Francis Lawrence reveals what he wants in an I Am Legend prequel

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Francis Lawrence, who directed 2007's I Am Legend, told SCI FI Wire that he, star Will Smith and writer/producer Akiva Goldsman are awaiting a script, by D.B. Weiss, for the proposed prequel film, which will again explore the idea of what it means to be the last man on Earth.

"That was the real reason I wanted to do the movie in the first place, really, was the idea of 'What does that world look like, what does it do to you when you're by yourself?'" Lawrence said in an exclusive interview Thursday night in Universal City, Calif., where he was promoting his upcoming limited NBC series Kings. "What does it do without people, without companionship and sound and the loss of your family, without anybody to talk to? I think that's really what people connected to, and so the tough thing is, how do we do that again and in a different way?"

The first film showcased Smith's performance as Robert Neville, the last human survivor of a virulent plague that has transformed the rest of humanity into ravening vampire-like creatures. The prequel would step back to a time before the events of the first movie, which was based on Richard Matheson's classic SF novel. The movie is reportedly envisioned as a prequel because Smith's character perishes in the first movie.

"I have my beliefs on what was interesting about the first story and what was not so interesting about the first story, and I think that to go back, there has to be a truly viable reason to go back into that world that I think interested everybody, so that's the real struggle," Lawrence said. "The struggle is to find a story that brings us back in a way that's hopefully just as interesting as the first time around."

Lawrence added: "Yeah, if we figure out the story, I'm absolutely involved in the prequel. ... We've had conversations. The three of us, Will and Akiva and I, have sat down and talked, and there's a writer that's working on it right now. So we came up with the bones of a story, and now we're waiting to see a script."

Lawrence said there's no time frame for development of the project. "It's really just honestly about trying to come up with something really good," he said. "I think that's the bottom line for all of us: ... It's not a rush. It's 'Let's just try and make it good and make it right and do what we want to do.'"