Still full of questions after seeing Ridley Scott's Prometheus? So were we — so we asked everyone we could get a hold of, from the actor who played scientist Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) to screenwriter Damon Lindelof. And anything we couldn't ask somebody, we found out online. It's the ultimate answer guide to all your pressing Prometheus questions. UPDATED.
What was David's motivation for "infecting" Holloway with black goop?
Damon Lindelof: I'd say that the short answer is: That's his programming. In the scene preceding him doing that, he is talking to Weyland (although we don't know it at the time) and he's telling Weyland that this is a bust. That they haven't found anything on this mission other than the stuff in the vials. And Weyland presumably says to him, "Well, what's in the vials?" And David would say, "I'm not entirely sure, we'll have to run some experiments." And Weyland would say, "What would happen if you put it in inside a person?" And David would say, "I don't know, I'll go find out." He doesn't know that he's poisoning Holloway, he asks Holloway, "What would you be willing to do to get the answers to your questions?" Holloway says, "Anything and everything." And that basically overrides whatever ethical programming David is mandated by, [allowing him] to spike his drink.
Logan Marshall-Green [The actor who played Holloway]:My definition of a robot, or at least a self-sustained robot, is to put together information. As much information as possible and data. To build on data. The only way they're going to grow is to build on data. You meet David collecting data instantly. I think he probably hit a wall (so to speak) with this mission. They all hit a wall, at first, with this mission. And going back to his father, Weyland, and he's told to "try harder." I think he understands that he will have to sacrifice a human life in order to achieve that collection of data.
Why is Holloway such a jerk to David?
Logan Marshall-Green: It's something that I wanted to implement and I really, really liked it. Michael and I had a blast with it. It's something I haven't seen in science fiction, which is a sense of racism or bigotry towards androids and synthetic life. I think synthetic life is inevitable, and along that line bigotry and racism (if you will) will be inevitable as well. Although I can't approach a role thinking of [my character] as a racist or a bigot. Certainly now I can look back and explain his disdain for Michael in that way. I kind of loved it... that social reflection on a future being, a synthetic android.
David has been watching Lawrence of Arabia while the crew of Prometheus was in stasis for two years, why that movie?
Lindelof: Ridley and I started talking about Lawrence of Arabia, for some reason, very early on in our process. I'm a huge David Lean fan — we were talking about The Bridge on the River Kwai and then Peter O'Toole etc. etc. we just started saying oh what if David was just obsessed with Lawrence of Arabia? Why would he be obsessed with Lawrence of Arabia, and i think the short answer was: Lawrence is a stranger in a strange land. A white man who is entirely different, ultimately becomes the most pivotal figure in that movie, independent of his differences. That felt slightly analogical to what we wanted to do with David.
[Editor's Note: David's crucial line "Big things have small beginnings," is also taken from LOA.]
What is Lindelof's obsession with rich old men who ruin their kids lives?
Lindelof: Well, I will say that I haven't had any experience with rich old men who have ruined my life. Some less rich old men who have been wonderful role models. But I think that the Keynesian "rich old man with nefarious intent" is a classic character in both regular fiction and both straight up genre. And just too delicious to resist.
On that same note, we've seen Lindelof tackle childbirth before specifically women losing the ability to have children or having it bastardized in some way in Lost. Why was it important to weave human pregnancy into Prometheus?
Lindelof: I think hardwired into the original Alien is this idea of fertility. This idea of, for lack of a better way of looking at it, the sperm and the egg need each other to in order to form a new life. And in this gestational construct, the human being is the egg and the sperm is represented (in the original Alien) by a face hugger. And in Prometheus it's represented in a different way. I just feel like the idea of taking these three generations of creators (so the Engineers who created us, then us, and our creation synthetic human beings the robot David). We're going to take those three generations, we're gonna lock them in a room together, we're gonna watch them have sex with each other. And then we're going to see what comes out. That was the experiment that Prometheus was running. And whether it was successful or whether it was a failure, it sure was fun to write.
Have they actually mapped out a motivation for the Engineers, is it supposed to remain ambiguous? Will they be mysterious forever, or can we figure them out if we pay enough attention? Was it deliberate or if they felt like they offered enough hints to the dedicated viewer, where we never really know what the advanced aliens wanted?
Lindelof: Ridley definitely had very specific answers to those questions and we talked a lot about how we wanted to put those answers into Prometheus. And whether or not we wanted to hold any of them back. It's a little bit obnoxious to say, "well if you like this movie, we'll give that stuff to you in the sequel." So you have to have a fair shot at being able to extrapolate based on the information in this movie. But I do feel like, embedded in this movie are the fundamental ideas behind why it is the Engineers would want to wipe us out. If that's the question that you're asking. The movie asks the question, were we created by these beings? And it answers that question very definitively. But in the wake of that answer there's a new question, which is, they created us but now they want to destroy us, why did they change their minds? That's the question that Shaw is asking at the end of this movie, the one that she wants answered. I do think that there are a lot of hints in this movie that we give you quite and educated guess as to why. But obviously not to the detriment of what Shaw might find when she goes to talk to these things herself.
Is Prometheus anti-science? [Editor's Note: We addressed this earlier in our spoiler free interview with Lindelof, but here is his spoiler filled response.]