One of my favorite moments in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2012) happens early on in the film. The android David, played by Michael Fassbender, is watching a movie and studying closely the voice and manner of the man on screen, even repeating lines until he has perfectly mimicked the actor’s delivery. Shortly thereafter, David dyes his hair blonde to look more like the man in the movie. That man is Peter O’Toole. The movie is Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this, not because I thought it was silly, but because a) few actors besides Michael Fassbender are pretty enough to come anywhere close to looking like O’Toole, and b) it was a wonderfully sly way of hinting at the troubles to come. It’s only a hint, of course, if you’re familiar with Lawrence — in which case you know that if the android’s role model is this fictional version of T. E. Lawrence, then the android is definitely not to be trusted. But if you’re not familiar with director David Lean’s masterpiece, then I have good news for you: it isn’t too late.