Photo credit Stephen Vaughan, Copyright 2017 Alcon Entertainment, LLC
(L-R) RYAN GOSLING as K and HARRISON FORD as Rick Deckard in Alcon Entertainment's action thriller "BLADE RUNNER 2049," a Warner Bros. Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment release, domestic distribution by Warner Bros. Pictures and international distribution by Sony Pictures.
Extensive panel discussion also includes Director Denis Villeneuve, Screenplay Writer Hampton Fancher, Writer Michael Green and Actors Mackenzie David, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks and Dave Bautista. ‘Blade Runner 2049’ opens October 6 in theaters everywhere.
By Lynette Carrington
It’s almost time for the release of “Blade Runner 2049.” The highly anticipated film picks up 35 years after the original “Blade Runner,” and sees Harrison Ford stepping back into character as Rick Deckard. This time around, new Blade Runner, K, played by Ryan Gosling seeks out Deckard who has been missing for 30 years. But why? The story will play out in the visual masterpiece directed by Denis Villeneuve that is set to open October 6.
‘Blade Runner 2049’-Decades in the Making
Was “Blade Runner” screenwriter Hampton Fancher thinking about the character of Rick Deckard for the past 35 years? “No, I hadn’t been thinking about him,” says Fancher. “There were times that it came up. Through the 80s, sometimes Ridley (Scott) would give a call… ‘What do you think? Do you have any ideas? Maybe we should do something.’ That kind of thing happened a couple times.” Fancher flew out to Los Angeles to take meetings a couple of times, but the rights to Blade Runner were, according to Fancher, “confusing,” and nothing came of those talks. About six years ago, he wrote a short story, but it sat.
Copyright 2017 Alcon Entertainment, LLC
Harrison Ford (Academy Award nominee “Witness”) reprises his role as Rick Deckard in “Blade Runner 2049.” With his signature deadpan sense of matter-of-fact humor, Ford recalls his time on the original “Blade Runner” set. “It was raining. I was tired.” Ford states. “I was happy with the long-term eventual movie. A lot has happened since then, but it was a remarkable experience working with Ridley (Scott), Jordan Cronenweth and the rest of the people involved, and Hampton.” Ford then quips, “But, that was a long time ago, in a world far, far away,” making a cheeky reference to the opening screen crawl intro of the “Star Wars” films.
Writer Michael Green wrote the script for “Blade Runner 2049” based on Fancher’s short story that was written years earlier. Initially, Green was terrified of tackling the well-known characters in the world of “Blade Runner.” He says, “The idea of working on ‘Blade Runner’ is absolutely playing with fire, but I think everyone up here is a pyromaniac of sorts, so it’s exciting.” He especially loved translating Fancher’s work which he describes as being painted with “smoke, beautiful smoke,” working alongside the film’s executive producer Ridley Scott (who also directed the original “Blade Runner”) and director Denis Villeneuve. He embraced the feedback he got from both Scott and Villeneuve.
In taking the helm of directing “Blade Runner 2049,” Villeneuve had themes he wanted to explore. He explains, “The idea that as human beings we are programmed by our limited background and our education and how we can get free from that...” He also wanted to bring back the beauty of “Blade Runner” and explore it in his own way. Indeed, it is easy to see the atmospheric influence of the first film flowing into “Blade Runner 2049,” but with a renewed freshness that pays homage to the first film. In fact, before agreeing to tackle the continuation of such an iconic science fiction film, Villeneuve wanted to be in the same room with Ridley Scott and get his blessing to direct one of the most highly anticipated films of the last several years. Scott’s directorial work of “Blade Runner” was considered absolutely groundbreaking at the time and among the best work of his career. “Basically, I told him walking in the room, ‘It’s simple. You give me your blessing and if you don’t, I walk out and I’m not doing the movie. There’s no in between…,’” recalls Villeneuve.
