Ridley Scott On Ridley Scott

He Explores A Notorious Character

When Charlie Rose interviewed Ridley Scott for 60 Minutes II, they spoke about many topics. In this Web exclusive, Scott talks about his latest film, Hannibal, and movie making in general.

Listening to you, it seems that you like (Hannibal Lecter).


You like his interest, you like his mind, you like his appetite, you like his culture.

"Yes, well I like his culture."

You like him, he's your guy.

"Yes, until he takes you into a place and says, 'This is me, this is normal.' Because...I honestly believe that people in that condition don't look from the inside out believing that they are insane, right?

Tell me what it is you like about him and don't like about him.

"Hannibal has many gifts...which is attractive. He has gifts of language, he has gifts of knowledge of music. He is ...an accomplished pianist.

I believe Hannibal's a romantic.

I think the thing he doesn't have is a relationship.

Nothing grounds (Lecter).

No. He can't. It's impossible because of who he is and what he is. Because he's created the secret of himself. And therefore, he's a man who lives with a shell around him because he can't let anyone in. And if he lets anyone in,...then you have discovery, you may have to slay them.

The discovery is that he is...an evil force.

What drives someone to go that far? ...What is the trigger, what is the mechanism that allowed someone to go from here to here. And...one is light and one is total darkness.

That's part of this movie?

Yes. It's trying to get inside him and why. Why would you do that? And he can't, and wouldn't, explain it because he thinks it's all quite normal.

No problem that the bad guy gets off?

It's always a problem. But we are doing drama, and we are taking people on the ride, which we talked about earlier.

Journey...is a better term than a ride. And we're taking that journey with him.

So you had great actresses who wanted (Clarice's) role.

Julianne's body of work is - she's done a lot of stuff, a lot of work over the years. And she's got a reality about her....There's a lot of talent out there, and a lot of talent coming into the field that we haven't even seen yet. But, also, there's something special about Julianne.

When she does a role it's not like you're feeling you're watching a movie. I felt like I'm watching documentary.

I always felt in the original, ... the nice thing about Silence was at some moments I felt I was almost into a documentary, which is great, you know, because if you're suddenly not watching a movie you're watching reality.

I needed to touch base on this kind of reality, even though ours is far more exotic in terms of the places we touch.... I'm still trying to keep it real rather than movie. ...And Julianne brings this reality to it which is wonderfu.

Is (the movie about) a serial murderer, or a woman who's having a relationship with a serial murderer?

You got a hero.. and a heroine until very late in the day.

Why... are they heroes?

Well, OK, let's go back on the word heroes, OK? Define hero?

Russell Crowe in Gladiator.

You're talking about a classical definitive role in an epic... .You're talking about a general...who goes in there, but still decapitates people, and takes people's arms off, and God knows what else. ... for the right reasons, war. But, go back into that, the Romans have no right being there in the first place, right? (Chuckle) So they were wrong to start with.

Don't be tearing down my heroes.

OK. Hannibal woos you into...high interest and...giant curiosity, and affection for him.

But he has a history.

But you forget that part of the virtuoso of Tony (Hopkins) is that he's so (sympathetic), and he's amusing.

Yeah, so I don't need a hero in this movie?

I think if a hero can be sympathetic and amusing - not a hero -

You'll take interesting characters over heroes any time?


Are you an artist, or a business(man)?

"Bit of each. I mean I ... hadn't been brought up that way. It arrived late being the businessman. ... You start to be driven by logistics and economics. And, you know, delivering something that you're asked to do. I learned all of that out of advertising."

Would you be a different director if you didn't have all this other stuff?

"I'm a better director because I am pragmatic. I've now learned for instance, in the process of editorial, I prefer to choose the... very best editor I can get; that's key."

"The time you look at a film, it's like nine lives of a cat. You use one up; you use one up. So every screening to me is absolutely essential."

"And that first screening is always awful. Every first screening when you're putting ...what they call the first assembly?"

"I dread the day ... every time you look because always it's going to be long, right? ...So I go in...I can just sit there and start touching (base with)...where the fat is, where the...problems are. And then after that no more screenings till we've gone through that corrective process. ...So we may not have another screening for six weeks."

"You don't know until the moment that you put it together."

I assume you have an editor who puts rough edit together.

"I look at it as an overview and try and be as fresh as possible because I haven't sat by the editor's side saying, 'Let's choose that take, let's choose that take.' I let him do that. I can always revisit that later when I can say, 'I'm sure there's a better take of so and so--' You never forget a shot, ever."

You never forget a shot?

"I never forget a shot."

"So I alwys expect the first assembly to be - you know, Rome was not built in a day right? - assembly to be long. And therefore, I try to sit back, be calm, be pragmatic. And that's where I'm putting my editorial brain into place. Not just...film editing."

"The great film editor is not a cutter, he's a storyteller, right? He's readjusting what you've done. OK? And that's ... part of that process. Because I get a second shot at directing the material once again, right?"

Is that where the director's genius comes in more?

"What are dynamics? ...What is dynamics in drama? ... That's what you're always looking for...to keep it really simple, continual new information, preferably relating to what you've just seen."

"But your information is the bottom line. The information that's coming out of their mouths are the dynamics, right? And so dynamics are about information. However that's shown. ...Those dynamics are something which are always fleeting, right?"

"You do a cut of a program and you look at it and say, 'What's wrong with it? There's something wrong with it, OK? Where do we fix it? How do we cure it?'"

Filmmakers are the storytellers of our time.

"Martians landed ... one night which was deserted, walked won a high street, saw a place with a canopy with some light bulbs outside, walked inside and sat in the back seat and sat there for two hours and then flew back to Mars, they'd say, 'You know, they're the weirdest bunch of son of a b---es. ...They go every night to these places with flickering screens and they watch what they do during the day. It's bizarre right?'"