We’ve been waiting quite some time for a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 tour de force, and this week, we’ll finally get it. To celebrate the release of ‘Blade Runner 2049’, NME has uncovered 10 fascinating facts about Scott’s unsettling sci-fi masterpiece, which follows special agent Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) as he hunts down four menacing replicants – androids virtually indistinguishable from humans – in a grim futuristic version of Los Angeles.
1. Rick Deckard has become one of Harrison Ford’s best-loved roles, but Ridley Scott and the film’s producers originally wanted Dustin Hoffman to play the film’s hero. Hoffman’s initial response to Scott was, “Why the hell do you want me to play this macho character?”, and though the producers “spent months” trying to persuade Hoffman to commit, the actor disagreed with their creative vision for the movie and ultimately decided to pass.
2. Daryl Hannah wasn’t first choice to play “basic pleasure model” replicant Pris either – Debbie Harry was offered the role before her. “My biggest regret of all is turning down the role of the blonde robot Pris in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner,” the Blondie singer revealed in an interview last year. “My record company didn’t want me to take time out to do a movie. I shouldn’t have listened to them.”
3. However, Daryl Hannah can’t be accused of failing to commit to the role. During the scene where she meets sympathetic genetic designer J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), Pris is seen slipping on the pavement as she runs away and smashing her elbow through a car window. Hannah’s slip was a genuine mistake and the car window was made of real glass; though she gamely carried on with the take, the actress had in fact chipped her elbow in eight places.
4. The term “replicants” is never used in Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, the 1968 sci-fi novel by Philip K. Dick upon which Blade Runner is based. Dick calls the story’s human-like creatures “androids” or “andies”, but the film’s makers feared these words could sound comical on the big screen and decided to replace them. “Replicants” was coined by co-screenwriter David Peoples, whose daughter was studying replication – the process of duplicating cells for cloning – as part of her microbiology and biochemistry course.
5. At various stages in pre-production, Blade Runner was known as Android, Mechanismo and Dangerous Days. The film’s producers bought the eventual title from author William S. Burroughs, who had published a sci-fi novella called Blade Runner in 1979. However, aside from the term “blade runner” itself, Burroughs’ work had no direct influence on the film.
6. When Ridley Scott was working on Blade Runner: The Final Cut in 2007, he brought back Joanna Cassidy, the actress who plays snake-charming replicant Zhora, to reshoot the scene where she crashes through several panes of glass while Deckard pursues her. Cassidy wasn’t allowed to film this dangerous scene in 1982, so a stuntwoman was used and in several shots her likeness to Cassidy isn’t that convincing. In 2007, Scott got Cassidy to put on her original Zhora costume (complete with snake tattoo on her face) and recreate the stuntwoman’s movements on a green-screen stage. A special effects team then digitally superimposed Cassidy’s face and body movements over those of the stuntwoman so it now looks as though it’s really Cassidy performing the bloody stunt.
7. Cassidy used her own pet snake in her scenes – and he was a Burmese python named Darling.
8. The scene in the bathroom where Deckard finds the snake scale that leads him to Zhora doesn’t actually feature Harrison Ford. Scott shot it as a “pick-up” or augmenting scene after primary production had wrapped and Ford had become available, so his double Vic Armstrong appears instead.
9.Harrison Ford and Sean Young, who plays Deckard’s replicant paramour Rachael, had such a fractious relationship on set that crew members jokingly referred to their love scene as “the hate scene”. “That was not a love scene, that was a hate scene,” production executive Katherine Haber later recalled. “When he pushes her up against those blinds? Uh! He hated her.”
10. The so-called “tears in rain monologue” delivered by Rutger Hauer’s replicant leader Roy Batty at the end of the film – an iconic sci-fi moment since referenced by everyone from The Weeknd to US sitcom Community – was actually heavily improvised. Thinking the soliloquy in the script was overblown, Hauer cut out several lines and added in the most famous one of all himself: “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”
Blade Runner 2049 will be released in UK cinemas on October 5 2017.