Just weeks after hearing that Ridley Scott and Twentieth Century Fox were in the midst of a dispute over the budget and rating of the Alien prequel, news has begun flying in at a rapid pace. In fact, word has it that casting is underway with various names being thrown around for the lead role (a Ripley-esque strong female lead). While Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace seemed like the perfect casting, Carey Mulligan was also mentioned. Now a new report over at Vulture indicates that Fox wants Natalie Portman for the role, and that they’re in love with Damon Lindelof’s (“Lost”) screenplay. Want to know what it’s about? Vulture snagged some details…“We’re told all involved parties have been made to sign nondisclosure agreements about the plot, but our spies have been able to glean several interesting nuggets about the project, which is set roughly 35 years before Scott’s dystopic classic,” writes Vulture. “Here’s what we know …
One reason Fox execs are so thrilled with Lindelof’s Alien draft is that, not only is it creatively engaging, but it adds no expensive “set pieces” — production-speak for elaborate, effects-heavy action sequences that add millions to the cost of a film — to the movie. 20th Century Fox and Scott have been wrangling over the director’s proposed budget. One insider familiar with the situation puts Scott’s suggested budget at between $150 million and $160 million; Fox obviously, would like that number to shrink. Still, this is some good news for Fox, which has almost nothing resembling a blockbuster in the hopper for the summer of 2012, and could certainly stand to reinvigorate a wildly popular multi-part sci-fi franchise.
A parade of actresses have met with Scott (who’s being represented in these negotiations by his longtime WME agent George Freeman) to discuss the lead role — that of a female Colonial Marine general — but only two have engendered substantial enthusiasm from both Fox brass and Ridley Scott Associates, the director’s Fox-based production company: Vulture can report exclusively that at the top of the list is Natalie Portman. Right behind Portman is the already-reported Noomi Rapace, star of David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Don’t take Scott’s recent interview with The Independent — in which he claims that the Alien prequel would be “will be really tough, really nasty” — to mean this is automatically going to be an R picture: We’re told another reason Fox execs are pleased with Lindelof’s re-write of original screenwriter Jon Spaihts’ script is that it’s still aimed at a more accessible PG-13 rating. “The thinking,” explains one insider, “is that if the original Alien were released today, minus the F-bombs, you could still get a PG-13. Alien is a very Jaws-ian movie: There’s no sex, and while there’s lots of violence, most of it is off-camera. Maybe you’d have to cut away from certain scenes two seconds earlier, but it could be done.”
….It’s not in anyway a reboot of Alien or the Aliens franchise; it’s really meant to be viewed as Scott’s second Alien movie. What’s more, no Predator creatures appear anywhere within the film. Despite Fox’s efforts to mate the two sci-fi icons (sci-ficons?), Scott’s camp sees the two franchises as hailing from distinct genres that will not co-mingle, synergy be damned. “The later Aliens movies were action movies, but the original Alien was a horror-suspense film,” explains one spy, “This returns the franchise to its roots.”
One extra thing we can tell you: In the film, you’ll finally get an answer about the origin of the “Space Jockey” — that poor pilot of the crashed, derelict spacecraft discovered in the year 2090 by the crew of the Nostromo with his (her? Its?) ribs bent outwards, amidst several thousand alien eggs.“