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Prometheus Screenwriter Jon Spaihts talks differences of his draft, including facehuggers, medpod, David, and a potential trilogy

Oct. 8, 2012by: Paul Shirey

Director Ridley Scott's PROMETHEUS hits DVD/Blu-Ray tomorrow, featuring a ton of behind-the-scenes docs, deleted scenes, commentary, etc. which will no doubt leave many of you glued to your TV for the coming week.  In the midst of all that, where the promos promise "questions will be answered" there lies many unravelling details.  Empire conducted an interview with screenwriter Jon Spaihts, who tackled the script long before Damon Lindelof was brought on board, he discusses a number of items, from the inclusion of the infamous facehugger, the medpod sequence, the methods of David, and his vision for a trilogy.

On the original medpod sequence:

"One of the things I realised was that we hadn't seen anyone survive a classic Alien chest bursting. And I was really intrigued by the notion that a character might be infected by the parasite and know that it was coming, know they had a timeframe of a few hours, and that we would have set up previously a nearly omnipotent medical device, designed to extend life for explorers in foreign places. Our heroine would have a short time to get to the machine and extract the thing inside her. It was a very gory sequence and it plays out very much like the sequence in the film. The main difference is in choreography. At the end of the sequence as I first conceived it, the heroine manages to get the creature extracted from her and it is expelled from the pod and she's sealed inside, whereas in the final film it goes the other way.

Then she lapses in and out of consciousness for a number of hours as the machine puts her back together. As she comes back to consciousness, she sees the thing growing in the cabin outside and even killing people. So by the time she emerges from the pod eight hours later, the thing is abroad in the ship and big enough to be a huge danger. That was the original conception of the medpod scene."

On the inclusion of facehuggers and the motives of David:

"I did have facehuggers in my original draft. David, as he began to get fascinated by the science of the Engineers, doesn't deliberately contaminate Holloway with a drop of black liquid. Instead, Holloway hubristically removes his helmet in the chamber, is knocked unconscious, facehugged and wakes up not knowing what had been done to him, and stumbles back into the ship. In my draft, he returns to his cabin, is embraced by Shaw, who is delighted to see him having feared that he had died, and the two of them make love. And it's while they're making love that he bursts and dies. So that lovemaking sequence echoed my original lovemaking sequence where he explodes! It was messy.

Subsequently, David, fascinated by these creatures, begins delaying the mission and going off the reservation on his own, essentially because he thinks he really belongs with the Engineers. They're smart enough and sophisticated enough, great enough, to be his peers. He's harboring a deep-seated contempt for his human makers. So at one point Shaw goes to stop him and David ties her up and deliberately exposes her to a facehugger. He caresses an egg open and out comes a facehugger. David doesn't smell like a person - his breath isn't moist - so he can handle the thing like a kitten. It doesn't want him; it's not interested. But then he exposes it to her and it goes for her like a shot. He toys with her for a bit and then lets it take her. That, in my draft, was how Shaw was implanted with the parasite that she had to remove with the medpod sequence."

On a potential trilogy:

"I did have a plan for multiple films and the conversations I had with Ridley was about a new franchise, from the beginning. We talked about a possible trilogy, or a duology, but more often as a trilogy. And I did have pretty broad notions as to how we were going to get from this world to the original Alien - the baton pass, closing the circle, if you will. So yes, I did have plans for two other films. I came up with an even more twisted sequence than the Medpod, but I cannot tell you what happens...

My vision of the trilogy would have involved the arrival of the Yutani Company and a couple of other major plays around the Engineers themselves: the revelation of an additional grand Engineer design, and the possibility of seeking an Engineer homeworld. That shot of the ship flying at the end offers a lot of creative ways to play with this. But it feels like it brackets you into the search for the Engineer homeworld and home civilisation. That's an interesting challenge."

