a) Alien's inspiration on the story
For Duncan, Alien was obviously a fantastic, scary horror film , but for him it was the visuals that set it apart. Ridley was giving the viewer a really strong sense of what it would be like to work on the Nostromo. For this reason, the first half of Alien, along with the films Outland and Silent Running, it was an important film for the story. The idea for moon was about having blue collar man working in space, and what it was like to survive in such an alien environment when the person was just a normal working person.
b) Duncan Discussing "Alien" With Sam
Duncan Jones is a fan of Ridley Scott's films in general, but during the making of moon, Alien was a point of discussion, such as what he and Sam Rockwell decided was the John Cassavetes style of acting. And also, when the monster is introduced in the movie, the viewer is already pulled in by the performances. They thought that it was so "loosey-goosey", improvisational and very kitchen-sink real.
|Poster for Moon (2009)
And so the set design of the Nostromo was a huge influence for Moon, but they went off in a slightly different direction because of time and money but they were always looking for ways to reference the look of Alien. Also the set was built in the same soundstage in Shepperton as the Nostromo was. Bill Pearson who worked on Alien were also aboard as model makers on Moon.
d) Ridley Scott watched Moon
Ridley Scott had managed to see moon. When they met and talked when Ridley was being given the BFI lifetime achievement award and Duncan was brought into the VIP party afterwards. Ridley told Duncan "Yeah, I thought it was alright." or even "Yeah, I liked it very much" and Duncan's response was something near enough "Wow! That's amazing!"
Duncan then asked him "Is it okay if I keep ripping you off?"
Ridley replied something close enough to "Absolutely. Cause I rip other people off"
- Q. You’re a huge fan of Alien…
Duncan Jones: Well, Ridley Scott in general to be honest. He is the man!
Q. And you’ve worked with his brother, Tony. So have you ever had chance to meet Ridley?
Duncan Jones: I did. I met him once. I met him after he’d seen Moon actually. It was after the Bfi lifetime achievement award they gave him. I was there for that, and they brought me back to the VIP thing afterwards and he had seen Moon and he said: “Yeah, I thought it was alright.” And I was like: “Wow! That’s amazing!”
Q. Has Tony seen it?
Duncan Jones: Not yet. It’s funny actually, I was doing the promotion for Moon in LA at the same time that Tony Scott was there with [The Taking of] Pelham 123. But obviously he was so concentrating on his own film that he didn’t even know I was doing a feature film. I bumped into him at the same press junket and we had a little chat. He was like: “So, what are you doing here? It’s great seeing you again!” And I was like: “I’m doing my film… I’m doing a press junket.” And he looked back in surprise and asked if I’d done a film, and I had to tell him: “Yeah, we’re coming out on the same day.”
Q. So how was being able to shoot on the same sound stage as Alien at Shepperton?
Duncan Jones: It was amazing. In fact, while we were there doing Moon, Ridley was supposed to be next door shooting Nottingham. But because of the writers’ strike, their film folded and we kept going. But I love Shepperton anyway, it’s an amazing studio with so much history. We used Bill Pearson, a models miniature guy, who is actually based on the Shepperton lot. He worked on Alien and Outland as well, so it was a fantastic experience. (http://www.indielondon.co.uk/Film-Review/moon-duncan-jones-interview)
- Sam Rockwell: We talked about the John Cassavetes realism of the acting in ‘Alien,’. When that monster is introduced in the movie, you’re already pulled in by the performances. It’s so loosey-goosey and improvisational and very kitchen-sink real. (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/07/movies/07itzk.html?_r=0)
- Duncan Jones: Me and Sam wanted to go back to the kind of science fiction we loved, which is so different from what people are seeing these days. Films like Outland and Silent Running and Alien have a very different pace and depth to science fiction films today. And those three films in particular are about blue-collar working men out in space. They’re very human-centric. That’s so different from the lantern-jawed heroes you get in science fiction today. (https://film.list.co.uk/article/18767-moon-interview-with-director-duncan-jones/)
- Duncan: The thing I loved about sci-fi movies from this era is the focus on characters: the set-up was secondary to how these generally working-class people deal with these bizarre or horrifying or High Noon-type set-ups. Alien is obviously a fantastic, scary horror film, but for me it's the visuals that set it apart. Before you get to the horror section of Alien, Ridley Scott is giving you a really strong sense of what it would be like to work on the Nostromo. The set design was a huge influence for Moon. We went off in a slightly different direction because of time and money, but we were always looking for ways to reference the look of Alien. By coincidence, when we went down to see Moon's soundstage at Shepperton, our set designer told us it was the one Alien had been shot on. Ridley Scott was due to be filming Nottingham on the next door soundstage and we were desperately hoping to get our set built in time so would get him to come down and have a look at it, but Nottingham folded for a while due to the writers' strike and we ended up being one of the only shoots on the lot." (http://www.empireonline.com/features/duncan-jones-top-five-sci-fi-movies/4.asp)
- You worked with some of the veterans from that classic era, like Bill Pearson.
Duncan: Bill Pearson is amazing. He's a Glaswegian fella who built the 'Nostromo' model from the original Alien. He worked on Outland. So right on the sweet spot of the films that we wanted to replicate and mirror. One of the model miniatures guys worked on R2D2. Funny, really – he's a little fellow, and looks a little like R2D2.
Of all the films to which Moon is paying homage, Silent Running is the most thematically comparable. There's a similarly elegiac mood, but it's also the story of a blue-collar guy just doing his job.
Duncan: Yeah, definitely. I think for Sam [Rockwell] in particular, that Bruce Dern character was the one that he was really drawn to. When we were talking about the kind of film that we wanted to make, before we'd even written it, Silent Running, Outland and the first half of Alien were the three films – well, two-and-a-half films - we were really thinking about. We were thinking about a blue-collar guy, working in space, and what it's like to have to actually survive in such an alien environment when you're just a normal, working person.
- Slashfilm: What feedback did you get from your big three, what have, what have Neil Gaiman, and Terry Gilliam, and has Ridley Scott seen it yet?
Duncan: He has, Ridley Scott saw it and I got to talk to him for about 30 seconds at the er, BFI, you know when they did that sort of erm, they, they gave him an award, life time achievement award, and er, there was a little VIP party afterwards and they managed to sneak me in there and I got to say hello and shake his hand and he said, "yeah", and he said, (impersonating a Northern accent) "yuh, I liked it very much" (Laughter), don't know why I said it like that, but I did, but no, er, but no he liked it, and I asked him if it was okay if I keep ripping him off, he said absolutely, cause he rips other people off so. (http://www.slashfilm.com/video-interview-with-moon-director-duncan-jones/ July 16th, 2009)
- Sam Rockwell: Yeah, sure.The script was really solid but there was always a little improv. I think with these kind of movies, you’ve got to open up your environment, it’s about realism, you’ve got to make it real. It has to be real, otherwise nobody can get soaked into the reality. In Alien, if you’re not buying the human, you’re not buying the alien. (http://www.scifinow.co.uk/interviews/sam-rockwell-talks-poltergeist-remake-galaxy-quest-and-moon/)
- Duncan Jones: Yes. Whole film was shot at Shepperton studios, with the base built in the same soundstage as the Nostromo from Ridley S' Alien! ()