Ridley Scott On The “Alien” Prequel

Director Ridley Scott (“Gladiator,” “Robin Hood”) tells MTV News that after years of talking about it, script work on the “Alien” prequel is well underway with a fourth draft currently sitting on his desk.

“It’s a work in progress, but we’re not dreaming it up anymore. We know what the story is. We’re now actually trying to improve the three acts and make the characters better, build it up to something [we can shoot]. It’s a work in progress, but we’re actually making the film. There’s no question about it, we’re going to make the film… Now it’s a matter of, how good can I get the screenplay in the next few weeks so I can get a good ballpark figure of what it will cost. I’ve already got people working graphically on designs” says Scott.

Surprisingly Scott was more forthcoming than expected about the story which will be set in 2085, 30 years before Ellen Ripley is born, but will have a female lead. Of the story Scott says he’s finally going to solve the mystery of a key scene in the 1979 original.

“It’s fundamentally about going out to find out ‘Who the hell was that Space Jockey?’ The guy who was sitting in the chair in the alien vehicle – there was a giant fellow sitting in a seat on what looked to be either a piece of technology or an astronomer’s chair… I’m basically explaining who that Space Jockey – we call him the Space Jockey – I’m explaining who the space jockeys were.” says Scott.

For those who don’t remember or have never seen Scott’s original, the story followed the human crew of the starship Nostromo touching down on the unexplored planet LV-426 to investigate a signal. They come upon a crashed spacecraft containing the fossilised remains of the pilot (the Space Jockey) and a vast cargo hold full of alien eggs. Despite being from an obviously different alien species to the titular xenomorphs, the Space Jockey’s origins are never explored or really talked about onscreen outside of that scene.

Scott adds the film’s ‘company’ won’t be the Weyland-Yutani company yet – just Weyland. Also the story will deal with their early attempts at terraforming planets.

Scott says that he’ll likely have to redesign the creatures “I think, therefore, I have to design – or redesign – earlier versions of what these elements are that led to the thing you finally see in “Alien,” which is the thing that catapults out of the egg, the face-hugger. I don’t want to repeat it. The alien in a sense, as a shape, is worn out.”

Release date wise, Scott says “we’re hoping to have it in theaters in late 2011, or maybe the best date in 2012.”

Update: More details have emerged from HitFix where Scott confirms they’ll film in 3D and the project isn’t one but two films – “Prequels. Two films.” The movies however will NOT be shot back-to-back, it’s the first one that is following the release plans above.