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Saturday, 14 January 2012

Great Scott: The films of Ridley Scott




He raised the bar when it came to bread and Fish Fingers ads then took the film world by storm. This blog looks at the work of Sir Ridley Scott, from acclaimed historical epic The Duellists to Prometheus and beyond.

Like some of you reading this, I've been hooked on Scott's work since the Seventies when he delivered the best adverts ever seen.
Remember the Hovis commercial with a little boy pushing his bike up a hill to the strains of a brass band? Or the Guinness ad with Rutger Hauer blending in with a group of classical paintings?
Both are products of the South Shields born director regarded by many as one of the finest film makers in the world, who, since his early commercial-making days, has notched up such successes as Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, Robin Hood and more.
Ridley trained at West Hartlepool Art School, went to the Royal College of Art to the BBC, where he worked as a designer, then as director, on such programmes as Z Cars, Softly Softly and Adam Adamant Lives.
By 1976 he made the leap into film-making with a version of Joseph Conrad’s The Duellists. That low budget historical epic may have been criticised by some for sacrificing characterisation for beautiful images, but that didn’t stop Hollywood moneymen snapping him up for sci-fi chiller Alien.
Scott had been amazed by Star Wars in 1977 and realised his version of Tristan and Isolde should be put on the back burner in favour of something more cutting edge.
Within hours of reading the script Scott was in Hollywood.
Alien became one of the biggest hits of 1979 and helped turn Scott into a mover and shaker in Tinseltown.
However, turning celluloid into beautiful, lucrative images has not all been a smooth ride.
His 1985 film Legend was plagued with difficulties when the 007 stage at Pinewood burned down during one fateful lunchtime. No-one was hurt but the multi-million dollar fantasy flopped, despite boasting superstar Tom Cruise in the lead role.
Trying to make films under such extreme conditions really take their toll on Scott, and the lure of take a less prominent role, such as executive producer, appears quite seductive.



"As a director, you're at the centre of the nervous system and you're the central artery

he says. "When there is a lot of blood flowing through, you get a headache frequently. It's a very hard process and it would be nice to have a change of pace. It would be nice to stand off and watch rather than being right out here in front."


All the headaches and tension seems to have paid off though, especially in his meticulously detailed fantasies Alien and Blade Runner, all noted as watersheds in their field.
David Puttnam, who produced Scott's award-winning debut The Duellists, says: "Ridley has got a magic eye - his ability to take an image, frame it and enhance it, using light, is extraordinary."
Michael Douglas, star of his 1989 cop thriller Black Rain adds: "Ridley can see things that I can't see. When the celluloid comes back, there are things there that you don't see with the naked eye - it's a really incredible talent."
On large-scale projects as Gladiator, he compares the experience with that of going to war: "You find your officers, you find your troops and then you hit the beaches running."

