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Monday, 26 March, 2001, 22:01 GMT 23:01 UK
Director Ridley Scott quizzed

Click below to watch the forum with Ridley Scott.

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British-born director Ridley Scott's blockbuster film Gladiator was a big hit on Oscar night, winning awards in the categories for best picture, best actor, best visual effects, costume and sound.

Born in 1937 in Northumberland, England, Scott became a set designer for the BBC in the early 1960s, later becoming director of the BBC's long-running police series Z Cars.

He moved onto the big screen with 1977's The Duellists - about the Napoleonic war - which won the Jury Prize for Best First Feature at the Cannes Film Festival. Other film successes include: Alien, Blade Runner, Black Rain, and more recently Hannibal.

What have been his greatest achievements? What does it feel like to be the darling of Hollywood? What are his future plans?

Ridley Scott joined us for a forum from the Academy Awards on Sunday.


Richard Boyle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Given that you made your name with two legendary sci-fi films have you never been tempted to return to the genre?

Ridley Scott:

Absolutely but I haven't been able to find a story. The fundamental of anything as a director is material, material, material - script, script, script - once you have the script everything else is straightforward. So I haven't found any science fiction material that has satisfied me.

John Peterson, Canterbury, UK:

Is it true that you almost invented the Darlek when you worked for the BBC?

Ridley Scott:

No. Verity Lambert did. In fact Verity gave me my second job at the BBC as a director. I directed a number of episodes of Adam Adamant for Verity.


You also worked on Dr Who?:

Ridley Scott:

No never. If you want a real piece of history, it was Verity's idea to have the police box as the sentinel where you would go inside and everything would change.

Robin Hancock, Vancouver, Canada:

How highly do you rate Oliver Reed's performance in Gladiator and were you disappointed that he didn't a get Best Supporting Actor?

Ridley Scott:

Yes, I have always liked Ollie's work. I knew Oliver on and off for 27 years and watched his career with his ups and downs - and there were ups and downs. I like to think his performance in Gladiator - being his last performance unfortunately for us all - was probably one of his best - it was probably his best performance since Women in Love. I was really sorry that he wasn't at least acknowledged by the British Academy.

Mike Cluck, Thailand:

Scorsese has De Niro, Kurosawa had Mifune - actors they like to use again and again - do you have a favourite?

Ridley Scott:

No, not really. I have decided in the last few years to "crank up the volume" and basically do more films so in the last three years I have done three movies. I have done Gladiator, Hannibal and I am now in full production on Black Hawk Down. It means that I will basically target myself to do more work more frequently. Instead of one film every two years I am trying to do one every year and a bit, which is top speed.

I would definitely like to work with Russell Crowe again - that was fun. Brad Pitt - I have never found anything yet that we can do together - but I would like to work with him again. Sigourney Weaver - I have actually worked with her twice. She played Queen Isabella in 1492 and that was fun to go back and work with her again having not worked with her since Alien.

Nick Gate, Australia:

I have read that the script for Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was brought to your attention and that you wanted changes to the story line - why?

Ridley Scott:

No you have been misinformed. I sat down with the guys - Guy Ritchie and his producer in the very early days on Lock, Stock. I wanted to be involved in it because I thought they were both smart guys. Guy is a smart lad and very talented and his producer has equal talent in this - he is a very bright guy. So I like them both. So I just got involved on the basis that I liked them and I thought Ritchie probably had a very interesting take on a different way of carrying out a gangster genre. So I wanted the company to be involved. I sat with him on two or three occasions suggesting some edits and some clarification but then they took it elsewhere.

Jonathan Grant, London, UK:

When the Alien erupted from John Hurt is it true that the other actors had not been warned and that their looks of horror were genuine or is this a movie myth?

Ridley Scott:

No it is true. I figured that once you had seen it - it is a bit like telling a joke, once you have heard it, it is only half as funny when you hear it again. I thought there was absolutely no future in showing them the baby and therefore he came in literally under wraps - under Roger Dickins' wrapped wrist and was covered in a cloth. John Hurt hadn't seen it either - who was about to give birth to it. He was bent double under the table with his head back with a false chest. The chest was screwed to the table with a hole in the middle where we had to weaken the threads of his tee-shirt because I figured that when the head came through it wouldn't burst the tee-shirt.

We had all the actors around playing and we ended the scene at the moment when it would appear and they were all starting to look a bit concerned about the fact he was now thrashing on the table as if he had swallowed something.


And they didn't know what was happening at all?

Ridley Scott:

No. Well they knew something ghastly was about to happen and then there it was. I had several lines under high pressure of blood - which was actually raspberry juice - that was rigged all around the table and I had about seven cameras. I figured it would make such a mess and I only wanted to do one take so I could look at it the next day - because it would take 12 hours to clean the set up. The line broke loose and Veronica Cartwright was sprayed with this blood - she went over the back of the sofa that she was sitting on and I used the shot - I used it all. Some were in disbelief - well you saw the reaction. I said fine let's look at the rushes and that was it - I only did it once.

Phil Harrison, Manchester, UK:

Who has been your biggest inspiration? What one thing made you want to be a director?

Ridley Scott:

The person that probably stopped me in my tracks as a child - because I used to love to go to the cinema - was David Lean with Great Expectations. I thought everything was somehow better than most of the other movies in terms of the way it looked - the way it was dramatised and the way it was photographed. In fact he was detailed from corner to corner and that is what I picked up with John Ford and then Kurosawa - then Carol Reed, Michael Powell - those were all the fundamental characters at that time - and Orson Wells of course.

There are Frenchmen too of course who will be remembered as well but I wasn't open to the French cinema at that point - so it was American and English film directors - so those were the influences.

Phil Johnson, formerly of South Shields, UK:

Have you been back to Shields recently? Do you miss it at all?

Ridley Scott:

I haven't been back for years and years because my parents moved away - they were in tourism in Newcastle, South Shields and then Durham and then they moved out of Durham - Stockton on Tees actually - twenty-eight years ago. So the only reason I used to go back up there was to see them. But I haven't been up there since.

I certainly enjoyed my time there - particularly Hartlepool Art College. In fact probably one of the reasons that led me to being a director was that I had an Art Master at Grangefield Grammar School, called Mr Clayland, and I have no idea whether he is still alive - he ought to be because he was a young teacher then. So Mr Clayland was the guy who recognised that I was a dimwit but that I was really good at art. He advised me to leave grammar school and go to art school. The choice was Middlesborough or Hartlepool and that is what I did and for the first time in my life I stopped watching the clock.

So thanks Mr Clayland.

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13 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Ridley Scott: Hollywood visionary
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