In “Blade Runner 2049,” Ryan Gosling portrays K, a young Blade Runner sent to find Ford’s character of Rick Deckard after he has gone missing, in an attempt to discover some deep, dark secrets. Gosling (Academy Award nominee, “La La Land” and “Half Nelson”) says, “It seemed like Harrison had so much fun in the original. It seemed like a great time to be had. It’s a very unique opportunity. It’s such a wildly unique film.” Although the actor was only 12-years old when he saw the original “Blade Runner,” the cult classic science fiction film haunted him. “What I experienced was something very different. What’s interesting is the film is not just the experience of watching it, but how it stays with you. I wasn’t asking myself at 12 what it meant to be a human being. But I was, after it, maybe not consciously but subconsciously -- those seeds were planted. I realized how much influence it had on the culture I grew up in,” says the actor.
Copyright 2017 Alcon Entertainment, LLC Photo credit Atomic Fiction
(Center L-R) RYAN GOSLING as K and MACKENZIE DAVIS as Mariette in Alcon Entertainment's action thriller "BLADE RUNNER 2049," a Warner Bros. Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment release, domestic distribution by Warner Bros. Pictures and international distribution by Sony Pictures.
Gosling continues, “(I got) to read a script that was a love letter in certain ways to the original, but was also very much its own thing. It was respectfully carrying out the narratives and themes of the original, but at the same time introducing its own conceptual ideas, that still was massive in scale and at the same time intimate, personal and emotional. This is an experience that’s unique to ‘Blade Runner’ and a wonderful opportunity for me to be part of something unique.”
It is no easy feat going toe-to-toe with Ford, who is one of the greatest movie action heroes of all time. Gosling explains Ford’s on-set arrival in a very Hollywood-esque manner by stating, “We heard Harrison had landed. We heard Harrison was coming to set. We heard Harrison had arrived. It was very darkly lit. You could only distinguish people by their silhouette. Suddenly, this very distinctive silhouette appears… He steps into the light and looks at me like I was an 8-year old kid who just broke his window. …Then immediately put us at ease because he’s the best collaborator you could ever ask for, and brings with him the experience and the intent of making something great and we all felt that...”
Photo credit Stephen Vaughan, Copyright 2017 Alcon Entertainment, LLC
ROBIN WRIGHT as Lt. Joshi in Alcon Entertainment's action thriller "BLADE RUNNER 2049," a Warner Bros. Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment release, domestic distribution by Warner Bros. Pictures and international distribution by Sony Pictures.
Building on her outstanding success of strong characters in “House of Cards” and this year’s summer blockbuster, “Wonder Woman,” Robin Wright plays “Lieutenant Joshi” in “Blade Runner 2049.” What did she like most about her doing her scenes? “Being a bad ass!” she exclaims. “What was so great about Denis is how he brings heart to the darkness. That was such a nice caveat to feel so fierce as an authority figure, as a leader, as a lieutenant needing to keep order and there is one mission, and everybody needs to stay within those confines of that mission. But, to also feel this undying affection and protection of this special boy. Because, he is so special and we don’t want to break him. ‘And if you break him, I’ll kill you.’” The whole panel laughed at hearing Wright’s movie “threat.”
Mackenzie Davis portrays “Mariette,” one of the colorful and perhaps streetwise characters in the film and knew her character’s place in the futuristic world. “There is such a caste system in this world, and there’s not a lot of upper mobility and it can feel really confining, I think. But, I really like that Mariette was sort of aware of being an underling and she just seems like this cheeky drowned rat who had survived the apocalypse.”
Ana de Armas is the curious character of “Joi” who is closely associated with K and encountered some very technical shooting with Gosling. “That was a very incredible scene to do,” states Armas. “It was very challenging, technically speaking, because there were so many things we never did before. It was kind of like doing a dance, and we were kind of fighting against each other… It was very difficult to repeat.” The intense scene took three days to shoot and were comprised of high emotion, choreography, intensity and a lot of quick shots and cuts.
Sylvia Hoeks plays multi-faceted character “Luv,” and she too had some wonderful scenes to film. “I was astonished when I read the script and saw this rich palette that I could play with and I felt very grateful,” says Hoeks. “I remember just having so much fun preparing and thinking, ‘There are all these possibilities. What can I do with her? Where can we go?’ I felt very happy. It was the most fun character I’ve ever played.”