Really compelling stuff, mostly because the inclusion of some of these original concepts would've cleared up quite a bit of the nagging problems I had with the film.  I have a love/hate relationship with PROMETHEUS, as many do, and feel that the ambiguity got a little out of hand.  I really like the concept of Holloway getting facehugged as a sort of punishment for taking his helmet off in the chamber. For the full interview, which has more cool bits, head over to Empire.

PROMETHEUS hits DVD/Blu-ray tomorrow, October 9, 2012.

In the meantime, here is the most satisfying laugh you'll likely have all day...

Extra Tidbit: Are you onboard for a sequel (or potential trilogy?) to Prometheus?
Source: Empire

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2:39PM on 10/08/2012

agreed

This movie was just like ordering something different at a Chinese restaurant. It was ok, but you really wish you had gone with your original pick.
This movie was just like ordering something different at a Chinese restaurant. It was ok, but you really wish you had gone with your original pick.
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6:39PM on 10/08/2012
Despite everything I still want a trilogy as I did very much enjoy PROMETHEUS and there's still so much story to tell. I still think it was a wonderful piece of original and striking science fiction. I'm excited to see the nearly 40 minute of deleted scenes there are and I've heard many of them clear up a lot of questions which makes me wonder why there isn't a director's cut.

Also I love the "toying" scene he described with David and the Facehugger, that's truly horrific when you imagine
Despite everything I still want a trilogy as I did very much enjoy PROMETHEUS and there's still so much story to tell. I still think it was a wonderful piece of original and striking science fiction. I'm excited to see the nearly 40 minute of deleted scenes there are and I've heard many of them clear up a lot of questions which makes me wonder why there isn't a director's cut.

Also I love the "toying" scene he described with David and the Facehugger, that's truly horrific when you imagine Fassbender teasing Noomi with it.
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4:59PM on 10/08/2012

Seems more cohesive

Having read only the above, I think this movie would have been better without the rewrite. Don't get me wrong, I liked Prometheus, but there was just too much "odd" behavior to it. Everyone has griped about this before so I won't rehash it in detail. The scene above at least tied some of those behaviors to consequences, like the helmet and snake issues, and linked it better to the original Alien movies.
Having read only the above, I think this movie would have been better without the rewrite. Don't get me wrong, I liked Prometheus, but there was just too much "odd" behavior to it. Everyone has griped about this before so I won't rehash it in detail. The scene above at least tied some of those behaviors to consequences, like the helmet and snake issues, and linked it better to the original Alien movies.
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10:12AM on 10/09/2012
I really want to watch the film with the writers' commentary, to hear Jon Spaiths and Lindelof speak about it together and to hear who contributed what. The special edition of the Blu-Ray also includes the first draft of the screenplay (presumably Spaiths') and the final draft (with revisions by Lindelof), so it will be interesting to compare them. Either way, I really did like the movie, but I'm sure there were some things that got lost on the way to the screen. In an interview at Nerd HQ,
I really want to watch the film with the writers' commentary, to hear Jon Spaiths and Lindelof speak about it together and to hear who contributed what. The special edition of the Blu-Ray also includes the first draft of the screenplay (presumably Spaiths') and the final draft (with revisions by Lindelof), so it will be interesting to compare them. Either way, I really did like the movie, but I'm sure there were some things that got lost on the way to the screen. In an interview at Nerd HQ, Lindelof said that Ridley Scott didn't want actual facehuggers to be in the film because it would be too direct a connection to 'Alien', and I think that's why the facehugger angle was changed so that the parasite got into Elizabeth via Charlie instead. Either way, I'm hoping to get a hold of the Blu-Ray soon, though I suspect it'll set me back a fair bit.
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8:25PM on 10/08/2012
I'd be up for more Prometheus I suppose. But let's get rid of Dindeldorf or whatever his name is, he just isn't very good at wrapping things up satisfactorily. I don't buy the ambiguity automatically equates brilliance argument. Prometheus was tolerable, not brilliant.
I'd be up for more Prometheus I suppose. But let's get rid of Dindeldorf or whatever his name is, he just isn't very good at wrapping things up satisfactorily. I don't buy the ambiguity automatically equates brilliance argument. Prometheus was tolerable, not brilliant.
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2:49AM on 10/09/2012

"That's an interesting challenge."