Over the next few pages there's a look at one of the greatest film-makers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The Duellists (1977)
After making a string of acclaimed adverts, Ridley Scott followed fellow ad man Alan Parker onto the big screen with his debut movie.
The Duellists was based on a tale by Joseph Conrad (who inspired Apocalypse Now and the ship names for his 1979 feature, Alien - Nostromo and Narcissus,).
As you my expect from Ridley, every scene looks gorgeous and is obviously the mark of a man moving from 30 second promotional films into the big screen world.
(When he went off to make the movie, brother Tony took over his Hovis adverts. Six years later, Tony would make his own big screen debut with The Hunger.)
Many shots are set up for the expected logo and voice over at the end of the shot. However, there's no velvet voiced John Shrapnel or Michael Jayston ready to plug the product. Just a certain emptiness as visually sophisticated audiences expect one thing and get another.
Harvey Keitel (later to star in Thelma and Louise) and Keith Carradine are the Hollywood stars acting alongside a wealth of British thesps including Albert Finney, Diana Quick, Tom Conti, Pete Postlethwaite and Veronica Quilligan (later to play the innocent protagonist of Neil Jordan's Angel).
It was first shown on British TV on August 12, 1982 at 7.30pm on ITV, a month after Alien's terrestrial premiere.
These days it would be unthinkable to screen such an arthouse movie like The Duellists on such a mainstream station at peak time but in those days, there were a mere three channels, no satellite, video was in its infancy and video games were as sophisticated as the humble Atari 2600.
At the time, Scott was mourning the reception of Blade Runner which had received disappointing reviews from a confused American audience.
Blade Runner opened on the big screen a month after The Duellists' debut on British TV.
Plot
The drama takes place in France, 1800.
During the Napoleonic Wars Lt Feraud (Harvey Keitel) wounds a man after a duel. His superior dispatches Lt D'Hubert (Keith Carradine) with a message that he's to be brought under house arrest, since the wounded man is cousin to a Major.
For no apparent reason, Feraud takes offence at D'Hubert's "insult", and seeks satisfaction in a duel against him. Feraud is further angered when he loses the duel and seeks to carry on their enmity.
Extended by 15 years (and every so often disrupted by the war), their duels become increasingly personal and savage. The two finally meet in a climactic showdown.
The movie is clearly inspired by Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory and Barry Lyndon and looks like a dry run for Gladiator's battle scenes.
It deals with the themes of honour, obsession and violence. Needless to say, the futility of war and the destructive nature of revenge leads to the twist that both men have been duelling for so long, in the end they actually forget what it was that set them off on their feud.
The duels are stunning, the attention to detail is meticulous and the movie won a string of awards, including 'Best Debut Film' at the 1977 Cannes film festival.

Top trivia
* The budget was so tight that Scott was forced to use producer David Puttnam and other crew members as extras.
This was an extension of his earlier short films, a potted version of Paths of Glory in which a handful of extras (including Tony Scott) go over the wire and run round the camera before repeating the exercise. Smoke and editing hide the fact that there were so few people involved.

*The Duel, as it was originally called, was to be made for French TV as a one-hour film.

*The scene where the French army is bogged down was shot in a ski resort near Inverness.

*After EMI turned down the script, Scott flew the project to Chicago and the company Hallmark...

*After the French deal collapsed and the $700,000 budget proved too rich for Hallmark's blood, one of the bosses saw its potential as a film and suggested that Scott try and make it as a movie.

*The eventual budget was a mere $900,000. Scott clinched the dealing by telling Paramount he would put up a completion bond and that he would start pre-production on the day of the meeting. He would start shooting within a couple of months.
The thought of filming a movie like that in September left the suits slack of jaw.
In the sun-kissed world oif la la land, making a Joseph Conrad movie in Winter sounded like a nightmare.
*Scott had originally wanted to make a Western but lacked the cash to fly off to Monument Valley and the locations of other such classic John Ford Westerns.

Alien (1979)

In case the whole thing has passed you by, the film centres on a bunch of deep space truckers who are awoken from hypersleep to investigate a distress call. They investigate the source of the SOS and crew member Kane (John Hurt) returns to the ship with a hitchhiker which proceeds to wreak havoc.
You could write the plot on the back of an envelope and while it's essentially a haunted house horror in space, the grotesque production design seeps into your subconscious and will give you nightmares for weeks to come.

The seed of the idea was born when Dark Star writer Dan O'Bannon was staying at a friend's house in the early Seventies. His version of sci-fi epic Dune had just collapsed and the writer and special effects whiz was broke. Friend Ronald Shusett was working on what would become Total Recall, so they got their heads together and came up with the original screenplays for both that movie and Alien.
Scott, piping hot property after his award-winning The Duellists, read the script and within 18 hours he was in Hollywood working on arguably the best movie of 1979.
He cast a then unknown Sigourney Weaver as Ripley - a part originally intended for a man. She would become the template for a series of no-nonsense movie heroines such as Sarah Connor in Terminator and Samantha Caine in The Long Kiss Goodnight.
While all the seven strong cast are excellent, one of the best is Ian Holm who plays science officer Ash.
The acclaimed thesp, who went on to star in The Fifth Element and The Lord of the Rings, has very fond memories of working on Alien as he told me during the Press launch for the BBC’s version of King Lear in London, 1998.

