Blade Runner Facts: 15 Things You Didn't Know
It's Decades season once again at hmv with loads of offers on classic titles availble in our stores around the UK - as well as in our online store - and we're celebrating the finest films from 90 years of cinema with some fact-filled features on the most exciting films from each decade. This week we're heading back to the 1980s and digging up some of the lesser-known facts about Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner...
It may not have been a hit with audiences when it was first released in cinemas in 1982 (to be fair, it did have a little competition from Steven Spielberg's E.T.), but over time Ridley Scott's film, based on a story by renowned sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, has become not just a cult classic but one of the most influential sci-fi films ever made.
Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a plainclothes bounty hunter working for the San Francisco Police Dept. and tasked with retiring rogue androids - or 'replicants' - as they illegally return to Earth from their off-world colonies to try and extend their limited lifespans. With a sequel on the way in October, we've rounded up 15 of the lesser known Blade Runner Facts to keep you busy while you're waiting for the return of Harrison Ford as Deckard in Blade Runner 2049...
1. The title is taken from a different novel to the one on which the film is based
As most fans of the film will probably already know, the story in Blade Runner is based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but the title was borrowed from a different book entirely – or, more accurately, two different books. The William S. Burroughs novella Blade Runner (A Movie) was originally intended as a story treatment for an earlier novel, The Bladerunner, by sci-fi writer Alan E. Nourse.
Neither book bears any relevance to the storyline in Ridley Scott's film – Nourse's novel was about a man dealing medical supplies on the black market – but Hampton Fancher, who wrote several early drafts of the Blade Runner script, thought it was a better title than the other mooted suggestions Dangerous Days and Android.
In the end, none of Fancher's many versions of script were used (Dick reportedly hated his first draft), but the new version by David Webb Peoples kept Fancher's title.
2. The term 'replicants' is never used in Philip K. Dick's novel
In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the androids are referred to either as 'Androids' or 'Andies' for short, but the screenwriter felt that this might be too comical when spoken onscreen and was searching for a new name for them. The inspiration came from his daughter Risa, a student of micro-biology and chemistry, who had been teaching her father about the process by which cells multiply and grow, otherwise known as replication.
3. Ridley Scott didn't even read the novel the film was based on
Scott has admitted that he didn't read the whole of the book that he was basing his film on, saying it was too difficult to get into. In an interview with Wired, the director said: “I met Philip K. Dick later, and he said, ‘I understand you couldn’t read the book.’ And I said, ‘You know you’re so dense, mate, by page 32, there’s about 17 storylines.'”
4. The film was almost made over a decade earlier by Martin Scorsese
Just a year after the publication of Dick's novel, the author had a meeting with Scorsese and writer Jay Cocks, with a view to adapting the film for the big screen. In the end, Scorcese and Cocks decided not to option the film, but this was the first time that Dick had been approached about making a film based on any of his work. Since then there have been numerous films and Tv shows based on Dick's stories, including Total Recall, Minority Report, The Man in the High Castle and A Scanner Darkly, to name a few.
5. There was no love lost between Scott and his film crew
During the making of the film, Scott said in an interview that he much preferred working with English crew members than Americans because, as he put it, when he asked English crew members to do something “they would would just say 'Yes, Gov'nor' and get on with it.” Unfortunately the crew on Blade Runner was mostly staffed by Americans, who were so annoyed by Scott's comments that they all had t-shirts made bearing the words 'Yes Gov'nor, My Ass' and wore them on set every day. Scott responded with a t-shirt of his own, which bore the slogan 'Xenophobia Sucks.'
6. The scene in which Pris breaks a car window with her elbow was real, and completely accidental
After meeting Sebastian for the first time, Pris runs away from him and skids in the rain, smashing his car window with her elbow. This wasn't planned, and the glass was real glass, not the breakaway glass usually used in films. Many of the film's scenes were filmed at night in New York during exceptionally rainy weather and when Daryl Hannah was in mid-take she slipped, sending her elbow crashing through the window. The actress chipped her elbow in eight places and still has the scar to prove it.
