The alien creatures in Prometheus might arguably steal the show, but whether they’re antagonist, host or just plain meat, the human cast is equally important. SlashGear sat down with stars Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce and Logan Marshall-Green after the Prometheus world premiere to talk post-curtain rumors, working in the shadow of Ripley, and how the whole film might actually be a robot love story.
Michael Fassbender plays David, the robotic member of the Prometheus crew, while Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green play Shaw and Holloway, the scientist couple dead-set on exploring LV-223. Guy Pearce plays Peter Weyland, founder of Weyland-Yutani Corporation and the billionaire bankrolling the whole mission.
SPOILER WARNING: some of the cast’s comments concern specific plot points in Prometheus. If you want to save every surprise and theme until you’ve seen the movie, bookmark this and come back after you’ve been to the theater!
[Question] My question is about hypersleep. You played people waking up from this hypersleep state – which we don’t actually have. At that point in your performance, what were you doing; what was happening to you, how were you feeling, and what had you woken up from?
[Noomi Rapace] I actually did a detox, I put myself on some kind of detox thing for a week before. I was only drinking…
[Michael Fassbender] Logan’s like, “you didn’t tell me that, we were supposed to share everything!”
[Logan Marshall-Green] I ate, like, a pizza the night before.
[NR] We were just drinking different things for a week. I wanted to kind of drain my body and clean it, because I know before we went in [Fassbender’s character David] has been taking care of us, and changing our diapers and washing us probably, y’know, for two years.
[MF] [Shakes head, grinning]
[NR] No? What did you do?
[MF] Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, “looked after you.”
[Guy Pearce] In a very special kind of way…
[MF] Very special!
[NR] I wanted to kind of drain my body a kind of bit, I dunno, I had this idea I was gonna look very… everything was going to sink in [gestures to face], but it didn’t really happen. But it’s hard to imagine, what it is to be sleeping for two years, but we talked about trying to… how groggy are we, how aware are we about what’s around us? And when you try different things, yelling “we’re here!”, “am I awake?” It’s kind of difficult, we tried it in different versions with Ridley [Scott].
[LMG] Yeah, Ridley said it was that… we were intaking proteins and such instantly, you’re cold, I ended up drinking a quart of milk over the course of a few minutes. And you were throwing it up, lemonade wasn’t it?
[NR] I was.
[LMG] Milk doesn’t bother you.
[NR] No, that was something really disgusting they gave me, remember – the kind of fluid?
[GP] Not milk of magnesia?
[Q] Over the course of the production there was so much secrecy around this. All the speculation happens, there are all these rumors which start getting thrown around online. I would imagine you were probably aware of some of them, probably laughing at some of them. Are there any favorites that stick out in your mind?
[MF] We were trying to create them. The ones we invented were really…
[NR] He was working really hard, to make this…
[MF] A love story! There is a love story.
[NR] Between a robot, and…
[aquote]There’s a love story, between the robot David and Doctor Shaw[/aquote]
[MF] There is a love story, between the robot David and Doctor Shaw, which will be through the next installment.
[NR] The very misleading rumors! Never gonna happen!
[MF] The child’s gonna be half-child, half-robot.
[GP] Has your head been reattached? Or is it just…?
[MF] We’re not sure.
[NR] It’s based on a true story. And actually, I heard a while, “so are you Ripley’s mother?” That was one thing people were asking me, and I was like “I’m not sure.” And this thing that nobody dies in the movie! [Logan] started that.
[LMG] Yeah, I had this reporter going for a while, that nobody dies. They weren’t sure of it after that, they called back and said “I want to make sure, nobody dies?”
[NR] Really disappointed: a Ridley Scott movie and nobody dies?!
[LMG] A big first!
[Q] Michael, did you relate to Data from Star Trek, playing David?
[MF] I guess… he wasn’t one of the ones that I was thinking of when I was putting it together, but you’re the second person that asked so obviously there’s something of him in there. He was probably in and around the ether somewhere: all robots came out to play!
[GP] Some plagiarism in there.
[MF] Absolutely! Stealing left, right and center. But no, it was kind of David Bowie – The Man Who Fell To Earth – Sean Young – Blade Runner – Lawrence of Arabia of course, Peter O’Toole, and Dirk Bogarde, and Greg Louganis. That kind of combo, put all those things together and David came out of that.
[Q] Guy, obviously there was a lot of secrecy around your role. How did you find it in the build-up, the fact you had to almost detach yourself from the promotional bit, that [TED talk] viral that was out. How did you find that all, the process, rather than a normal film?
[aquote]They threw a hood over me every time I walked off the stage[/aquote]
[GP] Well, it wasn’t difficult: I don’t have any problems not talking about a film. Y’know, “we need you to not say this” – great! They did throw a hood over me every time I walked from one stage to another.
[NR] You looked like something weird from Star Wars!