"That was a very good film," he recalls, little knowing at the time it would turn out to be such a blockbuster. "Because it was made in 1979, I would have done anything then," he laughs. "I certainly had no idea it was going to become one of the great celebrated pieces of cinema."

Ash is not all that he seems and Holm's portrayal remains unforgettably sinister.

"That was very strange. I can't to this day think why I got cast in that. I was one of the first people to be cast and then it was very interesting because I could see half way through the film the emphasis changed and there was the birth of a star in Sigourney. You could almost sense it. It wasn't just the underwear scene," he laughs. "I could just tell she was going to go on to big things. She's also a very nice lady."

There's one moment near the end of the movie where Holm really had to suffer for his art, looking more like the centrepiece of some bizarre cannibal feast.

"After four hours in make-up, I was surrounded by spring onions and milk." Holm grimaces at the memory. "Then Ridley would go away for a few hours and I'd be stuck there in this table with spaghetti everywhere and milk all over my face. It really stank under the lights as you can imagine."

Thanks to a great cast, some stunning production design by HR Giger and a haunting Jerry Goldsmith score, Alien remains one of the most terrifying thrillers ever committed to celluloid.

Blade Runner (1982)

There are some films you forget almost as soon as the closing credits roll. Then there are others you couldn't erase if your life depended on it.
Such is the case with Blade Runner, a sci-fi thriller that spawned a thousand clones but remains unmissable.
Back in the Autumn of 1982, Scott released what many believe to be his masterpiece.
Based on Philip K Dick's haunting novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the Geordie director cast Harrison Ford as Roy Deckard, a retired bounty hunter called into service to track down a band of super robots.
While Dick's novel centred on Androids or 'Andys', the film version would focus on The Nexus Six - a band of artifical humans so perfect, no-one could tell them from their human counterparts.
Declared illegal on earth under penalty of death, they return to Terra Firma in the hope of a finding a way of surviving past their four year lifespan.
Leader of the bad guys is Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), a hyper intelligent model who proves more than a match for Deckard.
However, Leon (Brion James), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) and Pris (Daryl Hannah) are far from harmless either.
If that's four of the Nexus Six, what about the rest?
Well, according to the movie, 'one of them got fried running through an electrical field,'. The one in question was Mary (Stacy Nelkin) but her role ended up on the cutting room floor.
As for the sixth member, many believe it to be the Blade Runner himself. Look closely and you can see his eyes glowing during some scenes - a recurring theme among Replicants.
As you would expect from Ridley, the movie looks breathtaking, thanks to some fine photography by Jordan Cronenweth, special effects by Douglas Trumbull and production design by Lawrence G Paull.
The audio isn't bad either. Vangelis' score remains one of the best of the Eighties and the haunting sound effects - from the cat wails of the city to the ever present advertising blimp - get under your skin, supplying a permanent sense of unease.

Making the movie was a far from happy experience for cast and crew. It was Scott's first film shot outside his native England and he faced a lot of flak from his American staff not too keen on his meticulous approach. They expressed their disapproval by wearing Tee shirts bearing the legend 'Yes Guvnor: My ass!'
The reason for some of this animosity was the fact that Ridley would arrive on set after the construction crew had been working all night and remark: "It's a good start. Now turn those columns upside down."
The fact that every part of the cityscape was designed, from the giant Tyrell pyramid right down to the specially printed newspapers tested the crew to their limit.

Although a flop on its original outing, Blade Runner eventually made its money back.
A 1992 re-release - minus the irritating voice over and the happy ending - made it an altogether more sombre experience for a new generation of fans.
There was also an extra dream sequence involving a unicorn, the strongest suggestion that Deckard may be little more than a glorified android.

