We really liked the Weyland TED talk that Guy Pearce did. Where did that idea come from?
[DL] Originally in the draft there’s a scene in the movie where we see David with his headset on and he’s talking to someone, and we don’t know who it is, and he gets confronted by Vickers [Charlize Theron]. There’s a scene in the script that we decided not to shoot, where we see the inside of that dream, and basically David takes a jet ski out with a beautiful woman in a bikini, to a yacht, and on the yacht is Weyland – played by Guy, without old-age make-up: this is his dream. They have a scene together and in it David says, “The engineers are dead, they’re all gone, mission failure,” and Weyland says, “Go back and try harder.” We rewrote it so that we were going to play Weyland’s identity closed, give the audience a sense that David was talking to someone on the ship but not view them.
But we had already shot the scenes with Guy in the old-age make-up. So we were like, "Are people are going to wonder why we cast Guy Pearce to play an old man, unless we represent him as Guy Pearce?" So that basically tapped into a piece of viral we had already been talking about, which is that I said it would be really cool to introduce the title of the movie – because people were asking “Prometheus, what is that?”, “How does the myth have context in the context of this movie?” So I said we should write this TED talk, and then Ridley basically handed it off to Luke, his son, who is an incredible director, and we got together with Tom Rielly at TED and said, “Can we use your branding?” because if we can’t call it a TED talk we’ll have to call it a “FRED talk” or something. Everyone will know, it’ll cheapen it.
And he said not only can you use our branding, but we’d like to unveil it at TED, and portal it through our website. So suddenly we realised we were on to something. But cool virals don't happen unless the director completely and totally gets it, and Ridley’s entire background is in advertising and marketing, his brain works that way. So he made the calls to Fox. They immediately understood it and got on board – they were like, “What else do you have?” which a studio almost never asks you.
[RS] They usually say, “We’ve done that!” But actually you haven’t. “No. We do that!”
There was also the viral of Noomi Rapace as Dr Shaw. Were there any other ones you had planned?
[RS] That was part of her screen test. Then Johnny Hardstaff did the David one, and also played around and took the Noomi application for the job to an eye in the wall. She's not talking to Mr Weyland – she’d never meet Weyland, she'd never be allowed to, wouldn’t even meet the secretary – it’s like a HAL eye, she’s applying to a job to the eye, which in turn is being watched by a minion, who gets a secretary, and finally gets to Rupert Murdoch, then actually to Weyland.
[DL] It was three pieces of viral: the David 8 ad, the Weyland TED talk and then the quiet eye with Noomi. There was one other piece, which was going to be the transmission, that we ended up not doing. It’s in the movie. There’s a message that they’re transmitting to the Engineers, with the girl playing the violin, and David and Holloway have the scene where they haven’t responded to the message. That's another piece of viral which we may or may not release.
[RS] We may use it in the US when it opens [8 June]. Did you get what the message was about? From take-off you’d be constantly replaying that, hoping that somebody’s going to say, “Don’t come any further, I’m going to blow you out of the sky.” In there, there would be every conceivable form of mathematics equation and anyone who is superior is going to look at that for three seconds and say, “We’ve got chimpanzees on the way.” So, it’s an assessment of who’s coming, basically, it makes sense.
Is that a reference to the original Voyager probe, which obviously had Bach records, drawings, etc?
[DL] Like in Starman.
You’re known to dabble in the director’s cut. Are we going to see one when Prometheus comes to DVD chock full of these out-takes?
[RS] No, I think this is a good length, the dynamics are about right, all you'll really see is extended scenes in the menu. That said, I think that the fashion of actually putting out a couple of discs is here to stay, which will comfort you on all other kinds of conversation about how the movie was made. The only real regret I’ve ever had over the years, funnily enough, is the cut on Kingdom of Heaven.
I removed 17 minutes which I thought at the end of the day were emotionally essential. They weren’t really part of the narrative, which was the problem, and when you’re editing, you’re editing and then suddenly the film goes off on a tangent for 17 minutes, and you’ve seen the joke several times, so the joke’s no longer funny or interesting. It was wrong, really, to take it out, because it was all about the demise of the young king, and therefore it was also a very nice thing for Eva Green. I always regretted that. The three-hour version of that was somehow more complete.