Aliens Expanded (2024) Movie Script

Where's Apone?
Get away from her, you bitch!
We all knew, all the actors on it knew
after a week of work
that we had something.
I know some people say they watch it
every Christmas together.
They watch it every Thanksgiving.
So what are you waiting for?
Breakfast in bed?
Isn't it shocking that we're talking
about this 40 years later,
and it's a sequel?
I mean, there's gotta be something to it.
At the moment
when the chestburster first erupts,
the entire audience
just leapt into the air.
And Paxton turned to me and he was like,
"Oh, dude, this is gonna be so awesome."
Stop your grinning and drop your linen.
My memory of seeing the completed Aliens
was just shock and awe.
I want this thing to go smooth
and by the numbers.
The experience was beyond adjectives,
because it was just an assault.
If you're gonna only be
in one movie in your life,
this was the movie to be in.
It was alchemy, it was magic,
it was witchcraft.
Coming around for a 709-er.
Everybody was immediately aware
that this wasn't just a hit movie,
but it was something even more important,
something that would really endure.
These people are dead Burke.
Don't you have any idea
what you've done here?
Jim has a way of pulling you in.
Multiple signals.
And once he pulls you in,
he's not gonna let you go.
And I love the film.
The film had such an incredible
momentum and drive.
I like to keep this handy.
For close encounters.
Without a doubt, Aliens is the best movie
that I've ever been in.
I just don't think there's a flaw,
I can't find anything wrong
with that movie.
And it made sense to me.
It's all of my design influences
and all of the story ideas
I'd been working on.
I was born to make that movie.
Well, there goes our salvage, guys.
I've had a few, I would say
fairly profound experiences in a cinema.
And one of them was
the opening night of Alien.
It was at a theater somewhere
in Orange County, a big cinema.
And what struck me so much
was the sense of presence, of place.
You are there, you are inhabiting
this spacecraft with these people.
The rigorous sense of detail,
the blue collar aesthetic.
One memory that stands out really clearly
from that film
is the plip-plop of the water drops
on the bill of the ball cap
that Harry Dean Stanton's wearing.
And he goes into some kind of
cooling room or condenser room
or whatever it is, and the chains rustling,
clicking against each other.
And in that moment, that taught me
a powerful lesson as a filmmaker,
how you create a sense of
a tactile reality for the audience.
It's all about sense memory.
The atmospherics
and the creation of a genre,
the psychological, claustrophobic
thriller of being locked in space
was almost the first of its kind.
I could smell it.
Something about what I was looking at
made me feel like I could smell the oil
and smell this and that.
And it was great,
it was a great moment in movies.
You could feel it with Ridley Scott
that 2001 was inspiring him to make a film
that was reverent to its source material,
that was serious.
That lived in sense of reality.
This is really a look
that Dan O'Bannon developed
with John Carpenter for Dark Star.
Ridley ran with that.
He really took that to the next level
with his wonderful lighting.
With Aliens, we had that
as a jumping off point.
As early as the release of the first film,
there were plans to do
another ship coming to LV-426.
A very standard sequel idea,
which I'm sure would've worked fine.
They had an idea of the alien actually
not having been killed in the first film
and returning to Earth.
They had an idea of the eggs from LV-426
drifting down to Earth in an Invasion
of the Body Snatchers way.
Which sounds a little far-fetched,
but it could have worked.
But it speaks for itself to see
Ripley back in her particular story.
I was actually pitching something else
to Walter Hill and David Giler.
They had given me something
that they wanted to do,
which was Spartacus in space.
And so I went off and I did this whole
genetic engineering story
about this underclass
of genetically engineered slaves
that weren't considered human.
And I came back with this epic
science fiction concept and they said,
Nah, we just want swords
and sandals on another planet.
I mean, frankly, these guys
were a giant disappointment.
They didn't really
understand science fiction.
They had lucked
into a science fiction hit,
and then they were pretending
they knew about science fiction,
but they didn't really,
especially David Giler.
And he said,
"Well, we got this other thing."
He said, "Well, nothing's really
happened on it in seven years,
but you could take a stab at that."
I said, "Well, what is it?"
He said, "Alien 2." Kinda dismissively.
And meanwhile, my brain lights up
like a slot machine at Vegas
that's paying off a million bucks.
You know what I mean? Ding, ding, ding.
I race home,
I get all my notes for this other thing
that I had been writing on.
I called it E.T., believe it or not.
And then some other chump
came out with a movie called E.T.,
or, at least I heard
that it was coming out,
and I went,
"All right, I'll give up that title."
And then I changed it to, I think, Mother.
And so I was writing Mother
because it was about two mothers fighting.
The mother alien protecting its young,
and the mother human.
Giler had given me
a one-line or two-line concept.
The same place where they found
the derelict ship has now been colonized
and they lose contact with the colony
and they call in the Space Marines.
And then, this is an exact quote,
"And then some bullshit happens,
dot, dot, dot."
And I ran with it.
At the same time that
he was writing Alien,
he was also writing
Rambo: First Blood Part II.
So he had two different desks
and he played different music
to get him into the head space
for the two different films.
There's no bones about it,
without James Cameron,
without Ridley Scott,
and for all intents and purposes,
without David Fincher,
but that's a different conversation,
we would not have the films that we have.
But you can't make a monster film
without an interesting monster.
You still don't understand
what you're dealing with, do you?
Perfect organism.
Its structural perfection
is matched only by its hostility.
The foundational work
that H.R. Giger did on Alien
was really unsurpassable.
The fully developed
language of biomechanics
mixed with sexuality and dread
and psychological terror
that his images produced
was really like lightning in a bottle.
You look at some of the early concept art
by Ron Cobb, who's a brilliant artist,
and some of the other things
that Dan O'Bannon had developed
in the early days
before Ridley was fully on as a director.
And it wouldn't have been the same.
It would've been probably
one movie, and you're done.
I remember when I was a kid
going into bookstores
with family and seeing a book by Giger,
and they're like, "No, no, no, no, no,
you can't look at that book."
Giger did quite a bit of work
on Jodorowsky's Dune project,
which fell through,
and it was Dan O'Bannon who saw his work
and realized there's something there.
Certainly we see elements
that are phallic,
we see orifices, we see parts
that actually look familiar
to us as humans.
And yet the elements are distorted,
they're grotesque,
they're exaggerated, horrific.
It was just so out there
and beautiful, elegant,
erotic, strange, terrifying, beguiling,
it was all these things.
And Giger himself was a very charming man
and had a great sense of humor.
We were all very nervous because
what Ridley Scott and H.R. Giger
and that entire team
had done with the first film
was so monumental and so intimidating
that we thought
we were imposters coming in.
I remember Cameron
at some point flippantly saying,
"Yeah, no big deal, we can beat that."
I think we watched a screening of it,
"We can do better than that."
And I remember thinking, "Oh, God,
I'm glad he feels this way."
Aliens, it literally picks up,
apart from 57 years,
where the last one ended.
She gets into the Narcissus, she gets
into that little life pod, she flies away,
and we pick up with that life pod
at the beginning of this film.
I've gotta find that delicate equipoise
between it being my film,
but being a proper homage
and respectful sequel to Ridley's film.
And I think we hit that balance and
we did shift the tone more toward action.
That's okay.
How are you gonna out horror
and out suspense Alien?
Never compete head on.
40 meters in, bearing 221,
there should be a stairwell.
What if we brought
this whole platoon of marines in,
had them armed to the brim?
What could go wrong?
This is what goes wrong.
Whoever's alive,
-get the hell out of here, goddamn it!
-Just shut up.
God, where's Apone?
How are we today?
Oh, terrible.
Well, better than yesterday at least.
Where am I?
I live and work a lot in my dreams.
Dreams are a source of
story, ideas, and inspirations.
James Cameron is able to use dreams
in a way that are relevant to the plot,
not as a false scare.
The audience goes into Aliens at that time
with the knowledge of that horrific scene
with John Hurt from the first film.
And even though it doesn't
pay off in that same way,
he really increased that sense of dread
when Ripley is having her dream
and she pulls the sheet off
and the chestburster
is stretching her abdomen out.
That's where everybody goes, "Oh, no!"
She's internalized that horrific moment
with John Hurt from her previous voyage.
It's almost like
the chestburster is the thing
that she needs to get out of herself,
which is her trauma.
She's not the character you met in Alien.
She's a damaged version of that character.
In Aliens, some of the experiences
that we should note
in terms of Ripley's exposure to trauma
is that she is the single survivor
of this horrific attack on the Nostromo.
She's holding onto survivor's guilt.
The features of PTSD that we see
in Ripley include hyperarousal signs,
avoidance symptoms, as well as
re-experiencing symptoms,
having nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive,
constant negative thoughts about
what she experienced on the Nostromo.
I was really taken with
Sigourney Weaver in Alien.
We know it's using the air shafts.
Will you listen to me, Parker?
Shut up.
It is Ripley story all the way through.
This untested first officer type person
who was working
a fairly menial blue collar job,
and then how she was
forged into this almost weapon
by an encounter
with this extraterrestrial threat.
People in a tight knit group tend to
want to agree with each other,
but she was the outlier.
She was the one that said,
"You can't come back on the ship.
It's breaking the protocols,
we could all die."
This is an order, you hear me?
Yes, I read you. The answer is negative.
I feel like it's the legacy
of Ripley and her surviving
these terrible adventures
that she gets forced into.
I just think that Jim Cameron
lived up to that tenfold in Aliens
in terms of giving Ripley
a satisfying character journey,
but challenged her in ways
that she hadn't been challenged.
The analysis team,
which went over the lifeboat
centimeter by centimeter,
found no physical evidence
of the creature you described.
Good. That's because I blew it
out of the goddamn airlock.
Could they have made a sequel
without Sigourney Weaver?
I think they could. I'm glad they didn't.
Because you could
theoretically have excised her
and had The Company
just send the marines back.
You don't have the heart.
She's the core of it.
I think she's one of, if not the greatest
heroine who's ever been on screen.
And I think to be denied that
would've been absolutely criminal.
So having lost so much
and weirdly lived so long
coming back into this world,
that's even more of a disappointment.
She's a little grizzled. It's cool.
Sigourney as Ripley was critical to me
just in terms of my excitement,
my passion,
my commitment to the project.
But of course, seven years had gone by
and no personal services contract
goes beyond a seven year horizon.
They were waiting for me to write
something to essentially use as bait
to attract her back to the project.
Honestly, I knew absolutely
nothing about the sequel
till I literally received the script
from Jim Cameron
when I was working in France
on a film with Gerard Depardieu.
And I got this script delivered
or in the mail, started reading it.
And of course, what a script!
And Ripley's on every page, and I thought,
"God, you would've thought
that Fox would mention this."
I'm very nerdy about scripts.
It really has to do
a lot of things for me,
for me to be interested in the filmmaker.
If it's not in the script, I'm not that
interested no matter who you are.
And you have to remember
that back in the eighties,
there was a huge disparity between
what women leads were paid
and what male leads were paid.
And she wanted to be
paid a million dollars.
The idea of paying that much money
for a lead in a sequel,
which their feeling was it would make
maybe 60% what the first film made
really didn't pencil out.
So we had to find a way to get
the two parties together.
She wanted a rich deal
because the first film was a hit.
She had then by the short and curlies
because she was Ripley.
and she was the only survivor.
Last survivor of the Nostromo.
So now we had to figure out
how to actually get the deal made.
I said, "I'm not gonna let this thing
get torpedoed just because of one actress.
"Are you kidding me?"
So here's my game plan.
Over the next weekend,
I am going to completely rewrite
the script and just take Ripley out."
Of course, I had zero intention
of doing that whatsoever.
The deal was made in 24 hours.
It wasn't till I talked to Jim much later
that he said, "Yeah, I was so scared
about meeting you and would
you like this script and everything?"
And I was like,
"Really? What's not to like?"
Sigourney is a very classy lady.
She is a wonderful actress.
Her performance in Alien was immaculate.
She's very sexy, very photogenic.
And Sigourney as a person
is extremely compelling,
very sophisticated, but also has
a very down to earth straightforwardness.
She was a far cry from
a sort of theatrical actressy actress.
She didn't pull that at all.
When I first came to the set,
Sigourney Weaver walked right up to me
and said, "Hi, I am Sigourney Weaver."
And I thought in my head,
"Good for you that you did that."
Because if you didn't do that,
I don't know
if I'm supposed to talk to you.
I don't know the protocol.
I had an enormous crush on her.
She's just the most beautiful,
coolest woman there is.
her character hated my character,
and that became a running joke.
"Oh, here comes the horrible creepy guy."
But in a weird way, we bonded because
the Marines and the guys
had their comradery.
We were both
considered outsiders by the gang.
She truly is the head of the snake.
I think the reason that Jim
uses her so much
is she's got an incredible work ethic.
She's always ready to go.
She's very analytical, very analytical.
The second the camera rolls,
she goes a hundred percent feral
and instinctive, and emotional.
We had a couple of, not serious, run-ins,
disagreements over scenes.
And I can remember the three of us,
Jim kind of listening,
but she's stand her ground,
she's a tough cookie.
Jim was always very deferential toward me.
I don't know, maybe it's because
I played Ripley before,
but he always wanted my feedback.
You guys threw me at the wolves
and now you want me to go back out there?
Forget it. It's not my problem.
Ripley made it so clear that
she's not only never going back,
but never, ever working
for The Company again, ever.
They're bastards.
And the only reason
she could be compelled to do it
is to save other people
from this horrible creature.
How many are there? How many colonists?
I don't know, 60, maybe 70 families.
Sigourney did such a good job
of portraying that,
that it explained her metamorphosis
into this all powerful
goddess, a warrior goddess.
Did IQs just drop sharply
while I was away?
Who's the villain in that movie?
The corporate world.
That's the villain.
Is Aliens an anti-corporate film?
Well, it's certainly not pro-corporate.
42 million in adjusted dollars.
That's minus payload, of course.
I think very much, Jim was trying
to make several points in the film,
one of which was fear the corporations,
the military industrial complex.
Here it is in space
and still in charge of things,
now putting human lives at great risk.
He saw thousands of eggs there, thousands.
Thank you, that will be all.
Goddamn it, that's not all!
I thought it was important to be true
to some of the themes of the first film.
And obviously it is anti-corporate.
The blue collar people
are just expendable.
I don't ask because it takes
two weeks to get an answer out here.
-And the answer is always don't ask.
-Don't ask.
I've always personally
had a problem with authority.
So I think to me
it was absolutely my worldview
that your life wasn't that meaningful
set against a profit sheet.
And because I came up in the seventies
and I was on a campus
where Napalm was invented.
And Three Mile Island had happened
and the profit motive
put ahead of human safety.
Look, I'm a child of the sixties,
so I'm ready to protest everything.
The idea that the future
is governed by corporations
is I think something
that has been a staple of science fiction.
You look at Robocop,
OCP is definitely
the bad evil corporation,
you look at Outland,
Con-Am is definitely the evil corporation.
Drop by my office. We'll talk some more.
I'll do that.
Science fiction is just filled
with evil corporations.
A company that had control of space
would have access to trillions
of dollars in wealth and resources.
So they would be just as powerful
as a government these days.
What if it's actually the corporation
that's controlling the government,
not the other way around?
They're building better worlds.
Let's expand humans' reach into space.
Planet engineers,
they go in, set up these big atmosphere
processes to make the air breathable.
Takes decades.
But that obviously means you are
going to stumble upon other life forms.
Colonization, as we've seen on Earth,
doesn't always end well.
By destroying an M-class star.
I love Weyland-Yutani in this.
I love the evil corporate overlords.
The shadow of The Company looms large.
The origins of Weyland-Yutani
really relate to the time
the Alien was being made.
And Ron Cobb, the designer, said
that they were trying
to echo this paranoia
about Japanese companies
buying into Western companies.
And there was this,
I think fear at the time
that Toyota were gonna
buy British Leyland.
So it was Leyland Toyota
that became Weyland-Yutani.
It was just an echo of what
was going on at the time.
And then when Cameron came in
and took the company into Aliens,
he added the D.
So it read "Weyland-Yutani."
And you never hear
the name mentioned in Alien.
It was just part of the designs.
And Cameron made it
much more robustly corporate.
There's this wonderful kind of back
and forth of ownership
between Ridley Scott and James Cameron
with the mythology of Alien.
