Denis Villeneuve has quickly emerged as one of Hollywood’s esteemed filmmakers. He’s on a hot streak with four critically-acclaimed films in as many years, following up 2015’s Oscar-nominated Sicario with the Best Picture-nominated Arrival in 2016. Villeneuve has already proven that he has a knack for layered storytelling and compelling sci-fi set pieces, which makes him an outstanding choice to handle Blade Runner 2049, the biggest challenge of his career to-date and one of the most anticipated movies of 2017.
Villeneuve is keenly aware of the risks associated with making Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to one of the most beloved sci-fi films of all time. Thirty-five years after the release of Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner, it is finally on its way - and naturally, the director is feeling plenty of pressure to live up to the 1982 original’s lofty standards.
Speaking with Variety on the “Playback” podcast, Villeneuve called Blade Runner 2049 the “riskiest project” of his career and spoke about the pressure he’s feeling about making the sequel, which stars Ryan Gosling and the returning Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard. It’s already released a visually striking teaser trailer featuring the two - which will only increase the pressure on the director:
“I feel [pressure] every day … At the same time, I’ve never been that inspired and excited. I love risk. All of my projects have come with a certain amount of artistic risk, or sometimes a risk of how you portray reality. I did a movie once about a school massacre and I had a huge responsibility to the victims of those events. I did a movie about a conflict in Lebanon, so there again, you have a strong responsibility to reality. When I did ‘Sicario,’ I felt responsible to how I would portray the Mexican society there. So I’m used to pressure. For ‘Blade Runner,’ it’s artistic pressure, and by far the biggest ever.”
Based on his comments, Villeneuve is taking a great approach to focus on remaining faithful to the worlds depicted in his films. If the way he approached Sicario and his other work is any indication, he is foisting an enormous amount of responsibility on himself to stay faithful to the original Blade Runner and its distinctive setting and themes. It’s clear that the movie will boast strong visuals; if Villeneuve’s storytelling in Blade Runner 2049 matches the quality of his other recent work, the sequel has a chance to reach the transcendent heights of the original film.
The biggest question, and perhaps risk, with Blade Runner 2049 is the screenplay and how the story will unfold. Hampton Fancher, who wrote the original Blade Runner, co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Green, who is more experienced in TV but has a big run of scripts coming out in 2017. It’s unknown whether Fancher can recapture the magic of the original or whether Green, who also wrote the upcoming Logan and Alien: Covenant, can improve upon the disappointing Green Lantern. But despite the risks and pressure, the talent involved with Blade Runner 2049 has a chance to produce something memorable here.
Blade Runner 2049 hits U.S. theaters on Oct. 6, 2017.