March 21, 2018 | Rome, Italy | °C

A determined man

By Dianne Bennett
Published: 2017-12-10

Women have long been attracted to Fancher. His first wife, Joann McNabb, the older woman, with whom he had a daughter; and his second wife, actress Sue Lyon (of "Lolita" fame) — whom he tried to get to read Sartre's "Nausea." And more actresses: Teri Garr, who supported him — to his dismay — for some time; and a long-time girlfriend and still good friend, Barbara Hershey, whom he escorted to the recent Hollywood opening of "Blade Runner 2049."

Fancher's life is a story of risk-taking, whether running away to Spain at 15 or persistently knocking on Philip K. Dick's door. He says he was always doing what seemed practical to him, though others might not see it that way. Some of this peripatetic life is captured in a new documentary on Fancher, "Escapes," produced by Wes Anderson.

I caught up with Fancher in the afterglow of the "Blade Runner 2049" premier. He had returned to his home in New York City, where he was on the other end of a lengthy telephone conversation.

You've previously relayed the story about how you were working on a final piece in your book of short stories, "The Shape of the Final Dog", when Ridley Scott (director of "Blade Runner" and producer of "Blade Runner 2049") called you. You gave him the outlines of the story and he said, "Come to London," as in right now. Is that how "Blade Runner 2049" began? I thought of a scene that didn't make it into the first "Blade Runner." And then I got a call from Ridley's office. I got excited. I didn't miss that what I was doing was maybe a new "Blade Runner" idea. So when he called, I read him the first paragraph.

Do you and Scott keep in touch? It had been a couple years since we last talked. We have a relationship. Well, Scott didn't literally call me. I don't call people, he doesn't call people — except for work. People like Scott don't call you. An assistant calls and says he's ready to talk to you. Oh, yes, once he called me. When I was in Paris and he was in London. He would call. He would worry about me, I think. I was working on a film he was interested in, not involved in, just interested in. He said, "Are you okay?" I said, "no, I'm f***ed."And he said, "You're not; because you have talent." This wasn't just Pop saying it … (His) saying your talent will see you through, you can rely on your talent — that was very important to me.

The book of short stories contains the story — "The Shape of the Final Dog" — that's basically the opening scene of "Blade Runner 2049," where the main character K tracks down an old replicant and kills him. You published that story in 2012. Did people see it as the beginning of a Blade Runner sequel? No. No one read it. No one saw it as the genesis of "Blade Runner 2049."

Reviews of the book describe you, the writer, as "misanthropic." I'm misanthropic? I don't think I've ever been accused of that. I'm the opposite. I'm a humanist through and through. What else do they say?

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