Star Wars and Alien art-director Roger Christian was gracious enough to have a chat with me this evening about his forthcoming book Cinema Alchemy, movies, 3D-mania, working on Star Wars and Alien (of course), and much more. That interview will be up soon, and it's great stuff, but one topic certainly stood out in our 1hr 10m chat...
Put the rumours to rest as to whether H.R. Giger's metamorph will be truly leaping out of your screen in Ridley Scott's pending Alien prequel:
"Ridley's doing the next Alien in 3D." Christian told me.
When I asked the director if he thought the new prequel could set the Alien franchise straight again, he responded:
"I do. Ridley told me some of his ideas when we were here in Toronto. He has a very clear understanding of where this should go. They kind of stopped dead one of the greatest horror franchises there's ever been, and it had legs to go on. So I'm hoping he'll revive another three. The world certainly wants it, and the fans want it - everybody. "
Christian, who created the 'cannibalisation' technique of using stripped-out WWII bombers to dress SF movie classics Star Wars and Alien, is quite firm about the Alien prequel being in 3D, but less committed about it constituting the start of a new Alien trilogy. But it doesn't seem reasonable to presume that the 'trilogy' comment is completely random. So that's one rumour confirmed, but another springing up in its place, I guess.
Asked if he would have any involvement in Scott's new Alien movie, Christian responded:
"I hope so. I actually met Ridley here at the film festival. We had a chat to catch up, and he was going on about how much I'd 'got it' on the first one. I guess that's because of Star Wars, where I had a trained crew with me...and we learnt how to do it. It's not a technique that's easy to do - it's something I'd learnt. So [Scott] kept saying how I was the one responsible, really."
Christian moved on to directing in 1979 with the seminal medieval short film Black Angel, which was funded by George Lucas, toured the world as a short feature with The Empire Strikes Back and influenced a decade's worth of middle-ages epics including Excalibur (it was screened for John Boorman's crew as a blueprint before shooting began), Ridley Scott's Legend, Disney's Dragonslayer, the UK Robin Of Sherwood TV series and countless other armoured epics ever since. Despite winning an Oscar for his 1982 thriller The Sender and worldwide plaudits for Nostradamus (1994), Christian is best-remembered over the last decade as the director of the movie adaptation of scientology-founder L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth (2000). More from the man himself on that subject soon in the interview...
In the meantime Christian still has a slate of projects to contend with, but would consider stepping back into his old production designer role for one reason only - and one man only:
"I always made only one promise to myself. I said if ever I went back to designing, the only film I would ever want to design is Alien, if Ridley re-did it. I could never understand why they didn't pull him back in". Pressed as to whether he'll be on board the Alien franchise again, Christian laughed: "I don't know! We'll see. I would do it if it came up, depending on what I was doing at the time."