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…