Rutger Hauer and Ridley Scott at Blade Runner Day. BFI 21.3.09

Cult Friction headed down to the BFI for Blade Runner Day (21.3.09) for Q&A’s with actor Rutger Hauer and director Sir Ridley Scott.

Today we are closer to the year 2019, the time and setting of the seminal science fiction film Blade Runner, than we are to the time when it was made. Twenty seven years on and the film that was embroiled in production hell, constant rewrites and poor box office returns has endured and emerged as one of the high bench marks of modern sci fi cinema. So much so that members of the British Film Institute (BFI) chose the Philp K Dick adaptation as the number one film of the past seventy five years. Therefore it was felt appropriate to celebrate the movie at the BFI Southbank with a screening of “The Final Cut” of the film as well as a chance for die hard cinemaphiles to meet and hear actor Rutger Hauer (Roy Batty Nexus 6) and director Sir Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator, American Gangster) recall the key moments in the making of what some claim to be the last word in artistic science fiction.

The Final Cut (honestly!)
For nearly three decades Blade Runner has been somewhat schizophrenic. Starting with the films work print, theatrical release right through to first directors cut in 1992 and finally the final cut to mark the 25th anniversary there have been so many versions that fans are struggling to keep up. Even die hard movie buffs have taken the print into their own hands and compiled their own known as the White Bishops cut which consists of all the films deleted scenes.

This Final Cut which has been on DVD since 2007 has digitally cleaned up the picture, corrected the colouring and extended some of the films neon city scape with added footage as well as replacing an obviously dodgy stunt double with the original actress. Overall this constant tinkering and adding to the film over the years have added to the films mystery and intrigue (most importantly the often asked “is Dekard a replicant? Answer: for god sake YES!)

This final version feels more of a complete film that any of the previous cuts (and believe me I have the 5 disc box set in a tin). Watching this film on the silver screen is essential for die hard fans. Even after repeated viewings the extra details jump out at you highlighting every minute detail that makes this film so special.

Hairy Vibrators, a conversation with Rutger Hauer
Tall, distingusihed and very very relaxed, Rutger Hauer took to the stage to reminisce about his (arguably) most famous role ever. This is his 40th year in film and he now has a auto biography from which all the earnings will go to his supported AIDS charity the Starfish Foundation.

On Developing the Character of Roy and working with Ridley Scott

“We just fucked around. To me he was like a big hairy vibrator. My self and Ridley Scott worked very hard on the character and we threw around ideas here and there. He was very open to me experimenting with the character and allowing me to do what I wanted. I was literally bouncing off  the walls. It was physically demanding shoot for me though. Lots of running, especially towards the end. At one point because of the writers strike they didn’t have a proper ending written so I was told that I was going to have to do a Bruce Lee Sile ending and I was like “What?”. I didn’t really think that it was appropriate so we worked on a cat and mouse, hunter now hunted style chase instead.”

On working with Harrison Ford.

“We hardly saw each other. As you know I spend most of the movie being chased by him and its is only at the end that we meet. even at that I spent most of the time ducking away from him or in a different room so all in all a ten day shoot, i probably spent only half of that time actually with him. I had heard that he had been unhappy with some aspects of the shoot and we hardly ever spoke. I turned up at the set and said hello and we would carry on with the scene.

On the films initial reception in 1982.

I remember being there in the test audience in Los Angeles and I could tell that this film was going to divide the audience. I can sense the audience’s skin crawling at certain moments and it was electric. I loved it though, it looked and sounded amazing with those visual effects and that sublime score by Vangelis.It blew me away.  But it made $6 million on its opening weekend due to bad publiciy and did’nt fare too well nationwide. But I loved it.

On the continuing popularity of Blade Runner today.

“Did it change my life? No! (laughs) But I’m surprised how popular its has been over the years. Its such a cult now. I believe it was the last ever science fiction art film. Each line is like Turkish delight, you can dissect and analyse every meaning from the film. It’s like a visul tsunami.

Ridley Scott; In Conversation

Sir Ridley Scott, one of the worlds top film directors, honoured with three Academy Award Nominations and the mind behind two of the greatest science fiction films of all time Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982),sprawling epics such as Gladiator (2000) and Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and many many more. Receiving the BFI Fellowship from his contemporary Steven Frears (dir The Queen, High Fidelity) he spoke with Francine Stock about his carrer past, present and Future.

A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Scotts background was primarily in design. Starting at the BBC and working on some of the networks most popular shows he went into commercial production setting up RSA which became one of the leading commercial production companies in Europe. In 1977, Scott made his feature film debut with The Duellisits, for which he won Best First Film Award at Cannes Film Festival. Then in 1979 he achieved world wide success with Sci Fi horror blockbuster Alien.

On Alien

“I was showing the cuts to the studio and they were amazed that nothing happens for the first 45 minutes. Then obviously there’s the alien attack scene when it shoots out of the egg. One of the execs shouted “Don’t look in the egg!” (laughs). Then the chest burster scene, it worked like a son of a bitch. The cast were taken out and in came the designer of the chest burster, who wasnt HR Geiger by the way who worked on the main alien. This penis like thing came in a plastic bag and we set about having it installed into a fake torso with John Hurts head at the top. He was’nt very comfortable as you can imagine. Then we brought in the cast and they reacted perfectly. We did it in one take, that was it. That was all we needed to get the right reaction and as you can see it stands up. My biggest fear is that they would burst out laughing.”

On Science Fiction.

“I loved Star Wars and 2001. When Star Wars came out I just went “WOW.” And so the first script that landed in my lap that was sci fi I jumped at it. Most of the set that I was involved with in Alien, the design I wanted to make ultra realistic so that we could believe in this environment that our characters were in just like 2001, so I took that leaf from Kubrick. Then when I got the script for Blade Runner I wasn’t too keen on being seen as a Sci Fi director, I didn’t want to do two back to back. But I met with Philip K Dick and we came up with something fantastic. The reason why I haven’t done a Sci Fi picture in so long is because I like to try everything. At the moment I am currently working on the adaption of the novel Forever War by Joe Haldeman which I’ve just obtained the rights to so yes I will be returning to that genre.

On 3D cinema and new technology

“You need a good plot and narrative no matter what. I have seen some of the things that Cameron is doing with his new project Avatar and it is stunning so I do believe it is the future of the big screen entertainment however it is never a substitute for a good script.”

On the best directors/actors

“I watch everything. I watch a movie a night before I go to bed so I am influenced by everything I see. Big Lebowski was a big favourite of mine. They (the Coen Brothers) are doing a great job.But on the whole I respect the masters in particular Bergman, Kurosawa and Kubrick. In regards to actors I think Russel Crow is a massive talent. I enjoy working with him and I think he is one of the greatest actors at the moment. Denzel Washington’s great too. I think actors are a nuisance though! (Laughs)”

On his upcoming work

“Well we are working on the new Robin Hood film with Russel Crowe in the title roll and Cate Blanchett supporting as  Maid Marrion. I am also looking at a script that deals with the Gucci empire. That was a fantastic story of revenge and money and a great setting.”

Cult Friction

March 2009

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