Cheat Sheet: Ridley Scott
Date of Birth:
30 November, 1937
Place of birth:
South Shields, England
Directing, producing, being a knight, arguing with Harrison Ford
Alien, Blade Runner, GI Jane, Thelma And Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down
What you probably already know:
It’s probably not much of a stretch to say that one of your favourite films is a Ridley Scott film. Come on, you’re telling us you didn’t weep at Gladiator? That you’ve not had a girly night in with Thelma And Louise? Or Black Hawk Down, for that matter? That you’ve not had a really earnest conversation about the director’s cut of Blade Runner, or a cheeky self-session whilst thinking about Sigourney Weaver in that vest? Liar. Yeah, OK, there’s no getting away from the fact that he also made GI Jane and Kingdom Of Heaven, but heck we’ve all had wilderness years. The point is, Ridley Scott is one self-made film-maker who has managed to conquer the terrifying blob of Hollywood with his epic, mind-slammingly beautiful films – no mean feat for a bloke from near Newcastle who initially set up a company purely to make darn excellent television adverts.
He’s certainly not a man who will take nonsense from anyone; famously impatient, stubborn and determined to have things his own way, as well as ensuring him great success it’s garnered him a reputation as a slightly difficult director. He and Harrison Ford came to blows on the set of Blade Runner, with Ford admitting in 1992 that they “tangled” during the filming process, and even ‘ard-as-nails Russell Crowe has been quoted as simply following orders when it comes to the director. Seriously, Russell “I’ll throw this right at you” Crowe has stated
‘it’s basically, “Right, this is what we’re doing,” and I’m like, “Okay, cool,” and I’ll say yes first with him and then work out why I want to do it afterwards. The key for any young player if they want to go and work with Ridley, you have to be prepared to bleed.’
He’s a director at the top of his game when creating glorious, sweeping universes (a fact that he is happy to admit), and so it’s little surprise that the hype surrounding his return to the world of Alien has fan-boys weeing in their home-velcroed space suits.
What you might not know:
Scott’s first job wasn’t as a director – it was a trainee set designer for the BBC. Fresh out of studying at the Royal Academy Of Art he nabbed the job in 1963, working on the police drama Z-Cars (a programme, as well you know, that starred Brian Blessed as a character called FANCY SMITH). The beeb were so impressed with Ridder’s work that he was assigned the task of designing the Daleks for the second series of a little show entitled Dr Who – but had to pull out of the job due to scheduling problems. IMAGINE. Instead he started a production company with his brother Tony, where they began making high-quality adverts, including one for Hovis in 1974 which in 2006 was voted our FAVOURITE ADVERT FOR A THING EVER EVER. You can judge for yourself:
Lacks a little je ne sais Sigourney quoi, if you ask us. Interestingly, treating film-making as a business as well as a passion has been the key to Scott’s immense success; word is that he never planned on delving into the world of sci-fi, in fact in 1977 he was actually preparing to direct an adaptation of Tristan and Iseult. But, when Star Wars: A New Hope hit and the world went crazy for the blasty blasty pew pew space mania of George Lucas’ creation, Scott decided the time was right to capitalise on a blossoming market. Tristan was dumped, he decided to accept a directing post on a film called Alien, and the rest is history. He’s also rather competitive when it comes to film-making, always keeping one eye on his brother Tony Scott (director of True Romance, Top Gun and Unstoppable to name but a few), and has stated that he was tempted to begin work on an Alien prequel after seeing James Cameron’s efforts on the sequel Aliens. “Jim’s raised the bar” he said in an Independent interview, “and I’ve got to jump to it,”
Ridley Scott quote:
“I think there’s nothing worse than inertia. You can be inert and study your navel, and gradually fall off the chair. I think the key is to keep flying.”
What to say at a dinner party:
“No matter what the genre, Scott has the ability to not only create real narratives, but entire worlds from his chosen landscape – be it war-torn Somalia, 12th Century Jerusalem, ancient Greece or a replicant-filled future. Dedication, passion, hard work and canny project selections – long live he, I say!”
What not to say at a dinner party:
“If Han Solo reckons he’s a dick then he’s probably a dick.”
HURRY UP PROMETHEUS. Reckon the Hovis lad might make an appearance?