N: Ridley Scott and Hampton Fancher
- two creative minds tugging in different directions. You were witness
to some of that - was it only occasional, or all the time? What
was it like being the observer?
PS: Well, the most intimate moments between Hampton and
Ridley took place when they were alone together, spitballing ideas
for the rewrites. I wasn't there for that. No one was. I did have
the opportunity of seeing them interact a few times during prep,
however. And the differences between their personalities was the
most immediate observation one came away with.
for instance, was the more emotional of the two; he's a bit larger
than life, our Hampton. Slightly flamboyant, and sardonically amusing.
But what saves Fancher from being just another handsome Hollywood
guy is his mind. He's a surprisingly verbal, well-read fellow -
especially for an actor. Fancher has a sincere respect for and knowledge
of serious literature. There's a certain sweetness and humor in
Hampton's character, too. Plus, the writing style he adopted for
Blade Runner was so bizarrely idiosyncratic.
Now Ridley's a totally different sort of person. Lower-keyed. More
guarded. A guy who keeps most of his cards close to his chest. Which
isn't to say that Ridley can't be polite or funny or charming, because
he can, and I've witnessed all of those qualities. But when he was
shooting Blade Runner, Ridley seemed to basically operate
in two modes: either as the CEO or commander-in-chief of this somewhat
rebellious army - who couldn't, or didn't want to, tune into his
wavelength - or as a formidably gifted artist who endlessly agonized
over where to precisely place a prop or smoke pot to complete the
perfect shot. In fact, sometimes it was a little jarring to watch
Ridley switch from this amiable, down-to-earth guy to a pissed-off
captain of industry, who'd wasn't above hollering at people to get
their shit together.
After awhile, though, I came to realize that, given the line of
work he's in, this CEO/military commander/artist-in-residence persona
Ridley cultivated at the time worked pretty well for him. That was
a shrewd, practical way of making his first film in Hollywood, to
present himself as a tough, no-bullshit field marshal who also happened
to be an enormously talented artist.
N: Could you give us an example of
Mr. Scott's harder side?
PS: Well, on BR, when he was in his Chief of Staff
mode, Ridley could be very tough on certain folks, especially the
ones he felt weren't displaying the same level of commitment he'd
dedicated himself to. He often was quite stern and matter-of-fact;
there wasn't a lot of joking going down on the BR set. Yet
I don't think Ridley was acting this way just to be an asshole;
it was his way of dealing with the circumstances.
example, Ridley was under a tremendous amount of pressure from Tandem
Productions, who'd stepped in and taken over the film when Blade
Runner went over budget, and Ridley had a terrible time adjusting
to that. I also don't think he was prepared for the fact that, in
Hollywood, a director will many times have to explain - or justify
- why he wants what he wants. And Ridley's not a talker by nature
- he just wants to get the job done, you know? So that was one condition
he'd never had to operate under before. And the recent death of
his older brother Frank, who'd passed on a couple of years before
Blade Runner was released, was still very much on Ridley's
mind. Then there were the day-to-day frustrations; much of the time,
BR's crew was teetering on the edge of open rebellion, for
any number of reasons. Blade Runner also was the first movie
Scott had shot in the United States for a major studio on a major
studio's lot. And Warners, like all studios, operates under the
aegis of incredibly Byzantine union regulations, some of which fly
so far away from anything approaching reality that they can drive
you totally 'round the bend.
So when some people who worked on Blade Runner ask me, "How
can you say anything nice about Ridley Scott? The guy was a jerk!",
all I can reply is, "Yes, he was. Sometimes. For different
reasons. But never to me. That Ridley Scott was always pleasant
and helpful and respectful." Twenty years later, he's still
that way with me. Why? I still haven't figured that one out. Maybe
it was just because I "got" Ridley right away. And stayed
out of his way. Or maybe it was due to the fact that we were both
tuned to the same wavelength, and understood his frustrations. Besides,
I wasn't the only person on that set he got along with. There were
others. Although we do seem to have been in the minority… (laughs)
N: So where did the tensions between
Scott and Fancher come from?
Conflicting personalities and different levels of experience. I
know Hampton was getting increasingly frustrated with all the rewrites
he did, especially since he felt those revisions were weakening
the Deckard/Rachael romance angle and the ecological themes he'd
originally conceived for his script. Hampton was starting to burn
out a little, too. And he definitely wasn't as aware of the politics
of rewriting as he should have been - I mean, the basic rule of
thumb in this business is, what the director wants, the director
gets. But Hampton would sometimes become angry or sad or confused
by what was going on, and argue with Ridley about this or that.
Meanwhile, Ridley stayed emotionally opaque. Which I'm sure drove
Hampton crazy. But if I communicated anything in Future Noir,
I hope it was the fact that film business can be incredibly demanding
and political and - well, just basically unpleasant! (laughs)