...is Scriptwriter speak for "they fucked up my story and now they want me to fix it for them in the sequel"
See this is why, if I ever wanted to write a script, I'd write a novel first and get it published, so everyone else can be just as pissed as me when Hollywood grinds it through rewrites until it's completely unlike what I was going for.
...is Scriptwriter speak for "they fucked up my story and now they want me to fix it for them in the sequel"
See this is why, if I ever wanted to write a script, I'd write a novel first and get it published, so everyone else can be just as pissed as me when Hollywood grinds it through rewrites until it's completely unlike what I was going for.
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3:16PM on 10/08/2012
I just want to say I liked Prometheus. It seems popular to bash it, so first, I want to get that out of the way. I like ambiguous science-fiction, but not idiot scientists. That really was my biggest beef. Also, it would've been interesting if they went with Holloway getting face-hugged, since that would've more directly addressed his hubris. Still, I don't object to Vickers' [link] response (which then led to me being a little let-down about how she died). I liked how they tiptoed around the ">
I just want to say I liked Prometheus. It seems popular to bash it, so first, I want to get that out of the way. I like ambiguous science-fiction, but not idiot scientists. That really was my biggest beef. Also, it would've been interesting if they went with Holloway getting face-hugged, since that would've more directly addressed his hubris. Still, I don't object to Vickers' [link] response (which then led to me being a little let-down about how she died). I liked how they tiptoed around the xenomorph issue, because once you bring that into the equation, it becomes just another Alien movie. The Engineers seemed like a convenient McGuffin more than anything else. But it did allow the movie to go to unexpected places, particularly with David. If any future movies are made, I hope he becomes an integral cog in them, as we've already seen people in survival mode against these various alien beings. But he's so curious and indifferent that it puts a new spin on the idea. Looking at events through the eyes of a completely logical being, driven by his own secret directives, is an angle the Alien franchise has not yet explored.
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3:40PM on 10/08/2012
Y'know, I never understood why Vickers had to die in the first place. Completely wasted. I think her and Shaw should've lived, along with David, and kept up the journey. It would've created a more dynamic relationship (Three's Company in Space!). If you think about it, Vickers was the smartest person on the whole ship. She's the one that wouldn't allow Holloway back on the ship after "getting sick" and torching his ass (which was reminiscent of Ripley not wanting to let the face-hugged
Y'know, I never understood why Vickers had to die in the first place. Completely wasted. I think her and Shaw should've lived, along with David, and kept up the journey. It would've created a more dynamic relationship (Three's Company in Space!). If you think about it, Vickers was the smartest person on the whole ship. She's the one that wouldn't allow Holloway back on the ship after "getting sick" and torching his ass (which was reminiscent of Ripley not wanting to let the face-hugged astronaut back in). She had the most common sense of anyone and definitely the best survival instincts, which is why it didn't make sense that she would be squashed by falling spaceship.

