While much of the early Prometheus publicity focussed – perhaps unfairly so – on Damon Lindelof’s contribution to Prometheus, it often seemed that the film original writer, Jon Spaihts was being overlooked.
Thankfully as the release draws close we are now starting to hear more from Spaihts, including the second part of Forbes’s profile, which is now online.
Here are a few highlights:
Spaihts got the job of writing “Prometheus” thanks to a one-off meeting in late 2009 with Scott at the offices of his Scott Free production company. As Hollywood meetings go, it wasn’t unusual. Spaihts and Scott got into small talk, tossing around ideas and flitting between gossip and general riffing. There was a rapport. About an hour in, Scott mentioned off hand that he was thinking of making a prequel to “Alien.” Did Spaihts have any ideas?
“I hadn’t thought about it,” Spaihts remembered in an interview earlier this week. But once Scott had posed the question, Spaihts began offering a stream of opinions about what a prequel could look like. “It was a magical, fertilizing question.” For the better part of an hour, Spaihts laid out a mythology and “bridge” that would tie together the long-running “Alien” saga to “the human story,” along with set pieces and character turns that would remain in the finished film. Spaihts reckons his “bridge” is what piqued Scott’s interest. Till then, the 74-year-old movie-maker had reportedly turned down other script ideas for the Prometheus story, but this time he ended up giving Spaihts the job.
[There's] a point in the Prometheus trailer when a 3D alien star map fills up a huge room, that owes its visual inspiration to a 1766 painting by Joseph Wright, called “A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery.” The painting is of a scientist showing a mechanical planetarium to a group of enthralled adults and children, and by dramatic candlelight.
“In a conversation we were talking about star maps and the story-necessity for the navigational instrument we would see, and Ridley Scott started talking about a painting he had in his mind,” Spaihts remembered. “Circles in circles with a candle lit image,” Scott had said. Spaihts thought of the Wright painting and did a Google image search.
“Yes, that’s the painting I mean,” Scott exclaimed. “Scientist, scholars and children.”
At one point when Spaihts was writing full-time out of Scott’s LA offices, he’d find himself in a room with the film’s production designer, Arthur Max, and four other full-time artists, talking about scenes late into the night between sips of wine.
“I’d go home, then come back the next morning, and on the wall there would be a four foot-wide painting of the scene I had talked about the night before,” he remembered. “That’s the luxury of working at the level at which Ridley Scott works.”
Prometheus is directed by Ridley Scott, from a screenplay by Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts. The film stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall, Logan Marshall-Green, Patrick Wilson and Kate Dickie, and is due for release on June 8th 2012 in the USA, and June 1st 2012 in the UK.