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Strong female leads are a Ridley Scott hallmark: Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon in Thelma and Louise, Demi Moore in GI Jane… the list goes on. ‘Prometheus’ features not one, but two formidable distaff protagonists who further Scott’s impressive tradition.
Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw is a scientist filled with faith and hope, but who transforms into a warrior when faced with the danger she encounters at her destination; Charlize Theron’s Vickers is a “suit” representing the interests of the mega-corporation funding the journey to a distant, foreboding world.
Rapace’s powerful and unsettling performance in the original ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, the first in the trilogy of films based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, had captured worldwide attention – including Scott’s. “Noomi combines a rare intelligence and physicality,” says the filmmaker. “She owned that part in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. It was so powerful that when Noomi and I met, I expected a tough, hardened individual; instead, Noomi was lovely, kind and smart. It was a terrific mix that would serve her well playing Shaw.”
A call from Ridley Scott is a career defining moment for any actor, including Rapace. “After the meeting with Ridley, I thought even if I don’t end up working with him on Prometheus, I’m happy because I’ve had this hour with him.” It turned out that Rapace would be spending much more time than that with Scott, who cast her after a screen test he shot with director of photography Dariusz Wolski, ASC.
“We used a Panavision storage room which production designer Arthur Max had dressed to give it an industrial, creepy vibe, and Noomi just killed it,” says executive producer Michael Ellenberg. “We were all blown away by her ferocity, power, and screen presence.”
A very different kind of power is demonstrated by Meredith Vickers, a Weyland Industries executive who is onboard the Prometheus to represent the corporation’s mysterious interests. When Charlize Theron accepted the role, Vickers took on intriguing new dimensions. Says executive producer Damon Lindelof: “Charlize and I worked together to create a more layered character.
Vickers is someone the audience will love to hate, but there are moments when we see her vulnerability and begin to understand how and why she became so mercenary and hardened. This makes her a much more interesting counterpoint to Shaw.”
Theron was drawn to the opportunity to explore the film’s epic themes from a perspective at odds with the rest of the crew’s. “For Vickers, this epic, two-year journey to another world has been boiled down to economics. She has a bottom-line kind of thinking,” says the actress.
But as with so much else about the mission, there are deeper layers and mysteries to Vickers’ ultimate goals. “She’s an enigma, and the mystery surrounding her was something I really liked,” says Theron. “Vickers is pragmatic, and desperately wants to control the situation. She fights everything that everyone else is there to do, and it becomes evident that she has either an alternative agenda or that she is hiding something.”