[GP] In case any of you guys were hanging off a fence trying to take photos or something. So I kept getting lost or going to the wrong place. But no, it was fine, really it was a quick process for me, because these guys shot for about three or four months or something altogether, and I really just came in for a couple of weeks in the middle and went “wow, what a fun ride this feels like” and then I left. And then, y’know, there were some questions back and forth between myself and the Fox marketing team going, well, what exactly are we saying, what do you not want to say? So it was just about clarifying that, I suppose. But no, no real difficulty in keeping secrets.
[MF] I love the fact that [Guy’s character] Weyland’s wandering aimlessly around Pinewood lot, appearing in various films. Various films with Weyland in the back!
[GP] Exactly, I’m in Snow White, I’m in the Johnny Depp movie.
[NR] Dark Shadows, yeah, I actually saw you in that!
[GP] I am the dark shadow!
[Q] Michael, the whole lead-up where they’re showing David whiling away his time: how much of that was written into it, how much did you add to it – the bicycle, shooting baskets, certain movies…?
[MF] Yeah, that was a lot of fun. The basketball stuff was all in there, and I think that’s a nice little recognition of Alien. And the hair-dying was my idea, so that was pretty cool, I was happy to see that that got stuck in, working on my highlights and watching Lawrence of Arabia.
[GP] Lawrence of Arabia was always in, wasn’t it.
[MF] Yeah, that was always in, that was in the script, he had this thing about Lawrence. So that was it, most of it was there: the idea of him wandering around the ship, and then of course we got to see him learning the language because that’s gonna be revealed later. So pretty much all of what was there, and then it was just a matter of just fleshing out bits and pieces.
[GP] What about picking up the little speck of something?
[MF] Well that was actually… Ridley said, “I thought, y’know, it would be like a button or something, like he checks the surface of the ship for dust.” I was like, that’s interesting… of course I didn’t want to do exactly what he said, so I picked up something from the floor. [laughs] So those little things, it’s great like that. Because y’know, Ridley’s really good at just giving you a flavor of something, rather than a direction. It’s like, “I thought your character might possess this object” and you’re, like, oh wow, okay, cool, that’s interesting.
[GP] How do I incorporate that in?
[MF] Yeah, totally.
[NR] How do I do a version of what Ridley said, not what he said…
[Q] Noomi, you’re playing a female role in a series that has had some really memorable female roles. How do you feel about playing that kind of role?
[NR] When they told me that he wanted to work with me, just that, it took a while for me to really believe it and to realize that it’s happening. And then, when I got to read the script, and when he told me about this character, it felt like a great honor and I was terrified at the same time. But I think, as soon as you start to work, get into it, you have to kind of push away everything around you and not think about people’s expectations and what’s gone before, and that it’s Ridley Scott.
I think you just have to find your focus and find your own way of doing it, because if you’re trying to satisfy people and trying to do something that will fit in in the line of his fantastic heroines, it’s gonna be impossible to work. So I kinda had to ignore all that, and force myself into some kind of protecting bubble of work. [To Michael] And you helped me! You took care of me in the bubble!
[MF] I was the bubble!
[Q] You all have some great scenes with David in there, and I’m curious in the acting side, how do you approach this character as a robot – not as Michael, fellow-actor.
[NR] He is a robot!
[Q] The scene with Logan was really great…
[MF] That was fun, we filmed that pretty early, that was like the first week or so.
[GP] The drinking speech?
[Q] Does it change anything, the way you interact with someone, knowing you have to interact with them as a robot?
[NR] I think the first impulse is to try to read or analyze things from an emotional level; think “what does he mean, what is really going on inside him?” And then you have to remind yourself, he’s a computer, he’s hollow – he’s not emotional, there’s not a heart in there.
[MF] Love story, love story… [Laughs]
[NR] So I think that, even for Shaw, I think there’s a point where she really hates him, and is really upset about what she thinks… I think she thinks that he has something to do with this. But then, I think she corrects herself, by reminding herself that it’s just a waste of energy because he’s a computer, it’s a hard-disk. And then in the end it’s almost like she feels sorry for him, for not having any emotions, and no soul; you’re just a robot, you’ll never understand us.
[aquote]We talked about bigotry and racism, the inevitable disdain for synthetic life[/aquote]
[LMG] I think also, the opposite – which I had never seen – I mean, you have trauma with robots in some of the other movies in the franchise. But we kind of talked about bigotry and racism, y’know, the inevitable synthetic life there’ll be the inevitable disdain for it. I liked that approach, I mean, I didn’t approach Holloway as a bigot or racist, but I liked this sense of “he’s beneath me”; constantly, no matter how much smarter he probably was than Holloway, or maybe even available emotionally on a synthetic level, he was still beneath him. That was fun, I don’t think we’ve seen that before.
[MF] See what happens when you think like that…
[LMG] That’s right, it affected me awfully. I’m a horrible human being! [Laughs]
[MF] That was one of the bits that freaked me most in the film, when you look in the mirror and there’s like [the tendril]
[LMG] Dammit, David!