The Final Cut in 2007 also helped tidy some loose ends.
As with Scott's previous movie, Alien, the look of the film went on to inspire a generation of film-makers.
The sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, circa 2019, remains a breath-taking sight even though many of the companies featured in the billboards - such as Pan Am and Atari - have gone under - a trait known in the industry as the Blade Runner curse.
As for the cast? Well Harrison Ford may not have liked it but he gives a stunning performance as the world weary plod who bites off more than he can chew.
Co-stars Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah and Sean Young have never been better - a fact which almost atones for their sins in that string of bad movies that followed.
Philip K Dick died prior to the movie's release but did get to see footage before it hit cinemas.

"This is not like anything we have ever seen," he remarked. "It isn't like anything that has ever been done."

A statement as true in 1982 as it is today.

Legend (1985)
The background:
The late Seventies: having made The Duellists, Ridley had wanted to make a version of Tristan and Isolde, the basis for many of today's finest stories - the love tryst.
However, he saw Star Wars and realised movies were going in a different direction to the classic myth he wanted to re-tell.
The script for Alien landed on his doormat and within 18 hours of reading it, he was in Hollywood.
While Alien was a huge hit, his follow-up, Blade Runner was a critical success but a commercial failure - at least on its initial release.
After Blade Runner was so poorly received, Scott suffered a crisis of confidence.
The critics had not been kind to his 1982 movie so after years of working on Legend, he made some dubious choices in the film originally known as Legend of Darkness
Scott made the film because he was largely inspired by Jean Cocteau's version of Beauty and the Beast and partly because he wanted to make a more family oriented flick.
The story
The virginal princess Lily has fallen for wild man of the woods Jack O the Green. However, she becomes the bait in a plan by the demonic Darkness to bring a shroud of eternal night to this magical forest kingdom.
When Darkness' minions seize a fabled unicorn horn and the glade is turned to winter, Jack must save the girl, and the forest from the clutches of evil.
This is one of the best looking fantasies ever made but there are some very dodgy touches.

* The day glo ski paint favoured in the opening titles of A View To A Kill may have been all the rage in 1985 but scuppers the chances of this being a timeless fairytale.

* Jerry Goldsmith's perfectly fine soundtrack was rescored by German mood merchants Tangerine Dream, much to the anger of the Oscar-winning composer who never worked with Scott again.

* Having worked with Vangelis on his previous movie Blade Runner, Scott turned to the Greek maestro's chart partner Jon Anderson (of Yes fame) for this project. Alas, he provided an insipid closing song called Loved By The Sun. No matter how strong your teeth may be, they are bound to suffer a cavity after this assault on the ears.

*During the first test screening, a group of potheads are believed to have ruined the movie in the eyes of the suits. Scott smelled marijuana during the screening and wasn't happy with the result. He was tempted to bring the lights up and throw them out. In retrospect, it's a pity he didn't as Scott spent a fortune re-cutting the movie into the American mess that resulted.

*The movie was written by William Hjortsberg who had also penned Fallen Angel, the inspiration for Alan Parker's 1987 Faustian tale, Angel Heart.

*One of England's most unusual fans of the film was Dave Lee Travis who spent a morning on his radio show in the mid-Eighties plugging the film like it was going out of fashion.

*Choreography for the dance scene was provided by Arlene Phillips, the woman behind notorious Seventies dance troupe, Hot Gossip.

*Geoff Capes, one of Britain's strongest men at the time, played one of the guards.

*As ever, Scott's casting was impeccable. A year before his career went through the roof in Top Gun (directed by Ridley's brother Tony), Tom Cruise played the hero, Jack. He gives a fine performance as the wild man and still maintains this is one of his favourite films.

*Mia Sara made her movie debut with Legend. She went on to play the love interest in seminal Eighties teen flick, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and has gone on to carve a career for herself in the low budget world of TV movies. Occasionally she made a return to big genre projects, such as the enjoyable Jean Claude Van Damme offering Timecop. But on the whole, is usually wasted in offerings such as Stuart Gordon's lame horror thriller Daughter of Darkness, in which she starred with Anthony Perkins.

