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Androids may or may not dream of electric sheep, but movies are living creatures, “Blade Runner 2049” director Denis Villeneuve said during his visit to the L.A. Times studio at Comic-Con.
“The movie’s alive. It has its own soul, its own personality,” said Villeneuve, who’s still in post wrangling the ambitious sci-fi sequel, which arrives three decades after Ridley Scott’s grimy-neon classic introduced Harrison Ford’s futuristic, replicant-hunting gumshoe Rick Deckard.
Along with Villeneuve, “Blade Runner 2049” is stacked with cinema icons. Ford reprises his famed role as Deckard, now long in hiding. And new blade runner played by Ryan Gosling, Officer K, is on his trail.
Original screenwriter Hampton Fancher returned to script the sequel with Michael Green, and as soon as Villeneuve landed the directing gig he brought on veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins ("The Shawshank Redemption"), whose lush and atmospheric lensing already has fans buzzing from the trailers alone.
“Blade Runner 2049” marks the first franchise outing for Villeneuve, who was Oscar-nominated for last year’s similarly ambitious sci-fi flick “Arrival.”
“The biggest challenge for me was to take someone else’s universe, someone else’s dream, to digest it and make it my own dream,” he told The Times (watch our full chat above). “For instance, one of the toughest [things] for me was to figure out where Harrison Ford’s character will be in the future.”
In order to conceive how Deckard would have spent the last three decades following the events of “Blade Runner,” Villeneuve went to the source.
“Right from the start, Harrison told me that he needed me to find him in the future,” he said. “And me, I deeply needed Harrison Ford. We talked a lot together and thought a lot about that for several months, to imagine what Deckard would be like.”
Even at Comic-Con, where Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. mounted a massive, immersive “Blade Runner 2049” fan experience, filled with props, fully constructed sets, incredibly believable character performers and an Oculus VR ride, Villeneuve found himself dodging The Question: Is Deckard a replicant?
“What interested me is the question itself,” he said, referring to author Philip K. Dick’s original novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” “The characters in the book sometimes doubt themselves, and they want to test themselves because they are unsure sometimes if they are natural or designed, if they are artificial beings or real human beings. And that doubt, in their paranoia, I think is more interesting than the answer.”
As for said answer, Villeneuve isn’t spilling, despite the fact that Ford and Scott have voiced their opinions on Deckard’s humanity — and fallen on opposite sides of the debate.
“It would put myself in danger because Harrison Ford strongly believes he’s human, and Ridley is convinced that Deckard is a replicant, so I don’t want to be in that war! They are still arguing about it.
He also played coy when it came to describing Gosling’s role, “but I will say that the part was written for him,” he added. “It was not my idea to offer the part to Ryan. Hampton Fancher thought about him when he wrote it … and when I read the screenplay, I just felt he was right.”
For now, chew on this thematic link between the “Blade Runner” flicks.
“[It is] a continuity of the reflection of what it is to be a human being, our relationship with memories and the importance of memories and the importance to the past,” Villeneuve said. “What we are taking from the past inside us to transform our destiny, it’s something that I feel is an extension of the first movie.”
"Blade Runner 2049" will premiere Oct. 6.