Of course, both Alien and Aliens
are influenced
by the fiction of Joseph Conrad.
The name Nostromo,
the original ship in Alien,
is a novel by Conrad.
The original screenplay of Alien had
Hearts of Darkness quotes
written across the front of it.
Sulaco, the name of the ship in Aliens,
relates to the city name
in Nostromo, the novel.
And Conrad wrote about
man colonizing far off places
and companies moving into those places.
So there's this theme
from Conrad that I think
certainly goes right
through Alien and Aliens.
You know, Burke, I don't know
which species is worse.
You don't see them fucking each other over
for a goddamn percentage.
I remember the wardrobe
was an interesting piece of it.
Weeks and weeks before
I even left to go to London,
they were measuring me for the suit.
Then I go to London and they do
a second fitting, I haven't seen anything,
but they're still taking measurements,
and I couldn't wait to see
what they came up with.
Cut to, they bring me
the suit with the collars up.
I went, "That's it?
That's all you came up with?"
I was so disappointed.
It just looks like a guy that you
want to go, "Hey, buddy, your collar's up."
That could have been better.
Burke was the guy doing the dirty work,
but in the name of and in service of
this huge conglomerate power.
It was anti-corporate
against the most intimate personal.
Why are you going?
Corporation co-financed that colony
along with colonial administration.
All of his films feel like
they are about hubris.
But this ship can't sink.
She's made of iron, sir.
I assure you she can.
They're about technology, the arrogance
of people relying on technology.
The arrogance of companies
who don't think about people.
These proceedings are closed.
Do you have any news about my daughter?
What I really missed, which I enjoyed
seeing in the director's cut,
was the part
where you learn about her daughter.
Amanda Ripley-McClaren.
Married name, I guess.
Age: 66.
And that was at the time of her death.
Because that part
should have been left in about,
because that gives such a backstory
to why she's doing these things.
We see it in The Special Edition,
which I think is probably the most watched
version of the film now,
about how her daughter has been dead.
She left her just before
her 11th birthday,
and she's died while Ripley's been away.
And so Ripley has a hole inside her,
which is filled when she meets Newt.
Jim cut out the fact that Ripley
was a mother in the main film.
He didn't have the courage
to tell me before the first screening.
I promised her
that I'd be home for her birthday.
I always felt that that was
the linchpin for Ripley,
that she'd left a daughter behind,
and here was this girl,
this brave girl who needed her.
And that's also personal
because the picture of her daughter
was Sigourney's mom.
And we thought that
if we pleaded with 20th Century Fox,
they would agree to a longer cut,
but this is not the time
of multiplex theaters.
You couldn't have four screens
showing the same film,
and it really did affect box office.
So we had to come up with some
very difficult choices about what to cut.
We couldn't go back for reshoots.
So we had to find things
that we could take out as chunks.
That was hard for me
because I'd based everything on it.
I realize now that you don't need it,
and that maybe it works just as well,
if not better, for her not to have that.
But just in the terms of
shooting the movie,
that was very important
to me as the backstory.
There's always a huge debate amongst fans
over what's the better version.
I'm of the belief
that if Jim Cameron is telling you
that this is how he wishes it was,
then that's how it should have been.
You can savor each for its own qualities.
I like the slim cut.
Mystery planet.
So we don't know what's down there,
and then woof, you come in,
there are a few lights on.
Oh, my God, what's happening?
What's happened?
Do too. You go in places we can't fit.
So? That's why I'm the best.
My choice would always
be the director's cut.
What is it, dad?
Because simply my brother was in that.
He played my brother.
To me, they've been gone a long time.
It'll be okay.
But I think that it also brings
a whole different element to my character.
You see how our family was just
a regular family trying to strike it rich.
And I think it brings
that different dimension to it
and brings even more empathy for Newt.
There's great stuff in there.
I love a sentry gun
as much as the next person.
"A" and "B" sentries
are in place and keyed.
But I think the sense of dread you have
not knowing what's waiting
for them on the colony
when you see the acid burns,
when you see the barricades they've made.
You don't know what's happened.
Ripley, we have to talk.
We've lost contact
with the colony on LV-426.
Did you do backstory for Gorman?
It happened as we went along.
I didn't think,
"Oh, gosh, who is this guy?
How has he come to be here?"
It was all in the script.
Ripley, you wouldn't be
going in with the troops.
I can guarantee your safety.
He's wrapped really tight,
he's wired, he's tense,
he's got to keep it all together
and he's really got to
don't fuck it up, Gorman.
What is it, Hicks?
Hudson, sir. He's Hicks.
I was about to sign with Stanley Kubrick
for Full Metal Jacket.
So I was seriously pumped
and really so excited
to go and do a Stanley Kubrick movie
that when my agent rang
and said, "They wanna see you,
20th Century Fox is doing a sci-fi movie."
And I said, "I don't wanna go for sci-fi.
I'm working with Stanley Kubrick."
And she said,
"Don't be an asshole, just go along."
"And who? James Cameron, Terminator."
"Nah, I don't know a Terminator."
And I met Jim and Gale and talked,
and a little bit of filming
for half an hour.
And they said, "Well, go away,
take these sides, Hudson."
And I'm going out the front door
and the receptionist,
"Oh, Mr. Hope, come back, come back.
No, no, no, they don't
want you to look at these."
Took away Hudson and gave me Gorman.
And something like three days later,
it was like a straight offer
and my agent nearly fell off her chair.
They want William for one of the leads.
But the fact was that I was cast in less
than a week and something happened.
I know that Jim and Gale had some
other people set up for Gorman in LA,
and something clicked.
I remember being shown
the APC for the first time,
and I thought, "This is a bit dusty.
Can we clean this, Jim?"
And he kind of rolled his eyes
and Lance said, "Ah, Jim loves that."
That's exactly what Gorman would say,
"Clean this shit up."
I want this thing to go smooth
and by the numbers.
He's green, he's clearly gone
on the fast track.
He has no experience, he has no authority.
Meet me at the south lock.
We're coming in.
He's coming in. I feel safer already.
Typical Second Lieutenant
that knows everything.
-Let's saddle up, Apone.
-Aye, sir.
Then finds out that he's over his head.
I love that he has his own arc in the film
where he's knocked down a few notches,
and at one point Vasquez
wants to kill him.
-Wake up, pendejo, and then I'm gonna kill you!
-Back off.
Because he is responsible
for the death of her best friend Drake.
And you see William Hope
perform this character so beautifully.
And like I have so much compassion
for Gorman as a character, I love him.
How do you feel?
All right, I guess.
One hell of a hangover.
It's definitely an examination
of different leadership styles,
and the difference between somebody
who is a leader by designation,
who wins the argument from authority.
I'm the Lieutenant,
I must therefore be right.
Boy's definitely got a corncob up his ass.
Versus Apone who's a natural leader.
The Sergeant was always
the more respected by the troops,
by the rank and file, than the Lieutenant.
Second squad, what's your status?
We just finished our sweep.
-Nobody's home.
Ripley isn't there to lead.
She does not want to lead.
They consistently dismiss her
until the shit hits the fan.
And then she just naturally steps forward.
Because some people
who are just natural alphas,
when they see things going sideways,
they just jump in.
They just take over. They can't not do it,
it's part of their character.
Just in terms of the human landscape,
I think most people
would aspire to be that good.
Most people never
step across that threshold.
I mean, I definitely felt in the first one
that she had what we call the right stuff
and that's why
she doesn't wanna let Kane in.
I feel like she's so transformed
before she even starts the story of two,
by so much loss, so much PTSD.
And so her natural leadership
has so much to overcome,
and it's really a last resort.
Of course, she keeps her head,
and I think doesn't
have the imagination of artists.
to think of all the things
that can go wrong.
I think she's very disciplined about that.
She tries to just think
about the practical solutions.
Well, there's a pressure door at this end.
Couldn't we put one
of the remote sentry units in the tunnel
and then seal that door?
My mother was
a very good person in a crisis
and she was a nurse
and she was in the Canadian Army Reserve
and things like that.
She was very competent.
I remember once
as a kid being very impressed,
I hopped into the house
with a board nailed to my foot
by a three inch nail
that I had stepped onto.
And I hopped in the house,
"Mom, I got a board nailed to my foot."
And she just went,
"Put your knee over there on the chair."
And she just grabbed the board
and she just went, pulled the nail out,
and said, "All right, we're going
to the hospital, get in the car."
And it was like, wow.
She can really handle shit.
I could relate to it
from my own childhood.
I could relate to it from my own life,
because I know that I'm best in a crisis.
When the adrenaline spikes,
my brain goes into supercomputer mode.
Jim really was pretty unknown at the time.
He was very young,
I don't think he was 30 yet.
He wasn't the wunderkind
that we know he is now.
Jim's earliest film work
was for Roger Corman.
Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot fast,
get through a day, get to the next day.
Just everything as fast as possible,
and they'd work it out in the edit.
When they were building interior
spaceships for Roger Corman,
they had styrofoam takeaway packages
from different restaurants
and they were just painting them silver.
When you work for Roger Corman,
you learn how to do absolutely everything,
and you have no money
and you have no time.
So you better damn well know
what you're doing.
Roger Corman's was the best
film school that you could imagine.
It's a mutual use scenario,
where you are using Roger
for the experience
and the resume building,
and he's using you for cheap labor.
I know that he had been doing sets
and all kinds of things
before he got to pick up directing.
Him and I used to go by,
we didn't have any money.
He was working at a tiny studio
that was barely getting movies out.
We would go have a beer.
Jim had all his art supplies
in his trunk of his car
and he would do drawings of space
and an alien planet,
the surface of an alien planet,
and just never stopped creating.
That's the other part, skill.
He can draw, he can build shit.
He always had that.
Certainly Jim was very excited about
what could be done with science fiction.
And he ran with it,
he ran awfully fast with it.
Battle Beyond the Stars
was a response to Star Wars.
Galaxy of Terror was a response to Alien.
Just the mood and the style of that film,
and we would've worked on it for free.
Roger paid us but myself, Bob Skotak,
Denny Skotak, some of others,
I went deep on the Giger designs
and how that whole
"biomechanoid" aesthetic worked.
Quit lording it over me like you
are still the patron saint
of the Academy, Cameron.
I think the link is,
it begins with the fact that where
James Cameron began in his career.
He was looking for ways
to outwit the studio system.
He was looking for sort of guiding lights
that said you don't have to just
be obedient to executives.
And the model for that for him
was John Carpenter.
John Carpenter and Deborah Hill,
they basically created
a model of filmmaking
where they dictated.
And Cameron thought, "For me
and Gale Anne Hurd, this is the way to go."
So he looked at that
and The Terminator
is so close to Halloween
in terms of not just the style of film,
it is that relentlessness
and the idea of full
bore tension all the time.
It's right,
it's The Thing influences Aliens,
Assault on Precinct 13 influences Aliens.
He loves that idea of
dynamic filmmaking that puts
the audience in a state of anxiety.
And I think Carpenter pioneers that.
But also it's about
the model of filmmaker.
I think what made James Cameron
the right man for the job
was The Terminator.
Terminator established that style for him.
And it is relentless.
It's the pacing of it.
With Terminator, you are exhausted
by the end of that film
because you feel as pursued
as Sarah Connor does.
And Aliens is a perfect example of that.
I have read the script to The Terminator
and what an amazing script.
If you hadn't seen the movie,
you get the whole sense of it
from the script.
And it absolutely will not stop, ever!
Until you are dead.
He is a great writer.
Even if I hadn't been attached to Alien 2,
from before I made The Terminator,
I would've been a logical choice.
I think it's important if you're doing
a sequel to be properly respectful
of the prior work.
I think I was more radical
with Terminator 2,
throwing out more
of my own work from Terminator.
I need your clothes,
your boots, and your motorcycle.
I saw Aliens
as a natural extension of Alien.
I tried to use some of the cinematic
touchstones that Ridley did,
but I also needed to make it my own.
So I'd say it got hybrid vigor.
The ship will detonate
in T-minus 10 minutes.
I haven't, to this day,
ever read a film script
that took my head off like Aliens did.
I think it was a kind of general
agreement with everybody.
The meticulousness of the script
and the sheer economy and power
was immediately obvious.
I think I finished it on the John at 3 AM
because I couldn't stop reading.
We were given the entire script,
which I have actually,
including with my notes.
And I'm saving that from my old age.
I'll put it on eBay
when I really need money.
I think he wanted us
to know the full picture
so that we could
really engage with everything.
Because this script was so good,
all of us were just wanting, needing
to get it right, whatever that meant.
It took a while to learn how to read Jim
and understand how he works.
He was very protective
of his script as written.
We got a strong sense
that this was a story he needed to tell.
In the first scene with Burke,
I said, "Jim, can I say thanks
for the coffee?" Pause.
Thanks for the coffee.
It's like he had chiseled
that thing to a high polish,
and you could see it,
you could taste it, you could feel it.
The thing I like about
the character the most
is that she knows when she's called upon
to stand up and do something,
no matter how much
she doesn't want to do it.
And that's what gets her
out that apartment,
that's what puts her on that ship.
Her sense of duty.
Because just one of those things
managed to wipe out
my entire crew in less than 24 hours.
Maybe in the back of her mind
she knows that it will be
cathartic for her or it'll kill her.
Back then in the mid eighties,
there was this sense of
revisionist Reagan era,
"Let's go back and finish the job."
-Do we get to win this time?
Rambo, Aliens, Uncommon Valor,
which predates all that.
Those were films that were all about
"Let's go back and do it right this time."
You're going out there
to destroy them, right?
Not to study, not to bring back,
but to wipe them out.
She's just completely
energized by the fact
that these families
aren't being told what's going on.
The Company refuses to take it seriously.
I think it's the last thing
in the world she wants to do,
but there's no help for it, she has to go.
All right, I'm in.
What are you waiting for?
Breakfast in bed?
Another glorious day in the corps.
I think everything Jim Cameron designed
looked like a flying gun.
The Sulaco was only
about five or six feet long.
So it was quite a small miniature.
There wasn't the budget to make
a giant 2001 ship.
The set that they built
for the Sulaco is glorious.
And those slow tracking shots
through the interior of the ship,
which you see so much more of
in the special edition,
they show you
how wonderful those sets were.
But there's a real
tangible quality to Aliens.
He had clearly spent
a lot of time watching Alien,
and he learned the slow burn start
is one of the best things about it.
Having cryogenic sleep, this goes back
decades in science fiction.
When you're on a spaceship,
if you can put the crew to sleep
and minimize your food and water needs,
that really saves a lot of space
and fuel for you
to get to your destination.
The heart beats three times a minute,
body temperature is usually down
to about three degrees Centigrade.
Again, this is sort of Cameron's
emphasis on things
and Ridley Scott's emphasis on things
that are futuristic
but not far out of reach.
Something that is
an active area of research.
Fall in, people. Come on, let's go.
I hate this job.
I was working in London, I was doing
fringe theater and auditioning,
didn't have an agent as of yet,
and saw a notice in the actor's paper
that said they wanted to audition
Americans and North Americans, Canadians,
for this new film called Aliens.
-It is too bad.
I can recall when my agent first called
to say, "Yeah, you've got this meeting
out at Pinewood Studios
for this movie Aliens."
And I thought, "Oh, well,"
because admittedly I'm a bit of a snob.
I'm British trained,
classically trained actor.
So I was like,
"Oh, well, some sci-fi thing."
They ain't paying us enough for this, man.
Not enough to have
to wake up to your face, Drake.
So I submitted myself, I sent my photo
and resume in to 20th Century Fox.
These were calls for Americans
with British equity cards
because in those days
the Brits weren't quite good enough
with American accents.
We were only allowed to bring
very few people in from the US
because this was a UK production.
We needed people who spoke
unaccented American English,
which is not necessarily
as common then as it is now.
So a lot of our cast were actually
Americans living in the UK.
Drake, check your camera.
There seems to be a malfunction.
That's better.
I'm summoned to Pinewood Studios
and walk into Jim's office,
and my most vivid memory of all
is that Jim had plastered
on his office in sequence
storyboards on all four walls,
all the way around.
And it just blew my mind.
And then of course, was absolutely
overwhelmed when they said,
"Look, we want you to play Drake,"
and handed me the script.
Of course, with the one provision
that I had to get in the gym and bulk up.
Strangely enough, all of us auditioned
with the Hudson lines.
Hey, Ripley, don't worry.
