It’s been 35 years since the iconic science fiction thriller Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford, premiered to critical acclaim and box office success.
The much anticipated sequel to the movie, Blade Runner 2049, takes place 30 years after the events of the first film. Ryan Gosling (La La Land) plays the new blade runner, LAPD Officer K. He discovers a secret that could plunge what’s left of society into chaos. In his search for the truth, K must find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford, Star Wars). The former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for three decades…
Ridley Scott, who directed the original movie, is an executive producer on the sequel. Oscar nominee Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) directs the movie with story and screenplay by Hampton Fancher, who wrote the screenplay for the original Blade Runner.
The movie opens on October 6th, and Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford joined a press conference at the JW Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles to discuss the film.
Ryan, you’ve never done a movie in this genre. What does the role of Officer K allowed you to do that you’d never done before?
Ryan: When I heard that Ridley was considering continuing the narrative, I was already invested; I already wanted to know what happened next.
It’s such a wildly unique film. When I first saw it I was 12, and it had been out for 10 years. I thought I was just watching a science fiction movie. But what I experienced was something very different. What’s interesting about the film was not just the experience of watching it, but how it stays with you.
I wasn’t asking myself at 12 what it meant to be a human being, but subconsciously those seeds were planted and I realized how much influence it had on the culture I grew up in.
Then (I) read a script that was a love letter in certain ways to the original. But it was also very much its own thing. It was respectfully carrying out the narratives and themes of the original but, at the same time, introducing its own conceptual ideas that still were massive in scale; but intimate, personal and emotional. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to be a part of something very unique.
Harrison, what was it like coming back to the character of Rick Deckard?
Harrison: It’s kind of fun to play a character 30 years later. In a way, I’m used to trying on old clothes, and happily they still fit, so I didn’t have any apprehension about playing Deckard again.
Did the story have to be right for you to return as Deckard?
Harrison: Yeah, I was looking for an opportunity to extend the audiences understanding of the character to be part of the telling of this story. The whole had to be something I really wanted to be involved in as well, not just my part. And I saw that potential and I also was anxious to work with the people involved, Denis and Ryan. For me, it was a great opportunity.
When you take on a big legacy film, what are the priorities that you establish for yourself to make sure the legacy is protected?
Ryan: Harrison, Ridley, Hampton all agreed and decided that this was the time to make the film; that this was the story to tell, and the way the narrative would have evolved. So who am I to argue with that?
The question I asked myself after that is, when I read the screenplay is there a story to be told here? Does it stand on its own? Is there something useful in here and worth all of this effort? And there was no doubt in my mind after reading it, those things were true.
Then you got Denis Villeneuve, Roger Deakins (the movie’s cinematographer), this incredible cast, the incredible craftsmen in Budapest that were building these environments, it just kept expanding; so many great storytellers manning the helm.
The story was paramount on set. All the esthetic choices came from story and character. It just instilled a great amount of confidence in me. I felt very challenged by it but excited by the opportunity.
This film and the first film stand out because they’re so visually stimulating. As an actor, how important is that for you in getting into the character?
Harrison: A picture is worth a thousand words. When you get on a set where there’s been a lot of thought put into the visual aspects of that scene you feel a support from it. You know what you don’t have to do. You have to be there, of course, for the other characters and service the story, but so much is done in a visual way that it certainly encourages your confidence.
Ryan: It was incredible to have those sets because, as actors, you can really focus on the internal world of your character since the external world has been so fully realized.
Deckard is a very complicated character. What was it like revisiting him?
Harrison: There was a period of questioning about what the story was to tell about this man in that space between the last time you saw Deckard and you see him now. What condition we find him in. And I found it a real pleasure to (be) with Denis’ imagination and have him respect the process. And we ended up in a place that I think, I hope, serves the film well.
What was it like working with Harrison?
Ryan: Harrison is a great filmmaker. This is a reason the majority of his films have become iconic and why so many of them are revisited time after time. He is the constant in all of those equations. There are many ways to play any given scene, but when you work with Harrison, you realize there’s only one great way. And he’s already figured it out before anyone else.
How often have you thought about the Blade Runner over the last 35 years and where Deckard might be?
Harrison: I’ve thought about it frequently, because I’ve been reminded of how many filmmakers took inspiration from that film. And how much it defined a certain kind of visual storytelling, and how strongly the effect of that film has been on our culture. And the prescience of many of the things that were imagined might be part of the future. It’s been a huge influence on our culture and my life.
The ending of the last movie was such a classic, what did you think of it?
Harrison: First of all, there were a variety of endings and it ended with Ridley’s final cut. I was much happier with that version than the one with the voice over and sailing into the sunset.
Is there another character that you’ve played in the past that you would like to revisit?
Harrison: Not that I can think of.