*Tim Curry had been a jobbing actor for years until The Rocky Horror Picture Show thrust him into the mainstream. Although a mere slip of an actor, he was made to look far taller by make-up artist Rob Bottin who made him wear stilt-like leg attachments. Curry went on to star in a string of hit and miss vehicles including The Hunt For Red October and Roseanne.

*The movie was first shown on British TV on BBC2 - the American release. In fact, to this day, the original UK version has never been seen on British TV. The differences are many, but in the American version, Darkness' face isn't seen until he walks through the mirror (a far better version in the UK release as Mia Sara's mouth is open when he steps through and a second later, it's closed.)
The day glo effects are also thankfully missing from the UK version but the closing monologue from the horny old devil was never featured in the British release.
There is one advantage to the US version: Bryan Ferry's sublime closing track, Is Your Love Strong Enough, gets a welcome airing. (The same song was later recorded by a different artist for David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

*Many of the special effects were provided by Terry Gilliam's Peerless company. Gilliam made many enemies in Hollywood at the time of production. While his movie, Brazil, was deemed uncommercial, studio boss Sid Sheinberg fought a media war with the American director, superbly catalogued in Jack Matthews The Battle of Brazil. Conversely, Scott states Sheinberg as an ally during Legend's production. However, there's no denying that Legend is the weaker of the two films.

*The set, a huge stage used to house many of the 007 movies, burnt down one lunchtime in 1984. Many of the doves featured in the film were roasted.

*Darkness was inspired by Disney's film, Fantasia and the demon featured in the Night on Bald Mountain sequence.

*Scott has for many years refused to talk about the project. During the 1992 BBC documentary Ridley Scott: Eye of the Storm, there was no mention of the film. However, he briefly mentioned its failure during the Gladiator commentary.

Black Rain (1989)
One of Ridley's weakest Eighties movies,not least because it contains plot holes larger than the Grand Canyon thanks to a hackneyed script by Craig Bolotin and Warren Lewis.
Michael Douglas is Nick Conklin - dreadful name for a leading man. The fact that he's a cop on the edge is also incredibly yawnsome as by the end of the Eighties, this genre was more tired than a marathon runner on the home stretch.
Andy Garcia is on hand as the sacrificial pawn; Kate Capshaw a rather gorgeous leading woman and Ken Takakura plays the obligatory local cop who helps out our cliched hero.
On the production side, this has an okay score by Gladiator's Hans Zimmer while Jan De Bont provides the gorgeous cinematography, a few years before going on to churn out the hit and miss Speed movies, Twister and The Haunting remake.

