Prometheus: Scriptwriter Damon Lindelof
Prometheus: Section from Hollywood Masters interview
with Damon Lindelof from 8th November 2015
Prometheus: Section from Hollywood Masters interview
with Damon Lindelof from 8th November 2015
a) The TV series Lost had been finished in May of 2009 after a six year run, Damon decided to drop off the face of the planet and go to Italy with his family for a month, telling everyone that he would be incommunicado
b) When he returned, he let everyone know that he would like to do a movie project. He had already committed to Star Trek 2, but J.J. Abrams was still putting the finishing touches on Super 8 and so it would be two or three months before work on Strar Trek 2 would begin.
c) For about two days after he put that signal out, he was driving down Ventura Boulevard in the Valley and his agent Todd called him and said “Are you available to talk to Ridley Scott in five minutes?”
d) He slammed on my brakes for some inexplicable reason and pulled over. He didn’t want to be driving through some bad cellular zone on the phone with Ridley Scott. So he just sat there and prepared to sit there for two hours. Because as far as he was concerned ‘Are you ready in five minutes’ when one’s talking about someone of Ridley Scott’s stature, could mean 'just be prepared to wait a while.' , he thought he'd be waiting two hours.
e) Exactly what the agent didn't know because they weren't telling him, and for that moment as he sat there, Damon prayed that it was the Alien prequel that he had been hearing about.
f) Five minutes later, the phone rang and it was Ridley saying to him "Hey dude, it's Ridley, I've got a script, I'm going to send it to you, tell me what you think"
g) He replied "Yes sir. I look forward to that. "
- Interviewer: Okay. Let’s start at the beginning. Tell me how you came onto this project?
Damon Lindelof: We finished Lost in May of 2009. And following that, after doing a show for six years, I dropped off the face of the planet and went with my family to Italy for a month. I told everyone I would be incommunicado. When I returned, I let everyone know that I would like to do a movie project. We had already committed to Trek 2, but J.J. [Abrams] was still putting the finishing touches on Super 8 and I had two or three months before we had to dive in on Trek. So about two days after I put that signal out that I was ready to go on some casual dates, I was driving down Ventura Boulevard in the Valley and my agent called and said, “Are you available to talk to Ridley Scott in five minutes?” I slammed on my brakes for some inexplicable reason and pulled over. I didn’t want to be driving through some bad cellular zone on the phone with Ridley Scott. So I just sat there and prepared to sit there for two hours. Because ‘Are you ready in five minutes’ when you’re talking about someone of Ridley Scott’s stature, just be prepared to wait a while. Interviewer: Did he say what the call was going to be about?
Lindelof: My agent said he had no idea. They wouldn’t tell him. And as I was sitting there I was praying that it was the Alien prequel that I had been hearing about. As a fanboy, I knew that they were developing it. I said to myself, Please let it be that. And sure enough, five minutes later, my phone rang and it was Ridley. There was no pomp and circumstance. There was no assistant saying, “Please hold for Ridley Scott.” It was just him. And he doesn’t know that he’s Ridley Scott, so he just dove right into the conversation. And he basically said, “Hey dude, I’m going to send you a script. Let me know what you think.” And I’m not going to be like, What is it? I just said, “Yes, sir. I look forward to that.” And that was the entire conversation. And so about an hour later this guy shows up at my house with a screenplay and says, “I will be sitting in my car. When you are finished with the screenplay, you can hand it back to me.” So at this point, I’m like, It’s the Alien prequel! Because with this level of tightened security what else could it be? So I read the screenplay. (http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/05/11/damon-lindelof-prometheus-life-after-lost/)
- Steve: With all that I hand, I want to hear a little bit,
because I don't want to keep you here your entire life, about the work
with Ridley Scott, that I think you recently, only recently completed.
Kevin: Um, this is the prequel to Alien
Kevin: Or is it?
Damon: Or is it I think is, you know, should be the , er, should be the tagline, as opposed to " In Space Nobody Can Hear You Scream", it should just say, "Prometheus, or is it?" This is , you know, as to its origins
Steve: I mean initially on paper, it looks like script doctoring, it looks like save the situation please.
Damon: It's, it's , it started as an Alien Prequel, that is, that is, what everybody wanted it to be. Obviously Ridley Scott has not made a science fiction movie in 25 years since Blade Runner, so the idea that he's returning to this genre is huge, and, um, but there's a very, um, real issue, which is what is the state of the alien franchise at this point in our lives, now it's alien vs predator and all these things, it's been completely and totally diluted and if you're returning to, I've always felt a really good prequel should be original movies, and the sequel to those prequels should not be the movie that already exists because all due respect to the, to anybody who makes a prequel, why would you ruin the greatest twist in the history of movie cinema, "Luke, I am your father" by showing me three movies that basically spoil that suprise. You could do movies that take place before Star Wars, but I don't want… I don't need to see the story of the Skywalker clan, show me something else that, that, that I can't guess the possible outcome of. The…. there's no… there's no possible suspense in inevitability, so, so a true prequel should essentially precede the events of the original film but be about something entirely different, feature different characters, have an entirely different theme, although it takes place in that same world.
