Screenwriter Damon Lindelof Explains the Connection Between Prometheus and Alien
06.29.11 by Ryan
Last July, Lost writer and Cowboys and Aliens co-screenwriter Damon Lindelof was hired to rewrite a script for director Ridley Scott that, at the time, was a prequel to Scott's 1979 sci-fi classic Alien. Apparently, the meeting between Scott and Lindelof was so good and creative that a "free-standing science fiction movie" was reportedly in line to take over the Alien prequel, a rumor that seemed confirmed when the move was retitled Prometheus and Scott said the movie had "evolved" into "a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place." Scott continued, saying that "the keen fan will recognize strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative."
Lindelof, while appearing on The Kevin Pollack Chat Show (transcribed by SlashFilm), explained how the change came about.
It started as an Alien prequel. 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. But there is a real issue which is — what is the state of the Alien franchise at this point in our lives? There has been Alien vs. Predator and all these things, and its been completely and totally diluted. I've always felt that really good prequels should be original movies. And the sequels to those prequels should not be the movie which already exists because, with all due respect to anyone who makes a prequel, but why would you ruin the greatest twist in the history of cinema, "Luke, I am your father," by showing me three movies which basically spoil that surprise. You can do movies which take place before Star Wars, but I don't need to see the story of the Skywalker clan. Show me something else which I can't guess the possible outcome of. There is no suspense in inevitability. So a true prequel should essentially proceed 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. That was my fundamental feeling about what this movie wanted to be.
Despite Lindelof being labeled as the catalyst for what is now Prometheus, the screenwriter was quick to point out that the ideas are not entirely his.
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 and it was very good. And there were a lot of things in the movie, Prometheus, which were Jon Spaihts and I feel like somewhere in the media reconstruction of this story, the tale is that I come in, I pitch an entirely new story, and its so original that everything else gets thrown out and that's what we're doing. In my brain, that's not exactly what happened. But I also do feel that this movie is the movie I would want to see as a fanboy, take place in that Alien universe, which 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 love... but it's sorta like, we've seen it before, can we do something different this time? And that's the movie that Ridley wanted to make. And when you're working with an auteur, you basically just shut your mouth and listen and try to transcribe and channel the vision of that person, and get out of the way.
Lindelof said that he read the script and sent an email about his ideas, and eventually landed the job.
I basically sent them an e-mail and said, here is what I think, and here is what I would do, if you were interested, and the next morning... I get the call and they are like "We like your take, can you come in to Scott Free?" I walk into a room and there is Ridley Scott and an executive at Fox and I verbally present, here is everything in the script that I like now, here's some of my thinking on it — what's the lay of the land? What are the issues that you guys are having? And we have a great 90 minute meeting in which I do a lot of listening. Again, I don't want to say I went in and WOWed them, when what really happened was I gave a really short presentation and then Ridley talked about the movie he wanted to make. And then, they decided to hire me.
Prometheus reportedly takes place 30 years before the original Alien and, according to online rumors, will feature the classic Alien xenomorphs. We'll have to wait until Prometheus opens on June 8, 2012, to see if that's true.
Prometheus stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba.