American Gangster, directed by Ridley Scott, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. American Ganster Movie, 2007

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Ridley Scott

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Ridley Scott - American Gangster - The New Ridley Scott Film Starring Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington

Sir Ridley Scott (born November 30, 1937 in South Shields) is an influential English film director and producer.


Scott grew up in an Army family, meaning that for most of his early life his father — an officer in the Royal Engineers — was absent. Ridley's older brother, Frank, joined the Merchant Navy when he was still young and the pair had little contact. During this time the family moved around living in, amongst other areas, Cumbria, Wales and Germany. After the Second World War the Scott family moved back to their native north-east England, eventually settling in Teesside (whose industrial landscape would later inspire similar scenes in Blade Runner). Scott studied there, from 1954 to 1958, at the West Hartlepool College of Art, graduating with a Diploma in Design. He was to progress to an M.A. in graphic design at London's Royal College of Art from 1960 to 1962. There, he was to contribute to the college magazine, ARK, and help to establish its film department. For his final show he made a black and white short film, Boy and Bicycle, starring his younger brother, Tony Scott, and his father. The film's main visual elements would become features of Scott's later work. After graduation in 1963 he secured a traineeship as a set designer with the BBC, leading him to work on the popular television police series Z-Cars and the science fiction series Out of the Unknown. He was also assigned to design the second Doctor Who serial, The Daleks, which would have entailed realising the famous alien creatures. However, shortly before he was due to start work a schedule conflict meant that he was replaced on the serial by Raymond Cusick. At the BBC, Scott was placed into a directing training programme and before he left the corporation had directed episodes of Z-Cars, its spin-off, Softly Softly and adventure series Adam Adamant Lives!.

Early work
Scott quit the BBC in 1968 and established an advertising company, Ridley Scott Associates, working with Sir Alan Parker, Hugh Hudson, Hugh Johnson and employing his younger brother, Tony. Having cut his teeth on UK television commercials in the 1970s — most notably the 1974 Hovis advert, "Bike Round" (New World Symphony), which was filmed in Shaftesbury — he graduated to Hollywood, where he produced and directed a number of top box office films. His first feature, The Duellists, was produced in Europe and won a jury medal at the Cannes Film Festival but made limited impact in the US.

Scott's disappointment with The Duellists was compounded by the success being enjoyed by Alan Parker with American-backed films — admitting he was "ill for a week" with envy. Scott had originally planned to next adapt an opera, Tristan und Isolde, but after seeing Star Wars, he became convinced of the potential of large scale, effects-driven films. He thus accepted the job of directing Alien, the 1979 ground-breaking horror/science fiction film that would give him international recognition. It has become widely accepted that the latter, along with his other sci-fi achievement, Blade Runner, are considered among some of the finest movies ever made in the genre. While Ridley Scott would not direct the three Alien sequels, the female action hero Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), whom he depicted in the first film, would become a cinematic icon. Scott was involved in the 2003 restoration and re-release of the film including media interviews for its promotion. At this time Scott indicated that he had been in discussions to make the fifth and final film in the Alien franchise.

Blade Runner
After a year working on the film adaptation of Dune, Scott signed to direct the film version of Philip K. Dick's novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, (which would be retitled as Blade Runner), following the sudden death of his brother Frank. Starring Harrison Ford and featuring an acclaimed soundtrack by Vangelis, Blade Runner was a flop when released to theatres in 1982, and was pulled shortly thereafter. However, it would eventually achieve cult status through re-issue on television and through home video. Scott's notes were used by Warner Brothers to create a rushed director's cut in 1991 which removed the voiceovers and modified the ending. Some believe this to be a vast improvement — however, others feel the original is the better film. Today Blade Runner is considered one of the most important science fiction films of the 20th century and is usually discussed along with William Gibson's novel Neuromancer as initiating the cyberpunk genre. Scott personally supervised a digitally restored Blade Runner and approved the Final Cut to be released in 2007.

"1984" Apple Macintosh commercial
In 1984, Apple Computer launched the Macintosh. Its debut was announced by a single broadcast of the now famous $1.5 million commercial, based on George Orwell's 1984, and directed by Ridley Scott (due to his work on Blade Runner). The commercial was broadcast during the 1984 Super Bowl XVIII. Steve Jobs' intention with the ad was to equate Big Brother with the IBM PC and a nameless female action hero, portrayed by Anya Major, with the Macintosh.