Damon: That was… that was… my fundamental feeling about what this movie wanted to be and the.. and truth be told, it wasn't script doctoring in the strictest sense because the draft that existed before I came on was written by this guy named Jon Spaihts, it was very good, and there are a lot of things in the…. in the movie Prometheus, that… that were hatched by Jon Spaihts and written by Jon Spaihts and I feel like somewhere in the… um…. in the…. the…. the sort of media reconstruction of this story, the tale is, I come in, I pitch an entirely new movie, and it's so original that everything gets thrown out and that's what we're doing. I… I don't… In my brain that's not exactly what's happened, but I also do feel like this… this movie, um, is the, is the movie which i want to see, I would want to see as a fan boy, take place in that Alien universe that precedes the events of the original Alien but is not necessarily burdened by all the tropes of that franchise with facehuggers, and chestbursters and all that stuff that I, that I love, but it's sort of like, we've seen it before, can we do something different this time, and that's the movie which Ridley wanted to make, and when you're working with….. now that's an auteur right there, you know, you basically just shut your mouth and listen and try to transcribe and or channel the vision of that person, and get out of the way.
Kevin: Oh god, yes, and what's exciting to me as a fan of your work, is that's one thing to grab the hand of the train that says, sure , I'm ready to jump on a big giant scary train again, but how much of a thought process goes into this decision that I'm going to take this on instead of just jumping on the train this time, given what I was saying about this transition from television to film. You're not just jumping on any train, you mentioned it yourself, first time he's returning to this milieu in 25 years, a master at that milieu who's been a way, who's purposely stayed away one has to assume
Kevin: For twenty five years
Kevin: He's returning
Kevin: can't be any anticipation of what that's going to be
Damon: and… and truth be told this story is very similar to the lost story, which is, I'd given a mandate to my representatives and my wife and myself that over the time that Lost was on, that was all that I was going to be doing, with one exception, which was, I produced star trek, and I was able to produce largely because the strike happened when it did but also because I had such a working familiarity with JJ already and Alex and Bob who wrote in my opinion an incredible screenplay.
Damon: We were all so "fasseled" together, and we broke, we did Star Trek the same way we did TV in collaboration, and that's where I work best, and so I was able to float in and out of the creative process while Alex and Bob were doing the heavy lifting with the script so…….
I'm back and I'm willing to start thinking about movie stuff, ah, and he said, great got it.. Three days later I was driving down Ventura Boulevard in my car. my phone rang, it was Todd, he said, "are you available to talk to Ridley Scott in five minutes"
Kevin: You said, Fuck you, course
Damon: I , I said, let me pull my car over so I don't go through, go through a dead spot, is it really going to be five minutes, or is it Hollywood five minutes
Kevin: And you were done asking, is it really J J Abrams
Damon: No exactly, could have been. He does a good Todd Feldmann. So I said, I er, so I said, ab… yes, do you know what it's about, and he goes. I think I have an idea what it's about, I'm not sure, and I'm thinking, well, I follow this shit pretty closely, I'm fanboy, I spend a lot of time on the internet, this is got to be the Alien prequel, like that is what Ridley Scott is working on right now, isn't it.
Kevin: But you were in italy for a month
Damon: Yuh, I was in italy
Kevin: It checked out, something might have come up
Damon: So, so five minutes later, sure enough, Ridley Scott calls me, and he just starts talking to me like we know each other, like 'cause those guys do, like he's not going to be like, hello david, ridley scott big fan listen, you know Interviewer: listen old boy
Damon Lindelof: he's just like, so I've got a script, I'm going to send it to you, tell me what you think, (Kevin Pollack chatshow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzRjHDAgRmk#t=9099)
- GALLOWAY: Tell me about going to his office.
LINDELOF: I had just finished Lost, and my wife and I, and my son, went to Italy for a month. And when we got back, all that time I was like, “I can’t take any other work, I’m doing Lost.” My agent called me up and said, “Ridley Scott is going to call you in five minutes. Are you available?” And I almost crashed my car. I pulled over. I was on Ventura Boulevard in the Valley. And I was like, “I’m going to be waiting here for two hours.” But sure enough, five minutes later, my phone rang, and it was Ridley and when you are Ridley Scott, Sir Ridley Scott, you don’t introduce yourself, you’re not like, “Hey uh, Ridley. Big fan of yours.” I was like, hello. And he’s like, “Hey Damon, it’s Ridley. So, I’m sending you a script. You know, read it and let me know what you think.” “OK.”