Blade Runner is one of my very favorite movies of all time, and I have been hugely ambivalent about the news that Hollywood has a sequel planned. Even though it will be co-written by Hampton Fancher, who wrote the original 1982 sci-fi classic. Even though it will be directed by Ridley Scott, who directed the original. Even though it's possible that Blade Runner 2 will feature Harrison Ford, 32 years after he starred as Rick Deckard.
Yes, as if it's not crazy enough news that Harrison Ford will return as Han Solo in the recently-announced Star Wars installment, film company Alcon Entertainment has taken the highly unusual step of issuing a public offer for Ford to return to Blade Runner 2.
It remains to be seen if Ford will say yes, but one thing's for certain: open casting negoations are a TERRIBLE idea.
If you're unfamiliar with Blade Runner, the story revolves around a dystopian future Los Angeles in which genetically engineered organic robots called replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans, are manufactured by various "mega-corporations" around the world. Ford played Deckard, a replicant-chasing bounty hunter, and while the film was something of a box office flop at the time, it's gone on to become a beloved cult classic.
It's pretty weird to imagine Ford reprising his original role. For one thing, although Ford clearly doesn't mind cashing in on beloved characters, there was a big audience demand for Indiana Jones and Han Solo -- I don't think it's quite the same for Rick Deckard. Also, three decades' worth of nerdy debate over whether Deckard was a replicant would presumably be undercut by Deckard appearing as a 71-year-old man, being as how the replicants couldn't live for more than a few years.
Plus, here's my one-word response to why we should all proceed with caution regarding an update to a beloved Ridley Scott film: Prometheus.
Oh, and Ford has famously gone on record saying he hated making Blade Runner at the time, and the entire experience of working with Ridley Scott. Of course, he's changed his tune now that a huge-ass paycheck might be involved:
I remember it with complication, but… I’m not there to generate nostalgic moments. I’m there to do a job of work and I quite understand that… Everybody has an ambition when they come into a film and that everyone’s ambition may not be so focused on the same thing. I truly admire Ridley as a man and as a director and I would be very happy to engage again with him in the telling – the further telling of this story.
What REALLY feels icky is the open offer to Ford, which seems less like an honest request and more like a sleazy marketing ploy:
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.
Are they hoping public opinion will convince Ford? Are they trying to convince fans that the sequel won't suck because it'll stay true to the original? Are they drumming up advanced publicity for the project via a completely unnecessary press release? Are they capitalizing on the current interest in Ford taking on old roles, thanks to Star Wars?
I can totally see the 'open casting request' becoming an obnoxious trend among smaller film companies that ends up being on par with those viral YouTube videos of people asking celebrities to be their prom date. The entire thing feels disingenuous, and makes me even less confident that Blade Runner 2 will be a worthy addition to the original.
What do you think about Harrison Ford taking on his old Blade Runner role? Do you think he should say yes?
Image via Warner Bros.