N: Tensions carried on throughout
the entire film, and you have documented them well in FN
(including "Chapter VIII", which was cut out of the book
- published on the Web at LA 2019: Off-World). Was this set really
tense all the time? Scott comments on his frustration at the constant
questioning, "Why are you doing this, because I'm pretty qualified
at this point." And he was - director of some good films already,
including another all-time SF classic, Alien. Much experienced
in film and business and having worked on Blade Runner for
most of the year before filming even started. Can you expand on
why filming BR was so difficult for him?
PS: Well, again, there really is no single answer to that.
To begin, you have to realize that this was an important step in
Ridley's career. A HUGE step. So I'm sure he felt the weight of
that responsibility on his back. Also, we now all know how well-directed
Alien was, but back in 1980-1981, a lot of the people Ridley
was working with in Hollywood had never heard of him. Yeah, some
knew he'd directed Alien - some were even aware that Scott
had a reputation as a world-class director of British television
commercials. But at the time, Rid was pretty much of an unknown
quantity to most of BR's cast and crew. So he had that to
as you say, Ridley constantly had to explain the "why"
behind every detail he wanted to include in BR. That REALLY
drove him crazy, because Ridley's rather retiring; he'd much rather
be doing something than explaining it. Scott also worked very, very
slowly in 1981 - it took a lot of time to set up the kind of lighting
you saw in Blade Runner - and time is money. Which meant
that both the Ladd Company and Tandem Productions were constantly
pressuring Scott to drop the artistic shit and hurry the hell up.
Overtime also meant nothing to Ridley. Or at least it seemed that
way. I mean, Ridley would have shot 24 hours a day if he could've
gotten away with it. Unfortunately, most film crews don't want to
spend 24 hours on a set (laughs). So the long days and constant
retakes took a toll on his support team. Furthermore, during Blade
Runner's production phase, Ridley couldn't operate the camera.
That was the first time that had happened to him in his career -
this was due to another union regulation - and that made him nervous.
Mix all this crap in with the various feuds BR's become famous
for - between Ridley and certain cast members, between Ridley and
the crew, between Ridley and Tandem Productions - and, well, now
you know why making BR was so difficult for him!
N: How much time did Ridley spend
with the actors?
PS: Generally speaking? Not a lot. He certainly didn't take
the Robert Altman approach. However, a certain sense of distance
exists between most directors and their performers in Hollywood
anyway. I've worked on more than one film where the director told
an actor, "I hired you because you supposedly know what you're
doing. So go away and do that. Stop bothering me about motivation;
I've got a picture to make."
Now, Ridley usually wasn't that blunt or dismissive while directing
Blade Runner. But he could be. And to understand why, you
first need to know something crucial about Ridley's personality,
a character trait I first noticed while he was making BR.
This was the fact that, at heart, Ridley Scott is a rather shy man.
Not as shy as he used to be, by any means. But besides being shy,
Ridley's English. And the English aren't exactly famed for their
gregariousness. In fact, Ridley's a little like George Lucas in
that respect. Because Lucas is a shy man, too. And it ain't always
easy for someone with that kind of personality to direct the type
of person who likes to jump up on cocktail tables with a lampshade
on their head. Which describes most actors.
However, Ridley has mellowed over the years. Consequently, he's
more relaxed. And that attitude's a great asset when you're dealing
with actors, believe me!
So are you saying that it was Mr. Scott's personality that prevented
him from directing BR's cast?
PS: I'm not saying that at all. Ridley most certainly did
direct his BR performers. But the way he went about it had
a lot to do with who he was directing. But that's the way it usually
One thing you never hear about Ridley Scott is the fact that he
can be rather gentle in the way he handles certain actors. I definitely
saw instances of that on the set. And that came as a surprise, because,
as I've said, Ridley could also be a very tough cookie. Then, on
the other hand, Ridley cultivated a pretty fruitful give-and-take
environment with some of his BR actors, too. That certainly
was the case with Rutger Hauer. But then there's that strained relationship
he had with -
N: Harrison Ford?
PS: Exactly. Actually, I think Ridley was a little disappointed
by the fact that he and Harrison didn't get along. I mean, I'd already
been observing this show long before Ford was hired, and Ridley
had been constantly going on and on about how much he admired Harrison's
work and how he thought Ford was the perfect Rick Deckard. Ridley
also used to say that he felt Harrison was a bit of an underappreciated
actor back then. I'm sure he doesn't think that now!