Don't believe any rumors about Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel being pushed back a year. Our sources tell us Fox is definitely making it and that production starts in March. Last Thursday, an online report stated — incorrectly, it turns out — that the releases of Scott's back-to-back prequels were being moved to 2013 and 2014. Not so.
Here’s what’s really going on: Insiders familiar with the situation tell us that this is merely the echo of a failed effort to cast the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. Initially, there was some talk at Scott Free of pushing back production to accommodate DiCaprio's schedule, so that he could shoot Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar Hoover biopic back-to-back with Scott’s two-part Alien prequel. That, apparently, will not be happening — there will be no "push" to next year.
Oh, and by the way, let's stop calling it "Ridley Scott's Alien prequel" — the title is Paradise.
We're told that Paradise reboots the original Alien franchise, in that the story follows a group of space travelers who encounter a monstrous alien creature that picks them off, one by one. Since there's no working budget yet on the film, formal offers have not gone out to actors, but our spies tell us that several are at the top of Scott's list for leading roles.
By now, readers of this blog know that Noomi Rapace has been the front-runner for the role of “Elizabeth Shaw,” the film’s main character, but we’ve learned of other parts, too: There's "David," who's actually an android, an earlier version of the Bishop 341-B character that Lance Henriksen famously played in Aliens. We're told that Scott was interested in Michael Fassbender for the part, but that Fassbender's reps had sought such an outrageous amount of money for their client that they — forgive the pun — alienated Scott. Of course, there's still a chance that Fassbender's reps may salvage the talks, but things haven't been going so well.
We also hear that Scott hopes to give the part of “Vickers” — a fortysomething, tough-but-sexy woman — to crouching tigress Michelle Yeoh.
There are other interesting roles, including an older businessman along for the ride, but we’re most curious about the part of Engineer 1, who we’re told is to be "played" by a six-foot-five-inch actor, but will actually be entirely CGI, à la Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films.
Finally, still no word on the fate of Paradise visual effects designer Henry South, whose Twitter feed has been suspended ever since his November 9 tweet: “Started work on alien prequel today!! Absolutely stunning. Worth waiting till late 2011 for peeps!”
South had worked on the effects for Scott’s Robin Hood, as well as the forthcoming installments of Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter, and has no doubt been called on the carpet by the super-secretive Scott.
Henry, Henry, Henry: In space no one can hear you scream, but in cyberspace, everyone can hear you tweet.