[MF] That little worm is in your eye, it’s really well done, I love that. We were talking afterwards, you were like “It’s nothing, it’s nothing. I’m sure it will be fine.”
[LMG] I’ve had worse!
[MF] A little worm in my eye… it’s gonna be okay.
[LMG] A nasty STD, what the hell did she…?! [Laughter] Dammit David!
[Q] You’re thinking yourself into a different world, and it’s a world that’s been in a few films before – big, important films that we all know – were you approaching this film through them, or mostly through talking to Ridley, or something you’re bringing yourself?
[GP] Oh, I think talking to Ridley. I mean, we’re all obviously aware of what it is we’ve come onboard, but I think funnily enough it’s a very different perspective from the outside than from, y’know, the inner world. As soon as you start talking to Ridley – and I personally felt a little intimidated by the thought of this, not so much because of the history of the other films but because we know of Ridley’s prowess – but as soon as I started talking to him on the phone, that immediately goes out the window. You just immediately get into creative discussions about what it is you’re creating, you’re just on another job and you’re going through the steps you normally go through – I’d drive home from work occasionally and go “wow, this is really cool”, or when you first turn up on set and see those amazing sets.
But I think, also because the script and this particular film is so individual in a way. I mean, there’s obviously the connection with other films, but it really is so much more than just prequel. It delves into ideas that go far beyond what that first Alien film did, so I think it’s very easy to go “well, this now is the world of Prometheus and this is very, very particular,” And I think I can probably speak for everybody that, once you start working with Ridley, you’re reminded of what it is that you’re doing in the present. So I personally didn’t feel at all like… even though, really, Weyland is really the guy that we’ve heard about in the other films, I didn’t feel at all that I was living through those past cinematic experiences.
[NR] But also I think that the sets and, what [production designer] Arthur Max and the crew created, is just for us to step into, to have real things to work with and react from. That was incredible, because it gave so much. I remember once when Ridley came to me and was like “come on, I’m gonna show you something” and he opened the door to the room to the big head.
[GP] And it was Michael! [Laughter]
[NR] And the love story started there… the head! No, but I remember I got tears in my eyes, because it was there for real, and there’s some sort of cruel, savage beauty that they’ve created in this weird kind of, I dunno, world.
[MF] And he’s so enthusiastic, I mean Ridley’s so enthusiastic.
[NR] Oh yeah, he’s like a child.
[MF] He is like a kid. I love watching him on-set, because it’s infectious and he’s inspiring.
[NR] The small worms, he was like [gasps] “look at this, look at this, beautiful huh!” And it was, like, “yeah!”
[LMG] He also put cameras on us, so we became kinda the cameramen as well. And they built these sets – six walls – and all the fear and awe is real, of course, but I love kinda exploring the sets and using the flashlight. They’d turn the lights off on these damned things. It’s all real, they’re massive.
[GP] They’re really incredible, aren’t they. They’re so solid, they didn’t feel like sets. As I said, I came in late, so they’d all been going and I didn’t get to walk around with everyone else and experience the newness of it with everyone else. And I was going “is it dumb to ask if this is real… [feigns confidence] oh yeah, no, it’s amazing.” So it was incredible, the three-dimensional nature of those sets. It’s certainly not like when we were on Neighbours and they used to wobble when you closed the door.
[NR] And they were so big, you could really get lost.
[GP] Yeah. I mean, didn’t he extend one of those stages? Whatever the biggest stage is on Pinewood, he got them to rebuild another, y’know, end of it to make it however much bigger. So it really was quite enormous, a whole world in there.
[Q] In the Alien franchises, a lot of the actors talk about their first time seeing some of the creatures, and how the use of practical effects and costuming makes them terrifying of those things. Did you guys feel that way, about the monsters you each dealt with during the film?
[aquote]It gets into you, I was having such disturbed dreams, nightmares[/aquote]
[NR] Well, when I saw my baby for the first time. I was really… it was there, it was really happening. And, again, Ridley was, like, “it’s pretty, huh?” And I was, like, “yeah, it’s kinda cute.” It’s weird. Because in close-ups, you’re standing there looking at the thing, and it’s very real – it’s something quite spooky – it gets into you, I was dreaming such disturbed dreams, y’know, nightmares.
[LMG] You were very close with it.
[NR] Yeah, I was really close with that.
[GP] And it was animatronic, that thing, wasn’t it?
[NR] Yeah, it was moving!
[MF] Remember those guys, “I’ve got it’s left leg, you’ve got the right” and there’s the head as well; it was like three guys going [mimes frantically operating puppet]. Eyes blinking, and the head was going, and you’re screaming!
Don’t forget to check out our interview with Prometheus director Ridley Scott, as well as our interview with Damon Lindelof and co-writer Jon Spaihts for more on Prometheus’ challenging conception. We’ve also got a full review of Prometheus here!