Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is a film that’s in many ways about the relationship between the creator and the created, and Charlize Theron’s character Meredith Vickers is an important part of that puzzle.
Myself and a few other journalists sat down with Theron earlier this week in London and spoke with her at length regarding the film, her character’s ice-cold exterior and what it was like to work inside the vast environments created for the film.
“With ‘Prometheus,’ Scott creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.”
In theaters June 8, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Sean Harris, Guy Pearce, Kate Dickie, Rafe Spall, Logan Marshall-Green, Benedict Wong, Emun Elliott and Patrick Wilson all star.
Head inside to check it out! I’ve taken out some major spoilers, but we also actually had to talk about the film so I imagine there’s some stuff in there that you haven’t heard discussed yet. Proceed at your own risk.
Can you talk about how the script evolved from when you first read it?
Well, from the time that Ridley sent it to me, it was probably in a two-week period discussed it on the phone and he introduced me to Damon, and we kinda just had like a back and forth for a couple of days. Then Damon went for, I think just two weeks and did some writing and came back with a really, really good foundation. Then it kind of just continued, as all movies do. This wasn’t an unusual experience for me, that you then sit down and have more discussions about it and more things come out of it and little tweaks here and there and things come in and go out. You know, that’s kind of like ongoing for me on every movie, so that’s kind of how this came about.
It looks like a lot of the film was built onset as opposed to a green screen.
The entire ship was built. Yeah, an entire ship was built, I mean, like every button, every wall, every hallway, everything. The green screen that I saw was through the windows. That was it.
Can you talk a little bit about the first day you stepped onto the set? I’m sure you were told you’re not going to have to worry about green screen, but there’s something to be said about walking into that environment and seeing the sets
It’s amazing. I mean, I didn’t realize—yeah, I mean, I don’t think we had a clear understanding of how much of it was going to be tangible, but that was ridiculous. But he’s that kind of director. I think he comes from the school of understanding that the marriage between that real set and CGI is what makes it good, because to have the actual set is helpful for your actors. And so, it helps raise the stakes for the performances, which makes the movie better. I know that what we did as actors in this film would not have been what it is if we were just acting with green screens around us and stuff like that. It was amazing. I mean, I walked on and had a bit of a—I needed to chill my ego down because I was like, “My ship, my ship, my ship…”
Did that actually kind of feed the character a little bit?
My ego? Yes. (Laughs)
You said you liked exploring characters where … people aren’t born bad, so what do you think was driving Meredith?
Well, it’s a tough thing to talk about Meredith without giving the movie away, but I think there is a great quote—and I feel horrible that I don’t know who said this—but it was a great quote, it says, “The only difference between all of us are the ones who are loved and the ones who are not.” I feel like Meredith falls in that category really well.
A lot of the stuff that the film explores thematically, existential questions, there’s some body horror in the film. What component of film are you personally frighted by?
Theron: Frightened by? Oh, it’s the unknown. When I watched the film for the first time, I had a bruised elbow because I knocked my elbow into the steel part of the chair next to me like, three times. All of those moments were once they were out there in the unknown. I think there’s something incredibly scary about that. I mean, and that fucking tagline is still on my head, “When you’re in space, no one can hear you scream?” That screwed me up for life. Like, sometimes I’m by myself and I’m like, “When you’re in space. No one can hear you.” I mean, that just screwed me up. So I think that stuff for me coincides with wanting to believe that you’re going to get an answer to something, and then discovering, obviously not, and the discovery is just f*cking horror. That’s scary.
Regarding the world and your homework, how much were Damon and Ridley there to give you background that didn’t make it into the movie
A lot. There was a lot of stuff that didn’t end up in the movie, but I think you can’t be attached to those things as an actor. I want to be in a good movie, and so the narrative is way more important. I think that stuff helps create maybe a thickness to her that wouldn’t have been there. I think in the long-run, all of that stuff was really important. They were great. I mean, Damon was always around. Ridley was just always asking questions. It was just one of those environments where we were always talking about it, always, and there were even moments where Michael Fassbender and I would kind of enhance our scenes and talk about it. Ridley was incredibly just open to all of that stuff. It was just a very collaborative set, and my fear was that we were trying to answer things that you can’t answer, and that’s when it becomes problematic, and it wasn’t that kind of set. We really just enjoyed asking all the big questions, and not necessarily finding the answers.
After seeing the movie, people were theorizing that your character might be an android. She’s obviously not, but do you want to talk about that for a bit?
Theron: (Laughs) We played around with a lot of stuff, I’ll just say that, nonspecific things. I don’t think we ever went like that (puts her finger down as if pressing a button). But we played around with a lot of stuff, and we threw a lot of stuff out there very loosely, and maybe they influenced some of it a little bit, but there was definitely something that happened once David and I kind of stood next to each other, where I started feeling like his posture was overtaking my posture. There’s the good age-old question like, “Is the chicken before the egg?” Like, is it him or is it me or is it part of my DNA in him? We did talk about that a lot, that it was nice to have something ambiguous about the origins of both of us, maybe, like why do we look so much alike? Why am I walking so much like him? Is it that I am an android or is it that I gave him human qualities, that I gave him my DNA? We played with a lot of that sh*t, which was fun.
What are your thoughts on extraterrestrial life? What do you think?
I’ve always thought it was very plausible. I haven’t really like experienced anything in my life that changed that, so I think that it’s very, very, very possible. I mean, factually we know that there’s living cells out there, so we know that. If you read science, we can go by that. So are there actual full creatures? I wouldn’t say “no.”