Ridley Scott – Part 2
Taking a step back from lavish sci-fi and fantasy, Scott made the under-rated, romantic police drama, ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’, starring Tom Berenger, Lorraine Bracco and Mimi Rogers in 1987, and the stylishly violent ‘Black Rain’, a 1989 cop drama starring Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia, shot partially in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan. Both achieved mild success at the box office.
Initially perceived as a miss-match, Scott then made ‘Thelma & Louise’ (1991) starring Genna Davis as Thelma, and Susan Sarandon as Louise. The movie was successful, and revived Scott’s reputation. However, his next project—an independent movie, ‘1492: Conquest of Paradise’ —was less so. It is a visually striking film telling the story of Christopher Columbus. However, it was a box office failure, and Scott did not release another film for four years.
In 1995, with his brother Tony, Scott formed their own film and television production company, Scott Free Productions in Los Angeles. All his subsequent feature films, starting with ‘White Squall’ and ‘G. I. Jane’,starring then-superstar, Demi Moore, were produced under the Scott Free banner. Also in 1995 the two brothers purchased controlling interest in Shepperton Studios, which later merged with Pinewood Studios. Scott and his brother have produced the CBS series ‘Numb3rs’ (2005–2010), a crime drama about a genius mathematician who helps the FBI solve crimes, and critical and commercial hit, ‘The Good Wife’ (2009–), a legal drama concerning an attorney continuing her law practice while coping with her husband, a former state attorney trying to rebuild his political career after a major scandal.
The huge success of Scott’s film ‘Gladiator’ (2000) has been credited with reviving the nearly defunct “sword and sandal” historical genre. The film was a massive commercial success and earned Best Actor Awards around the globe for leading man Russell Crowe.
Scott then turned to ‘Hannibal’, the sequel to Jonathan Demme’s ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. In 2001, Scott released the war film, ‘Black Hawk Down’, which further established his position as a critically and financially successful film maker. The film won two Oscars.
In 2003 Scott directed ‘Matchstick Men’, starring Nicholas Cage, Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman. It received mostly positive reviews and performed moderately at the box office. In 2005 he made the modestly successful ‘Kingdom of Heaven’, a movie about the Crusades which consciously sought to connect history to current events. The Moroccan government sent the Moroccan cavalry as extras in the epic battle scenes.
Unhappy with the theatrical version of the film (which he blamed on paying too much attention to the opinions of preview audiences), Scott supervised a director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven, which was released on DVD in 2006. In an interview to promote the latter, when asked if he was against previewing in general, Scott stated: “It depends who’s in the driving seat. If you’ve got a lunatic doing my job, then you need to preview. But a good director should be experienced enough to judge what he thinks is the correct version to go out into the cinema.”
Scott teamed up again with Gladiator star Russell Crowe, directing the movie ‘A Good Year’, based on the best-selling book. The film was released on 10 November 2006, soon after, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp and Subsidiary studio 20th Century Fox (who backed the film) dismissed A Good Year as “a flop” at a shareholders’ meeting only a few days after the film’s release.
Scott’s next directorial work was on gritty ‘American Gangster’, the story of real-life Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas. He was the third director to attempt the project after Antoine Fuqua and Terry George. Denzel Washington and Benicio del Toro had been cast in the initial Steven Zallian scripted project under the working title Tru Blu, both actors having been paid salaries of $20 m and $15 m respectively without doing any production on the film. Following George’s departure, Scott took over the project in early 2006. He had Zaillian rewrite the script to focus on the dynamic between Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts. Washington signed back on to the project as Lucas, and Crowe signed on to play Roberts. The film finally premiered in November 2007 to positive reviews and good box office.
In late 2008 Scott released the Middle-East set espionage thriller, ‘Body of Lies’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Crowe once again which opened to luke-warm ticket-sales and mixed reviews. Scott directed an adaptation of ‘Robin Hood’, which starred Russell Crowe in the title role and Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian, and Max von Sydow and Mark Strong in key roles. The movie was released on 13 May 2010 in Australia and 14 May 2010 in America to mixed reviews.
Scott’s next film is ‘Prometheus‘, touted as a semi-prequel to his breakthrough hit, Alien. The internet is buzzing with theories as to exactly what the movie is about. It is due for release in July 2012.
Scott has been nominated for three Academy Awards for Directing, as well as Golden Globe and Emmy Awards. He was knighted in the 2003 New Year honours.