Me and my squad
of ultimate badasses will protect you.
All the women read the Vasquez part.
That was the one
that was most fleshed out.
I only need to know one thing.
Where they are.
-Yo, Vasquez, kick ass.
And I went in to meet Gale Anne Hurd,
had no idea who this young woman was,
but she did have a poster of Terminator
on the wall of her office,
which I had just seen.
And I loved it, I loved it,
and I just said,
"Oh, my God, I love that movie."
Terminal guidance locked in.
So I was wearing some weird
funky coat that I had bought
because I always wanted
to be a little bit more
kind of special and funky
than I genetically am able to.
I'm in the waiting room
with some of the toughest people
I've ever seen in my life.
One of the guys in the waiting room
was Al Matthews, who was the Sergeant.
How many more you got, Spunkmeyer?
-Last one.
-Take it away.
He's very opinionated and very loud,
and I was like, "Oh, I'm in trouble."
James Cameron goes to me,
"I'll give you the part
if you give me the coat."
I gave him the coat and got the part.
That funky coat I was wearing,
I was not up for Vasquez.
Vazquez had already
been cast in the United States,
or at least they had been
considering a bodybuilder
that they were giving acting lessons to,
like what they did for Arnold,
they wanted the physique.
The physique was very
central to the character.
They had me read Vasquez
just to hear how I can read.
All right, we've got
seven canisters of CN-20.
I say we roll them in there
and nerve gas the whole fucking nest.
I don't know what happened
where I ended up being cast as Vasquez,
but it was definitely due
to James Cameron,
so I thank him, profusely.
Physically, she's okay.
Borderline malnutrition, but I don't think
there's any permanent damage.
And so I rode my bike to the callback
through the city streets
around Trafalgar Square,
which is like a nightmare.
Like two storey buses
and hell bent for leather,
and I just got pumped up
and arrived sweaty and ready.
Primary couplers released.
Hit the internals.
So I cycled into Soho Square
and I locked up my bike
and then I did 20 push-ups,
which was a really good thing to do
because by the time I arrived,
I was nicely sweaty and flushed
and I looked like somebody strong,
who could actually be a marine.
And I was initially cast as Ferro,
the dropship pilot.
And then by the time I had been engaged,
Jim said, "Oh, well,
you're not gonna be Ferro.
You're gonna be a different
character that I've written since."
It's like, I'll be the person
who sweeps the capsule.
The casting process for me
was very frustrating
because I had met
with Stanley Kubrick beforehand,
for a movie called Full Metal Jacket.
Every actor wanted to work
on a Stanley Kubrick project.
And at the time,
James Cameron wasn't a name really.
Kubrick makes an offer and tells me
he wants me for eight weeks.
I go, "Wow, I can do that and then
maybe make this work with Aliens."
I talked to Kubrick's people
and I said, "Listen,
it's only a one week overlap."
I said, "James Cameron has said
that he will allow me
to come one week late."
He said, "No, the way we shoot,
you may be shooting eight weeks,
you may be shooting eight months."
The film ended up shooting
over a year, I understand.
So I ended up
having to make this decision.
And so I went with Aliens.
I guess you don't like
the cornbread either.
So Jim, he came up with the name Frost,
and he says, "What I like about
this name, Ricco, is that
you're called Frost,
but you're gonna die by flames."
Bill inhabited the character.
He came in, we didn't have a gun
to give him for the audition,
and it was like in Gale's office
and he got it rolled up,
like a poster tube
and he is running around
with this thing and rolling on the floor
and shooting with the poster tube
and yelling at the top of his lungs.
He thought he had completely
blown the addition.
And meanwhile Gale and I are looking
at each other like, "This is great."
independently targeting
particle beam phalanx.
I was writing in my script,
and Jim came up and said,
"Oh, hey, what you doing?"
And I said, "I'm working
on Dietrich's backstory."
And he got this look of panic on his face
because I don't think
he wanted me to be too creative,
"It's all on the page babe."
I knew what I was going for,
I knew that it would be a group.
It's like, "Okay, let's have this guy
and then let's have this guy,
and let's see how that fires."
And it all just appeared pretty quickly.
It was once Jenette and I got together
and we started working out
how it is that we're here,
and we created our entire backstory
that we had been to borstal together,
we had life sentences
and this opportunity came up.
The mission, although dangerous
and we might die anyway,
it was better than being
in the hell hole we were in.
So we took the opportunity
and vowed to each other
that we'd have each other's back.
Nothing romantic,
let's squash that completely.
Wierzbowski, come on. Let's go.
Crowe, I want it now. Give it up.
Right on, Vaz.
You would have little pieces
as an actor with any character.
The backstory of Vasquez as written
in the original draft,
as I recall, she and Drake
were conscripted out of juvenile prison.
They had been serving a life sentence.
She had been a gang member.
If you were in prison for life,
you had obviously murdered someone.
I was hired by the army
or the Colonial Marines
to be a grunt and then probably
given some med tech training.
-What's her name again?
I didn't come out
of med school to do this.
I did come up with a first name for myself
on our helmet and everything,
it had an initial with our last name,
and it was the initial of each one of us,
it was our own initial.
And so I figured,
Dietrich is a German name
and so my first name is Carla.
I appreciated it
because I am part German so I'll take it.
I've been told I have a Bavarian face
for whatever that's worth.
Jim gave us a few hints
like Spunkmeyer.
There was a cookie in LA at the time
called Otis Spunkmeyer's
chocolate chip or something.
And that's where Spunkmeyer came from.
And Vasquez came from Vasquez Rocks,
which is a common
shooting location out in the desert.
Other than that, I don't think
any of us got any clues.
What I base my character on is that
I'm not the person that wants trouble.
I don't wanna fight,
I don't wanna fight these aliens,
but I have a job to do.
Talk to me, Frosty.
Let's keep moving, baby.
I took my Chicago street backstory,
my Chicago street hardness.
It's coming straight forward. Straight up.
And when it comes to battle,
you gotta survive.
Al Matthews was a complete cutup.
He had a wonderful sense of humor.
Very American, very urban American,
just reminded us of home.
And he was a little scary too
because he had that presence
of having been a Marine Sergeant.
If he wanted to yell at us, we listened.
Oh, Lord, it's freezing.
What do you want me to do,
fetch your slippers for you?
Gee, would you sir? I'd like that.
Look into my eye.
Perfect, how he presented himself
as the platoon Sergeant in charge.
Like he said, "Look into my eye.
You don't see a tear here.
I'm not crying for you."
All right, gear up.
Two minutes, people. Get hot.
I think he had been to Vietnam
three times, at least twice.
And the reason he was living in England
and was never gonna return to the US
was because he was highly cynical
about that whole affair.
What you saw on set was Al.
He probably did more
ad-libbing than anybody else.
And James just let him roll with it
because he knew what he was saying,
James couldn't have thought of.
Al was coming with the real shit.
Absolutely badasses.
Let's pack em in, get in there.
Move it.
And he had it.
I mean, those guys don't have
to show it to you.
It's all over them.
It is around them.
And we liked it, we liked it.
A little bit of abuse doesn't hurt.
Day in the Marine Corps's
like a day on the farm.
Every meal is a banquet,
every paycheck, a fortune.
We used to go and hang out
in Al Matthews' dressing room,
because Al was older
than the rest of us
and had been around the industry
and was also a hardcore vet.
He asked for a really nice suite
and we would go and hang out
and had the odd drink,
maybe the odd puff.
All right, sweethearts, you heard the man,
and you know the drill.
Assholes and elbows!
The most vivid memory I have of Al
was the day when we were
filming the interior of the APC
when we were hurtling toward the planet.
Of course,
it's just a stage setting, a box,
they had on like huge 2x12s
that the crew guys were
stepping on to create the reverberation,
and the set fell apart
and it came crashing in.
And I'll never forget,
Al Matthews without a second
ran and stuck his body up against it
and then started barking.
"Move, out, out, out,
everybody out, move out."
And we just followed orders.
That was an intense moment.
It all came natural.
-Oh, man.
Another masterful bit of casting
from Gale and Jim to see Al.
And then sad that Al
disappeared after Aliens.
He took off to,
I guess, he lived in Spain or in Portugal
and lived there until he passed.
The marines in Aliens are more
than just marines in Aliens
because they feel like real people.
They have desires, they have opinions,
they have duty,
they have honor, they have to eat,
they have friends.
All of those things
that we have in our own life.
Why are they so beloved?
I think because all of them
have very clear narrative arcs.
They're all deeply human.
And I think it's so palpable
when you see the movie,
that brotherhood, sisterhood,
whatever it is that the Marines have.
Juicy colonists' daughters
we have to rescue from their virginity.
-Favorite duty.
-Dumbass colonists.
Of course, it doesn't fill Ripley
with any kind of confidence
to see how brash they are
and how confident they are
in what they can do as Marines.
It just makes her more uneasy.
Talking about Marines.
It's almost like a family.
A family will have different people
and different members
and they have different issues
and whatnot,
but somebody else can't say
anything bad about that person.
You can say something bad about
your brother or your sister or whatever,
but no one else can say that.
And that's kind of what we were,
we had each other's backs.
You never said anything
about an android being on board. Why not?
I loved the character
because I had already decided
he's not afraid, all he wants to do
is serve people and serve situations.
I was trying to make myself
a future android,
which is more intelligent and more ready
and more fit to pull this off.
That character wouldn't hurt a fly.
He really wouldn't.
It's just common practice.
We always have a synthetic on board.
I prefer the term
"artificial person" myself.
I'm a street kid from New York City
and I used to shine shoes
and I lived on the streets.
Bishop was a little bit like an orphan.
That was in there,
I could feel it and see it.
I'll be in medlab.
Check on Gorman, continue my analysis.
I had already done
Piranha II: The Spawning with Jim
and I played a harbor cop.
Can I ask you a few questions?
That was the lowest budget
I think any of us ever worked on.
Hemdale said, "Who do you
want to play in the Terminator?"
And he said, "Lance."
And Hemdale said, "Anybody but him."
With Bishop, we knew that he
would be absolutely perfect
and that he would put everything
into creating the role.
So there really wasn't a second choice.
There was this otherworldly
distant kind of weirdness,
which Lance played beautifully.
He has a very unique presence.
That's a nice pet you got there, Bishop.
Magnificent, isn't it?
Cameron's famous for his
cautionary tales about technology,
whether it be Terminator,
whether it be Avatar.
It's often about the evils
of big technology
imposing itself on organic life.
And then you look at that message,
which is kind of there in Alien.
And in Aliens, I often feel that
it's a redemption story for technology.
He even references the three rules.
It is impossible for me to harm,
or by omission of action,
allow to be harmed, a human being.
That's the Asimov's first law of robotics.
The second law
is that they must obey a human,
except where that conflicts
with the first law.
The third law is that they must
protect their own existence,
except where it conflicts
with the first two laws.
One of the things that people
sometimes talk about is robotic ethics.
If you get an android that is basically
indistinguishable from a human,
does it have the same rights?
Does it have the same
moral responsibilities
and moral accountabilities?
Just stay away from me, Bishop,
you got that straight?
It's a synthetic human, not a robot.
So what does that mean?
So he thought, "Well, I'm gonna play him
earnestly, thoughtfully, kindly."
It's okay. We're okay.
He wanted to be the opposite of Ash.
But I wasn't appreciative
because it wasn't in my nature
to play that.
I've played bad guys, don't get me wrong.
I'm sorry to say that.
The man is gone, he can't defend himself.
But can I make it better?
Can I, you know? Yeah.
I remember he had this idea
to put on contact lens
with two pupils in it that Jim nixed.
But Lance had gotten
that made at his own expense,
and that was impressive to me, like,
"Oh, he's really thought
this character through."
You did okay.
-I did?
-Oh, yeah.
They talk about Aliens as being
a film about the nuclear family,
where you've got Ripley
as the matriarchal figure,
you've got Newt as the child,
you've got Hicks as the patriarch,
but not the dominant character.
And then there's Bishop who is, I guess
being referred to as the family dog.
The loyal dog,
he's there for you, he'll do anything,
he'll lay down his life for you.
-Count you out of everything.
-That's right, man.
-Hey, why don't you go, man?
-I'll go.
-I'll go.
The legacy of Bishop is so powerful
that you see him
in Walter in Alien: Covenant
who has that same kind of warmth
and gentleness about him,
and even that calmingness of his voice
She was a chief science officer
of the Prometheus.
The ship that disappeared.
So I really feel like James Cameron
went into writing Aliens
in a way where he wanted to
further the discussion
of artificial intelligence
in the middle of a very human culture.
I would never understand
why you would build an android
that looks just like a human.
It's the most ineffective shape.
It is totally designed to make humans
comfortable around the artificial life.
They should be on treads,
they should have
bulletproof things or whatever.
If you can make artificial life like that,
why are you sending humans out there?
Why aren't you just sending
all of those guys?
Welcome, brother.
It's another question.
If I ever meet James Cameron,
I won't ask it.
-Hey, Bishop, man. Do the thing with the knife.
-Oh, please.
Oh, come on. Yeah!
There's a well-known scene
that Bill Paxton and I did together.
He said, "Hey Bishop, do the knife trick."
-I don't want to see that, man.
-Come on, man!
Before we started shooting,
I went to Jim and said,
"What if I put my hand on top
of Bill's hand and do the knife trick?"
-Come on!
-Don't move. Trust me.
Lance was like a little Machiavelli.
He got Jim to agree and he came to me
and he said, "Look,
this is what we're gonna do."
We're gonna be doing
like this rehearsal in the mess halls,
and I want you to grab Paxton,
and you just grab him
and stick his arm down.
Come on. Bishop! Hey, man.
It was one of those moments
where you share your idea with a director,
and then see what happens.
Bill was frightened to death
that Lance was gonna stick him,
and Lance by this time,
was going pretty darn fast.
So we got that,
and it was a total surprise.
Bill had no frigging clue.
Thank you.
That wasn't funny, man.
I came into London at the airport,
Jim had said,
"We're gonna do it with a knife,"
and I said, "Fine."
But knowing him, I bought
like 20 different kinds of knives.
And they said, "I want you to step
away from your suitcase, sir."
Well, they weren't gonna
let me in the country.
Gale Hurd had to come down and get me out,
used her might, and she's only
like this tall but feisty, man.
Anyway, she got me in.
Not bad for a human.
We knew he'd been practicing.
We also knew that it was
completely illegal to bring
any weapons into the United Kingdom.
Don't for a minute think
that that would stop Lance,
because, of course, he'd been
practicing with these knives
and he wanted Jim to pick one,
the weight, the feel,
all of that has to be exactly right.
So I go to the airport
and I luckily am able to go
into VIP and meet with him
before he goes through
customs and immigration.
And he takes me aside and says,
"There might be a problem,
I have a suitcase full of knives."
And I said, "Knives?"
Luckily we had a handler
who was working with us
who was able to get them
not to open that bag.
They opened other bags,
they did not open that bag
because they would've been confiscated.
But I was sweating.
I was definitely sweating.
Lance was not sweating because,
of course, synthetic humans don't sweat.
Honestly, Lance Henriksen's performance
as Bishop is just master acting.
I may be synthetic, but I'm not stupid.
Talk about an actor's commitment
to a being.
You don't even call it like a character.
It's like a being.
And he just embodied that so thoroughly.
What's the question?
Is this gonna be a stand-up fight, sir,
or another bug hunt?
The feeling I got was that in Alien,
that's the first contact that humanity
has had with any kind of alien life form.
That line in the film suggests that
not only has there been contact
with other alien life forms,
but there has been contact with other
hostile alien life forms, more than one.
It's a very Vietnam era line.
That line alone has intrigued
many fans of the film
so much so that there have been authors
of the expanded universe,
of the extension of this film
of what that could possibly mean.
And we've seen some things of that nature.
Like in the short story collection,
there's the Aliens Bug Hunt
which has a lot of what ifs.
What if these characters had encountered
something like this in the past?
What we're suggesting with that one line
is that there are other planets
and other colonies
because they are the colonial marines.
Sure wouldn't mind getting some
more of that Arcturian poontang.
Remember that?
The impression is
that with their superior firepower,
they've never found an indigenous organism
that they couldn't handle.
You don't get the impression
from the term "bug hunt"
that they're dealing with
intelligent interstellar civilizations.
Do we know that there are
also intelligent alien species
that are doing interstellar warfare?
I don't go there.
