Ridley Scott on the sci-fi epic Raised By Wolves: “Watch him with three bottles of wine!” “| Science fiction television

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TThe main character of Raised By Wolves is Mother, an android tasked with raising a young human family on a distant planet. But things are going badly. The mother begins to react wildly to the slightest provocation, then murders her partner. Before long, she shouts at visitors with such fury that their heads explode. Which begs the question: Has her writer’s mom seen her yet?

“Yeah, she has,” Aaron Guzikowski said hesitantly. She likes it? “She was left speechless. I still do not know. She has not yet given me a satisfactory opinion. What Guzikowski has, however, is a young family, which is how he got the idea for the series. “I thought about my kids and technology a lot,” he says. “And I started to think about raising kids with artificial intelligence – and what that might be like. I have three young sons.

Another voice clicks on the line. “Thank goodness I’ve done this before!” it explodes in a strong accent from the northeast of England. “And let me tell you, it never ends. My lot, they have 52, 54 and 42. And it never stops! This is Ridley Scott, the bluff, gruff and unsentimental director of Blade Runner, Alien, Thelma and Louise and Gladiator. Still a workaholic, even at 83, he directed the first two episodes of Raised By Wolves, setting a visual foreground for the series which is, as you’d expect, epic in scale. The show marks Scott’s return to episodic television directing since leaving the wilds of British television half a century ago. The scenery has changed beyond recognition – but don’t go to suggest that he doesn’t have a TV experience.

“I just handed in a movie with Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck”… Ridley Scott, who refuses to let the lockdown stop him. Photographie: Mike Marsland / WireImages

“I produced 2,500 advertisements!” he roars. “I am Mr Fucking Television Commercial-maker! Scott first quit television for the money. “After tax I was making £ 75 a week,” he says of his days running companies like Z Cars and The Informer. “And I thought, ‘This is fucking crazy.’ One day I was asked to go do an advertisement – and I was given £ 100 in cash. The instinct to advertise never left him. “Actually,” he says proudly, “I’m currently doing a Chinese ad, a big one. So you still rely on your old stuff.

Scott has always had a seemingly unstoppable momentum, but you must be wondering about that now. He’s an octogenarian in a year when a pandemic stopped the world, not to mention his industry, in its tracks. Has he ever felt frustrated by 2020? ” No! He retorts. “I just handed over a movie with Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck. I finished filming about six weeks ago. And now I’m in Provence, where I have an installation to cut. I cut four films here. I will deliver February, then I start [next film] Gucci. So you can’t stop, man. You can never stop. Once you stop you may never be able to get up. “

Raised By Wolves, which just released on Sky Atlantic in the UK, is a series you’ll love or hate. The story of two androids escaping a war-torn Earth with 12 human embryos, it’s a great show on big themes – family, technology, religion – and it unfolds at its own pace, launching new questions faster than she can answer them. Like Lost or Westworld, half the fun comes from concocting your own theories about what’s going on.

Emotional awakening… raised by wolves.
Emotional awakening… raised by wolves. Photography: Coco Van Oppens

“I love this level of engagement,” says Guzikowski. “I’m a huge fan of science fiction, so I know what it’s like to try to figure things out. The show is almost like a giant haunted house, full of all of these mysteries in terms of who has lived there before. There are so many layers. Has anyone solved everything yet? ” Not really. I think if you go through all of Reddit there might be a few people who came close. But I don’t know if anyone has understood correctly.

Thematically, even if it had been directed by someone else, Raised By Wolves would still be in debt to Scott. Four decades after making Alien, the notion of space exploration and artificial intelligence still captivates the director. Discussing the androids in the series, which over time begin to replace their programming and develop feelings, he says, “I love that moment when you created such a smart computer, and fueled it so much, that this equation incredibly complex begins to add up to the emotion.

The conversation sort of turns to whether life exists on other planets. “About a month ago, NASA did something great,” says Scott, “which has been tracking some of the Mariner probes. And remember, they’ve been traveling at around 100,000 mph for the last 47 years, so you’re working that out at light speed, and they’re still only about four and a half minutes from home. So when you look at an equation like that, science fiction barely scratches the surface. There are so many things that we don’t understand. The idea that we are in this galaxy is fucking nonsense.

“The show is like a giant haunted house”… writer Aaron Guzikowski.
“The show is like a giant haunted house”… writer Aaron Guzikowski. Photograph: Jeff Vespa / WireImage

I’m starting to ask Guzikowski a question, but Scott hasn’t finished. “Come on, this is ridiculous,” he continues. “It’s ridiculous – to be that. Right? And I’m a firm believer in what Stanley Kubrick brought about in 2001: A Space Odyssey – which we were definitely pre-visited. For sure. ” Really? ” Of course! He stammers, now at full steam. ” Are you kidding? It’s not even … of Classes. Are you kidding? Of course we were. Do you think we are, that we were just a biological accident over a billion years? I do not think so. There are too many pieces to have been put together – to turn “two plus two is four” into one mind-boggling gigantic equation. I think there was a guidance system somewhere out there that put us on the right track.

Kubrick’s movie appears to be the guidance system that set Scott himself on the path to his own vision of science fiction. He watched him in his 30s, at the start of his original run. “A 70mm print in the middle of the afternoon in London. It was empty because people didn’t really understand it. I just sat there, blown away. It gave him all the confidence he needed when Alien came to meet him. “I was the fifth pick, by the way,” he says. “I wasn’t the first choice, I was the fifth choice to lead Alien. The first choice was apparently Robert Altman. “But,” Scott laughs, “if you’re stupid enough to ask Altman to direct a science fiction… He just said, ‘What? Are you kidding? Leave me alone. Are you screwed up? “

We’re running out of time, which is a shame because having Scott yell at aliens and space is a lot of fun. However, the day before our discussion, Warner Bros. announced that it would be releasing its entire 2021 roster to stream on the same day it hits theaters in the United States, a move that angered cinemas, stars and audiences alike. directors. I wondered how Scott, a steadfast figure in the film world for so many decades, had reacted to the news. “It’s good for us,” he says. He specifically talks about Raised By Wolves. It runs on HBO Max in the US and that’s where all of Warner’s big movies will fall, so he’s happy the inevitable increase in subscribers is getting more eyes on his show.

But what about his new Matt Damon and Ben Affleck movie? What if someone told him that after all his hard work and money, he would go straight to streaming? “Besides the money it’s great, you know?” Ideally, the bigger the audience, the better. It’s not financial, it’s more about communication. Am I communicating? Because it’s our job. It’s nice to see people like it.

So would he be happy if everything he did went straight to streaming? “Oh yeah, sure,” he replies. “Well, you can binge over there. With a TV show like ours, you can sit down with three bottles of wine and watch the 10 o’clock if you want. ”

• Raised By Wolves est sur Sky Atlantic.

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