The commercial is frequently voted top in surveys of influential marketing campaigns. For example, Advertising Age named it the 1980s "Commercial of the Decade", and in 1999 the US TV Guide selected it as number one in their list of "50 Greatest Commercials of All Time".

The film resurfaced in the late 1990s when Apple made a QuickTime version of the commercial available for download from the Internet. It appeared numerous times on television commercial compilation specials, as well as on Nick At Nite during its "Retromercial" breaks.

Thelma & Louise
Thelma & Louise was released in 1991 and stars Geena Davis as Thelma, Susan Sarandon as Louise, and Harvey Keitel as a sympathetic detective trying to solve crimes that the two women find easier and easier to commit. The movie proved to be a success and revived Scott's reputation as a film maker, earning his first Oscar nomination. Scott's next project was the independent movie 1492: Conquest of Paradise, a visually striking take on the story of Christopher Columbus, yet usually considered to be his most slowly paced movie.

Production company
In 1995 Scott, together with his brother Tony, formed the film and television production company Scott Free Productions in Los Angeles. All of his subsequent feature films, starting with White Squall, have been produced under the Scott Free banner. Also in 1995, the two brothers purchased a controlling interest in Shepperton Studios that was later merged with Pinewood Studios. Scott and his brother are currently producing (since 2005) the CBS series Numb3rs. It is a crime drama focused on a mathematician who helps the FBI solve crimes using his genius ability in mathematics.

Ridley Scott - American Gangster - The New Ridley Scott Film Starring Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington

Gladiator and beyond
The huge success of Scott's film Gladiator (2000) has been credited with the revival of the nearly defunct genre of the "sword and sandal" historical epic. Black Hawk Down (2001) further re-established Scott's position as both a critically and financially successful film maker and went on to earn two Oscars.

In 2005, the director made the less successful Kingdom of Heaven, a movie about the Crusades that consciously sought to connect history to current events. While on location in Morocco during the filming Scott reported receiving death threats from Islamist extremists. It was reported that the Moroccan government sent hundreds of soldiers to protect the set and crew. However, the Moroccan cavalry were actually on hand as extras in the epic battle-scenes. Unhappy with the theatrical version of the film (which he blamed on paying too much attention to the opinions of preview audiences), Scott has supervised a director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven, which was released on DVD in 2006, to critical acclaim. A video interview with Scott speaking to STV on the new cut can be found here. In a recent interview, when asked if he was against previewing in general, Scott had this to say on the subject:

"It depends who's in the driving seat. If you've got a lunatic doing my job, then you need to preview. But a good director should be experienced enough to judge what he thinks is the correct version to go out into the cinema."

Current work
Scott is teaming up again with actor Russell Crowe, directing the movie A Good Year, which is based on the best-selling book. The film's release is scheduled for 10 November 2006, and with a score by Marc Stretenfield.

Future projects include Shadow Divers for 2007 and the rumoured Penetration and The Invisible World (production notes about both movies are still unknown). Scott is currently filming American Gangster, working again with Russell Crowe and for the first time with Denzel Washington. He also has a historical epic Tripoli planned, with Russell Crowe and Ben Kingsley attached, and a western in development, Blood Meridian, based on the book by Cormac McCarthy.

Currently five members of the Scott family are directors, all working for RSA. Brother Tony has been a successful film director for more than two decades; sons Jake (40) and Luke (37) are both acclaimed commercials directors as is daughter Jordan (27). Jake and Jordan both work from Los Angeles and Luke is based in London.

His striking visual style, incorporating a detailed approach to production design and innovative, atmospheric lighting, has been tremendously influential on an entire subsequent generation of filmmakers — many of whom have simply imitated him outright. Scott commonly uses very slow pacing until an action sequence, which is characterised by many rapid edits. Prime examples of this technique are Alien and Blade Runner. The critic Sheila Benson went so far as to call the latter "Blade Crawler" in the LA Times, "because it's so damn slow." Another trademark is his use of sound or music to build tension, as seen in Alien with hissing steam, beeping computers and the noise of the machinery in the space ship.

Scott has been nominated for three Academy Awards for Directing. He was knighted in the 2003 New Year Honours.

Although some of his films have been highly praised, others have been less successful with audiences and critics. G.I. Jane and Hannibal are the two major works most often attacked by critics, while 1492: Conquest of Paradise was a major commercial failure. Legend (1985) was, like Blade Runner three years before, an initial box-office disaster, but it too has since found cult status thanks to Jerry Goldsmith's critically acclaimed (but rarely heard) score, featured on a 2002 director's cut that is closer to Scott's original vision.