Gladiator (2000)
When Ridley was given the chance to direct a $120million movie in the Ben Hur mould, some people wondered if the Geordie director was going mad.
For many, he hadn't made a decent film in years (1492, White Squall and GI Jane were all good looking messes).
However, a director is only as good as their script and, sad to say, Scott was choosing some very ropey movies to make.
Even his brother, Tony - king of the bubblegum epic such as Top Gun and True Romance - was turning out better fare with Crimson Tide and Enemy of the State being a couple of corkers.
However, every 10 years or so, Ridley comes up with the goods.
In 1979 he delivered Alien and then his masterpiece, Blade Runner three years later. In 1991 Thelma and Louise won him a new wave of feminist followers and it was a long wait for the next for a solid gold smash, but he returned to form with one of the hottest films of 2000.
Backed by Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks company and featuring Russell Crowe and Oliver Reed (in his last movie), Gladiator was the first sword and sandals epic to come out of Hollywood in 40 years.
Crowe (in a part originally intended for Mel Gibson) is superb as Maximus, the fictional General who is largely surrounded by characters who are said to have existed in 180 AD.
The plot: the Roman Empire is on the rise and even countless corrupt emperors have failed to destroy it. A seemingly kindly Caesar, Marcus Aurelius (the excellent Richard Harris giving his best performance for years; also one of his last), is a scholar who has taken to the battlefield to repel a barbarian threat from Germania.
Maximus proves his worth in a stunning opening scene, one of the most brutally realistic since Saving Private Ryan; amazing what you can do in Surrey when you have a million dollars and a few thousand actors to play with.
The dying Emperor names him as his successor - a decision that angers Laurence Olivier lookalike Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) - Marcus' 19-year-old son.
In a scene reminiscent of the head- crushing scene from Blade Runner, Commodus commits patricide, then send Maximus away to be killed.
Needless to say, our hero escapes (with a nasty shoulder wound) and gallops home to his wife and son. Alas, both are crucified by the time he arrives and he is taken prisoner by slave-traders.
Along with the muscular Nubian Juba (Djimon Hounsou), he is purchased by seasoned Gladiator, Proximo (Oliver Reed), an owner and trainer of Gladiators. Recognising Maximus' potential, the veteran grooms him for a trip to Rome's Colliseum.
As this was Olly's last movie and many of his scenes remained unfinished, it was obvious towards the end which were doubles and which were finished with computer generated assistance. However, it's great to see Reed bow out on such a high note.
The movie progresses with grand sweeps as the General turned Gladiator wins the crowd and his life, eventually seeking his vengeance in the arena against insurmountable odds.
The film is filled with sterling performances from Connie Nielsen, Derek Jacobi and John Shrapnel.
Breath-taking special effects by London-based firm The Mill prove that anything ILM and Digital Domain can do, the British can do as well.
Hans Zimmer's soundtrack may often try bursting into Holst's Mars Bringer of War but it's often a deeply evocative soundtrack that conjures up the spectacle of what's on offer.
On the whole, you won't feel short changed after the huge saga unfolds.

Robin Hood (2010)
While promoting the DVD and Blu Ray release of Robin Hood in 2010, costume designer Janty Yates spared a few minutes to discuss her career and work with Ridley.
Having worked with Jake Scott on Plunkett and Macleane (1999), Ridley snapped her up for Gladiator (2000), for which she won the Best Costume Design Oscar at the 2000 Academy Awards.

HOW IS IT WORKING WITH THE GENIUS THAT IS RIDLEY SCOTT ON SO MANY PROJECTS?

“Well I’m delighted to hear you speak of him that way because he does have these huge, huge successes, but suddenly when he does a film that’s not received as well, some people are just cynical about it.‘Oh he’s lost it,’” she laughs. “And he’s a genius! An unmitigated genius.
"His inspiration in every film…because we started with Gladiator, I was completely and utterly inspired by him and stimulated on a daily basis. He participated a hundred per cent without screaming you’ve done it all wrong. And now we have such a wonderful short hand, so I’m very fortunate.
"His vision and his painterly references are fantastic. We used in Robin Hood Bruegel, and that monochrome, rather sludgy sort of peasanty feel. There’s a lot of colour in Bruegel as well for some shots, but that was a huge influence."

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR YOU WORKING ON ROBIN HOOD?


"Four armies was quite something, just trying to accommodate King John’s army, King Richard’s the French army and the army of the north. They were quite big but I had a fantastic military supervisor, David Croft, who has been worked with Spielberg and with me on all sorts of things, so he was magnificent from that point of view. He also did Kingdom of Heaven with me.

He and I and my other right hand, Andrea Crisp. Basically we had to create the chainmail look on Kingdom of Heaven. When it came round to Robin Hood it was a little bit of shorthand there because we rang up the Weta workshop in New Zealand – The Lord of the Rings workshop – and said ‘another thousand please’, and then our extras were made from chainmail in India which on Kingdom of Heaven we’d gone through the hideous nightmare of dealing with India whereby nothing ever arrived. You were like a week from shooting and hadn’t got any aluminium chain mail, but that was Kingdom of Heaven, so we knew all this in advance.