7. Debbie Harry was almost in the film
The role of Pris, played by Daryl Hannah, was originally offered to the Blondie singer, but Harry turned down the role, something which she still regrets, saying in a 2014 interview: “My biggest regret of all is turning down the role of the blonde robot Pris in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner... my record company didn’t want me to take time out to do a movie. I shouldn’t have listened to them.
8. Scott cast Rutger Hauer without even meeting him
The director had been so impressed with Hauer's performance in several of Paul Verhoeven's films – particularly Turkish Delight and Soldier of Orange - that he offered the Dutch actor the role of Roy Batty without audition. In fact, the director hadn't met the actor at all until his first day on set. As a joke, Hauer turned up wearing huge green sunglasses, pink satin trousers and a sweater with a fox on the front. Katherine Haber, a production executive on the film, said that when Scott saw Hauer the director “literally went white.”
9. One of the film's most memorable lines was improvised
Hauer actually improvised quite a lot during filming including most of the scene featuring him petting a dove, but perhaps his most successful piece of off-the-cuff acting was the line: "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.” It wasn't in the script, but Scott loved it and the rest, as they say, is history.
10. The film supposedly has a product placement 'curse'
Several companies have their logos or products featured in the film and pretty much every one of them subsequently suffered some kind of misfortune: Pan Am suffered the terrorist hijack and bombing of Flight 103, before finally going bankrupt in 1991 after a decade of losses; Atari never recovered from the crash in the video games market a year later and exists today only as a brand under different ownership; Bell Systems, the telecoms company, was broken up that same year, as was RCA a few years later, and both the Koss headphone company and Cuisinart filed for bankruptcy in 1984 and 1990 respectively (although both have since been revived). Even Coca-Cola, while still in rude health today, suffered a backlash after the introduction of its 'New Coke' product in 1985, which replaced the original formula (only to be switched back after just three months). In fact, the only real winner here was Tsingtao, the Chinese beer company, whose brand was not well known in the West at the time but is now sold in over 60 countries.
11. The Who's guitarist Pete Townshend was approached to write the film's score
Blade Runner's futuristic score, provided by Greek composer and synthesizer wizard Vangelis, is arguably one of the film's most iconic components, but it was almost something very different. Ridley Scott was reportedly a huge fan of The Who and approached Pete Townshend with a view to writing the music for the film. However, Townshend declined, citing the exhausting experience of working on Tommy a few years earlier, and Vangelis stepped in.
12. The 'snake scale' viewed under a microscope is actually marijuana
Yes, really. The scene in which Deckard has Abdul Ben-Hassan analyse one of the scales under a microscope features what is supposedly a magnified close-up of the scale, except it isn't. The image used is actually that of a female marijuana leaf under the microscope. Unfortunately we don't know where the image came from, or who the weed belonged to...
13. The film shares a couple of links with Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
First of all, there's the footage used during the end title sequence in the theatrical cut of the film, which was actually shot – but never used – during the making of Kubrick's film. But there's another link too; if you take a closer look at Dr. Eldon Tyrell, creator of the replicants and founder of the Tyrell Corporation, you'll notice that the actor playing him, Joe Turkel, is the same man who serves Jack Nicholson drinks at the bar of the Overlook Hotel.
14. Dustin Hoffman was Scott's original choice to play Rick Deckard
He might not seem like the action hero type, but Scott was of the opinion that Dustin Hoffman, as an actor, could do anything. Hoffman wasn't quite so sure and was bemused as to why Scott wanted him to play what he saw as “such a macho character”. Despite discussions between the actor and the director dragging on for several months, in the end Hoffman declined the role, with the Scott later saying that Hoffman had suggested several revisions to the character which were moving further and further away from what he wanted. A number of other actors were considered for the role, including Christopher Walken, Peter Falk, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, to name a few.
15. Funding was pulled from the film just days before it began shooting
Filmways Inc, the production company that was initially handling the film, suddenly withdrew their promised $15 million from the film just a matter of days before shooting was due to begin, leaving producer Michael Deeley with the task of finding a huge sum of money in a very short space of time. Amazingly, in just a few days he managed to secure $22 million in a three-way deal with Tandem Pictures, The Ladd Company and Hong Kong-based film producer Run Run Shaw, the man responsible for a series of kung-fu films including Five Fingers of Death and The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.
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