Return of the 'Alien' Mind

9:00 AM PST 05/16/2012 by Stephen Galloway
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Ridley Scott

One of Hollywood’s greatest (and most elusive) directors, Ridley Scott breaks his silence on his complex 3D space odyssey "Prometheus," revealing never-seen footage — and a rarely seen candor.

Even as we sit in the control room at Abbey Road, he already is in the advanced stages of preparation for Counselor, about a lawyer who gets sucked into the world of drug trafficking. It's an original screenplay by Cormac McCarthy, whose violence makes it look like "No Country for Old Men on steroids," Scott jokes. Brad Pitt, his Thelma discovery, is set to star alongside Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.

Scott also is developing Gertrude Bell, about the British writer, adventurer and spy who teamed with T.E. Lawrence in then-Arabia -- possibly starring Angelina Jolie -- all while considering Prometheus 2, which he hopes will come next, and developing a Blade Runner sequel, which the original's co-screenwriter, Hampton Fancher, is penning.

He has a rich family life, with five grandchildren and a longtime girlfriend, actress Giannina Facio, "a beautiful Costa Rican firecracker," as Tony describes her. But what drives this brilliant man is as much a mystery to him as to everyone else, especially in these later years, when he has achieved the recognition -- even idolization -- that eluded him early in his career.

"He never got approval from his own people, from BAFTA or the queen for years," says a friend. "Then he started to get some respect, and it changes you as a person. You get comfortable in your own skin."

And yet despite that comfort, the drive persists. It dominates everything: his schedule, his other interests, his relationships. Intimacy with those outside his immediate family is lacking; friends are largely absent. The drive is ferocious and makes him push down the softness within.

"He is a really tough man," says Lindelof. "Not in terms of being hard on other people: He is just made of really hard stuff. He doesn't want you to see through it; he doesn't want to show you what is in there. And I have no desire to chip away at the bark around Ridley's heart and unleash the sap within."

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RIDLEY ON RIDLEY

The Duellists (1977) I flew from London to Los Angeles for meetings. I didn't dare be more than six feet from the phone. I stayed at the Sunset Marquis, on my wallet. I went with clothes for a week and I was there two f--ing months. That's how I learned the thoughtlessness of that side of Hollywood.

Alien (1979) Artist H.R. Giger helped create the creature. The studio had turned him down because his designs were way too extreme, even obscene. But I said, "He's f--ing astounding."

Blade Runner (1982) It felt like a Humphrey Bogart movie. Harrison Ford was doing Raiders. I thought, "If Spielberg and Lucas want him, I'd be insane not to."

Thelma & Louise (1991) In the shot at the end of the movie over the Rio Grande, the car took off 300 feet, then spookily stayed upright as it started to fall. The only thing that happened to the dummies was one of their hats flew off. I thought, "Jesus, that's incredible." But when we watched it during the rushes, it was depressing. So I froze the shot at its peak, then started the song. Rather than making it romantic, it was a reminder of what they were really doing.

Gladiator (2000) On a Sunday morning during the shoot, Oliver Reed was in a pub, sat on the floor with his pint, said, "I don't feel well," and then died. When you see him talk with Russell Crowe through the bars of the cage, that's a fabrication: He already was gone.

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