Blade Runner 2049 screenwriter Michael Green answers our burning questions
Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic, finally arrived in theaters this weekend and critics and audiences (it has an A- CinemaScore) alike are enthralled. Since it started production, the plot of this film has been kept under very stringent wraps — and for very good reason, as part of the fun of seeing the film is peeling off the layers of mystery upon mystery.
There’s so much mystery, in fact, that even after seeing the film, viewers might still have a few questions! Screenwriter Michael Green — who co-wrote the movie alongside original Blade Runner scribe Hampton Francher (and is the screenwriter of 2017, considering he’s also responsible for American Gods, Logan, Alien: Covenant, and the upcoming Murder on the Orient Express) — was kind enough to talk to EW about some of the issues we were left wrestling with after the credits rolled…
But on one condition: Do not read if this without having first seen the movie. This is a standard spoiler warning but also a true plea, on behalf of the filmmaking team.
Green consistently praises that group, including executive producer Ridley Scott, Fancher, director Denis Villeneuve, and cinematographer Roger Deakins. “The truth is everyone involved in this is boringly lovely,” says Green, who describes their work together as “a utopian collaboration.” Their mission was clear from the start: “It couldn’t be a movie that just felt like getting the band back together,” he says. “It had to be what is our story and to make sure you are telling a story that is worthy of the title.”
Fancher wrote a treatment for Ridley Scott in 2012 that had the beginnings of what we see on the big screen — including the idea that an investigator finds the bones of a replicant named Rachael, who had died giving birth. “It’s a brilliant idea — it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given,” says Green. “Hampton’s treatment, I sort of refer to it as a tone poem. I think of him as a professional working poet. Once Hampton opened the window I could see the world outside and live in it.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: After the more than 30-year debate about whether blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a replicant or not, how did it come to be revealed in the opening scenes of 2049 that new blade runner, K (Ryan Gosling), definitely is one?
GREEN: That is a private joke shared with millions. [Laughs] It’s a thematic land grab because it allowed the movie to become about what it means for someone who is a self-aware “lesser” creature and what happens when he begins to aspire? When a virus of better enters his imagination? The idea was that aspiring can change you — that was the virus that I wanted the contain — striving makes a difference. From the first conversation I had with Ridley about the story to the last, he questioned day-to-day about the decision to make clear that K is a replicant.
Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford have been arguing for decades, famously, about whether or not Rick Deckard is a replicant, which is always still so funny and weird to me.
It’s the greatest thing in the world!
And that continued on during this production?
Ridley and Harrison will fight about it forever I think.
So… do we have an answer on Rick Deckard now? It seems purposely ambiguous that we do not.
I think the debate is synonymous with Blade Runner. The irresolution that you are forced to come to terms with is as much a part of the story of the film: Is he or isn’t he? You must concede that you can’t know important things for certain. As a writer, that was very important.
So the debate is just going to continue? Because I’ve heard arguments from both sides.
I suspect that the people who love to debate this will come out vehemently believing they have their confirmation and then will be shocked to find others disagree just as hotly. But, you know, this is Blade Runner — no one can be wrong.
Are we to believe by the end of the film that K is dead?
I was surprised to find out that anyone thought he didn’t die. And I can say this: the non-casual fan might recognize the music cue that plays in that moment. [Ed note: it’s a call back to the “Time to Die” scene from the original.]
Who came up with the idea of bringing back a young Sean Young as Rachael?
The idea of that scene — of Deckard being offered a reward beyond imagination for complicity and that the end of pain would be handed to him and she would come out as he remembered — was from my first outline to Ridley. What went back and forth and what I’m so goddamn grateful for is how on earth do you make that scene work? It kept evolving and evolving until we had the final perfected version onscreen. It’s a devastating moment. Ridley Scott pitched the line “her eyes were green.” It was one of those moments when I wrote it down immediately and couldn’t wait to take credit for it.
It seems like the door might be open to continuing this story…
So many studios and property rights holders have seen the success of Marvel, which we all adore and wonder how to replicate it. For me, the lesson of Marvel is: you don’t begin by building a universe. You begin by telling a story worth telling. And if it is a great story directed well and performed brilliantly and stays with people, it will become the black hole around which a galaxy can form. If you begin by trying to build the universe before creating a film worth watching, well, there be dragons. At no point in the creation of this story or script did anyone talk about spin-offs or how might things continue. It was always: what’s our story and make sure you have a story that is worth the title.
Blade Runner 2049 is in theaters now.
Blade Runner 2049