-Apparently, she saw an alien once.
We're on an express elevator to hell,
going down.
I think that James Cameron's experience
in engineering and design
and art direction and concept art,
and a lot of the things
he did on Roger Corman movies
really helps him create a style
and a look and a world
that feels absolutely realistic.
The dropship design at the time,
it didn't seem futuristic enough.
That's like a Vietnam era
or like an Apache helicopter.
Primary couplers released.
Hit the internals.
It was very important
that I understood technical things
and that they were explained to me
what different dials were for,
what I would do,
where I would put my glasses,
why I was wearing my glasses,
where I would take them off.
Stand by 10 seconds.
Even though it's just a few lines,
it was felt that this is very important
in giving a sense of accuracy.
We're in the pipe, five by five.
Jim was bringing into it a whole other
kind of a high tech quality,
and his own design sensibilities
that had a big impact on the film.
He essentially designed the dropship.
He drew that stuff himself.
These vehicles and this tech can exist,
and that it works,
and that it's functional.
And even like the HKs in Terminator,
those seem like something
a machine would design.
I think there's a lot of thought put into
his world building that's uniquely him.
All right, let's see what we can see.
But also the video the troopers
are carrying around was very primitive.
They're flying around in the dropship.
What you're seeing
of the colony complex is very low-res.
This is what people could relate to.
Like the first Alien film
where they're approaching the Derelict
and there's futzing
going on with the video,
this gave it that same sort of
reality that people could relate to.
Okay, Ferro. Take us in low
over the main colony complex.
So when we're talking about the dropship
entering the atmosphere
and flying past the atmosphere processor
and coming to the colony complex,
I drew a contour map of the path
that actually showed,
and we had this for the crew,
we made Xerox copies of it
so we could see,
here's where we're flying,
here's where we're gonna see,
here's where the ground should be flat.
The screen graphic of flying in,
that was based on my little contour
map drawing of the dropship's path.
So we were always trying to be consistent
and locate people in the geography
and the geometry of the sets.
So terraforming is one of those
things that is, again, in the future.
They go in and set up these big atmosphere
processes to make the air breathable.
Takes decades.
If you're doing atmospheric reprocessing
where you're breaking up elements
or recombining elements
to make the atmosphere more breathable.
But again, this is Cameron's thing
of having technology that is futuristic,
but not so futuristic
it's not incomprehensible to us.
But having those big armored things
that come down over the windows
when there are storms,
that's a nice touch that gives it
that sense of realism.
Having the big nuclear plant and separated
from where the colonists live,
that's also another thing
that would be realistic.
It really does look
almost like a video game
where you're colonizing a planet
and you have certain
facilities you need to build.
Check it out. I am the ultimate badass.
State of the badass art.
You do not want to fuck with me.
I was reading a lot of books
on Vietnam at the time.
Michael Herr's Dispatches being obviously
the one that was the most prominent.
But there were other ones.
There was another one called
Going After Cacciato.
There are a number of books
in that kind of oeuvre of the disgruntled
or disillusioned or traumatized soldier.
So I wanted that flavor.
Hudson, just relax.
And of course, Herr also wrote very
famously the voiceover in Apocalypse Now.
I'm still only in Saigon.
And it was also fairly fresh
if you think about this
being in the early eighties
in the fall of Saigon in '75.
And it was all pretty prominent
and very prominent in my life.
I was thinking of taking Vietnam era
ideas into science fiction.
I was a big fan of Joe Haldeman's
The Forever War.
The concept of the high tech soldier
versus this low tech
organic force of nature
embedded in the script was
an inescapable Vietnam era sensibility.
How tall are you, Private?
Sir, five-foot-nine, sir.
I didn't know they stacked shit that high.
It's interesting because they were making
Full Metal Jacket at the same time
as we were doing that.
So we were hanging out with
a lot of those guys on the weekends
and they were certainly
making a Vietnam movie.
One thing about Aliens that they
wear their clothes all different.
Some wear helmets,
some don't wear helmets,
headbands, things like that.
That's how it was in Vietnam.
Putting different writings
on their helmets,
writing on their vest,
and the art on the jump ship.
We did that back then
on the U.E.s and the 46s.
You put the art on your helicopters.
There was the afternoon,
Jim had come to us and said,
"Okay, everybody, pack up your stuff,
follow me."
And there he goes,
walking off through Pinewood Studios
and here we are following me,
"What's this, where are we going?"
And we come to this wooden stair,
rickety wooden stair.
We go up into this little building
and get to the top.
It's the art department.
There's all kind of strips of leather,
bones, all weird crap.
And Jim just turned around and went,
"Right, you're gonna spend
the rest of the afternoon
personalizing all your gear."
Had those leather strips and the bones
hanging off of my hat.
And I had some more around my neck,
and they were just chicken bones.
But it all became personal expression.
And I come up with a number of ideas.
One of them is: "When in doubt, nuke 'em."
Last stand.
Another one.
Oh yes, the mother-of-my-kids' name
is Heather.
So I decided to make this heart
and put Heather in the middle of it.
So I scratched this beautifully,
perfectly shaped heart into this metal.
And then I started scratching
in "Heather,"
and I'm scratching it in
and it's looking great.
But I realized about halfway through
that I am not gonna have
enough room to write Heather.
So at that stage, I come to the idea
like I would shorten it to Heath.
So I write H-E-A-T-H,
and it fits perfectly.
And of course, once the movie comes out,
I get all these fans asking me,
"Who is Heath?"
So I have a lot of fans
who think that I may be gay
because I put in Heath then.
Vazquez, she was a Chicana from Achola,
from Los Angeles, from the barrio.
I was reading a Chicana poet
and there was this poem,
and it was about a gang member.
Well, I wrote it on the armor.
I mean, it means literally
"The risk always lives."
But that's not a really good translation.
I would translate it,
other Spanish speakers would,
as "There is no getting out."
You never get out of life alive.
Pendejo jerk-off.
I don't remember doing anything
but putting "happenstance" on my helmet.
the word "happenstance."
It's gonna be luck if we end up surviving.
So there's a darkness to it, I guess.
Because I was the med tech officer,
I designed a Red Cross that had
a drop of blood coming off of it.
And that became my tattoo.
We designed our own tattoos.
And then I, on my skivvies,
my olive drab T-shirt and boxer shorts,
over my heart, I put the international
symbol of "don't go there."
The circle with the diagonal line, like
"No, this is closed off, everybody."
And on the back of my helmet
as an homage to Dietrich,
I wrote "The Blue Angel."
Which a few people have caught,
I've seen it online,
like the real nitpicky fans.
Everything was a reflection of character.
I think that for me, that was
the first time where I was on a set going,
"Oh, everything supports the story,
everything tells a story."
And the same goes for the locker.
I don't know how much
you can see in the film,
but inside each of our lockers,
we've personalized it with photos
and different things.
And that meant a lot to me.
It was things that I had used
in my research of like who she was.
And I always use photographs,
I look into photographs to get
an idea about who a person is.
And so I got to put the photographs
from a Avedon, Richard Avedon book,
which I loved,
on the locker, who to me was my brother.
It's on another planet, there are aliens,
it's all set in the future.
But there is a touchstone to this.
And I think Cameron brings his experience,
he brings his knowledge of weaponry
and the military to this.
And I think the verisimilitude
to the way he treats the marines,
gives this a layer of relatability.
We may not have been in the army,
but we recognize that for what it is,
which is something real,
something tangible.
It doesn't feel like Star Trek.
10 seconds people. Look sharp.
Nothing. Not a goddamn thing.
A number of years ago,
I was flipping through the channels on TV
and I came across Aliens,
and it was about halfway
through the movie,
and I was shocked at how well it held up
because it looked like this movie
could have been made last year.
And one of the reasons why is because
Jim didn't use a lot
of the 1980's special effects.
You're gonna love this.
He used props, practicals.
And so when you saw these things,
they were real.
There's no acting necessary,
you were there.
So when you have rain on the film set,
it's a lot of rain.
So the rain's pouring down
and I'm supposed to come out
and lead them.
I go, "Jim, when I come out,
should I run right or left?"
And he looks at me straight
in the eye and he goes, "Yes."
And walks away.
Let's go! Moving on!
He's like a chess player.
Most people may see
two or three moves ahead,
and Jim is working on five
and seven moves ahead,
and I could see that when we're
on set that he's always preoccupied.
And it was unusual for the director
to be so very involved in creating
and making the sets.
Drama and design came together.
There was a lot of establishing
so you could feel like you were there
and not get confused,
like were we on operations deck?
There were certain
landmark things on each set
to locate you very quickly.
I'd been on a lot of sets growing up,
but this one was the next level.
You're walking through
those tunnels of the colony set
that had been devastated
by the xenomorph attack.
All those abandoned office spaces,
just mess everywhere
in what looks like a battle had occurred.
I mean, the attention to detail,
the production design team
and the art department put in this
was something
like I had never seen before.
Sir, this place is dead.
Whatever happened here,
I think we missed it.
I think that starts
with my initial impulse on the Terminator.
I'm gonna have to shoot it
in contemporary world.
I don't have the money for big sets,
I can't project myself into the future.
So let's see little glimpses
of the future,
but let's make it a very gritty,
texturally real,
right here in Los Angeles.
We'll be in the alleys,
we'll be in the pawn shops,
we'll be in the seedy hotels.
It'll feel real.
The seeds of that idea
was actually in Star Wars,
which preceded Alien by a couple of years.
And then Ridley took it much farther
and really just put it in our face.
Shouldn't have landed
on this damn ball, I know that.
Aliens, it's set in the future.
But the work of Ron Cobb and Syd Mead
and Peter Lamont,
the production designer in the UK,
everything was believable.
Walking around the live action sets,
which we would do regularly at lunchtimes,
it felt present day,
yet slightly futuristic.
When the audience see that on the screen,
they accept it,
they're already in a familiar place.
Like hits from small-arms fire.
One of the things
that was smart about that film
and how it was designed
was the use of some recognizable things
that probably
wouldn't necessarily exist in the future,
but help ground the film
in everyday reality.
And simple things
like the warning stripes,
the yellow and black stripes.
If you want an idea of how influential
Aliens would become,
just think about these corridors
and how much they would
be replicated in video game design
down the years.
It's probably seismic survey charges.
We are making our way along
these long corridors that existed.
We're not pretending,
we're in this huge place,
and we're using our deployment
blocking and our techniques.
Staying in character,
remembering our lines.
Okay, Dietrich, Frost, you're up.
He had real British SAS guys come in
and put us through a week-long boot camp,
that was not fun and games.
Boot camps are very important
to bring all the actors together,
understanding their job in the military,
the way you move, the way you act,
the way you speak.
Watch your spacing.
All right, you heard the man.
Don't bunch up.
Stay loose.
First task was 4:30 AM call,
five mile run.
And it wasn't like, "Oh, let me just jog."
It was like, "Move, move, move, move."
Screaming at us, making us move.
And again, Bill Paxton,
I'll never forget him that day,
He was like, "Hey, you know, man,
I just got off a flight
and I'm a little jet lagged. Can I stop?"
They were just all over him.
I do recall going through
the forest and I immediately
hit a wire that was supposed
to be a landmine.
We worked with a pistol, a Pulse Rifle,
and a flamethrower, all of us.
Vasquez, take point.
Let's move!
We learned the ideas of like how you
take the point and then people
go forward and then
how they behave in a new environment.
Move up.
How do you approach
an urban landscape?
How do you approach a building?
How do you use the weapons?
All of that training was highly,
highly useful, let me tell you,
The two people who trained us were
Al Matthews, a former marine sergeant
and Tip Tipping,
one of the English stunt men
who was a British SAS special forces guy,
and they were serious.
Second squad move up, flanking positions.
Second squad online.
One of the things was,
if we're ever caught
with our weapon pointing
at another character,
we had to immediately
hit the deck and do 10 push-ups.
Ricco Ross was always getting caught
and he would not only would do 10 pushups,
he'd do one-armed pushups,
he would do push-ups
with a clap inbetween.
During the course of boot camp,
you get to know your fellow teammates,
your fellow soldiers,
and you get to joke with them
and tease each other.
And so then by the time we made the movie,
we did know each other
and we knew how far we could take it.
We knew what buttons to push.
Somebody said "alien." She thought
they said "illegal alien" and signed up.
Fuck you, man.
Anytime, anywhere.
Are you finished?
And they gave us a task and they said,
"We're going to put a pen
in the secretary's office
at Pinewood Studios,
and you have to start outside.
You have to find your way into the complex
with formation that we've taught you
and you have to go capture that pen."
Which we did.
But they hadn't told the secretary
this was gonna happen.
And she was shocked outta her mind.
She thought,
"Oh, my Lord, terrorists" or something.
It was pretty fun.
I think I read a review that
with the Smartguns,
that sort of the choreography that Mark Rolston
and I had done with the Smartguns
almost looked like
we were flamenco dancers.
I mean, it was a really
interesting mechanism.
You know, it was a huge gun
attached to a steady cam harness.
So there is a way that it moves.
We sort of choreographed it
with each other.
I mean it was fun,
but the way you held yourself
had totally to do with not falling over.
Cameron had a vision for the future,
which is true to this day.
Now we have women in combat units.
Back then in '86, there were
no women in combat units.
They were in support units,
they couldn't be in the infantry.
I think it shows you that you don't
have to hit people over the head
when it comes to certain concepts.
If you just bring in these characters,
Ripley, Vasquez, Newt,
and let them just be.
Let their character speak for itself.
By the mid eighties, we had not
really gotten a single film to portray
such diversity for the female gender.
With Vasquez, I have always
admired this character.
Jenette Goldstein portrays Vasquez
in such an amazing way,
in such an empowering way,
a way where we see
a woman who is fearless.
Of course, I struggle as a Latina woman,
knowing that this is
a white woman portraying
this Spanish speaking Latina hero.
I would say that it's probably fair
to address the realities of that.
It can be racial erasure because a Latina
was not cast as Vasquez,
but it's also racial empowerment
at the same time
because of how this character
was foregrounded
and respected and honored
in the Aliens franchise.
As Vasquez, I have Latina women
who've been in the military come up to me,
so it's like, oh, yeah,
so obviously they have identified.
I have gay black men
come up to me and say,
"I completely know her experience
because that was mine."
I have men say to me that as young boys,
him and their brother would fight
who would play Vasquez.
I distinctly recall
after I'd first seen it,
11-year-old me, I went and bought
little fingerless gloves
and some football shin pads
so that I could be Vasquez
because Vasquez spoke to me like that was
the best thing I'd ever seen on screen.
Jenette Goldstein was amazing.
The favorite line of hers
is not a line I created.
I heard it in a bar.
This guy literally said to this girl.
-Have you ever been mistaken for a man?
Have you?
The best slam down I'd ever heard.
And I went, "I'm writing that down,
I'm using that."
But that's what you do as a writer.
You absorb from the human
condition around you.
You're just too bad.
Jim wanted something different.
He wanted to get away
from the tropes at the time,
and I guess he was one
of the early people who really
brought a modern female cinema
characters who were tough as nails
and could kick anybody's ass.
I don't think of Aliens
as a feminist film.
I think Aliens is a great, powerful story
about the human condition
that happens to have
an amazing female lead.
I'm trying to figure out
what we're dealing with here.
Let's go through it again.
Ripley is like the single mom
struggling to keep her sanity,
struggling to make her way in the world.
And not only does she do that,
but she bests all the people around her,
all the men, conquers the mission,
defeats the enemy, demon,
saves the child,
fulfills her maternal instincts,
and actually is a nurturing gorgeous
female who's tough as shit.
Sigourney herself is such a strong woman
who is a feminist and stands up
for right things and women.
That gave this film an extra bit
of sort of feminine and feminist.
Wow. Both combined.
And when you look
at Sigourney's character,
you understand that
all of these specialists are telling her,
"This is what we're gonna do,
this is what we need to do."
And she's telling them,
"If you want to survive,
this is what you have to do."
I need to see air ducts.
I need to see electrical access tunnels,
sub basements,
every possible way into this complex.
I don't think we had
seen that in film before.
It's gonna be okay.
It's all right, you're gonna be okay.
I think all the Alien movies
have had at their center
this uncompromising woman
who won't give up.
And yes, if that's your definition
of feminism, certainly.
What I loved about the films is to me,
you're showing women
as we are in the world,
getting things done,
women get things done.