End rant. And good points @HoyleHaw. I feel the same. And then some.
4:10PM on 10/08/2012
@Paul, Vickers and Pearce's characters were only there to justify the existence of the medpod aboard the Company ship. It was a waste of talent, that could have been filled by any unknown actors.That's how badly contrived this movie was in the first place. Instead of having a cohesive, well written and structured story to build from, you can tell that everyone involved really started with just 'cool' scenes they would like to see in a 'not-a-prequel' Alien movie strung together in the hopes
@Paul, Vickers and Pearce's characters were only there to justify the existence of the medpod aboard the Company ship. It was a waste of talent, that could have been filled by any unknown actors.That's how badly contrived this movie was in the first place. Instead of having a cohesive, well written and structured story to build from, you can tell that everyone involved really started with just 'cool' scenes they would like to see in a 'not-a-prequel' Alien movie strung together in the hopes that a good movie would come out of the mess. Maybe if the next script is actually thought through, and doesn't have characters written as acting so wildly from one side of the spectrum to the other (ie. a biologist that's too scared of a thousand year old alien body to do the job he was hired to do, yet later makes kissy faces to the alien penis cobra), then I'll think about renting it. Because I'm sure as hell not getting burned a second time by paying to see it in a theater. I save theater prices for good movies.
4:29PM on 10/08/2012
@DaForce, I don't disagree that they were wasted. I just think that Vickers actions in the film, aside from screwing the Captain, were the most sensible of everyone involved. When I first saw the film and she jettisoned in the escape pod, I thought, "Okay, cool, there's more to this chick." Then, she started running and got squished and I thought, "What the fuck? What a waste!" because I really felt there was potential to exploit her character. Theron can pull off anything, so it's a real
@DaForce, I don't disagree that they were wasted. I just think that Vickers actions in the film, aside from screwing the Captain, were the most sensible of everyone involved. When I first saw the film and she jettisoned in the escape pod, I thought, "Okay, cool, there's more to this chick." Then, she started running and got squished and I thought, "What the fuck? What a waste!" because I really felt there was potential to exploit her character. Theron can pull off anything, so it's a real shame she didn't survive.

But, we could go round and round on the problems. I still dig the film, which is crazy, because there's so much I hate. It's a black sheep, for sure.
3:07AM on 10/09/2012
It didn't blow my mind (a bit too ambigous) but I had fun watching Prometheus, I say gimme another and we'll see how it goes.
It didn't blow my mind (a bit too ambigous) but I had fun watching Prometheus, I say gimme another and we'll see how it goes.
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9:03PM on 10/08/2012
Hate to be a nitpick but the movie actually comes out on thursday & not tomorrow. I am hoping people will still buy it like i will. I believe this has become the newest movie where it's cool to hate on it no matter what & if you enjoyed it,then you don't know sci-fi movies. Blah blah & i would like to see more sequels but not to be a cop out to try & explain the events & actions of the original just to please an audience.
Hate to be a nitpick but the movie actually comes out on thursday & not tomorrow. I am hoping people will still buy it like i will. I believe this has become the newest movie where it's cool to hate on it no matter what & if you enjoyed it,then you don't know sci-fi movies. Blah blah & i would like to see more sequels but not to be a cop out to try & explain the events & actions of the original just to please an audience.
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9:43AM on 10/09/2012
That's weird, because I just bought it at Target this morning, and then I saw it 20 minutes later, for sale in the DVD section of the supermarket.
That's weird, because I just bought it at Target this morning, and then I saw it 20 minutes later, for sale in the DVD section of the supermarket.
+0
3:23PM on 10/08/2012
wow, a writer wanted to do a trilogy. How novel!
wow, a writer wanted to do a trilogy. How novel!
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2:27PM on 10/08/2012

Yes

I want to see a trilogy come of Prometheus only to see if by chance Ridley will eventually bring it full circle to Alien. When I watch the scene with the proto alien I can't help to think about how terrifying the movie would have been if that thing was trying to kill everyone... oh well
I want to see a trilogy come of Prometheus only to see if by chance Ridley will eventually bring it full circle to Alien. When I watch the scene with the proto alien I can't help to think about how terrifying the movie would have been if that thing was trying to kill everyone... oh well
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3:09PM on 10/08/2012
I hate, loathe, and downright despise the theatrical version of this pile of crap (haven't seen the extended cut that is coming out tomorrow), but some of the original stuff would have fixed problems I had, and make for a more complete viewing experience.
I hate, loathe, and downright despise the theatrical version of this pile of crap (haven't seen the extended cut that is coming out tomorrow), but some of the original stuff would have fixed problems I had, and make for a more complete viewing experience.
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