Originally, the studio wanted Scott to cut out the now-infamous “Space Jockey.”
In other words, back when Ridley Scott was pushing through Alien’s production process, 20th Century Fox almost prevented the eventual existence of Prometheus.
Scott’s 2012 flick, inarguably an Alien prequel, hinges its mythology and plot on the once-enigmatic shoulders of the “Space Jockey,” the mysterious, hardened corpse found amidst a derelict spaceship by the Nostromo crew. Without providing any background information about the specimen, the Alien filmmaking team supplied one of sci-fi cinema’s all-time great questions: Who exactly is the Space Jockey? And, furthermore, what exactly was he trying to do before he died inside his flying saucer?
The answers to those inquiries are provided in Prometheus, and it’s ironic to think that Fox’s biggest movie of 2012 is rooted in something the company once frowned upon. In the executives eyes’, the enormous (26 feet tall), and expensive (costing $500,000), Space Jockey set was a waste of space and dollars—why not just leave a massive crater in the ground? Scott and producer Gordon Carroll, bless their souls, fought to keep it in the picture; in addition to its what-the-hell-is-that intrigue, the Space Jockey hinted at a much wider narrative scope that could be explored at some point. And what better time than 2012, right?
It’s also worth noting that the Space Jockey imagery and general concept originated in the late Dan O’Bannon’s initial Starbeast script, further proving that he was, and still is, in fact, the heart and soul of the Alien universe.