Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Ridley Scott and Michael Fassbender are both interesting talkers who can discuss their craft in-depth. So naturally I feel like I only touched on the tip of the iceberg with this short chat, but of all the Alien: Covenant interviews I did this is my favorite.
We get to the meat of David as a character, Scott discusses how these prequels have evolved since the initial pitch and where the franchise is heading. Hell, I even get to show some love on one of Scott's less-loved films: Legend!
My only regret is I didn't have enough time (or nerve) to ask Ridley Scott if he's heard SuperEgo's amazing skit about HR Giger working on Alien and how accurate it was. I am proud of myself for never calling him Bradley Scotchen, though.
To set the stage, I walked into the room wearing a smart jacket over a Clockwork Orange tee-shirt. The image on the shirt was a round orange wearing a bowler cap. I bring this up because the first thing out of Ridley Scott's mouth when I sit down is a comment on the shirt.
Enjoy the chat!
Ridley Scott: What's that tee-shirt you've got on?
Quint: It's Clockwork Orange.
Michael Fassbender: Oooooohhh.
Quint: I figured it was appropriate. I have plenty of Alien shirts, but thought that might be a little...
Michael Fassbender: A little on the nose.
Michael Fassbender: That's a great film.
Quint: Yeah, it's one of my favorites. So, Ridley... I know everybody always brings up Alien when they're talking about movies of yours that scarred them as kids, but the one you made that messed me up more was Legend. I know that movie doesn't get as much love, so I wanted to throw a little praise on it.
Ridley Scott: How old are you?
Quint: I'm 36.
Ridley Scott: So you would have been around 7 years old, roughly, when it came out. I was making a live action animation. I was making Snow White, but live. That's what I was doing, but I think I was 20 years ahead of the game. Now Disney is doing it all the time, with Cinderella and on and on. I'm watching this and saying, “Hang on, I did this 25 years ago.” Looking at Beauty and the Beast I said, “Hang on, that's my beast!”
Quint: I can see it. I think Rob Bottin made a better beast for you, though.
Ridley Scott: Totally. Sorry, (Disney). I probably shouldn't say that.
Quint: One of my favorite aspects of this and Prometheus is the character of David. I love his arc from Prometheus to here, that he started out looking for the Gods of his creators and now he kind of is a God, and the dynamic that builds between David and Walter in this film is great as well. Could you guys talk a little bit about that dynamic and also the technical challenges of doing the twin thing.
Michael Fassbender: I had so much fun with David in Prometheus. I thought he was a fascinating character and fun to play, for sure. He had a lot of elements to him, like he's an AI that is kind of needy. He's looking for validation and I thought that was a pretty fun thing to play with and I definitely expanded upon that with Alien: Covenant.
I love what these guys did when I read the script and where he ended up. I guess after Prometheus you're sort of concerned. You get protective with these characters, but when I read it I thought “This is great. They've gone for it. It's a bold step.” I thought that was going to be fun and also the right way we're going to approach it. It's been ten years since we last saw him and he hasn't had any maintenance. That's huge. I don't know how many times I've had to restart my computer and reboot it to put it back on course.
Then the idea that there was going to be another AI was an early conversation that we had. Ridley had that idea really early on in development. I went “Okay, I wonder who that's going to be.” I knew that I was obviously going to have to have two very different characters. David is very theatrical, expressive, effusive even, so I wanted Walter to be the opposite of that. I wanted him to be like a blank canvass and the audience can actually fill in the blanks with him. They can look at him and wonder “what is he thinking?” and start to project their own opinions onto him.
Putting them together in a scene, well, that's just about being technical and precise in terms of the blocking, making sure the flute is in the exact same position when we're reversing. I had a really good double, Tom O'Sullivan, who studied the way I was moving with both of the characters. When he was playing Walter I was David and vice versa.
Quint: Ridley, when you're making a movie like this, a prequel that is eventually going to end up leading to the beginning of the first Alien, how concerned are you with continuity and making sure everything connects while also not being restricted by a decision you made 30+ years prior?
Ridley Scott: Well, that was the pitch when I said we could revive this: we can come in at the back end of the first Alien. But what I think we've unearthed is a much larger, bigger universe and story, so I think it will be some time before we ever reach the backend of the first Alien. It's still evolving now. I'm already having another one written right now, let's call it Covenant 2. That's with John Logan and we've already got the three act plan on where it's going to go and where it's going to connect, but it's evolving and getting bigger all the time. I don't know where it will end!
I wish I had a half an hour to talk to those two, but you take what you can get. Still, lots of good stuff in there. I particularly loved the shade Scott threw at Disney's live-action animated films.
Make sure to check out my other Alien: Covenant interviews with Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir and Katherine Waterston!