Ridley Scott: Matt Damon, others honor director at American Cinematheque gala
Sigourney Weaver, Russell Crowe, Matt Damon, Harrison Ford. The biggest actors from Ridley Scott’s biggest movies — Alien, Gladiator, The Martian, and Blade Runner — all came out Friday night (or appeared on video in the case of Ford) to The Beverly Hilton to honor the 78-year-old director at the 30th Annual American Cinematheque Awards.
Scott received the award for his contribution to the Art of the Moving Picture. Previous recipients include Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg, and Jodie Foster among many others.
The director, who is currently producing the sequel to his 1982 classic Blade Runner (being directed by Sicario helmer Denis Villaneuve) and is in post-production on his new Alien movie Alien: Covenant, was clearly moved by the honor, presented to him by former Cinematheque honoree Matt Damon, who is still marveling at Scott’s well-known unconventional methods of filming, where he uses four camera set-ups on each shot.
“I’ve worked with a lot of directors who shot with multiple cameras mostly for big action sequences and I was used to that. But four cameras on each set-up, that’s completely impossible,” said Damon. “And then I got to Budapest and we started shooting The Martian and I realized he actually shoots four cameras on each set-up. You do a scene, you do it once and you’re done. Literally I walked into the little tent where he had the four monitors and I said, ‘Oh my god, Ridley, every single one of these shots is perfect.’ And he turned to me and said, “They’ve been f—ing perfect for a long time.”
Scott thanked the numerous presenters, including Crowe who served as the emcee, for saying such “nice, beautiful things” before regaling the audience with how he went from being a poor student in England to the renowned director he is today.
“I went to art school in the area of shipyards and steel mills and pubs, where there was 25 percent unemployment. But there was extraordinary beauty to that landscape, which stayed in my mind and became my opening shot in Blade Runner,” he said.
Ridley made his first film, the 30-minute short Boy and Bicycle with his younger brother Tony Scott as the featured actor of the movie. John Barry did the music. “It was there that I learned the power of chatting people up,” he said. The duo worked together on commercials, television shows, and movies until Tony’s untimely death in 2012.
Said Scott about his film work and his brother, “The film didn’t get me my first directing job. I didn’t get that until I was 40. But it was an inspiration that would guide me going forward. And more importantly, I was able to share this wonderful experience of make believe, storytelling, and acting with my brother. I was six years older and he would listen to me. We were good partners. We were both determining our lives going forward and this was our passion. And if you’ve got passion you’ll do 160 hours a week and not feel it. That’s how it’s always been.”
Kristen Wiig cracked up the audience with her joyously rambling speech that touched on her brief moment working with Scott on last year’s Oscar-nominated The Martian, when he would says things to her like, “Can you try something else” and “Please don’t do that again.” With the audience in stitches, she added, ‘I didn’t know he was so funny. In fact, people all over town call him ‘Giggly Scott’.”
Said Weaver about Scott, who gave the 67-year-old actress her breakout, iconic role in 1979’s Alien: “I’m asked all over the world if we knew we were making a feminist film. Was this intentional? Well, yeah,” she says to applause. “But Ridley and I never talked about it. It was a given for Ridley that women were supremely capable, smart, courageous, resourceful. We also never had one of those conversations where the director talks to me about making my character more sympathetic. After blowing up the ship and kicking the alien’s ass maybe I should go over into the corner and have a little breakdown just to remind the audience that after all, I’m still a vulnerable women.”
Earlier in the evening Warner Bros. president of marketing and distribution Sue Kroll received the 2nd annual Sid Grauman Award, presented to her by Bradley Cooper. Inception director Chris Nolan gave the first speech about Kroll, before a video tribute featuring Sandra Bullock, Ben Affleck, and directors Baz Luhrmann and George Miller extolled Kroll’s virtues for the audience.
Said Nolan about the veteran Warner Bros. marketer, who he’s worked with on the majority of his films: “One of the most vulnerable moments in a filmmaker’s life, where you feel extremely isolated, extremely lonely is the moment when the lights come up after the first studio screening of your movie. And if there is one reason why those moments are a little less vulnerable, a little less isolating in the last 15 years, it’s because of Sue Kroll. Because I’ve always had an ally there. And when I say ally, I don’t mean cheerleader — someone who smiles at you with unrealistic expectations of what they can do with what they’ve just seen. What I mean is somebody who’s viewing the film from the inside. Someone who’s there with you.”