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All of Your Lingering Prometheus Questions, Answered!

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Still full of questions after seeing Ridley Scott's Prometheus? So were we — so we asked everyone we could get a hold of, from the actor who played scientist Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) to screenwriter Damon Lindelof. And anything we couldn't ask somebody, we found out online. It's the ultimate answer guide to all your pressing Prometheus questions. UPDATED.

Spoilers ahead...

What was David's motivation for "infecting" Holloway with black goop?

Damon Lindelof: I'd say that the short answer is: That's his programming. In the scene preceding him doing that, he is talking to Weyland (although we don't know it at the time) and he's telling Weyland that this is a bust. That they haven't found anything on this mission other than the stuff in the vials. And Weyland presumably says to him, "Well, what's in the vials?" And David would say, "I'm not entirely sure, we'll have to run some experiments." And Weyland would say, "What would happen if you put it in inside a person?" And David would say, "I don't know, I'll go find out." He doesn't know that he's poisoning Holloway, he asks Holloway, "What would you be willing to do to get the answers to your questions?" Holloway says, "Anything and everything." And that basically overrides whatever ethical programming David is mandated by, [allowing him] to spike his drink.


Logan Marshall-Green [The actor who played Holloway]:My definition of a robot, or at least a self-sustained robot, is to put together information. As much information as possible and data. To build on data. The only way they're going to grow is to build on data. You meet David collecting data instantly. I think he probably hit a wall (so to speak) with this mission. They all hit a wall, at first, with this mission. And going back to his father, Weyland, and he's told to "try harder." I think he understands that he will have to sacrifice a human life in order to achieve that collection of data.

Why is Holloway such a jerk to David?

Logan Marshall-Green: It's something that I wanted to implement and I really, really liked it. Michael and I had a blast with it. It's something I haven't seen in science fiction, which is a sense of racism or bigotry towards androids and synthetic life. I think synthetic life is inevitable, and along that line bigotry and racism (if you will) will be inevitable as well. Although I can't approach a role thinking of [my character] as a racist or a bigot. Certainly now I can look back and explain his disdain for Michael in that way. I kind of loved it... that social reflection on a future being, a synthetic android.


David has been watching Lawrence of Arabia while the crew of Prometheus was in stasis for two years, why that movie?

Lindelof: Ridley and I started talking about Lawrence of Arabia, for some reason, very early on in our process. I'm a huge David Lean fan — we were talking about The Bridge on the River Kwai and then Peter O'Toole etc. etc. we just started saying oh what if David was just obsessed with Lawrence of Arabia? Why would he be obsessed with Lawrence of Arabia, and i think the short answer was: Lawrence is a stranger in a strange land. A white man who is entirely different, ultimately becomes the most pivotal figure in that movie, independent of his differences. That felt slightly analogical to what we wanted to do with David.

[Editor's Note: David's crucial line "Big things have small beginnings," is also taken from LOA.]

What is Lindelof's obsession with rich old men who ruin their kids lives?

Lindelof: Well, I will say that I haven't had any experience with rich old men who have ruined my life. Some less rich old men who have been wonderful role models. But I think that the Keynesian "rich old man with nefarious intent" is a classic character in both regular fiction and both straight up genre. And just too delicious to resist.


On that same note, we've seen Lindelof tackle childbirth before specifically women losing the ability to have children or having it bastardized in some way in Lost. Why was it important to weave human pregnancy into Prometheus?

Lindelof: I think hardwired into the original Alien is this idea of fertility. This idea of, for lack of a better way of looking at it, the sperm and the egg need each other to in order to form a new life. And in this gestational construct, the human being is the egg and the sperm is represented (in the original Alien) by a face hugger. And in Prometheus it's represented in a different way. I just feel like the idea of taking these three generations of creators (so the Engineers who created us, then us, and our creation synthetic human beings the robot David). We're going to take those three generations, we're gonna lock them in a room together, we're gonna watch them have sex with each other. And then we're going to see what comes out. That was the experiment that Prometheus was running. And whether it was successful or whether it was a failure, it sure was fun to write.


Have they actually mapped out a motivation for the Engineers, is it supposed to remain ambiguous? Will they be mysterious forever, or can we figure them out if we pay enough attention? Was it deliberate or if they felt like they offered enough hints to the dedicated viewer, where we never really know what the advanced aliens wanted?

Lindelof: Ridley definitely had very specific answers to those questions and we talked a lot about how we wanted to put those answers into Prometheus. And whether or not we wanted to hold any of them back. It's a little bit obnoxious to say, "well if you like this movie, we'll give that stuff to you in the sequel." So you have to have a fair shot at being able to extrapolate based on the information in this movie. But I do feel like, embedded in this movie are the fundamental ideas behind why it is the Engineers would want to wipe us out. If that's the question that you're asking. The movie asks the question, were we created by these beings? And it answers that question very definitively. But in the wake of that answer there's a new question, which is, they created us but now they want to destroy us, why did they change their minds? That's the question that Shaw is asking at the end of this movie, the one that she wants answered. I do think that there are a lot of hints in this movie that we give you quite and educated guess as to why. But obviously not to the detriment of what Shaw might find when she goes to talk to these things herself.