Actors who have worked with Scott often consider that he puts more emphasis on the sets or lining up shots than with them. Such criticisms have come from Harrison Ford, who complained that his relationship with Scott left a lot to desire. Paul M. Sammon, in his book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner, commented about this in an interview with, stating that Scott's relationship with his actors has improved considerably over the years.

Although Scott is often known for his painterly directorial style, other trademarks include:

  • Strong female characters. Some speculate that his being raised by a single parent, his mother, could be the cause.
  • Military and officer classes as characters reflecting his father's career.
  • Extensive use of the two camera "V" set-up, allowing actors to perform more fluidly.
  • Casts Giannina Facio, his partner in life, in all his movies since White Squall.
  • Gets involved personally in the casting and prefers a more streamlined approach (just him and the casting director).
  • Likes to work with actors who have a strong theatre background and/or drama school graduates.
  • An admirer of Stanley Kubrick from early in his development. For his entry for the BBC traineeship Scott remade Paths of Glory as a short film.
  • Like Stanley Kubrick, Scott is known for repeating the takes by the double digits. This was more evident on Blade Runner: the crew nicknamed the movie "Blood Runner" because of this.
  • Often makes notable use of classical music (the Hovis advertisements, Someone to Watch Over Me). Worked intermittently on the project of a film adaptation of the opera Tristan und Isolde beginning in 1976.
  • Extensive use of fans and fanlike objects (in Blade Runner and Black Rain). Fans are also used in Hannibal, but for the purposes of symbolism.
  • Extensive use of smoke (in Alien, Blade Runner and Black Rain), for visual aesthetic purposes: Scott sometimes takes hours to set up one scene.
  • Consistency in his choice of composers, using the late Jerry Goldsmith (Alien and Legend), Vangelis (Blade Runner and 1492: Conquest of Paradise) or Hans Zimmer (Black Rain, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down and Matchstick Men). Scott has also twice used songs by Sting during the film credits ("Valparaiso" for White Squall and "Someone to Watch Over Me" for the movie of the same title).
  • He is usually considered the "father" of the director's cut. Scott was one of the first to use the description for the 1992 re-release of Blade Runner (other such films existed, but were either small fan-oriented versions that carried the name "Special Edition" or were forcefully edited by the studio). The positive result of the Blade Runner DC has encouraged Scott to re-cut several of his movies that were flops at the time of their release (such as Legend and Kingdom of Heaven) with the same positive results. Today the practice is commonplace within the movie industry.
  • In some of his movies there is a strong conflict between father and son that usually ends with the latter killing the former intentionally (Blade Runner, Gladiator) or accidentally (Black Hawk Down), or witnessing the event (Kingdom of Heaven).

Scott is known for his enthusiasm for the DVD format, providing audio commentaries and interviews for all his films wherever possible. In the July 2006 issue of Total Film magazine, he stated:

"After all the work we go through, to have it run in the cinema and then disappear forever is a great pity. To give the film added life is really cool for both those who missed it and those who really loved it."

The special edition DVD's of Scott's films have been acclaimed for their high quality picture and sound, as well as comprehensive documentaries and commentaries, produced by his longtime DVD producer, Charles de Lauzirika. Unlike many filmmakers, Scott is also well-known for the honest, candid access he allows his DVD extras to explore.


  • Among Scott's favourite films are Lawrence of Arabia, Citizen Kane and The Seven Samurai.
  • Russell Crowe nicknamed Scott "The Admiral of the Fleet" during production of Gladiator. He still sometimes refers to the director as "The Admiral".
  • In contrast, he was nicknamed "Guvnor" in the famous t-shirt fight of the Blade Runner production. Several crew members started to wear protest t-shirts with slogans such as "Yes Guvnor, my ass" and "Will Rogers never met Ridley Scott" (in reference to Will Rogers' most famous quotation "I never met a man I didn't like"). This was mainly in response to the way that Scott directed his first American crew, which was considered too harsh by their standards.
  • Is often very receptive of ideas from the cast during the shooting of movies. Examples of this including Susan Sarandon's suggestions of Louise packing shoes in plastic bags in one scene, also where her character exchanges jewelry for a hat, etc. in Thelma & Louise, as well as Tim Robbins' collaboration with Ridley and Susan Sarandon to rework the final scene with a more upbeat ending.


Upcoming films
Tripoli (2008)
Blood Meridian (2007)
Shadow Divers (2007)
American Gangster (2007)
A Good Year (2006): finished, rumoured to be released in November for Oscar consideration.