So to portray that in a film,
shouldn't be earth shaking,
but it is because
for so many years women were like,
oh, wearing little tiny dresses
and breaking down in corners
and waiting for the men to come in.
So it was really liberating to have
the portrayal of a woman in this world
in Jenette's character too.
Just real life working women
as part of this community,
with all the good and bad in that.
I think just making it,
we were just telling the truth.
Hudson, just deal with it because
we need you and I'm sick of your bullshit.
I think that Gale Anne Hurd
and James Cameron
were always a little bit worried that they
might have traumatized me in some way.
When I saw them recently at a convention,
I think it was Gale, she said to me,
"Was it really traumatic?"
Jim and I talked about
how concerned we were
and Sigourney was concerned as well.
This young impressionable girl,
would we really terrify her for life?
I really had absolutely no clue
what I was getting a part of
or anything like that.
We weren't a part of
the film industry at all.
I was eating lunch in my school cafeteria
and there was a lady walking around
taking Polaroid pictures of girls,
my friends, myself.
Now, would they be going around
the school cafeterias taking pictures?
No, but you just didn't
even think anything of it.
It was between myself
and another girl in the States,
and they wanted us to meet Sigourney
and run through lines with her
just to see how the chemistry was
between the two of us.
I was very excited because they told us
she was coming over on Concorde.
Well, in the eighties, if you knew anyone
who went on Concorde,
that was really impressive.
We got 15 of these M40 grenades.
Don't touch that.
James Cameron has always brought
this family elements to his films.
With Aliens, he's kind of addressed it
as a love story of parental love
and it's a unique one.
There's these two kindred spirits
in Ripley and Newt
who both lost their families
and they find each other.
And it is a beautiful
love story in that sense.
My mommy always said
there were no monsters,
no real ones, but there are.
Yes, there are, aren't there?
James Cameron was absolutely amazing.
He was phenomenal with me.
At the start of filming,
he said to my dad,
"Hey, do you have any tips
on working with Carrie?
Anything I need to know, like any ideas?"
And my dad just said to him,
"Just tell her what to do
and she will do exactly
what you tell her to do."
And so at the end of filming,
he said to my dad,
"You were absolutely correct."
I think that James knew that I'd been
doing some teaching
of teenagers in London, acting,
and he asked me to start coaching Carrie.
It's okay, don't worry, it'll be okay.
Carrie had never acted before,
so the sessions that I spent with her
were to help her
to feel natural in her skin
and physical with the lines
and to enjoy the process of acting.
I remember at the time, there was a lot
of fan chitchat
about Carrie Henn's performance.
There were scenes where the dialogue
might have been a little too pointed,
and yet that resulted
in one of the most quoted
lines from the film about,
"They mostly come at night."
We better get back
because it'll be dark soon
and they mostly come at night.
I like the fact that Cameron clearly
thinks a lot of Newt as a character.
She has survived using only her wits.
She has outwitted these aliens.
She has lived where all the men
in this colony have fallen.
She has survived.
There's something special about her,
but there's also something off about Newt.
And whether that's just who she is
or whether that's because
she's going through
a huge amount of PTSD, it's hard to say.
Try this. It's a little hot chocolate.
She's almost wise beyond her years,
but she's also slightly detached.
I don't know whether he's trying
to say something about trauma.
These people are here to protect you.
They're soldiers.
It won't make any difference.
She's literally watched
everyone she knows die.
For me and Carrie, I think so much
of the relationship that we have
stemmed from the actual
doing of the scenes.
These scenes that I think
are written so well,
Newt and Ripley are the only ones
who really know what they're dealing with.
And that's a kind of sisterhood.
There is a mother-daughter element
that I think is especially emphasized
because of the queen,
but I also feel like we were
sisters in this in a weird way,
comrades in it,
that we were in a way equal
because of what we'd seen and experienced.
What's happening, Apone?
Can't see anything in here.
Pull your team out, Gorman.
The hive sequence is genuinely
one of my favorite moments.
It works on so many different levels.
I want a straight "V" deployment,
second team on left flank.
You have that brilliant hive setting,
that Acton Power Station completely done
with all this biomechanical
sort of resin and growths.
Nobody touch nothing.
You can barely see anything.
Cameron wanted it incredibly
dingy and poorly lit.
It's hot as hell in here.
-Yeah, man, but it's a dry heat.
-Knock it off.
And of course, the scale of Aliens
compared to Alien,
I mean this the little fun house
as people call it,
intimate, claustrophobic.
Whereas the scale of Aliens
with these huge set pieces
and everything was practical
and everything was pretty butch,
kind of military.
-Any movement?
Shooting in the power station
was difficult,
but it was also really conducive
to our performance
because it was so real.
Holy shit!
It was utterly miserable, may I say,
because we were shooting
in the winter in England,
the makeup people
are constantly coming, putting gel on us
to make us look as if we're sweating,
but it's really cold.
So they're playing like, "Whew,
hot in here and sweaty."
And then they're like,
"Where's my warming blanket?"
There's a story
of Tim Burton's film Batman
filming on the same location
a few years later.
And apparently the the entire hive set
had still been intact.
And I find the cocooned woman,
her character title, the Cocooned Woman.
It'll be all right.
You're gonna be all right.
Please. Kill me.
Just stay calm,
we're gonna get you outta here.
The chestburster from the original
is one of the most
shocking scenes in film history.
When it bursts out of John Hurt's chest.
Oh, God!
They essentially stayed true
to what H.R. Giger
and Carlo Rambaldi
had created in the original.
I think by necessity,
the chestburster kind of had to
fall a little bit by the wayside
because you had to get
to the warriors quickly.
I thought that was well done considering
how small a part the chestburster played.
We wanted to incorporate a little
more movement and a little more flash.
The big difference was
that our chestburster was built
with an articulated body.
They also figured, "Okay,
we're mutating
our xenomorphs a little bit,
let's mutate our chestburster a little bit
and let's give it the ability
to pull itself out."
Ultimately, it boils down to Ripley,
her reaction when that one
colony victim has a chestburster,
the look on her face.
Going back to PTSD, like those memories
flushing back into her head
from seeing Kane chestbursted.
It connects the audience with the film
in a way that is very, very powerful.
Multiple signals.
There's nothing back here.
Look, I'm telling you,
there's something moving and it ain't us!
Fox sent over a crate that had pieces
of the original H.R. Giger suit,
and one of them was a head
that had been airbrushed by Giger,
no dome on it, hand,
some gloves came, a tail came.
And thinking back on
seeing all those props,
it's amazing to me
that they had survived the shoot.
So the alien xenomorph design in Aliens
does differ in some key ways
from the original Alien xenomorph.
Perhaps the most obvious difference
is that the xenomorphs in Aliens
lack the translucent surface covering
on the back of their heads.
And instead it's this exposed
bony thing going on.
How that happened was,
while the xenomorph head was being
sculpted at Stan Winston's studio
by Tom Woodruff Jr.,
one of my dad's key artists,
Jim came in and took a look
at how that bony ridge
sculpture was coming along
with the intention later down the road
of adding
a semi-translucent covering to it.
And you would see
the bony stuff through that a little bit.
But Jim saw it and he goes,
"I think this looks really cool."
He just really dug how it looked
and did not want to cover it up.
And he justified it by saying,
"These are slightly mutated version
of the xenomorph we saw
in the original film."
The practical aspect of that was
Jim knew he was gonna be doing
a lot of really hard -edged lighting
and that dome would not provide
much of an interesting shape or figures.
My first real encounter with the idea
and the physicality of the creature
was in Jim's office,
because wall to wall,
it was covered with his drawings,
with James Cameron's drawings.
He's a fabulous visual artist
and he had all different derivations
of his ideas fully articulated.
And I went to art school,
I went to Rhode Island School of Design,
and I know an artist when I see one.
I mean, it was breathtaking.
I do remember one time when some
of the guys had labored over a paint job.
It was early days shooting a warrior,
and he had added beautiful blues,
and he walked it out on set
and Cameron's reaction was,
"What the fuck is this?
It's supposed to be black."
And we're all saying,
"Well, it will read as black on set,
but there's subtleties
in there just in case."
He said, "You guys don't get it.
The shapes are defined
by the specular highlights,
which is created by slime
on a black surface."
And while a guy was standing
in the warrior suit,
Cameron grabs a black spray can
while he is talking
and he's shaking it up,
and he just starts spraying
over the paint job
and turning it into a black,
which is what he wanted.
He said, "This thing has to disappear
into the cocooning."
He had a habit of doing that,
which is a great way
of thickening our skins.
Next one down, and proceed on a 216.
All roger, that's a 216.
One of the really interesting
things about the film
is the way Jim Cameron
lets the audience fill in the gaps.
Well, what is it, Hudson?
You tell me, man, I only work here.
The marines have their spotlights,
but crucially they have their cameras.
So much of this we see on monitors,
we hear the sounds of them over the radio.
We see what their cameras are seeing.
Your transmission's showing
a lot of breakup.
Anything that's transmitted
over the radios,
there was a sound editor who went,
had to go through the whole film
and put [makes sound]
in the front and end
of every transmission.
We're still Marines
and we got a job to do.
Keep it moving.
It works almost in a way
as a found footage horror film
where we're seeing this
through the point of view
of the Marine's head cams.
We're seeing only certain glimpses
of the terror going on
obstructed by static and cutting back
to Ripley's reactions,
to Gorman's reactions.
Go sit up front.
Go on. Now!
I'd seen plenty of examples,
maybe in suspense films,
maybe not in a horror film necessarily,
of crosscutting being
used to build suspense.
There were no screens there, there was just
all the camera crew and Jim
with this little spritzer
going [makes sounds]
to sweat and the tension.
Okay, let's go again.
Oh, great! Wonderful.
There was a very tight depth of focus.
Quarter inch forward, no problem.
Quarter inch back, no problem.
Half an inch? Now we're getting fuzzy.
So don't move forward so much.
It went back to Fox.
In those days, they sent everything
back right away, a day's shooting,
but they came back and said,
"It's slightly out of focus.
We want you to reshoot
the whole thing again."
And that was an indication
of how much they liked the film.
Using these video screens,
it's a really super effective way
to get us into the point
of view of the Marines
to feel like we're there with them
and show their chaotic documentary,
handheld points of view.
And then to actually
be in with the Marines.
It was a really multifaceted
way to basically
show the same beat of action,
which is going in, aliens attack, get out.
On paper, it's pretty straightforward,
but it's almost like
three dimensional chess.
You have all these different
things happening.
Who's firing? Goddamn it.
Some of these things you just do
instinctively because they seem cool.
Sometimes they work on the page
and then you think, "All right,
now how am I gonna get that feeling
that I had on the page,
how am I gonna achieve that?"
There's lots of movement in camera,
there's lots of handheld,
it's all beautifully choreographed.
None of that happens by accident.
It's all thought out
and it's all intuitive.
And I think Jim Cameron did a lot
of his own operating on that film.
This group of people
that have become your family
and you're watching your family
go into the heart of darkness.
You're watching your family
in Apocalypse Now,
and they don't know that it's a nest
that they're going into.
It's extremely hard to do,
to do an action film that feels like
your emotions are involved
in every moment of that action.
The first thing I remember
about the death scene was reading it.
I remember thinking,
"Wow, I'm the first to go.
I'm the first to die. Come on, man!"
During the eighties, there were a lot
of movies where you'd have a black guy
and people would make jokes
that he's not gonna last.
I just thought
that was kind of that thing,
and I wanted to talk to Jim about it.
He says, "You're six foot three,
200 pound guy,"
he said, "I gotta get rid of you, man."
Jim tells me,
"This is what we're gonna do.
You've got all the ammo."
Frost, you got the duty. Open that bag.
During the chaos, one of the fire guns
are gonna come off
and it's gonna light you up,
and when it lights you up, you're gonna
back up and fall down three stories
and that'll be your death scene.
And I'm like, "Wow!"
I'm a physical guy, I'm an athlete,
so I enjoy doing my own stunts.
But this was one stunt
that I did not want to even touch.
Not only to deal with a fall
of three stories,
it dealt with a fall of three stories
while on fire.
They put a flame in front of the camera
and you see me burning.
And then I turn and act like
I'm gonna fall over.
The stunt guy came and he fell over.
Beautiful scene. Take two.
He brings the guy up again,
he goes, "Good."
But he said,
"This time when you're falling,
I want you to try and put yourself out."
The guy does it, he's putting
himself out and he falls over.
And everybody's applauding.
And then James says, "I think I got it,
but let's just do it one more time
and this time we're gonna
just really light you up."
This guy did the scene three times,
and after that he took off and he left.
That was his job done.
And I keep pointing out to people
that I didn't die right away.
Hey, look, the Sarge and Dietrich
aren't dead, man.
Clearly I was being impregnated
with alien embryos.
And that wasn't fun.
But the funny part was when my parents
went to see the film in the movie theater,
I died maybe a third, two thirds
of the way through the movie
and my father turns to my mother
and says, "Can we go now?"
I think my mom made him stay to the end.
And I'm asked this often at cons, like,
"Were you frightened
when the alien grabbed you?"
And it's like, "Buddy,
he's a stunt man in a rubber suit,
cracking jokes in my ears, so no."
I was frightened of James Cameron
and doing the stunt wrong.
-Jesus Christ, Apone! What is going on?
-Wierzbowski and Crowe are down!
Crowe gets blown up real good.
He's killed
by the exploding artillery bag.
And Wierzbowski is actually
killed off screen.
You don't actually see it.
We do see Hicks yelling,
"Wierzbowski, Wierzbowski."
But we don't actually see
what happens to him.
Apone gets grabbed
and pulled down by an alien.
-Apone. Talk to me, Apone!
-He's gone!
And we learn later on
that he's not dead, of course.
That like Dietrich,
something terrible is happening.
He's getting impregnated by a facehugger
and the heart monitor is still going,
-I ain't going back in there.
-You can't help them.
You can't.
Right now, they're being
cocooned just like the others.
So about a year ago, I was around Mark.
I said, "You know, Mark, people keep
asking me, you know about this,
you know, "Drake, we are leaving,
Marines, we are leaving."
Did I say Drake or Marines?"
And he was like, "Oh, you said, Drake,
you said Drake."
I think I said Drake
because everybody else
was in the APC or close to it.
And he was the last one,
so I'm gonna go with Drake.
It was my, like, "Hello,
welcome to action filmmaking."
In order to make this whole thing work,
there were so many components
that sort of make your head spin.
If I had like three tubes
run up through my leg,
put under the appliance,
they have to make
a cast of your head first.
So they create the appliance
to fit exactly on your face.
And in these tubes,
they were gonna pump chemicals.
One that bubbled, one that fizzed,
and one that smoked.
Get ushered to set,
get handed a full-on live flamethrower.
Flame bars in varying
arrangements all around you.
Cameron 25 yards away
with inch thick sheet
of plexiglass in front of him.
Huge helicopter fan to the right,
and the shot, seemingly very simple.
All I had to do was turn
doing a death scream
while firing the flamethrower
directly at camera
to reveal the death mask,
which is bubbling, fizzing, and smoking
then fall with flamethrower
in between flame bars,
all the while holding my breath.
We only had to do it twice.
And the only reason we had to do
it twice was because the first time
when I turned toward camera,
I was like, "Oh, that's the director."
So I aimed just above camera.
And when I finished, Jim was like,
"Mark, Mark, Mark, no, no, no.
Aim directly down the pipe here."
He said, "You went too high."
I said, "I know Jim,
I didn't wanna like fire it at you."
He said, "No, no, we have plexiglass,
we'll be fine, we'll be fine."
This flame throw, it shot
big wad of flame, like 25 yards.
Forget him, he's gone!
There was a moment
which was not choreographed chaos,
which was actually real chaos,
which was in the APC.
When Drake is killed and the flamethrower
goes across the inside, we panic.
What you see is actually real panic
because in the first shot,
the heat from the flamethrower
ignited some strange chemical reaction
with the material they had painted
the inside and it let off this fume
and we could not breathe,
me and Michael Biehn.
We reset, everything was fine,
there was no harm.
And we redid it obviously
with a fire effect.
However, I do believe
the bit of us panicking
is cut within the actual film.
Look, this whole station is basically
a big fusion reactor, right?
The idea that he had to put that hive
in an atmosphere processor
to make it a thermonuclear reactor.
Look where your team is, they're right
under the primary heat exchangers.