Is Prometheus anti-science? [Editor's Note: We addressed this earlier in our spoiler free interview with Lindelof, but here is his spoiler filled response.]


Lindelof: It's definitely not anti-science. In fact, if anything I think it's pro-science because it advances the idea that part of our own programming as human beings, we're many ways just as governed by our programming as David is. We have to seek out the answers to these questions, even though we know we'll never get satisfying answers. We're curious about what happens as we die. We need to know where we come from. What the meaning of life is. What kind of life we're supposed to lead. These are all sort of nonscientific, philosophical, religious, and spiritual questions. But the idea that we can find some comfort in science, that science can sort of give us a path to follow in understanding our roots. I think we're better off from understanding that we're descended from apes than we are looking at some book that was written 2000 years ago that gives us an explanation for our own roots.


I'm most definitively pro-science, but I think that the movie advances the idea that, can the two live along side each other? Is it possible to be a scientist and maintain some fungible faith in the unknown? And are you rewarded for having blind faith? I do think that the movie is making the meta-commentary in saying well Shaw is the true believer on board, and she's the one who survives. So what are we trying to say by telling that story?

Do the Engineers want us to visit them?

In an interview with IGN, this question is addressed — but Lindelof only answers with more questions.

Lindelof: That's an excellent question and one that I'm not going to answer. But I will say that there's something fascinating about humanity where we perceive it as an invitation. You look at a cave wall, there's somebody pointing at some distant planets, and one interpretation is "This is where we come from" another is "We want you to come here." Where are we drawing that from? I think another thing that's interesting about the system that they visit is that the moon the land on in Prometheus is LV 223. And we know LV 426 is where the action takes place in Alien, so are they even in the right place? And how close are they to the place that these aliens on cave walls were directing them. Were they just extrapolating "This is the system that has the sun with the sustainable life." So there's a lot of guesswork. There's a small line in the movie where David and Holloway are talking about David's deconstruction of the language based on Holloway's thesis, and he says "If your thesis is correct" and Holloway says "If it's correct?" and David says "That's why they call it a thesis Doctor." And the reason we threw that in there is that we're dealing with a highly hypothetical area in terms of who these beings are, what, if any invitation they issued, and who is responsible for making those cave paintings. And did something happen in between when those cave paintings were made — tens of thousands of years ago — and our arrival now, in 2093, 2,000 years after these things have perished. Did something happen in the intermediate period that we should be thinking about?


What is David saying to the engineers?

MTV News got this answer as part of a lengthy email exchange with Lindeloff, which also reveals whether Meredith Vickers is a robot or not (she's not).

When David communicates with one of the Engineers late in the film, what the hell does he say to get them so angry? Did you actually script what that dialogue would have been in our language?

Yes. David's dialogue with the Engineer has an English translation, but Ridley felt very strongly about not subtitling it. I spoke at length about this on my DVD commentary


Was David's basketball toss a nod to Alien Resurrection?

Crave Online has the answer:

Lindelof: I do think that there are a lot of tips of the cap in Prometheus to all of those movies and I think it's so easy to sit back and rag on mistakes made or wrong paths turned down. But at the end of the day, every single one of those movies I feel had good things in them and an articulation of fondness. All I'll say in response to your question is, nothing is an accident in Prometheus. Every single decision that is made by Ridley Scott is made for a very specific reason and purpose.


Is that first planet in the prologue Earth? got director Ridley to answer this one:

Ridley Scott: No, it doesn't have to be. That could be anywhere. That could be a planet anywhere. All he's doing is acting as a gardener in space. And the plant life, in fact, is the disintegration of himself.


Did the Engineers want to kill humanity because of Jesus?

A hilarious theory, that almost made it into the script. Also coming from the great interview (seriously go read it!). Here's Ridley's response:

You throw religion and spirituality into the equation for Prometheus, though, and it almost acts as a hand grenade. We had heard it was scripted that the Engineers were targeting our planet for destruction because we had crucified one of their representatives, and that Jesus Christ might have been an alien. Was that ever considered?

Ridley Scott: We definitely did, and then we thought it was a little too on the nose. But if you look at it as an "our children are misbehaving down there" scenario, there are moments where it looks like we've gone out of control, running around with armor and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, "Lets' send down one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it. Guess what? They crucified him.


What was cut from Prometheus?

A lot. According to Collider there is about 20 to 30 minutes of deleted scenes Ridley wants to include in the DVD release. And Logan Marshall-Green also revealed to us that his character had been considerably toned down in reshoots. We're assuming 30 minutes is an understatement.


What did we miss? What other questions do you have? Fill the comments and we'll try and tackle them.