Ridley Scott Discusses Blade Runner and Planning Its Sequel

IGN recently spoke to filmmaker Ridley Scott to discuss his classic sci-fi picture, Blade Runner, which recently turned 35 years old. The upcoming sequel, Blade Runner 2049, is set to hit theaters October 5, 2017. Here are some highlights from that conversation:

Scott on his earlier influences for the first film: “Yeah, I mean — you know, by the time I would start making movies, I was 40. I was a very, very successful commercial maker. So, you know, we were already pretty ingrained into it, New York, London, and the Far East. And so I traveled a lot, shooting everywhere, and I spent a bit of time shooting in Hong Kong before the first skyscraper ever was going up, the Bank of Hong Kong. So when I was in Hong Kong shooting, it was — Christ, it was medieval, right? It was medieval meets technology. And medieval meets electronics. And they were making everything from cameras to sound stuff and selling it in their boxes and God knows what else. The junks in the harbor, when I was there, there had got to be 200 junks in the harbor.”

“And so it was an amazing environment, and that stuck in my mind. It kind of influenced me in that direction, in terms of what will the populace be in the time that Blade Runner’s [set] in. It’s not quite accurate, because 2017, we’re nearly there. Well, we are there. And it’s not Chinese at all. But there’s a lot of mixed cultures … But I think that’s one of the big things about it, was also I was spending a lot of time going to New York. That particular moment in the ’60s and ’70s, I did a lot of commercials.”

“New York was always the city of overload. I thought it was smelly, dirty, and grungy. And therefore I didn’t love it, but I figured it represented what we called retro-architecture. So mate, how the f#@k are you gonna clean these buildings? How do you clean the windows? It’s impossible. So that became the backdrop of how the exterior, the world of Blade Runner, evolved, because originally the script that Hampton Fancher wrote was very, very good, [but] very much written as a lower budget film. Very much internalized and interiorized. It told [the story] in apartments where the one party would go out and return, and I said, “You know, what you’re proposing in the story, you’ve got to go outside and see the world. See what that is.” So from that point on, I’ve never worked so much in all my life with a writer, the writer Hampton. And actually, it’s probably one of the best experiences I’ve had with a writer. We worked for five bloody months on it, almost every day going through it, going through what we went through yesterday, and gradually he evolved it. So, in a funny kind of way, it was a very nice marriage of a very clever writer and a very visual director. So it was nice. It was one of my better experiences, I would say.”

Scott on the planning for a sequel: “So I knew what the sequel could be because, having made the first one, I used to sit and think [how] there’s a very obvious choice. And that choice always sat there, and at one stage I’d gone to somebody else saying, ‘We should actually do this.’ And they said, ‘Well, we think the first one should be left alone because it worked.’ I said,’Well, I think you’ve got another way to go with this thing.’ And eventually our contract got bought. But in buying it, they asked me first, ‘Is there a story?’ So I was able to say, ‘Of course there is.’”

Scott on when he decided that Rick Deckard was a replicant: “Oh, it was always my thesis theory. It was one or two people who were relevant were… I can’t remember if Hampton agreed with me or not. But I remember someone had said, ‘Well, isn’t it corny?’ I said, “Listen, I’ll be the best f#@king judge of that. I’m the director, okay?” So, and that, you learn — you know, by then I’m 44, so I’m no f#@king chicken. I’m a very experienced director from commercials and The Duellists and Alien. So, I’m able to, you know, answer that with confidence at the time, and say, ‘You know, back off, it’s what it’s gonna be.’ Harrison, he was never — I don’t remember, actually. I think Harrison was going, ‘Uh, I don’t know about that.’ I said, ‘But you have to be, because Gaff, who leaves a trail of origami everywhere, will leave you a little piece of origami at the end of the movie to say, ‘I’ve been here, I left her alive, and I can’t resist letting you know what’s in your most private thoughts when you get drunk is a f#@king unicorn!’ Right? So, I love Beavis and Butthead, so what should follow that is ‘Duh.’ So now it will be revealed [in the sequel], one way or the other.”

Scott on the lasting impact of Blade Runner: “It’s a social event, I think. Because, at the time, which taught me never to read your own press again — I’ve never read press since Blade Runner. Not because it’s misguiding, if you get great press you think you own the universe, and you don’t. And if it’s bad press, you think you’ve f#@ked up. And, you’ve got to have your own judgement call on what you’ve just done. It’s a bit like being an author or a better example is a painter. You’re on your own, Jack, and you’d better have your own opinions. You can’t listen to what people say. Unless you’re f#@king nuts, and then you won’t actually ever get to do another movie. You have to be inordinately responsible and sensible as I am — ha ha. I am, I’m very responsible to investors and the partners I have. When I make a movie, I’m always very keen to be on budget and do it right.”

On not having any fear of doing a sequel: “No, I think the original was so good, really, and so long ago, I don’t really care. But I can say now that I think it’s a really good film, and it’s stood the test of time. Because I’m very much a part of the new script, we even took the opening of the film and that’s how I was gonna open the original film. And I was sitting with Hampton and said, ‘Remember that thing we did with blah-blah-blah-blah-blah?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s how we began our conversation.”