ALIENS Remembered - By the Cast

PrintE-mail Written by Paddy O'Hare

Recently the cast of Aliens have been out and about on the convention scene. Stars Sigourney Weaver (Ripley), Bill Paxton (Hudson), Carrie Henn (Newt) and Lance Henriksen (Bishop) have all been talking about the film. With interest mounting for the world of Xenomorphs once more, our man on the scene Paddy O’Hare recounts the revelations from the cast.

The future of Aliens
At one of the convention panels, Sigourney Weaver was naturally quizzed about Neill Blomkamp's Alien project; “I’m so excited about Neill, because Neill is like you guys!” she told the gathered geeks and press. “He broke the tapes of these movies when he was a kid, he watched them so much. I love the fact that’s Neill’s fulfilling his childhood dream of what he hopes will be the popcorn movie, the Alien popcorn movie that he wanted as a kid to see”. With a little prompting from the panel host, Sigourney did also reveal to a very excited congregation, that the film was “100% happening”.

Lance Hendriksen, when asked about his enthusiasm on social media for Neill Blomkamp's Alien, he had this to say: “I like his movies a lot, and I sent him an email and he sent me one back. I don't know that they have a script yet, I don't know if I'm involved, but in a way they could just have me as a pile of scrap in one of the stasis cells, you know when they start the next movie. Because they are going right from the end of the one we did, I don't know if he likes me enough to do more than that, I could just be a broken toaster. I think a lot of people are gonna be kind of pissed off if I'm not in it, in a funny way”, he said with a rye smile.

I wouldn't be pissed off, I can understand another direction that they'll go in, and I don't know that Ridley has an affection for me, you know he's producing it, who knows? Because I said about Prometheus, that I wanted to wait to see it on my cell phone.
To which we asked, “Did that not go down well?” Laughing, Lance agreed. “I don't know that that went down that well.” We then suggested all he has to do is praise Blade Runner and he will be totally fine with Ridley.
I love Blade Runner, and I love some of his other work like Gladiator, you know, I like a lot of his movies. But Prometheus I knew was going to be this lavish thing, and I did see it in a theatre (not on my cell phone), but when I left the theatre I thought I don't feel anything, and I was disappointed about that. Noomi's performance was incredible, and the captain he was great, you know there was some good performances in there, and there's others that I don't want to talk about ha ha!

Bring back Hudson
Bill Paxton was also of the opinion that his character should make a come back in Alien 5, asking Weaver, “Can you put in a good word for me? There must be something left of me they can claim” Lance Henriksen was a topic of discussion on the panel too, when Carrie Henn let slip that he got held up in customs before filming began on Aliens because he had packed a significant amount of knifes for his famous scene with Paxton. “Lance is a crazy guy”, said Paxton. “He used to practice all the time on set and had cut him self a lot practicing on himself. In one of the takes he slipped and cut into one of my cuticles, and that really hurt man!

London downtime for Biehn and Paxton
Bill Paxton clearly has an affection of his time working in London, and telling the crowd that the cast went to work in the evening and came out during daylight hours. “There's time for a quick anecdote I think!” Bill's drinking buddy was co-star Michael Biehn, and Paxton recalled one particular evening; “We were pretty wasted, and at some point we ended up in a lift and I looked over at this guy and said; Hey! You're boy George!” Despite his intoxication it appears that the actor was right, and in his best Simpson's style British accent, gave us the ‘80s pop star's response, “Yes I am mate!

It seems the Biehn's and Paxton's hangovers were sometimes a feature on set as Bill recounted another story. “Michael was sleeping on the set, literally passed out and I remember Sigourney walking by, and she looked over and said - 'There's my leading man!' ha ha! It was great being in London.

Bringing Ripley back for the sequels
Sigourney Weaver seemed to be surprised each time there were parties interested in bringing her iconic role of Ellen Ripley back.

I think in those ancient days when I started, we never thought there'd be one after Alien, we never thought there'd be one after Aliens, Jim Cameron had done it. I'm not sure who wanted to do another one, accept maybe Fox, and I heard that they were doing Alien vs. Predator, which is why I wanted to die in the third one... I didn't want to be part of that, sorry if I've insulted people!” This garnered some applause from the audience, making it clear that their loyalty lay with the first lady of sci-fi. “You know, why would you want to do that to a franchise that people love? Again, I haven't seen it, but I hear the Alien doesn't win, and that in itself... excuse me?” James Cameron had another slant on the dual franchise when he said;Alien vs. Predator is like doing Alien vs. the Wolfman.”

On the marmite sequel that is Alien 3, Weaver made it clear that she doesn't hold it as a particular favourite of hers. “So I don't know how the third one came about, and I was pretty sceptical the entire time mostly, but then in those days we had started to build on stories, which I think is totally legit, you know stories that people love. In fact, Ridley Scott was about to direct a third one, until this was announced, and he dropped out, because he also wanted to do an Alien sequel. I think it caused more problems than it was worth.”

"We're in some real pretty shit now man!"
Upon a request to repeat one of his famous lines, Bill Paxton blew it, to much laugher from the crowd and panel - then nailed it! “We're on an express elevator to hell going down!” This was akin to a rock star belting out that favourite hit, the crowd went wild! This led nicely into an examination of the cast's one liners and adlibs starting with Paxton himself, “Jim (Cameron) has a photographic memory, and Pinewood is kind of an old mansion, there's old boardrooms, and Jim had us in there rehearsing. We were doing different things and Sigourney was coming down to meet all of us, and I couldn't wait to see the Reeboks they had made for Ripley, and she came in in the grey jumpsuit and red Reeboks! He had us doing some kind of improv, but he remembered that line that I threw out in an improv. It was months before we actually got to the shot, and about 2 and a half months later Jim said; 'What's that thing about the express elevator?' I couldn't believe he could even remember that!