To make it so that these are Marines,
these ultimate soldiers
were completely defanged.
We can't have
any firing in there. I, uh...
I want you to collect
magazines from everybody.
Is he fucking crazy?
All of their magazines were taken away.
So they were walking in there essentially
with their dicks in their hands,
nothing to protect them from these aliens,
and then the whole hive comes to life.
And we as the audience
are absolutely terrified.
And all of that is to show you
how ineffectual Gorman is.
What the hell are we supposed to use, man,
harsh language?
Flame units only. I want rifles slung.
-Sir, I--
-Just do it, Sergeant.
But I meet marines and many times
they're in full uniform.
And they're extremely
complimentary, mostly.
One guy I met recently said, "Mr. Hope,
I have to tell you that we use your scenes
in teaching officers what not to do."
Fall back!
-I told them to fall back.
-Fall back, goddamn it. Now!
I told them fall back!
He doesn't even have
the courage to deal with this.
He stares at the screen
and she takes the APC
and she just charges straight in there.
And I think that's when this stops
being Gorman's operation.
And from then on, it's Ripley's operation.
Ripley, what the hell are you doing?
Seeing Ripley kind of spooling up,
seeing her big flywheel starting
to gain momentum in that
scene where she's yelling at him
and something's gonna happen.
Do something!
It's almost like what became
secondary there was the actual fates
of the people on the front line.
It was really following her.
It's not there to have you learn
something about the alien.
It's so you can learn something about her.
And frankly for me, it was for Ripley
to learn something about herself.
She has to get into gear
because these people are so hapless.
And that piece of music, Ripley's Rescue,
Horner's score, it's so percussive.
That is probably the most
pivotal moment for Ripley.
It's not when she saves Newt,
it's not when she fights the Queen.
It's when she decides
no longer to be afraid,
where she's no longer someone
running away from her past.
Come on, let's move it!
What are we talking about this for?
I say we take off and nuke
the entire site from orbit.
The important part of Hicks was
playing second fiddle to Ripley.
He knew Ripley knew the situation better.
He was ready to listen.
That way they can only come
at us from these two corridors.
There's a sequence, and of course,
I know that you know what it is,
when they're trying to decide
what they're gonna do,
Ripley says something,
I think we should just take off
and nuke this planet from orbit.
It's the only way to be sure.
Paul Reiser just goes,
"Oh, no, we can't do that,
we can't do that, we can't do that."
She says,
"Well, I think Hicks is in charge."
Hicks is next in chain of command.
Am I right, Corporal?
And I chose to play that
as a little bit of a burden.
Yeah, that's right.
And there are small choices
that you can make as an actor
that mean a lot.
Prep for dust off.
We're gonna need an immediate evac.
Roger, on our way.
Say we take off,
nuke this site from orbit.
That is one of the most
romantic scenes in cinema
when Hicks without missing a beat,
just backs her up.
It's the only way to be sure.
Wonderful, wonderful moment.
-Let's do it.
I like Hicks because you can tell
it's more than
just being a marine for him.
He's smart. He likes what he does.
He's good at what he does.
He's good looking.
I always thought Michael Biehn brought
such cool to it and yet such warmth.
Are you alright?
He's got such a warm face,
as handsome as it is,
and he has a kind of ease
in his body physically
that is perfect for Hicks.
I like to keep this handy
for close encounters.
There's a bit of Walter Hill
influence there.
I revered Walter
and I loved his kind of
ultra macho kind of cool characters,
and he's drawing from
the whole history of Westerns, before that.
I was just channeling that ethos
and Michael was perfect.
I want you two walk in perimeter.
Jim was already working on Aliens
while he was making The Terminator.
So I was very aware of the project.
My agent called Jim and said, "Hey, Jim,
is there anything
for Michael in the movie?"
And Jim said he thought he was gonna go
with James Remar for this role.
I think James had been up
for The Terminator.
He was one of Walter Hill's guys from
the first movie they did
that was so successful.
He was gonna use Remar
right from the very beginning.
It was just kind of a done deal.
I always liked you, Luther.
You're always a lot of fun
to hang out with.
James Remar was great in the character,
he was great in the character.
He was a bit of a loose cannon.
I had seen Remar as the character
while I wrote it,
and I think Michael felt a little
kind of passed over.
But I was early in my career.
I just wanted to work
with different people
Of course, I didn't know how wonderful
Aliens was gonna be so I wasn't crushed,
maybe slightly disappointed.
Of course, a lot of people
can point out that you can see
his back in one scene
when they're approaching the hive.
That's all you see of James Remar,
the rest is Michael Biehn.
We showed up on set one day
and we're reading the call list and we go,
"Who's Michael Biehn?"
And the secretary just
looked at us blank faced,
completely blandly and said,
"Well, he's Hicks."
I mean, it was gaslighting.
We were gaslit.
No explanation.
One day we're shooting with this guy
and then we're shooting with this guy.
Of course we are,
like, "Well, he's him!"
Like, why are you asking the question?
It was bizarre.
James Remar was arrested
for buying heroin and cocaine,
a speedball from
an undercover police officer.
We didn't have to make
a difficult decision.
What we had to do was get him
the best possible defense counsel.
So he didn't spend eight to ten years
in a penitentiary in the UK.
Instead we got him deported.
Now, there was no decision there,
there was no, "Oh, we could have
fought harder to keep him."
He was either going to jail
or he was going to the US.
Well, Gale called me,
and was pretty cut and dry,
and Gale is pretty cut and dry.
"Jim wanted me to call and ask you
if you would come over
and replace James Remar?"
She basically said,
"You have to take his contract."
Meaning I would get his billing,
I would get paid the same
amount as he got paid.
I'd already made The Terminator
and I think I got paid
about the same for both of them.
And the thing about Michael Biehn is
that Michael is very personable
and very warm.
And at that time, James had not been.
James had not been as much
of a team player as Michael was.
And it was quite a relief.
I mean, that was just a no brainer.
I'm just like, "Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
-Ready to go."
-Shoot it out!
We think about Aliens now
as being a classic,
but I wanted to work with Jim again.
The lesson is you work
with people that are loyal
because you create something together.
There's a shorthand and there's a trust.
And I think I learned that
with Michael on The Terminator
to some extent, and then again
cemented it on Aliens.
Looks like the new lieutenant's too
good to eat with the rest of us grunts.
That character was written so well,
it was very easy for me to just walk in
and fall asleep.
I'll tell you what I did do.
You see Hicks smiles a lot,
like when he watches her
with the loader and stuff like that
at the beginning
there's a big smile on his face.
Where you want it?
One of the very first sequences
that we shot, that I shot
when we were finding Newt
for the first time.
Hey, shh, it's all right.
If I'm not mistaken,
at that point I reached down
to grab her and she bites me.
I got it. Ow!
And whether it's in the film or not,
the way that I did the take a few times
I just kinda laughed, I was surprised,
I was smiling.
And I remember that Jim and Gale,
I had dinner with them,
probably, the first weekend
that I was there.
And I think both Jim and Gale
mentioned that smile
that I brought to Hicks
was something different than
they were getting from James Remar.
Here, I want you to put this on.
-What's it for?
-It's a locator.
I wanted to play Hicks with
a little bit of compassion
and that fear and being responsible
and not just some tough guy
who's out there wanting to kick ass.
Has Aliens dated?
Do you know what?
I genuinely don't think it has.
It hasn't dated in a way that Alien 3
and Alien: Resurrection very much have.
And I think it's because
it's the last Alien film
that doesn't lean on computer effects.
There's a couple of effect shots.
There's the dropship crash
where you can see the screen
that it's playing out on and they're
just hiding behind rocks in front of it.
That's maybe not the best.
All that had to be shot as a model
so that it could be processed
and projected on a giant reprojection
screen on the live action set.
The scene of the tumbling dropship
was an incredibly complicated scene
to film and took many days,
if not weeks, to perfect.
And none of the live action could be shot
until Jim Cameron was happy with that.
I can see a couple of little things
in there that bother me.
Like hands of aliens when they grab,
there's kind of a buckle,
but really that's more,
I see it in still photos.
There are a couple
of shots of the Queen
where maybe it looks miniature,
the running stuff maybe.
But there's something about
that movie in particular
that has made it hold up
for all these years.
-How many?
I can't tell.
The technology feels right.
The emotional relationships
all feel right.
That's not changed.
The camaraderie between the marines,
that's never changed.
There's just elements of it
that still work.
Well, elements, that's not right.
The whole movie still works.
Would it become an Avatar movie?
I don't know.
Jurassic Park had the mix down.
We had the mix down
on Starship Troopers
where part of it is practical
because you have
that interaction between people
where people can touch and feel things.
We had a very similar thing that happened
on the Predator movie Prey,
where we had built a predator suit
and helmet and weapons.
There were certain aspects
that were enhanced with CGI.
When people say,
"Well, how much can we do practically?"
And I say, "Watch Aliens."
That movie has zero digital work in it.
Take a look at how effective it still is.
It's real.
The light is falling on real objects.
It was also shot with a keen understanding
of the limitations of the technique.
This makes for better storytelling
because you have to withhold a little bit.
It ain't stopping them.
150 rounds on "D."
The limitations
Jim Cameron faced on Aliens
allowed for better horror moments.
I can't imagine that that film
could be improved on
if they had all the modern day techniques.
Hold on a second, there's something.
Just get up here.
I'm in. Ramp closing.
As far as I'm concerned
I could still be alive.
I didn't die on screen.
So I always have this idea that there
could be a future Aliens
where I'm on the planet.
I'm still there.
Move it Spunkmeyer, we're rolling.
Just in terms of what people think about
when they think about Private Spunkmeyer,
if they ever do,
they think of that scene for some reason,
they think of me doing the goo.
And unbeknownst to them,
it's not my voice.
When I go up the stairs and I go,
"Hey, there's some stuff here,
the sludge on the stairs,"
but I'm killed at in that moment
or whatever, offscreen.
I was doing a play
in Nova Scotia right after,
and James Cameron wanted to fly me
down to LA to do the ADR
and because of the play, I couldn't do it.
So he got someone else to do it.
And this is what I sound like
to James Cameron obviously
because he got some New Yorker,
it's not my voice at all.
-It's like-
-Hold on a second, there's something.
Hey, there's some stuff here!
It's hilarious, but that's not my voice.
I'm in. Ramp closing.
People say to me,
"Were you scared on the Aliens set?"
Could I tell you
that I wasn't scared at all?
Or was I sad that I was about to die? No.
Except for I wanted
a bigger part in the movie.
Well, where the fu...
My death scene I think
was shot in two ways.
One where you saw me die
and one where
it was just blood splattered.
And I know the dialogue had been
changing very much on that day
and I was really busy trying
to remember the new lines.
So everything else was out the window.
I was just trying to remember
the new lines.
Well, where the fu...
After the scene, I remember Sigourney
said something very nice about it.
Well, that's great.
It's just fucking great, man!
I had no idea that Jim would create
a world that just sucks you in.
He created the world so brilliantly.
That to me is what makes
the movie stand the test of time
because you never doubt the world.
Such brilliant artistry from Stan Winston,
all of his guys, his crew, the miniatures.
But the one person
that continually repeated to me
that this was gonna be huge was Paxton.
Now, what the fuck are we supposed to do?
Bill is a little bit like that character
that he played in Aliens
without the coward part.
He's very loud.
When he enters a room, "Hey, Michael!"
Get up, boy!
You're dead meat now, boy.
I'd done Lords of Discipline with him
and still hanging out quite a bit
when we were doing Terminator.
My turn.
I was always excited
and looking forward to seeing him.
How do I get out
of this chickenshit outfit?
You secure that shit, Hudson.
Bill, my God, I was terrified,
I didn't know what back
to one or a master shot was,
and he just took me
by the hand the very first day
and just said, "All right, honey,
we are gonna learn while we earn."
-Keep running.
-You do not want to fuck with me.
You just could not keep him belted down.
I mean, he came out
with gazillion lines and ways to do it.
Yo! Stop your grinning
and drop your linen.
Bill brings so much.
He's just this overflowing
cornucopia of creativity.
And maybe it's like an ant hive.
-Bees, man, bees have hives.
-You know what I mean.
He was almost like my big brother on set.
I would kind of follow him around.
Christ, kid, look out!
Sigourney was the general, man,
whereas Bill Paxton was like the glue
and the fun for all of us.
We got sonic, electronic ball breakers.
We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks.
Knock it off, Hudson.
The amazing thing about Bill is that
his joie de vivre was infectious
and you wanted him around.
His enthusiasm made
everything so much better.
And I remember thinking,
"Bill is stealing the show."
Bill is still stealing the show.
He was killing it.
I'm afraid I have some bad news.
Well, that's a switch.
When you think of Bill Paxton
and the character Hudson,
it was singularly probably
the best written character in the film.
How long after we're declared overdue
can we expect a rescue?
17 days.
17 days?
Not a buffoon at all.
He was more of a realist.
Hey, man, I don't wanna
rain on your parade.
We're not gonna last 17 hours.
I remember seeing Aliens opening night,
and the reaction
to all of Hudson's big lines,
they were instantly quotable.
You know after the movie was over
people in the lobby of the theater
saying, "Game over, game over."
-Game over, man.
-Game over, man.
It's game over, man. It's game over.
That's it, man.
Game over, man. It's game over.
They're not really jokes,
they're just a character moment.
But he just loses it.
He loses it the way Chef loses it
in Apocalypse Now.
It's kind of funny,
but also you can feel the tension.
Hey, maybe you haven't been
keeping up on current events,
but we just got our asses kicked, pal.
It's like a tourniquet.
You wind it tighter,
you release it briefly,
and then you wind it even tighter.
They're inside, inside the perimeter.
They're in here.
Hudson, stay cool.
I don't think that Arnold Schwarzenegger
would be upset with me saying
that Arnold Schwarzenegger has just
always been Arnold Schwarzenegger,
and that's what's made him so successful.
But Bill really went from being
a larger than life personality
to a very subtle actor, good actor.
This is the big move, the next level,
the corner of this whole thing.
I'm talking about putting some
heavy digits in our pocket, bro.
And I miss him.
And there was this one convention
for one of our anniversaries,
and it was one of the last times
that I saw him
and I ran into Jenette in the hotel
and we were talking
and she said, "Yeah, Bill's here."
And then I hadn't seen him in so long,
so I thought, "Oh, I'm gonna go see him
before it gets really busy."
And at first, his security people
wouldn't let me through.
I was like, "Well, look, I know him,
I'm not trying to like get his autograph.
I'm not causing any problems,
I just wanna say hi."
So I went around behind him
and he was looking at me like,
"Why is this person back here?"
And everyone who was in line
knew who I was at that stage.
And they're taking pictures
of the two of us standing there together.
And suddenly he realized that it was me.
And he's like,
"Guys, do you know who this is?
Oh, this is Carrie!"
They're like,
"Yeah, we've known for a while."
And he's like, "It just dawned on me."
He was a good person
and I'm glad he was in my life.
Jim had a private dinner
for us at Comic-con
for the anniversary of the film.
People brought their kids,
it was really great.
And then right after that, we lost him
and we couldn't believe it.
I mean, and we couldn't
believe our good fortune
to have seen him all together.
I'm gonna run my mascara
if we're not careful.
But he was a wonderful guy to work with.
Just a very gracious and wonderful man.
And with a lot of arrows
still in his quiver.
He left early.
One of life's tragedies, yeah.
Gorgeous man.
The most moving thing
that I ever saw at Bill's memorial service
that they had at Warner Brothers,
I mean, there were thousands.
And I mean luminaries,
I mean, major directors.
And then the most moving tribute
came from Jim Cameron.
I mean, I cried when he said it.
He said, paraphrasing,
he said, "I'm known as not being
a very warm and fuzzy guy,
but my biggest regret in life
is that when I spoke to Bill
the night before his surgery,
that I didn't tell him that I loved him."
And I was like, "Whoa!"
I mean, that just hit,
still hits my heart.
You can count me out.
Guess we can just count you
out of everything.
That's right, man.
-And why don't you go, man?
-I'll go.
-I'll go.
I worked in a mine once.
It didn't bother me.
They had a hole in a big pipe
and they had cut it out
with an arc welder.
And then as I was getting in,
one of the soldiers handed me a gun.
And I looked at the gun
and I gave it back.
And that distracted me
from where the hell I was going.
