of religious spirit, a pseudo-spiritual thing told in scientific language. And then what was really interesting to me was there was a robot along for the ride, an android, named David in Jon’s script, and I was like, “Oh this is cool. These idiot humans are basically going and looking for their creator.” And anybody who’s ever watched a science fiction movie knows, all great sci-fi is: don’t cross this line; there are questions that mankind should not answer, do not reanimate dead bodies. And it’s like, “Well let’s f—ing do it anyway,” and then it doesn’t turn out well. And because it’s an Alien movie, we know how it’s going to end.
But that was an interesting idea, because the android was there, and he’s there with his creators, and they’re seeking out their creators. And he’s not impressed by his creators. The android, he’s the smartest guy in the room, and I was like, “I’m going to take those ideas, and I’m going to say that’s what the movie is, and we don’t even get to anything, any familiar Alien language, until the end of this movie and if there was a sequel to Prometheus, it would not be Alien — it would go off in its own direction. And therefore it would be exciting to watch because we’re not just connecting dots. (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/damon-lindelof-struggling-depression-why-838257)