10 things you may not know about the original Blade Runner

The sci-fi classic turns 35 this year.
Harrison Ford, star of Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner, will reprise his role as Rick Deckard in Denis Villeneuve's sequel, Blade Runner 2049. (Warner Bros.)

With the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049, coming out this fall, now is a good time to revisit the classic sci-fi film.

Ridley Scott's original, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this weekend, has gained a cult following over the years for its visionary depiction of a dark, futuristic world and exploration of genetic engineering, technological advancements and how they cultivate paranoia.

To celebrate the original, and in anticipation of Denis Villeneuve's sequel, here are 10 things about Scott's Blade Runner that you may not know. 


1. The story originally took place in 1992

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the Philip K. Dick novel that the film is based on, takes place in 1992 but the film projected the story further into the future, to 2019. Initially, it would've been 2020, but it was changed to 2019 to avoid the common phrase for perfect vision, 20:20.

2. This could've been a Scorsese film

Director Martin Scorsese and writer Jay Cocks first met with Dick in 1969 to discuss a possible adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? but the novel was never optioned. The project eventually fell through, making it possible for Blade Runner to be made and later released in 1982.

3. Ridley Scott took on Blade Runner as a way of coping with a personal loss

Scott credits his decision to take on Blade Runner to the death of his brother, Frank. "I felt like I had to go to work immediately," he revealed in a behind-the-scenes documentary. Scott thought the work would be a "fast fix, emotionally" for his grief, but it quickly snowballed into seven months of daily meetings with screenwriter Hampton Fancher.

4. Dustin Hoffman doesn't regret turning down the role of Deckard

Although Fancher had actors like Christopher Walken and Tommy Lee Jones in mind for the leading role of Rick Deckard, Scott was keen on casting Dustin Hoffman. But Hoffman was confused as to why they would want him for such a "macho" character and, in the end, the actor dropped out because he couldn't see eye-to-eye with Scott on the film's creative vision. (Other actors rumoured to be considered included Sean Connery, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Nolte and Jack Nicholson.)

5. But Blondie regrets saying no to playing Pris

Before Daryl Hannah was cast as replicant Pris, Blondie singer Debbie Harry was offered the role. Harry's record label didn't want her to take time away from her music career, though, so she turned it down. In 2014, Harry told Event Magazine: "My biggest regret of all is turning down the role of the blonde robot Pris in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner." In response to her label's advice against taking the role, she added, "I shouldn't have listened to them."

6. The Voight-Kampff machine was built quickly

The Voight-Kampff test was Tyrell Corp's method of checking to see if someone was a replicant. The intricate-looking mechanism itself was built by model maker Mark Stetson over the span of a single weekend. Stetson has also worked on the visual effects on films like the original Total Recall, Die Hard and The Lord of the Rings.

7. Rachel's spider memory is based on a true story

At one point in the film, replicant Rachel recalls a spider getting eaten alive by a hundred baby spiders. That story was actually based on a true story that actress Barbara Hershey (Once Upon a Time, Black Swan) told Fancher while he was writing the script for the film.

8. The final fight scene was supposed to feature kung-fu moves

The original idea for Deckard and Roy Batty's final confrontation was to have them fight in an old gym, with the two using martial arts moves such as kung fu. But, as Roy Batty actor Rutger Hauer revealed in his biography, he didn't like that idea (he said it was "too Bruce Lee,") and he claims that he came up with the idea of chasing Deckard instead. Hauer noted that he didn't even know any kung fu.

9. Pete Townshend almost composed the music for the movie

The frontman of the Who was asked to write the music for Blade Runner but turned it down due to a bad experience composing for Ken Russell's 1975 film, Tommy. In his memoir, Who Are You: The Life of Pete Townshend, he said: "I didn't think I would ever, ever, ever be able to work with a director again, and I never have."

10. Philip K. Dick never saw the finished film in its entirety

Dick died before the official release of Blade Runner, but he was involved in the process of the film. He personally approved of actors Hauer (he called him, "the perfect Batty-cold, Aryan, flawless,) and Harrison Ford (he said Ford was "more Deckard than I had imagined.") He did read and approve the screenplay, though, and he got to see the first 20 minutes of the movie.

— Melody Lau, q digital staff

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