Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic, is finally hitting theaters on October 6th. The cast and crew are currently in the middle of the press tour and they gathered in downtown Los Angeles at the JW Marriot to talk about the movie as much as they could. In an effort to keep spoilers at bay and preserve the surprises for the audience, everyone avoided talking about the plot. The few times conversation almost bled into spoiler territory, director Denis Villeneuve or Alcon Entertainment’s Andrew Kosove quickly shut them down.
Villeneuve, who said the first film came out “at the time [he] was starting to dream about directing movies,” called the original a “director’s movie.” After he smiled and leaned over to apologize to screenwriter Hampton Fancher, who returned to help write the sequel, he said it was a challenge to go back and look at everything with “fresh eyes.” He said the screenplay gave him the “necessary space for a director,” allowing him to imprint his vision on the project. Apparently, he revisited all the drafts that Fancher and Michael Green turned in, with the first few acting as his bibles for the project as it progressed.
The director admitted that when he approached Ridley Scott, he said, “give me your blessing, if you don’t I’ll walk off the movie.” The night he accepted the opportunity, Villeneuve immediately called up Roger Deakins, his director of photography on Sicario and Prisoners to ask for his help. The two had wanted to collaborate on a science-fiction project for a while so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. The two of them spent a period of months in Montreal working together to storyboard the movie and figure out the design of the world based on the hints they received in the screenplay.
When asked about the pressure of making a follow-up to a film that has been enshrined as an American classic, even earning a position in the Library of Congress, Villeneuve said he didn’t mind too much.
“Good news is I am Canadian, so about the movie being a treasure for the United States? Meh,” Villeneuve joked.
Ryan Gosling, the protagonist of Blade Runner 2049, joked that he signed onto the project because “it seemed like Harrison had so much fun in the original.” Calling the experience a “very unique opportunity,” Gosling said the original movie had a huge impact on him as a kid. He first saw it when he was twelve years old and described it as something that stayed with him over the years.
“I wasn’t asking myself at 12 what it meant to be a human being, but I was after it.”
He said a big fear of his was preserving the legacy of the original and he thinks Blade Runner 2049 does just that. Since so many of the creators behind the original film returned and thought “it was the way the narrative would have evolved and the world would have evolved,” he figured, “why argue with that?” Another big draw for him was the opportunity to work with Villeneuve and Deakens, whom he described as making sure “all the aesthetic choices came from story and character.”
Harrison Ford, who returns to the franchise as Rick Deckard, said Blade Runner 2049 “was a great opportunity to expand the audience’s understanding of the character” and he was excited to come back to the world when he saw what the story was. Not only was he excited about building upon his character’s history, but the opportunity to work with Villeneuve and Gosling was another draw.
Gosling joked that the set had a militaristic feel when Ford was there. He said he would hear phrases like “Harrison has landed,” or “Harrison has arrived” over the walkies.
“Suddenly this very distinctive silhouette appears, and he steps into the light and looks at me a lot like that,” he said pointing to Ford’s solemn face. “A lot like I was an eight-year-old kid who just broke his window,” he joked before going on to call him “the best collaborator you could ever ask for.”
With Blade Runner 2049, Alcon Entertainment co-founder Broderick Johnson said he and his partner Kosove felt a lot of pressure to make the best film that they could. In order to do so, they understood that meant “putting Denis and Roger and the other incredible artists in the best position to achieve that.”
Kosove revealed that, in his opinion, “what makes great science fiction great is the humanistic quality of the film,” and the team understood that there are various components to that. A big component of giving the film a realistic feel was making “a real universe with real sets and real, physical props” because it makes it “easier to improvise.”
For Ford, the sets make everything easier.
“A picture is worth a thousand words, and when you get on a set that’s had a lot of thought put into visualizing that scene you feel a certain support,” said Ford. “You know what you don’t have to do.”
Ana De Armas, who plays Joi in the film, said it was “hard to get used to those sets.” Describing them “as an amazing playground to play around on,” she said they helped her figure out that her character would live in and interact with different spaces. Even Sylvia Hoeks, who plays Luv, described the sets as “very overwhelming” and “not at all what you’d expect.”
Producer Cynthia Sikes, who alongside her deceased husband Bud Yorkin worked for 12 years to “get the rights untangled with a partner who was reluctant to see anything happen with Blade Runner,” said Alcon Entertainment was the perfect production team to join forces with. While she praised the whole project, she gave a special “shout out to the wonderful women in [the] project.”
Robin Wright, who plays Lt. Joshi, plays another aggressive, authority figure hot off her role as Antiope in Wonder Woman. Her favorite part of the role was “being a badass” and she had nothing but praise for how she brought the character to life alongside Villeneuve.
“What was so great about Denis is how he brings heart to the darkness, and that was such a nice caveat to feel so fierce as an authority figure.”
Hoeks displays quite an emotional range as Luv in the film and she said it was the “most fun character” she’s played. Bulking up for the role, she said she trained six days a week and spent her rest day relaxing with ice packs. Without delving too far into her character, she admitted that “Dennis always says she reminds him of Audrey Hepburn on acid.”
Ford admitted that he thought about the original film quite a few times over the years. Insisting that he had a good time working with director Ridley Scott on the first one, he had no problem stating that he is “much happier” with the final cut that doesn’t include voice over. Not only did he insist that the original had a “huge influence on our culture,” he admitted that it had a big impact on his life as well.
“I think about it frequently because I got reminded of how many filmmakers took inspiration from that film and how much it defined a certain kind of visual storytelling.”
Ford said there are no other characters he can think of that he wants to revisit anytime soon.
Blade Runner 2049 opens in theaters on October 6th.