Sigourney chimed in that Aliens helmer Cameron is “One of the great minds!” Paxton then praised his encouragement. “He egged me on for sure, and 'Game Over Man' that was an improvisational thing too.... well not really improvisational, but you think of these things if all of a sudden a director says 'riff here,' and that's when I just, you know, dry up!” Judging by the amount of one liners ad libs he had, Weaver didn't agree adding, “I don't think so!

"They mostly come at night, mostly..."
Carrie Henn AKA Newt, now of course a fully grown woman discussed some of her experiences, firstly of improvisation, “I'm one of those people that does exactly what I'm supposed to do for the most part, my mom may disagree from my teenage years, I didn't really ad-lib anything but I used to do funny things because I was a kid. My Dad always used to do that thing where you say 'what's this' and then do that thing with your finger up to your face when you look down”. Turning to Sigourney, she adds; “I don't know if you remember but when we were in the med lab they didn't tell you I was going to do it, but Jim told me - do that to Sigourney, so that was my one!

Weaver expanded on the central mother/daughter relationship between Newt and Ripley as some of her favourite memories and moments in the film. The action took a break and “Hope was able to shine through”. The family atmosphere seemed to permeate the actor's off set relationship with Henn, as she recalled that Sigourney used to “Help her do painting”. Carrie is also possibly one of the few people to leave Bill Paxton speechless, when she admitted that he used build forts with her. Laughing rather sheepishly Paxton said... “I really don't know what to add to that!” Hudson's shit was safely secured by Newt!  

This time its war
It wasn't all sweetness and light though on the set of Aliens, with the three actors revealing some of the more harrowing moments of the production, particularly shooting at the power station. According to Paxton, it was drenched in ‘asbestos rain’, but James Cameron certainly didn't stand for 'film star' moments during many of the set ups here. Carrie Hen told the story of how terrified she was of messing up the scenes in the cocoon, because it was so expensive to re-set the prosthetics and scenery... but she did admit that she, “broke a piece off, but said nothing and nobody noticed!

Sigourney Weaver left with a few physical scars as apposed to mental ones, when Ripley rips the cocoon apart to free Newt. On investigation she was worried that the candy glass in there would cut her hands, Cameron said “its fine, come on, just do it!” Her concerns it appears were justified; “Of course when I did it I came away with my hands covered in blood!

The drop ship set apparently paid Cameron back when a piece of set collapsed and split open his head, which Paxton described the result as ‘looked like a geyser’. Bill also recounted the moment when one of the characters gets hit during their escape from the Xenomorphs and accidentally burns the cockpit with his flamethrower. Seemingly one of the actors weakly stated “I can't breathe,” which prompted the Hudson actor to think, “Wow that's a great improv, until I realised there was no air and they cleared outta there pretty quickly”.

John Hurt and that chest bursting scene in Alien

Following a question from the panel host, who had previously interviewed John Hurt, about whether the cast knew about the alien bursting out of his chest, the British acting legend had said; “Of course they knew about it, they read the script!” Now it was time to hear Sigourney's side of the story. “We read the script, it said something comes out of John, and John says... I remember the line because I had T-Shirts made up for everyone with the line... 'Oh my guuuuarrrrrddd!' written on them, I thought it was the funniest line in the whole show.

There was still some surprises though for the crew of the Nostromo. “What we really did not know what would happen, and this is all a credit to John, there were a couple of different set ups and first of all everyone around was in raincoats so we should have known right there! In the first section when John is holding his chest, and he's in pain, well his acting was so remarkable, that it just froze your blood, you were just worried about John. Honestly you just forgot about the picture and thought 'Oh my God he's dying!' Then the next take and you realise he's acting, like wow the English are amazing and so is he. Then honestly the next take practically, there are these terrific special effects guys with these little rubber hoses giggling underneath the table, I'm not kidding! Then in the next shot this thing comes out of John, stands up, looks at us, and goes off the table! If you look at that master, we're all like this (mouth drops open, looks around wide eyed)... So yes, we read the script and this is way before CGI or anything, it happened so organically that honestly it took your breath away! So yes intellectually we knew what was going to happen, but we didn't really know what was going to happen or we would have been prepared. We were in a good way totally unprepared for what we saw!"

On Ghostbusters 3 and the reboot
STARBURST, of course, had to ask Ms Weaver about the ill fated Ghostbusters 3. “What I know is, yes that was happening, because I know Ivan Reitman and I spoke a few times about my being in it, and I would say; 'I just want my son Oscar to be a Ghostbuster' He would say; 'That's fine that will be in it.' Then I don't quite know what happened, but this idea of the girl Ghostbusters came up, and they are doing that now in Boston with Paul Feig directing. I don't know if anyone is in it from the other one, I don't know if there is still the desire and the reality of making one with the guys. I think all of it is still a possibility, but the girls got their first, for a change, and I think that's gonna be an awesome movie, it’s a great script. But I still think that Danny (Aykroyd) and Ivan, those guys are still at work on something, but I'm just saying what I know, I don't know much."
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