Ridley Scott - American Gangster - The New Ridley Scott Film Starring Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington

Released films
All the Invisible Children (a.k.a. Take 7) (2006)
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Matchstick Men (2003)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Hannibal (2001)
Gladiator (2000)
G.I. Jane (1997)
White Squall (1996)
1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Black Rain (1989)
Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)
Legend (1985)
Blade Runner (1982)
Alien (1979)
The Duellists (1977)
Boy and Bicycle (1965)

In The News:

Will 'The Counselor' win Oscars for overdue Brad Pitt and Ridley Scott?
The Pedigree: Director Ridley Scott already has a Best Picture-winner under his belt ("Gladiator"), and three nominations for directing ("Gladiator," as well as "Thelma & Louise" and "Black Hawk Down"). The cast includes Michael Fassbender in the title role, ...

  Mon, 01 Apr 2013 17:37:14 GMT

5 Reasons A Ridley Scott Alien Prequel Would Be Amazing
Like every committed Alien fan out there I went to see Alien: Resurrection last November with an open mind after the mediocre Alien3. ?It can't be bad? I told myself. ?Joss Whedon wrote it so the script will be amazing,? I assured myself. While I've been denying ...

  Mon, 01 Apr 2013 11:06:16 GMT

Labyrinth: Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown Findlay convinces
Ridley Scott and his late brother Tony Scott are attached to his project (as they were Pillars of the Earth, which had a similar aesthetic), and this tends to assure a quality production. And lo, Labyrinth was definitely beautiful to behold (kudos to Australian ...

and more »
  Sun, 31 Mar 2013 14:09:17 GMT

A Look Back At Ridley Scott's Career
In celebration of the upcoming DVD release of Labyrinth out on DVD 1st April from Universal Pictures (UK), a miniseries produced by Ridley & Tony Scott, let's take a look back at some of the amazing works that Sir Ridley Scott has created. Born and raised in ...

  Sun, 31 Mar 2013 07:16:21 GMT

Daily Mail

Move over EL James: How you could follow Wool author Hugh Howey's success ...
Daily Mail
The sleeper success of Wool, Howey's series of bleak sci-fi novellas (it's now been published in over 30 countries, while director Ridley Scott has bought the film rights) mirrors the remarkable rise of James's series of erotic novels. First released as an ebook ...

and more »
  Sat, 30 Mar 2013 22:15:12 GMT

Daily Mail

Fifty Shades of Grey successor? How you could follow Wool author Hugh ...
Daily Mail
The sleeper success of Wool, Howey's series of bleak sci-fi novellas (it's now been published in over 30 countries, while director Ridley Scott has bought the film rights) mirrors the remarkable rise of James's series of erotic novels. First released as an ebook ...

and more »
  Sat, 30 Mar 2013 22:03:20 GMT

Ridley Scott Producing 'Child 44? With Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace
/FILM (blog)
This week we spoke with Damon Lindelof about the sequel to Prometheus and, in the conversation, he mentioned that Ridley Scott was finishing The Counselor and had ?Child 44 lined up right behind it.? That was an interesting statement, making it sound like ...

and more »
  Fri, 29 Mar 2013 19:20:05 GMT

Damon Lindelof Discusses 'Prometheus' Sequel
The Inquisitr
Damon Lindelof Discusses 'Prometheus' Sequel. Posted: March 28, 2013. Damon Lindelof Discusses 'Prometheus' Sequel. Damon Lindelof, the screenwriter to Ridley Scott's Alien precursor, Prometheus, has been discussing the sequel to the prequel.

and more »
  Fri, 29 Mar 2013 03:34:24 GMT

Dread Central

Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions Sees its Way Through the Fog
Dread Central
Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions Sees its Way Through the Fog Calm down, kids! We're not talking about yet another remake of John Carpenter's The Fog (because that one turned out so well in the first place, right?). What we have here is a new invasion ...

  Thu, 28 Mar 2013 18:39:39 GMT

Bloody Disgusting

Ridley Scott's Company Will Battle the 'Fog'
Bloody Disgusting
Scott Free has earmarked Stephen Fingleton's invasion film temporarily titled Fog as the likely first project on its anticipated genre slate, which it is producing with Focus Features International and Orchard Capital, reports Screen Daily. ?Fog charts a family's ...

and more »
  Thu, 28 Mar 2013 15:39:25 GMT

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American Gangster, a Ridley Scott film, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.
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