When the enigmatic television series “Lost” came to a close two years ago, show co-creator Damon Lindelof thought he was done working on scripts with shadowy plot lines. Then he got an offer to write “Prometheus,” a Ridley Scott-directed science-fiction film whose story has been kept tightly under wraps since its inception.
“Coming out of ‘Lost,’ I was like, ‘What a relief it’ll be to leave mystery and secretiveness behind,’” recalled the 38-year-old, who also was one of the writers who penned last year’s “Cowboys & Aliens.” “Then I found myself in the same situation, and I thought, ‘Here we go again.’”
Months before the film’s June release, little is still known in Hollywood about the 3-D “Prometheus,” whose ensemble cast includes Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba. The movie was initially billed as a prequel to Scott’s 1979 hit “Alien,” but the filmmaker and the studio behind the picture, 20th Century Fox, have since tried to distance it from that label.
“Alien,” which starred Sigourney Weaver, centered on scientists who encounter extraterrestrials while exploring an alien planet. “Prometheus,” meanwhile, has explorers seeking the origins of human civilization to save future generations of mankind.
What the two do have in common, Lindelof said, is that the universe in which each takes place shares a similar aesthetic. When the writer signed on to the film, Scott was already deep into discussions with production designer Arthur Max, whose résumé includes work on “Se7en” and “Gladiator.” Scott took Lindelof to what he described as a “thick, dramatic vault door” where five twentysomethings who “looked like they were playing video games” were rendering images of planets, creatures and space suits.
“The movie is definitely epic in its scope. One of the filmmakers that we ended up talking about to a fair degree of redundancy was David Lean, who directed ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’” he said. “We wanted to make the movie feel big by having the characters be small in big spaces. That connected to the larger themes we were talking about — that we’re all just these little gnats crawling around on our little planet.”
— Amy Kaufman
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