The other challenges were the Baronial heraldry, the crests, sorting out which we were going to use. We had to have voracity and because they carried through we had to be in complete cahoots with the art department, with the armourer, because the crests were on shields, all the flags, the penants, the tabards. On the chests they often had gold bullion none of that’s straightforward.

YOU’RE NO STRANGER TO HISTORICAL EPICS HAVING WORKED ON GLADIATOR SO WAS ROBIN HOOD RELATIVELY ‘EASY’?


"In a way yes because Gladiator was the first film I’d ever done which involved armies and armour, battles, huge stunts. That was really quite an eye opener. Because we also had 3,000 extras every day so they all had to be dressed at three in the morning and we’d get through by about 10 in the morning, turn round and start all over again in the evening.

The enormity of Gladiator meant the next script I got, which was another huge swords and sandals thing, when there were 500,000 Thracians coming over the hills I thought: ‘Oh that’s all right. I can do that.’ It wasn’t quite as daunting.

HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU WON THE OSCAR FOR GLADIATOR?


"Oh my God. Well I had no concept that I would win. I couldn’t believe I’d been nominated. I’m still gobsmacked to this day.

SO THE OFFERS NO DOUBT FLOODED IN AFTER THAT?


I was going to take the summer off and all these films like Chicago and The Last Samurai… all these films were offered to me on a plate. My marriage broke up, my sister got very ill, it was one of these things, but things are meant to be. Better that I was there for my sister.

WHEN YOU WATCH A MOVIE, DO YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT TWICE BECAUSE YOU ARE SO BUSY EYEING UP THE COSTUMES?

"No, if a film is good I’m completely involved in the plot, with one eye on the costumes. I’m not that obsessed frankly, which I know some people are."

SO YOU DON’T WATCH DVD EXTRAS TO SEE HOW COSTUMES WERE MADE?


"No. Because I’m a member of the Academy, you get screeners and they never have the extras. I never go and buy them because I’ve got them already. It’s actually by default but I think I probably would if I had the extras".

I wrapped up the chat by asking if she’d be involved in Prometheus.



“Assumption is the mother of all, you know, dot dot dot. But I know I think Ridley’s hoping to do that soon,” explains Janty. “I think the script’s gone into a second rewrite, so, you know in this climate, I’m not presuming anything.”

“I have heard the rumours about… as I’m sure you’ve been reading on the ‘net, it is immense and it is going to several galaxies. It’s starting off with the plight of the huge traveller that they find [in the original Alien]. I can only summise that it’s going to be out of this world,” she laughs. “But don’t let us tempt fate. We’ll wait and see.”

:: Prometheus, featuring costumes by Janty Yates, opens in June 2012

A chat with choreographer Arlene Phillips

IS IT TRUE YOU GOT YOUR BIG BREAK BABYSITTING RIDLEY SCOTT’S SON?
"Completely true. I’m a massive Ridley Scott fan. I lived at his house. I helped clean and tidy; I looked after Jake, his oldest son, who is now a wonderful film director himself."

HOW DID YOU START WORKING WITH SCOTT?
"Ridley said to me one day, he had a Lyon’s Made ice cream commercial that he needed choreographing, and he said: ‘You dance don’t you?’ I said: “Of course I do.“ He said: ‘Well do you think you could help me out with this commercial?’
I did the Lyon’s Maid ice cream and it seemed that I was a natural, and the next two commercials he had were for Dr Pepper for America. They were massive they were filmed at Pinewood on the Bond stage, and so that was it. I was in America doing more Dr Peppers, doing films for Ridley, films for Tony [Scott] and it never stopped from there on."

AND YOU WORKED ON LEGEND
"It was funny because Legend, there was actually a massive amount of choreography in it, but eventually all the choreography was cut from the film because the film was running too long because they wanted to make it a shorter film and of course the story couldn’t go, so the first thing that went was the choreography.
It’s visually amazing and I loved working on it."