I'm switching up my column a bit this week by delving deep into "Prometheus" with the co-writer of the film, Damon Lindelof ("Lost," the 2013 "Star Trek" sequel). What follows is a SPOILER-HEAVY conversation about "Prometheus" we conducted via e-mail over the film's opening weekend. If you haven't seen "Prometheus" or don't consider yourself a geek, the following is going to confuse the hell out of you.

From: Josh Horowitz
To: Damon Lindelof
Sent June 8, 2012, 12:18 p.m.

Hey Damon!

Thanks for indulging in this little public e-mail exercise — especially during your big opening weekend for "Prometheus."

I know you're no stranger to your projects dominating the pop culture conversation, but it's still got to be a kick to see "Prometheus" being talked about so much. How relieved are you never to have to answer the question "is it an 'Alien' prequel or what?" again?

So having finally seen the film I can get to my #1 burning question: Is it an "Alien" prequel or what? That's a joke. Sort of. Here's my actual serious question. We all know this script began as very much a clear prequel to "Alien," so what was stripped out to turn it into what it is today? Were there face huggers throughout the original script you got? Basically how would you say you Lindelof-ized it?

From: Damon Lindelof
To: Josh Horowitz
Sent June 8, 2012, 6:00 p.m.

Hi Josh!

How are you? How's the weather in New York? It's sunny here! (This is small talk.) Anyhoo ...

It has indeed been a kick to see a lot of conversation now that "Prometheus" has landed (that's the tagline of the movie and Fox pays me every time I use it even though that particular line of dialogue is never spoken by anyone in the film itself) and I am always curious to hear what people are saying — even when they hate me and accuse me of destroying their childhood. To which I say, "Your parents brought you to see 'Alien' when you were a CHILD?!? And you're upset with ME?!?"

To answer your burning question that is sort of a joke but not really, allow me to finally put the "Is it a prequel?" issue to rest by saying once and for all, finally and definitively, that the answer is "Maybe."

The script I got was written by Jon Spaihts. He is a wonderful person and a great writer and his script reflected both. However, he had been tasked with executing the very specific task of making the story very "Alieny" (not a word) and it was rife with eggs, facehuggers, chestbursters and the Xenomorphs they grew into. If memory serves, the eggs show up around the end of the first act and the familiar progression of fertilization and gestation begins, at which point, all hell breaks loose.

Although I would be careful to ever use the term "Lindelof-ized" (such a phrase could just as easily be defined as "the process by which an ending is made completely unclear and/or f---ed up all together") my job was to strip out the familiar "Alien" stuff and rebalance the plot mechanics so that stuff felt more like the RESULT of the story as opposed to the catalyst. I also became obsessed with David as the central character of the piece and did everything I could to think of the movie through the robot's point of view. Mostly because robots are awesome, but also because robots are awesome.

Hopefully this answers all your questions and you will leave me alone now.

Your Pal, Damon

P.S. What's Michael Fassbender like in real life? I heard you asked him about his penis!

From: Josh Horowitz
To: Damon Lindelof
Sent June 8, 2012, 6:20 p.m.

Dearest Damon,

I'm afraid you've opened Pandora's box. I do in fact have some more questions. By the way, I didn't stay through the end credits of "Prometheus." Does Pandora's box get opened? And is the tesseract in there?

You mentioned Michael Fassbender (and his penis). Yes, he loves talking about his member. When you guys get together for the DVD commentary I highly recommend staring at his crotch and giggling, "I know what's down there!" He LOVES that.

OK, back to relative seriousness. I'm completely obsessed with Fassbender's David. I've got two questions about his character. Was his preoccupation with Peter O'Toole circa "Lawrence of Arabia" in the script or something Fassbender suggested? And getting down to the nitty gritty ... 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?

Impatiently yours, Josh

From: Damon Linedelof
To: Josh Horowitz
Sent June 9, 2012, 9:56 p.m.

Joshers,

Jim Cameron will sue anyone who uses the word "Pandora," so we stayed far away from the box to which you refer. And since you asked, there was originally a post-credits scene where Fassbender eats shawarma, but when he swallows, it comes out of the hole in his neck.

But seriously.

Yeah, the "Lawrence of Arabia" stuff was in the script. Ridley and I are both [director David] Lean fanatics and it seemed appropriate thematically. Also, I got to steal great dialogue because no one can hear quote marks when actors speak plagiarized lines. Hint: "Big things have small beginnings" is one of them. As to your other query:

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. And speaking of length ...

[Insert mandatory Fassbender schlong reference here]

Are we done? Please let me sleep.

Hugs, Lindelof

From: Josh Horowitz
To: Damon Lindelof
Sent June 10, 2012, 9:08 a.m.