See you soon.
Watch your fingers.
And then I started scuttling through
with a camera in front of me.
They welded it closed behind me.
So I had to go.
The moment with a handgun?
It's funny, I don't recall
anything being planned.
His character of this very strange being,
she didn't trust him,
she worked with him.
Vasquez wouldn't go
down there herself without a gun.
I love the kind of back and forth
between trusting Bishop
and not trusting Bishop.
He'll go and get the dropship.
He's like, he may be synthetic,
but he's not stupid.
He doesn't want to die,
but he's prepared to do it
for everyone else.
He gets in the pipe and crawls
all the way, and you think,
"Yeah, we're with you, man,
you've got a heart."
You don't have to be around Jim very long
to see how brilliant he is,
how hardworking he is,
how passionate he is.
And this movie was no different.
He was putting in at least 18-hour days.
Two or three days into shooting,
I had a 4:30 AM call.
I had to have the death mask
applied to my face
and walking through a soundstage.
Dark, but in the far distance
I could see a light,
and saw somebody.
And as I got through the set,
I was like, "Oh, it's Jim."
And he had a flashlight and a notepad
and he was looking at stuff
and he was writing furiously.
And I just said calmly,
I was like, "Morning, Jim."
And he was so focused,
he didn't even register.
I personally believe in the auteur system.
That's the singular vision.
It's Hitchcock,
it's Scorsese, it's Cameron.
To me, it's not my ego.
It's the film has the ego,
the film must be,
the film must be willed into place.
It's not about power for me,
it's about the act of creation.
And once I can see it in my mind,
I have to do it.
Nobody thought to change
anything in this picture
because the script was virtually perfect.
Nobody could better what
James Cameron had in his head.
And I think that's what crew
might have had a problem with.
But a lot of other things too.
I didn't know what to expect.
Is he gonna be casual?
Is he gonna be a monster?
I strolled up to him when he was looking
through the viewfinder
underneath the dropship,
and I said, "Hey, Jim, I got an idea."
And he said,
"Can't you see I'm busy right now?"
And I went, "Wow. Okay. All right. Okay."
But I like him the way he is.
I wouldn't want him to
sand off one corner.
I don't think back then,
at that point in his career,
the world was quite ready
for his level of perfectionism.
But Aliens is the first time
that he really had to deal
with "outsiders."
All the tension
between him and the British crew.
To be charitable,
the craftsmanship in England
was excellent,
but to be uncharitable,
they were on a whole
different wavelength from us.
We were coming out of The Terminator.
We get to England
and the pace is pastoral.
All the cast, we don't ascribe
to all the rumor of Jim being some
sort of megalomaniacal crazy person. No.
He knew what he wanted.
And because of where Jim came up,
he's done every job on the set.
If you're screwing around,
he's gonna tell you.
And I'm sure this is common knowledge now
that the British crew sort of
worshiped Ridley Scott,
and Jim kept setting up these
screenings of Terminator
for the guys at the end of the day,
and nobody bothered to go.
And so it was
a very tough beginning for him.
One of the most annoying things was
that they kept calling Jim "The Yank."
Jim is Canadian.
He's never been an American citizen,
and they wouldn't stop.
That year, '85, '86,
the cinemas really took a dive in England
because of the advent of the VCR.
So no one on my crew
had seen The Terminator.
And we were trying to replace
the great Ridley Scott,
who, by the way,
only made a couple of films.
It's not like he was
Alfred Hitchcock or something.
First day of shooting,
all I've gotta do is get six set-ups.
And we're gonna wrap
about an hour and a half early,
which everybody will like,
and we'll set up a little champagne buffet
and we'll toast
to us working with them
and how it'll be a great film.
I got to 4:30, 5 o'clock in the afternoon,
and it was clear I was gonna be struggling
to get my fourth setup of the day.
And I looked out and I saw them setting up
all the little champagne glasses
on the table.
I said, "Get that shit off the set!
We're going to the the last minute."
And it all just went dark.
I do think Cameron works best
when he's being forged in hardship.
All his blood, sweat, and tears
are in that film,
and it's a common thread
for a lot of the films that he's made.
I sometimes wonder if he'd be capable
of making a good film
if someone didn't spike
the punch with PCP,
if his crew didn't walk out,
if he didn't have to attack his tea lady.
The poor tea lady.
I mean, I've thought many times about
trying to track her down,
at least apologize
to her family, the poor thing.
But she was just caught
at that tectonic interface
between these two cultures.
The thing that drove me
nuts the first day was,
we're starting to percolate,
we're starting to get somewhere.
I'm about to do the first big setup,
which was a lot of extras moving around,
took a long time to choreograph.
I turn around and the crew's gone.
Where'd the crew go? Oh, they're at tea.
I said, "They're what?"
The entire crew is lined up,
a 100 long, one by one
buying sticky buns
and a cup of tea and a scone,
and then the next one steps up,
and that'll be tuppence and whatever.
And I'm like, "You gotta be
fucking kidding me, right?"
And I just watch this in horror
while 20 minutes,
I could do two shots in 20 minutes,
goes by, right?
And then everybody comes back
and they've got their tea and their bun,
and they're back to work.
And I'm like, "I'm doomed."
I just teleported
into an alternate reality.
I just landed on an alien planet.
So I walk out the next day
and the whole crew's lined up,
and as I'm walking along,
I say, "Do you mind if I..."
and they're like,
"Oh, no, no, go ahead, governor."
And I said to the lady,
I said, "Well, how much is that?"
Because I figured
if we're gonna waste time,
let's at least have fun with it.
"Well, how much is that?"
"Oh, well, that's such and such."
"How much is that?"
"Well, that's such and such."
How much for a cup of tea?
And I said,
"Well, how much for all of it?"
And she said, "Well, what do you mean?"
I said, "Everything, everything
on the whole cart.
How much for all of that?"
But now there's a murmur down the line,
"Oh, governor's buying."
He's gonna apologize for taking
away the champagne toast."
I'm starting to make some points here.
I should have stopped then.
But I'm perverse that way.
I pull out a big wad of bills,
I count it all out.
I say, "We're good?"
She said, "Absolutely."
I said, "Do you mind just stepping
a little bit to the side
just for a moment?"
And she said, "Okay."
She stepped over.
I kicked that fucking cart
as hard as I could.
It went flying off,
stuff splashed everywhere.
I turned around and said,
"Everybody go back to work right now,
or I'm pulling the plug
on this production.
We're going back to America.
You guys will all be out of a job.
Here's how it's gonna work tomorrow.
You assign somebody
from each one of your departments
to go and get the stuff.
You give them the order,
you give them money,
they bring it to you on the set,
and we keep working.
If that's unacceptable, we're done here."
Silence. Absolute silence.
I'm thinking now, in retrospect,
I could have done it
a little more diplomatically,
but there was no more tea.
It took them a while
just watching him work
and watching the kind of work
that was being done
for them to understand
how amazing he was as a filmmaker.
The Terminator came out on VHS
and one by one over the next week,
everybody came in,
well, not everybody,
but a lot of them came up to me,
"Good film, governor."
And then after that,
everything shifted a little bit.
Gale Anne Hurd, I think,
had a really rough time on this film.
I think partly because the sexism
was so ingrained
in the film industry at the time.
She was young,
she was married to the director.
No one listened to her.
No one respected her authority.
But honestly,
I think she did wonderful things.
I did a lot of the initial interviews
for heads of department
before they met with Jim.
Many of them, they reach over
to shake my hand, very polite
and say, "Just want you to know
I won't take any instruction.
I won't take any orders from a woman."
And I have never been shy.
And I said, "Well, then you won't
be working on this movie."
And they couldn't believe it.
You go to England,
now, you're making a studio movie
in a studio culture at Pinewood.
And this upstart young woman
who's made one film
comes into the old boy network in England,
and they didn't listen to her.
They kept looking around her to see
who was really producing the movie.
None of the three producers
of the first film,
so that's David Giler, Gordon Carroll,
and Walter Hill, were available
to spend a hundred percent
of their time on set in the UK.
So there needed to be someone hands on.
I had absolutely no lack
of confidence whatsoever.
I don't think 20th Century Fox
felt as confident
about my abilities as I did.
The jump up from working for Roger Corman,
where I had been a line producer
on a $380,000 film
to making Terminator for 6.4 million
was a much bigger leap
than going from 6.4 million to 13 million,
which was the budget for Aliens.
So to me,
it was not a big leap whatsoever.
She, to me, was like Athena,
she was like, so wise, so tough, so lucid.
I don't think that people
talk about her enough
when we talk about Terminator,
Aliens, and The Abyss.
She really, I think, is probably
the only person that can
hold Jim back a little bit.
In the beginning of the movie,
there's a laser, goes, bzzzzzzzz.
And that wasn't in the original script,
but what happened is that Jim decided
that he wanted that laser in the movie,
and it wasn't in the budget.
And Gale was like,
"Jim, Jim, this is gonna cost
blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."
We can't have it.
But Jim was like, "No, but this is
what I want, this is what I need."
"This is something
that I feel is gonna really
kick the movie off in a futuristic way."
She eventually tells him, "Listen,
you're gonna have to pay for it
out of your own pocket.
If you needed that badly, then you do it."
And the interesting thing about
that conversation is that
she was doing what she was supposed to do.
She was being a good producer,
and he was doing what a director does.
The story is that he eventually
paid for it out of his own pocket
and he got that laser,
and that's how the movie kicks off.
But I remember thinking, "Oh, my God,
they have to go and sleep
with each other tonight together."
Jim and Gale's focus and intensity
and will to make this their movie.
This is it, this was their make or break.
Terminator? Yeah, nice picture.
James, whoever this Canadian kid is,
"Yeah, we like your script."
But you gotta get this right,
and they knew it.
This was their ticket.
Hey, listen.
We're all in strung-out shape.
But stay frosty.
Show me everything
I can handle myself.
Yeah, I noticed.
It was very evident
that Jim had written in,
what I call a "like story."
And that we liked each other a lot,
myself and Ripley.
There's just no doubt about it.
What we played was what Jim wanted.
I like the romantic element,
the tension, the flirtation
that we see with Ripley and Hicks.
Because it's something
we don't see in Alien.
To see this little blossoming romance,
to see another also aspect
of her personality is great.
You have more empathy,
you feel like she's someone you know,
she's a real woman.
It's just a precaution.
Doesn't mean we're engaged or anything.
It's the last thing in the world anyone
is thinking about, especially for her.
Come on, ease down.
Over time, just through
all these experiences,
they accept each other
and grow to like each other.
So it is very real, to me,
working affection that grows,
certainly being in life and death
situations is probably also a stimulus.
It was just very natural,
I think, Ripley and Hicks
ending up together
was one of the upsetting things to see
that David Fincher killed Hicks,
not to mention Newt.
Only Cameron would shoot a briefing
about how to use a Pulse Rifle,
and for it to be the most
romantic scene in the movie.
And this is how sort of Cameron
works with opposites.
He loves this idea
of brute metal, guns, fighting,
but he constantly threads things
with an emotional sensibility, with heart.
How long has it been
since you got any sleep?
24 hours?
I usually skip the stage directions.
I get so excited reading a script.
So honestly, I didn't know about
all the guns till I was on the set.
I want to introduce you
to a personal friend of mine.
This is an M41A Pulse Rifle.
We're already over in England,
and all the sets are built.
We're gonna start shooting,
we're in rehearsal, and she says,
"I can't shoot a machine gun.
I'm a gun control advocate."
I said, "Have you ever shot
a machine gun?"
She says, "No."
I said, "Would you like to?"
Okay, what do I do?
So she stands there
and she's all fuming.
And she goes, "Brrrrrrrrr."
"That's kind of cool." Brrrrrrrrr.
It was its own thrill that I had to
use a very heavy gun that was
a machine gun, also a bazooka.
I needed to protect Newt,
become part of this party of soldiers
to the extent that
our survival depended on it.
But she was always uneasy
with that part of the character.
So then I had to trace it back
and said, "Look,
Ripley's never fired a machine gun,
so this is perfect,
this is perfect for you.
Just remember that reaction
and that hesitation,
because where does
conflict in films come from?
When people are forced to do things
that are outside of their
normal modes of behavior
for a greater reason."
I was also coming off Terminator,
so there would be guns.
There must be guns.
At that point in my life,
in my career at least,
I was more than happy to fetishize
good weapon handling
and peace through superior firepower.
10 millimeter.
With an over-and-under 30 millimeter
pump-action grenade launcher.
Feel the weight.
The sound the Pulse Rifles make,
that popping sound.
-Come on, come on.
-Get up!
It's a Thompson machine gun, isn't it,
attached to a shotgun
with a little sci-fi coating on it.
So it's quite a basic thing.
But in changing the sound of it,
in changing the grammar
of what we perceive as a modern firearm,
it makes a slightly
high pitch popping sound.
It's an irregular popping sound,
it stutters.
It made it feel special.
It made it feel distinct in a way
that I don't think any sci-fi weapon
ever really has.
Every time they fired the machine gun,
the strobes went off.
So it became very stroboscopic
and impressionistic.
It was great
how they held the weapons too.
Because there was weight to those weapons,
you could tell how the actors
were carrying them.
Those weapons they came up with,
the prop department did
such a beautiful job with all that.
I got to hold some of those weapons
as a young boy,
and that'll really puff out your chest.
Hold one of those Pulse Rifles. Yeah. Woo!
I mean, it was awesome.
In terms of the look of the film
and the cinematography, lighting,
like everything on the film,
it all went through Cameron.
We hired Adrian Biddle.
He had worked with Ridley
on a lot of commercials,
so I figured he would know
the kind of the DNA of the style,
but he'd never made a feature,
so it was a bit of a bold move.
And he said, "How are we gonna do this?"
I said, "I've built a lot of lighting
into the set.
Can you just use that?"
Instead of lighting every shot perfectly,
painting every shot.
He said,
"All right, we'll go with the source."
There's movement all over the place.
Get back to operations.
It's game time.
Jim's style, he calls it tech noir.
I think that's appropriate.
The Terminator has sort of set that tone.
There was something fresh about it,
something right
on the cutting edge about it.
Jim's color palette choices are very Jim.
The blues and also some great deep reds.
What are you doing, Harry?
Just giving her a little assignment.
He plays a lot with color
and the noir aspect.
He does go into the darker
realms of things.
The music is almost everything to this.
Horner makes the strings feel
strange and alien and ethereal,
and it adds to a sense of unease.
You have that very military percussive.
In fact, the Special Edition soundtrack
has the percussion only versions
of a couple of the tracks,
and they're absolutely beautiful.
And it has that constant rhythm to it.
The Horner score for this is one
of my all-time favorite scores.
And it blows my mind that
when Cameron heard it, he didn't like it.
The idea that he was
sitting there chopping it up.
I was the re-recording mixer
at Pinewood Studios.
We actually did some night work
in another theater
with another Pinewood mixer
who actually mixed down the musics
because James had made a lot of changes
to James Horner's music.
I think it's fairly common knowledge
he was not happy with the score,
and he in fact, repeated a lot of it.
The most dramatic action piece,
which we called Anvils
is played several times.
But it works.
He moved it around a lot.
I think he fell out with James Horner.
James Horner was nominated
for his music on Aliens.
So it couldn't have been that bad.
The nominees
for the best original score are,
I think I'll stand up
straight for this one.
For Aliens, James Horner.
Oh, one of my all time favorite interviews
I ever conducted was with James Horner
because he was so eloquent
and candid about the whole experience.
And he basically said, "Look,
given the situation he was in,
it wasn't even creative anymore,
it was mathematical."
It's like he had to make his notes
work for the cuts
that were happening in the film.
Having said that, he created
one of the most iconic pieces of music
that's been used in trailers
so many times.
Bishop's Countdown.
We might be in trouble.
I know you've been out.
Somebody tell me
what the hell is going on.
There's got to be something speeding this.
We're gonna punch through.
That is such an amazing piece
of not only action music,
but it is cathartic, it's climactic.
There's another bit that was taken from
the first Alien Jerry Goldsmith cue
where the mother appears
at the bottom of the lift.
A lot of the atmospheres
were created by the music.
And the great thing was that James
allowed us to go quiet.
Silences or near silences
can be so powerful.
I think of two instances in the film
when Newt is stuck under the floor
and her fingers come through the grate.
There are about four or five frames
of almost silence there,
And similarly,
when she's being carried by Ripley.