Dave Bautista is fresh off his role in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” As you might expect, the WWE superstar’s brawn comes into play in “Blade Runner 2049” as character “Sapper Morton.” He and Gosling’s character of K definitely got into it during filming. Bautista says, “I think Ryan owes me an apology!” To which, Gosling quickly chimes in, “Once Harrison apologizes to me, then I’ll think about handing out apologies!” Gosling describes a well-document incident where, during a fight scene, Ford accidentally punched the younger actor. Ford then poured a small shot of Scotch for Gosling after the incident and made off with the with rest of the bottle for himself. Classic Ford.
Bautista goes on to say, “When I first got the role, I didn’t realize how important the character was to the plot of the film. I was pretty stressed out about having that pressure put upon me. I was feeling like the newbie to the cast. I’m proud to have earned a role in this movie.” Indeed, Bautista’s role is somewhat of a mystery, but some fans draw a similarity in characteristics between Bautista’s character and that of actor Brion James, who portrayed “Leon” in the original “Blade Runner.”
Photo credit Stephen Vaughan, Copyright 2017 Alcon Entertainment, LLC
RYAN GOSLING as K and SYLVIA HOEKS as Luv in Alcon Entertainment's action thriller "BLADE RUNNER 2049," a Warner Bros. Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment release, domestic distribution by Warner Bros. Pictures and international distribution by Sony Pictures.
Much focus was made to have “Blade Runner” 2049 shot on a physical set and use CGI only when needed. Producer Broderick Johnson says, “It’s a challenge only in the sense that there’s so much pressure, and it was so important to us to make the very best film that we could, and we knew that entailed putting Denis… and all the other incredible artists in the best position to really achieve that art.” Real set, real props and attention to detail allowed the artists to shine. He singles out Villeneuve’s ability to create such unique art and literally orchestrate magic with his keen vision and direction.
Producer Andrew Kosove adds, “We’ve done some pretty large-scale movies. I think as far as building the actual sets as it relates to the overall vision for the film, I think what’s so special about the movie Denis has made and what I think makes great science fiction, great science fiction-- is the humanistic quality of the film and there are a lot of components that go into that.” Indeed, anyone who has seen the original “Blade Runner” knows how important the physical scenery combined with the acting can be in propelling a film into an entirely unique place.
Cynthia Sikes Yorkin also serves as this film’s producer and her late husband, Bud Yorkin was a producer on the original “Blade Runner.” It had been very important to Bud to see this film made prior to his passing two years ago. Cynthia states, “We’d started over 12 years ago trying to get the rights untangled with the partner that was reluctant to see anything happen with ‘Blade Runner.’” After getting it sorted out, it was important to both her and Bud as a producing team to find people that would preserve the integrity of the original film. She was very happy with everyone’s involvement, but gives a special shout-out to all the women involved in the film, who have rich and interesting roles. “I’m very pleased that a dream of my husband and myself came true.”
The legacy of “Blade Runner” is an important one and in making this new film as many people as possible who were involved in the 1982 film were brought back to continue its story. Ford stepped back into the role of Deckard because the script was a good one, there was a story to be told, and the visuals were rich and compelling. “A picture is worth 1,000 words,” explains Ford. “When you get on a set that there’s been a lot of thought put in to the visual aspects of that scene, you feel support... You know what you don’t have to do. You have to be there, of course, for the other characters and service the story, but so much is done in a visual way, it certainly encourages your confidence.”
Much has been made of the different endings of the original “Blade Runner,” and Ford singles out director Scott’s Final Cut as his favorite. Ford finishes by saying, “I’ve thought about it frequently, because I’ve been reminded of how many filmmakers took inspiration from that film and how much it defined a certain kind of visual storytelling, how strong the effect of the film has been on our culture and the prescience of many of the things that might be part of the future. It’s had a huge influence our culture and on my life.” For additional information, visit www.bladerunnermovie.com.