D,

I'd let you sleep but feel it's only just that I keep you up a bit more as "Prometheus" is surely doing the same to the masses (oh those poor pregnant women that see the film unawares...).

You'll be happy to know I went to see the movie a second time last night.

A. I wanted to see how well it held up a second time (I'm still here, aren't I? Still loving it).

B. I wanted to do my best to ensure that your box office beat the third installment in a franchise about talking animals.

We talked a bit about David but let's concentrate on Vickers for a second if we could. Like David, her motivations remain mysterious for much of the film. And certainly her resemblance (look, icy mannerisms) to David is interesting to say the least. Janek asks the question directly so I shall as well. Is she a robot?!? Also, I couldn't help but notice we never actually see her die. Am I just hopelessly desperate to see Charlize perform more half-naked push-ups in a sequel or did you leave the door purposefully open?

Gotta run and hit the gym. If my abs don't look like the Engineers' by July 4th I'm not leaving the house.

J

From: Damon Lindelof
To: Josh Horowitz
Sent June 10, 2012, 7:26 p.m.

J,

Thanks for going a second time, but it is clear those cute zoo animals have soundly defeated us. Maybe the next time I try to convince Noomi Rapace to wear a rainbow-colored afro wig, she'll listen to me.

Vickers. Yes, she does look like David. Yes, this was intentional. What better way to piss off your daughter than to build the male equivalent of her? But enough about daddy issues (seriously, Lindelof, we get it!), allow me to answer your question. Is she a robot?

She is not.

But did Vickers somehow survive being smushed by the gigantic rolling horseshoe that was the derelict ship? Could her scantily-clad push-up training have saved her in that final moment of crushitude? And more importantly, WHY DIDN'T SHE JUST RUN ZIG-ZAGGY OR SIDEWAYS TO AVOID IT?!?

I don't have the answers to these questions, Josh. I'm just the writer.

Your Pal,

D

P.S. Engineer Abs is a great band. They open for Gotye.

From: Josh Horowitz
To: Damon Lindelof
Sent June 10, 2012, 8:23 p.m.

Damon, you have been extremely patient with me this weekend so I'm going to let you finally go on your way. But before you redirect my e-mail address to your spam folder I'm going to throw a few final questions at you in the hopes that I've worn you down to the point of revealing all. Rapid-fire style.

--Why did David poison Charlie? Was he hoping he'd impregnate Elizabeth or was that just a nice bonus?

--Did you and Ridley and Jon discuss who created the Engineers?

--Have you guys worked out the answer to Elizabeth Shaw's burning question, i.e. why did our creators turn on us?

--What the hell does that final shot in "Inception" mean?

--It's Khan, right? It has to be Khan.

Congrats again. You are a gentleman.

Josh

From: Damon Lindelof
To: Josh Horowitz
Sent June 11, 2012, 2:53 a.m.

Joshua,

My answers are below, in bold. So that you can tell the difference.

Damon, you have been extremely patient with me this weekend so I'm going to let you finally go on your way. But before you redirect my e-mail address to your spam folder I'm going to throw a few final questions at you in the hopes that I've worn you down to the point of revealing all. Rapid-fire style.

Is this like a rap battle? AWESOME.

Why did David poison Charlie? Was he hoping he'd impregnate Elizabeth or was that just a nice bonus?

In the scene preceding said "poisoning" (but WAS it?), David was chatting with someone in cryo-sleep via headset that we can safely assume is Weyland. If I were a betting man, I'd say something happened in that conversation that very specifically directed David to spike Holloway's champagne. And yes, it was a safe bet that Holloway would have sex with Shaw soon after. Which is why in space, you should always wear a condom!

Did you and Ridley and Jon discuss who created the Engineers?

Yes. But the more fascinating question is this: Do the Engineers KNOW who created them?

Have you guys worked out the answer to Elizabeth Shaw's burning question, i.e. why did our creators turn on us?

Golly, I'm all for ambiguity, but if we didn't know the answer to THAT one, the audience would have every right to string us up. Yes. There is an answer. One that is hinted at within the goalposts of "Prometheus." I'll bet if I asked you to take a guess you wouldn't be far off.

What the hell does that final shot in "Inception" mean?

It means that Leonardo DiCaprio can make a top spin for a really, really long time. Is there ANYTHING that guy can't do?

It's Khan, right? It has to be Khan.

Would you believe me if I told you that Cumberbatch was playing Cumberbatch just so we could have a credit in the movie that read, "And Benedict Cumberbatch as himself?" You wouldn't? Well then SCREW YOU! I'M GOING TO YELL NOW AS A WAY OF NOT ANSWERING THIS QUESTION!

Congrats again. You are a gentleman.

I am no such thing.

Josh

Damon

Check out everything we've got on "Prometheus."

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