The British edition of Empire Magazine for February 2002 has an
excellent interview with Ridley Scott. This is our review of the
interview with appropriate excerpts to give you a flavour of what
Ridley said. Particularly newsworthy is the little snippet of info
on the Blade Runner Special Edition DVD that is to be released this
year. Ridley's comments on the making of Blade Runner are also fascinating.
We highly recommend you buy this magazine if you can, for the full
article and all their other interesting news.
Representing Empire Magazine is Adam Smith. The article starts
with some interesting biographical information, such as when he
was young and worked for the ICI ammonia plant outside Hartlepool
- part of ICI's large chemical works. As you probably know, the
sight of all those glittering lights as he went to work for the
nightshift had some effect on his vision for Los Angeles 2019 in
Blade Runner. The entangled pipework around the plant also
lent itself to inpiration for Alien.
Adam continues with a brief review of the films Scott has been
doing, focusing particularly on Black Hawk Down which at
time of my writing this is about to go on general release in cinemas.
The filming for BHD was really tough and schedules were tight,
particularly when release was brought forward 3 months after the
Sep11 event. The strain is evident, but RS says, "I've never
gone loony making a film."
The interesting part for BR fans is that RS is finally free to
work on the Blade Runner Special Edition. The Blade Runner part
of the interview goes somewhat like this:
Runner is 20 years old...
Is it...? Shit! (Laughs)
you planning a DVD re-release?
More than that. We're doing a new print and a new mix. I'm going
back to the original negative and reorganising all the elements
and then digitally remixing. Skywalker want to mix it, which is
great. They heard it and remarked on how good it sounded.
you making any big changes?
Well, the voiceover's off, so I may condense some sections that
were sustained for the voiceover. There's a scene where Deckard
(Harrison Ford)'s reading a newspaper looking up at the blimp
and there's a lot of voiceover. So he'll just look like he's staring
at the blimp and people will wonder why. So I'll condense that.
was a difficult shoot wasn't it?
I was the new kid on the block. I'd done The Duellists and I'd done
Alien. Duellists hadn't done any business, but anyone who really
meant anything at the studios really loved the movie. They made
seven prints, I think, for the United States. I thought, "Wow!"
I thought this was the normal release pattern, as opposed to now,
3,000. But the film did zero business. They still claim it never
made its money back (snorts). Then I made Alien — again
in the U.K. — which was very successful, but now I was arriving
in Hollywood for the first time. Of course, Hollywood's strongly
union, so I have to use whatever is at hand there. That was tricky,
because my methods were by then fully-practised. Don't forget that
by the time I'd made The Duellists I'd done 2,000 commercials. The
way I made movies was extremely well-oiled — I'd already done
15 years of advertising, right? So I expected to work in the way
I normally work, and of course it wasn't to be. I wasn't allowed
to operate the camera.
must have been a shock.
That was a real shock, it drove me crazy. I operate on all my films,
apart from Blade Runner. I chose a cameraman who I think is one
of the best I've ever worked with. But then — it's not so much
like this now — they worked in teams. A cameraman would bring
his team with him. And so it's kind of inevitably me against them.
I was treading on thin ice all the time.
do you mean?
It was partly my own fault. I let too many people cross the line
too early. I encouraged too much, say. And then when I said, "Woah...
it's not going to be like this," that wasn't popular. Eventually
I had to re-establish things and tell people to back off. I'm not
used to having to answer questions about why is it raining, why
is it night? Those are fundamentals, and that's what I want. Questions,
questions, questions. Drove me crazy.
then there was the, "Yes, guv'nor" incident...
I'd done this interview in the U.K. with, I think it was The
Observer. And it developed into a bloody profile. the headline
was, "Ready When You Are Guv'nor!" I'd said it to the
guy as a joke about the difference between working here and in the
U.S.. I said, "I guess the difference is that here, because
of the time I've spent making commercials, they're more likely to
say, 'Ready when you are guv.'" Somebody got that out of context.
there were 270 guys in the unit. And there were 270 copies by the
coffe one morning when I arrived. So, my producer said, "Right,
we have to talk about this." The word was they were going to
get a whole bunch of T-shirts made — which they did. It was,
"Ready When You Are Guv'nor... My Ass!" Michael (Deeley,
the producer)'s PR was very bright. She said, "I'll have
three shirts made up and caps which say 'Xenophobia sucks!' So we
walked out the next morning in these green T-shirts. By 11 all the
other shirts had disappeared.
Dustin Hoffman originally meant to play Deckard?
We talked for six weeks. Dustin's like that, he loves to talk. It's
all for the right reasons. But it can go on... It can be fairly
extended. I know he won't mind hearing this, I think he knows what
he's like. As he used to say, I'm not Steve McQueen. I'm not Warren
Beatty." He said, "Where I come from I've got to have
the words. I've got to have the character. I have to have every
cannon going for me." He's one of the best actors that we've
ever had. And an absolutely magnificent tennis player, which is
something you don't expect. But eventually we decided we were going
to go on talking forever, so we decided to move on.
you looked to Harrison Ford.
I suggested him. Because I'd looked at Star Wars and he was
Han Solo. I also knew he was doing Indiana Jones. I figured any
person that Steven (Spielberg) and George (Lucas)
both put in leading roles is going to be a big star. So he was here
in London and I called him up on the Indian Jones set and asked
if we could meet because there was a film I'd like to talk about.
So I met him in a restaurant I used to use a lot, the Meridiana
in South Kensington. and he turned up in this leather jacket, wide-brimmed
hat and three days of growth. He'd obviously just come from the
set. So there was Indian Jones sitting in The Meridiana. He knew
the two films I'd done; well, he certainly knew Alien, so there
was no problem persuading him to do it.
clashed on set though.
Well, Harrison isn't exactly outgoing. And of course, at that moment,
nor was I. So that didn't work out as a particularly good mix. and
because I was so absorbed in creating the Blade Runner world —
which at that point in my career was as important as the script
and the actors in it — I think also that didn't go down too
well. It was partly my fault, actually. But it'd be interesting
to work with him again.
then it flopped.
It was classified as a giant disappointment. It cost $25 million.
and at that moment, the highest-priced movies had been $40 million-odd.
1941 and Heaven's Gate, I think.
it was a lot of money...
Yes it was. It was the equivalent now of about $90 million. Frankly
I was more stricken by faailure then than I am today. These days
I'm a bit more pragmatic. It's just, "Next..." But with
Blade Runner I thought I'd got it. That it was good. And the audience
The interview than explores Ridley Scott's early days, what got
him interested and how he came to be a director. They talk about
his early days at the BBC and then his advertising days. Rifley
says his favourites were, "Hovis, Benson and Hedges... Finally
I did one for Steve Jobs (Apple Computer), 1984. the ones I remember
really fondly were for Strongbow cider. The copywriting and directing
team were great fun. It was like making a little film — I loved
Ridley talks about Legend. Admitting to the huge mistake on the
score and other aspects of the film that fans know about. He confirmed
that he is trying to fit half an hour back in.
The interview concludes with comment on Scott's visual awarenes
when directing, which is something that pervades his whole life.
Finally he is asked:
you going to keep this pace up?
Yeah. I like it. And anyway, it's only movies. to stop me I think
they'll ahve to shoot me in the head.
Great stuff Mr Scott and thanks to Empire Magazine for conducting
such an interesting interview. To read the full story, you will
of course have to buy the magazine, but hopefully you have enjoyed
the excerpts I have put here for you as a "taster".
Netrunner, 15th January, 2002.