The Blade Runner Sequel and Replicant Revisionism
Ron Seifried | On 16, May 2014
A press release from Warner Bros-based Alcon Entertainment made a public offer to Harrison Ford for an unspecified role in the unnamed follow-up to Blade Runner.
There is nothing like tossing out over three decades of fan speculation with one of the most regarded sci-fi films than an open casting offer to the film’s original lead. Director Ridley Scott has been dropping hints (or threats) for years that he’s been working on a return to the film noir, dystopian world or replicants, hovercrafts and continuous rain from the 1982 film.
The formal offer follows several previous denials from both Alcon and Scott that Ford would return or if the film would feature his character of Rick Deckard. No start date has been announced, but if Ford is to participate, Alcon will have to work around the actor’s present full schedule of Star Wars: Episode VII, currently shooting in London that may or may not extend to Episodes VIII & IX in the foreseeable future.
The public offer may force Ford or his representatives to comment in the very near future one way or the other. It is doubtful the film is ready to be shot within the next few months, but Ridley Scott is definitely onboard to direct, after his current film The Martian with Matt Damon wraps and probably before he goes to work on the Prometheus sequel. Loosely based on a Philip K. Dick 1968 novel Do Droids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner‘s original co-writer Hampton Fancher is working on the screenplay with Michael Green, which takes place decades after the 2019 events of the first film.
Alcon co-founders Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove said in a joint statement: “We believe that Hampton Fancher and Michael Green have crafted with Ridley Scott an extraordinary sequel to one of the greatest films of all time. We would be honored, and we are hopeful, that Harrison will be part of our project.”
This announcement is unprecedented in Hollywood, an industry known to keep casting and production news under wraps. The fact that Harrison Ford’s name has been in the press lately with his recent reprise of Han Solo, Alcon looks to be capitalizing on his new found marketability, despite being eligible for Social Security. The big risk is if Ford publicly turns down the role, it may put the production company in a compromising position to start from scratch with a revised script.
Alcon is going full throttle on reboots at the moment, with the Point Break remake currently in pre-production.
But the real question of where Ford fits back in the Blade Runner universe. If one is to believe that Ridley Scott’s Final Cut (2007) is the only official version of Blade Runner and the only edit to give the director complete artistic control, then Rick Deckard is a replicant.
Since its release, the question of whether Deckard was human or replicant have been casting a shadow on film’s message. Ford and co-writer Michael Deeley wanted him to be human, while Hampton Fancher wanted ambiguity. As the film’s director and ultimately final word, Ridley Scott has made clear that Deckard is replicant. Beginning with 1992′ Director’s Cut, the reinsertion of Deckard’s dream of the unicorn mixed with Gaff’s (Edward James Olmos) final gift of the origami unicorn, was seen by some that Gaff implanted the memory in Deckard. On the other side of the argument, the unicorn scene analysis is a dream state bridge between human and replicant. However one looks at it, the open ended concept is a rare example where the audience truly decides for themselves what the story is about.
If Ford reunites with Scott, it will be a reunion with a combustible history. It has been well documented that both the star and director were very much against Deckard’s narration and the happy ending in the film, but both have stated the production process itself was filled with angst. The director has even gone as far as stating that Harrison Ford was one of the toughest actors he’s ever had to work with and Ford admitted they both “…went through a rough patch.” Both actor and director have move past their differences since the early 1980’s and have plenty more experience, so a possible reunion should work out fine.
The question is if Deckard is a replicant as Scott wanted, where does that fit in with the sequel? Does a replicant’s outer skin age while his internal working parts remain unchanged? Tyrell Corporation’s Nexus-6 models only had a four-year lifespan, so if Deckard is a replicant, is he an unknown advanced model? If Deckard is a human, years of advanced theory will be swept away as the character is a naturally aging man.
Then again, the sequel could have a new theory that has the potential to shake the foundations that Blade Runner set.