A Ridley Scott Film

6 June 2012 | 11:48 am | Liz Galinovic

"They were contraceptives with KY Jelly,” Ridley Scott lets us in on some filmmaking tricks on the eve of the release of Prometheus.

Prometheus is not a prequel. This has been tirelessly tossed around every blog, website and news source for over a year now – that Riddley Scott's return to the sci-fi genre, after three decades of space-abstinence, comes in the form of a prequel to 1979's cult classic Alien – but it's simply not true. The two films are closely related, they even (somewhat comically) parallel in parts, but Prometheus does not lead to Alien, not yet anyway. And why is that? “Because,” says Scott, “there may be three or four other films before you get to join up with number one.”

In the distant future scientist/archaeologist couple Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, mostly known for her role as Lisbeth Salander in the original Millennium saga) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) have convinced trillion dollar technology company Weyland Industries (see their website) to fund a mission that they believe will lead them to the creators of the human race – our “engineers” as they call them. Elizabeth is a faith-based believer despite what contradictions this may hold for her inner scientist – “I choose to believe” she says – and Charlie is more into Darwin. With the funds from Weyland behind them they set off on the Prometheus to find the planet that may or may not be paradise, with a crew of scientists and Weyland employees all representing various opinions on creation. Naturally, when they arrive, it all goes a bit pear-shaped.

Already the themes are weightier than Alien – where a mining crew stumble across a distress signal that only leads them to more distress (and epic exercises in suspense) – the questions being asked are big ones. And without giving too much away – the seeds being planted are discomforting. “We think we know everything but perhaps we really know nothing,” says Scott. “The cataclysmic event of a comet coming and hitting this planet – the Bay Of Mexico was a comet. That probably was the comet that shifted the axis a little bit and all the water shifted. So in that moment all the dinosaurs got taken out and the world started all over again. Who did that? Or was it just an accident? These are big questions for movies.”

A lot has changed since Scott made Alien, much of it to do with technology. But he just shrugs as if it's nothing. On shooting Prometheus in 3D, Scott simply states: “It was easy, it just wasn't a problem. I don't know what all the fuss is about. They say it's really difficult but it's not difficult at all.” On the introduction of CGI: “I honestly didn't notice a difference; at the time when I had no technology I didn't miss it because I didn't have any. To me [back then] it was actually rubber bands and these things in the jaw of the alien”, he stretches his mouth to replicate that famous mouth within a mouth, “this skin, were contraceptives…they were contraceptives with KY Jelly.”

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Scott has been known to create strong female roles, which he has again delivered in Elizabeth Shaw. But many have been asking why Rapace was selected for the lead role over academy award winner Charlize Theron, who plays an icy Weyland Industries executive. “Intuition,” Scott shrugs. “I'm always intuitive in my casting…something will click. It's like putting all the parts together to the engine. And I was most impressed when I saw 'Dragon Tattoo... I watched it three times and then I made a call and said 'who is she? Where's she from? Where is she now?' And they said 'well actually she's coming to LA in about a month'. So I met her and when she came to my office, what walked in was a rather elegant beautiful woman who actually, I realise, isn't a punk, isn't street, is really an actress. And that really impressed the hell out of me. She owned that part, it's fantastic.”

As well as Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender and Guy Pearce are all aboard the ship so named for the Titan who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to man, thereby incurring the wrath of the pantheon and getting himself turfed from Olympus. As punishment Zeus created woman, Pandora, who opened up that box and let all the evil out – the only thing left was hope. In Scott's Prometheus Elizabeth Shaw, a veritable Pandora who opens up her own box of scary stuff fights to retain her faith, her hope. It's a fight that paves the way for a sequel to the movie that isn't a prequel.