As a 15-year-old boy
discovering that your dad
is going to be doing the sequel
to one of the great horror films
of all time, it's pretty exciting.
I was so thrilled to have
the opportunity to work at the studio
in Los Angeles
before the crew moved to London.
I was working
in the mold shop sweeping up,
and I got to see the new xenomorphs
and the Alien Queen and all those
other characters come to life.
And then Stan told the family,
"Hey, we're all moving to London.
This is gonna be a long shoot."
From what I understand of James Cameron,
he didn't use
H.R. Giger's design in Aliens
because it simply didn't occur to him.
He almost didn't want
to have any objections.
It's my movie and I'm an artist,
I'm a designer myself.
I had such very specific and clear ideas
and I did manage to ultimately
sort of apologize for that.
Because I had heard
through the grapevine
that he was pretty upset
that he wasn't asked back.
So Stan and James Cameron met
and collaborated together
on the first Terminator.
There was an instant, instant connection,
an instant understanding
that went both ways.
Here was someone who had
very high artistic standards,
great ambition, and had giant cojones.
The thing I loved about Stan
was his enthusiasm.
When he saw an idea that he liked,
man, nothing would stand in his way.
Whenever you would come
to Stan Winston studio,
you wouldn't see reference
images of monsters.
You'd see reference images of insects
and creatures from the real world.
Of course, H.R. Giger's reference
was the primary reference.
But for example,
with the facehugger autopsy scene,
they used actual chicken livers
and chicken skin.
We got one of the original
facehuggers to use as reference.
And this was a little puppet
that was built by Roger Dicken.
Roger Dicken I think is an unsung hero
on the Alien films,
and maybe that's okay
because Giger was the genius behind it.
But Roger Dicken was certainly a demigod,
and the way he built it
was very effective.
He used a lot of untinted latex.
Our job was to make it much more active.
When I look at my sculpture,
I think it's a less elegant
version of what was in the first film.
The facehuggers in Aliens can do way more
than the facehugger did in Alien.
Facehugger in Alien
didn't do much of anything.
It popped out of the egg.
And then we see it static
on John Hurt's face.
There's a moment where they try
and take it off and the the tail tightens.
It's tightening its tail.
I know.
The facehuggers in Aliens
were all over the place.
They were leaping,
terrorizing Sigourney Weaver
and Carrie Henn
in that medical laboratory scene.
And that required an enormous
amount of ingenuity.
We wanted to go the next step
towards some kind of realism or some
kind of performance that wasn't expected.
What they did is they built
a bunch of puppets
that could each do a different thing.
That horrible inseminator organ
starts sucking
and the tail's whipping around.
That was one puppet that was
primarily cable operated.
In terms of the lifecycle,
going back to Cameron's script,
now we get to see the tubule come out.
And I think it likes you at that moment.
It looks like love at first sight to me.
Working with the facehuggers
was interesting.
They're almost like remote control cars,
but they were a little bit
more intricate than that.
I was really lucky because Stan Winston,
he went out of his way to make sure
I knew how everything worked.
Same techniques that be used to pull off
one of these old school pull toys.
You pull along
your toy and the the legs move.
A series of legs will move
in a very organic way on either side.
And then we saw a facehugger jump up on
a piece of an overturn table or something.
It jumps up, it pauses,
and then it jumps forward.
Beautiful choreography
for some weird creature.
The Company wanted this creature
back for their weapons division.
And they didn't care how they did it.
They didn't care.
And that was embodied
in the character of Carter Burke.
By all reasonable measures
I had no business being in the movie.
My friends would say,
"Really? They got you?"
What's your interest in all this?
Why are you going?
Corporation co-financed that colony
along with colonial administration.
I had seen the first Alien
and I had seen Terminator,
so I knew this was gonna be great.
Then I read the script
and it was breathtaking to read.
It's the only script I can
ever remember feeling moved
as if I was watching something
but just from the page
because he wrote it very cinematic
and almost haiku.
He wouldn't use a sentence
if a word would suffice.
And I thought,
"Well, this is gonna be a huge hit,
and it's ridiculous
that I've been even considered."
I think it's great
that you're keeping busy.
And I know it's the only thing
that you could get.
There's nothing wrong with it.
The fact that they let Cameron
cast a comic, essentially,
to play this villainous character,
this corporate goon,
and everyone just knows him from comedy,
he was a standup.
Because you do it all day,
you have plans for lunch?
I don't know.
How about supper? I don't know.
What are you doing this weekend?
Stop asking me. You're killing me.
When I met Jim Cameron,
I think he had seen
the little bit that I did
in Beverly Hills Cop.
-You want my advice?
You know what I would do if I was you?
-No, I don't.
-Go in there, talk and be right back.
Get away from me.
I'm gonna shoot you, all right?
And my understanding of his logic was
he wanted somebody to play Burke
who would not look suspicious,
somebody who was amiable.
But I think people looked at the film
and the minute I came on,
they go, "This is not right."
Hey, come here.
Because he was the company guy.
And so we were all conditioned
to not trust The Man
as young and unctous as he may have been.
They tell me that all the weakness
and disorientation should pass soon.
That's just natural side effects
of such an unusually long hypersleep.
And he's a very eighties character.
The way he looks,
the vests and the collar up and the hair,
he's very eighties.
And that's probably one of the things
that maybe dates the film
a little bit is just the way Burke looks.
He almost looks like
he could hang out with Marty McFly.
To him, it's a hunting trip.
So he's got a flannel shirt
and some sort of vest
and he should be dressed
ridiculously wrong,
compared to all the other guys
with their gear.
All these guys had their stuff
and I was envious
like they're getting to play cowboys
and they got guns and dings
and I had nothing.
And I said,
"Well, I'm gonna carry a Filofax,"
which sounds so dated now
from the prop department,
and we picked this would be the right size
and the right color.
And before I shot my first scene,
I remember Jim Cameron going,
"Think really careful,
do you want to carry this, because you're
gonna be holding it every scene."
To me it was just the funniness of it
that everyone's going to battle,
I have, "Well, I'm gonna take some notes."
If you look
at the Alan Dean Foster novelization,
we get a sense of what's
going on in Ripley's mind
and she actually makes a point of thought
to recognize Burke
as being kind of handsome
and she kind of pushes that thought away.
Another interesting way the novelization
plays with her perception of Burke
is that he's not even perceived
as a human by the end of it.
He's actually only referred to
as The Company representative.
Word got around in the publishing industry
that I apparently could do a good job
with these things.
The Star Trek Logs,
that was the animated Star Trek.
John Carpenter's first film, Dark Star,
a little thing called Star Wars
that nobody knew anything about.
When Warner Books got the rights
to do the book version
of a new horror-science
fiction film called Alien,
I said, "Yes." I was asked to do Aliens.
And then I got the screenplay
and I thought,
"Well, this makes perfect sense."
The first film is about atmosphere.
The second film is about action.
And it was much easier
to do the novelization.
The screenplay was much more descriptive.
It didn't just say "spaceship."
Somebody at Warner Books at that time
had decided
that the book would sell better
among teenagers
if the curse words were taken out.
I suppose the logic being that teenagers
never heard such words
and would be shocked by them
Pendejo jerk-off.
All of that was taken out of the book.
And the ultimate scene in the book,
which is Ripley's great line to the Queen,
"Get away from her, you bitch,"
was changed to something
entirely innocuous,
which really hurts the scene.
My feeling is if the reader doesn't get
at least a third original material,
then they're wasting their money.
One of the main things
is the thoughts of the characters.
I can go inside Ripley's head
and inside Newt's head
and inside the heads
of all of the main characters
and also with our major villain, Burke.
Why is he such a bad guy?
He's obviously just a corporate shill.
And why is a corporate shill
a corporate shill?
Is he inherently evil?
Is he just doing it for his job?
I thought you'd be smarter than this.
I'm happy to disappoint you.
Burke is really more
a symptom of the problem
rather than the cause of it.
There are a thousand different Burkes
that could have made
their way onto planet LV-426.
There are a million
different company reps
that would've done
exactly the same as him.
It's ultimately more about this company
and the attitude that it has
towards finding this specimen.
You're crazy Burke. Do you know that?
And I remember vividly
when the film came out,
how much people hated him.
They didn't hate Paul Reiser.
Paul Reiser was great.
These people are dead, Burke!
Don't you have any idea
what you've done here?
It's just like everyone
really had it out for Burke
but that was his job.
It was Burke.
I say we grease this rat fuck
son of a bitch right now.
And I still don't think that Burke went
up there with necessarily bad intentions.
In the heat of the moment,
you make horrendously wrong moral choices.
But I don't think
that was necessarily his intent.
-You sent them to that ship.
-You are wrong.
I just checked the colony log,
directive dated 6-12-79,
signed Burke, Carter J.
For years, my running joke was,
people say,
"How was it to play a bad guy?"
And my joke was, "You say bad,
I say misunderstood."
I think he was young
and hustling and trying to
climb up the corporate ladder
and do what you gotta do.
And in that frame of mind,
people often stray down the wrong path.
It was a bad call.
It was a bad call.
It was a bad call, Ripley.
Burke is sitting in the chair
and everyone's standing around him
and everyone's talking about him.
He figured that he could get
an alien back through quarantine
if one of us was impregnated.
There's this realization between everyone
who's really the alien in the midst.
The one lie that I felt was so evil,
because it was so not evil sounding
was he goes-
This is so nuts.
I mean, listen,
listen to what you're saying.
It's paranoid delusion.
It's like, "Oh, my god, that's so bad."
It's really sad.
It's pathetic.
He's just lying. He's just lying.
And at what expense?
-All right, we waste him. No offense.
It can't be, that's inside the room.
There's movement in the corridors,
signal's clean.
Signal's clean.
Range 20 meters,
and it's like, "Five meters, man."
"Four. What the hell?"
And you are so afraid.
So afraid.
Let's go.
-13 meters.
-That's right outside the door.
-Hicks, Vasquez, get back.
-And it's a big fucking signal.
The idea of these location trackers
becoming almost characters
as the aliens creep up on them.
Classic horror movie riff.
-Then they're right on us.
-9 meters.
Remember short controlled bursts.
It obviously had its own
language of tension
and it was a sound that was such
that it cut through everything else
so we didn't have to make holes for It.
The motion tracker is very simple.
Ridley did it.
Oh, God, it's moving right towards you.
Micro changes in air density.
Micro changes in air density.
Now you see the thing getting closer.
I just took it and incorporated
the idea of thermal imaging.
So I went to the idea of military optics.
To me, that's a motif.
That's a strand of DNA that just flowed
directly out of Alien into Aliens.
Hicks goes up and he looks
through the dropped ceiling
and aliens are crawling
and that shot of aliens
crawling above the ceiling
was shot vertically.
It's such a cool shot
that totally enhanced
the reality of their predicament.
The audience never got a chance to see
something that might
have looked fake to them.
It was just an image that they had
to tweak themselves to make it work.
That's the thing more than anything
that sets apart the xenomorphs
from Aliens from the original film.
They move in a way
that a human never could.
This script had so much stunt work,
so many active aliens
that Stan looked at it and said,
"I need to go as far the opposite
direction as what Giger did
in terms of flexibility."
So in terms of construction technique,
it was literally black catsuits unitards
with cast rubber pieces attached to it,
floating on it, hung on it,
ribcage buckled on, that sort of thing
so that these stunt men
could do wire work and flip
and do all the insane stuff
that you saw in the film.
I'm very grateful
that I didn't make these movies
when there was computer graphic imaging
because I always
had something real to work off.
Ripley had real things to fight.
They didn't even have
to look for six-foot-ten guys
like Bolaji Badejo was in the first Alien.
They just got guys
that were about six feet tall.
To us, when we suited them up,
they looked like dumpy aliens.
But Cameron would say,
"Don't worry about it.
You'll see how I'm gonna shoot it."
Instead of a big shoot out at a nightclub,
it's the ceiling coming in
and all of a sudden these
hideous creatures are leaping all over
the room coming straight at you.
I don't think we were able to do it
quite the way I saw it in my mind,
but when we chopped it all together,
it actually had this
kind of crazy kinetic,
almost hallucinatory quality that
kind of just emerged out
of almost the limitations.
Well, I know as an actor
that you always use what's happening.
If it's a stressful, noisy, frightening,
smoke-filled situation with guns,
which I'm terrified of,
then I don't pretend
that she's not terrified.
I literally cut clear frames
every time that gun went off
so the whole image would
go white for one frame,
and then on some
of the strobe explosions and so on,
there were 50 clear frames
in that sequence,
and everybody thought I was nuts.
In my mind it was experimental cinema.
The next phase, which is the infirmary,
And when the aliens come in
and they're dropping down,
that to me is a really, really,
really intense moment.
But it's also one of the most
heartbreaking scenes in the film.
It's the end of some of our most
sacred characters like Hudson.
You see him meet his end
yelling and screaming,
doing the best he can.
When the aliens
are coming out of the ceilings
and he's like, "You want some,
you want some? You son of a bitch,"
and all this sort of stuff.
They went back afterwards
months later to do the looping.
They didn't know what he was saying.
The guns were going off
and Jim hadn't written some of the lines,
but he wanted to keep some
of the stuff that Bill had said.
So I think that they had a heck of a time
trying to figure out what he was saying.
Jim was moaning at him
because he didn't know what he said
and Bill was moaning back at him,
"Well, don't put it in the movie,
if you can't figure it out."
I think it's a real mark of the quality
of Paul Reiser's performance.
That the moment when Burke,
the despicable Burke
is finally confronted by a xenomorph,
the look on his face,
the pure terror in that moment,
you really feel sympathy for him.
Well, Burke died.
I go, "Well, did he die?"
Who's to say?
I dunno if you're aware of this
Marvel comic that's out now.
I don't even know if Jim knows about it.
And it's called What If: Aliens.
And it's literally,
what if Burke had lived.
And it jumps to the future,
35 years to the future,
and you find out there actually
might have been a noble reason
that he wanted to bring this thing back.
It went bad, no question.
But he wasn't intentional.
I find it very validating
because I thought, "Yeah, I told you
Burke was not necessarily a bad guy."
Well, we'll learn later on
a Blu-ray edition of the film
in a cut scene that Burke
was impregnated and was in the nest.
There's a whole shot of Ripley
coming through and seeing him.
I remember shooting that scene
and sort of dreading it
because just on a really physical level,
I wasn't sure
how gooped I was gonna be,
how creeped I was gonna be,
how confined I was gonna be.
So I was a little nervous about that.
But I think Jim had actually allocated
that to the second unit.
He was off shooting miniatures.
I went, "No, this is my big death scene."
You know, you can't, you know. All right.
He came, and action.
"Ah. Ah, cut. Okay, you're happy?"
There wasn't much meat.
Oh, God.
It's inside.
I'm sure I didn't talk him into it,
but I was disappointed
and I felt a little bit shunned,
just like,
"You're not gonna be there
for this scene?"
And of course being Ripley,
she's such a human character.
She gives him mercy,
she hands him a grenade.
There's no vengeance there,
she doesn't leave him to it,
even though he's done
all these terrible things,
he had this terrible plan,
she lets him die mercifully.
And it's a powerful little moment,
but Cameron cut it
for understandable pace reasons.
It just slowed down that sequence
of her getting to Newt.
It was a brutal day
because everybody's in full squat
in these air con ducts.
-Which way?
-Straight ahead and left.
So Gale Anne Hurd, she doubled me,
they cut her in because she was very good.
She knew how to shoot
and she was small like me
and she could wear my wardrobe.
There's a close-up
where she's shooting the alien.
Now, when you're shooting
close-ups of a gun firing,
you need to get the recoil exactly right.
And Jenette Goldstein
had never fired a handgun before.
Jim and I used to go
to shooting ranges all the time
and I was very good with a handgun.
So Jim came to me and said, "I need you to
put on Vasquez's wardrobe
and I need you to do a close-up."
So I went and did that
and I think we only did a couple takes.
I got it right.
Going back to save Vasquez.
What are my thoughts?
I did as I was told
and did the whole scene.
And then when you watch it and see it
in hindsight and through all these years,
it's an amazing moment of redemption.
I have friends who are veterans,
it's very common that people freak out
the first time under fire,
and Gorman got his shit together
and he was now a full-blown marine
and he was gonna go back
and rescue his fellow marines.
He was gonna do what a marine had to do.
Oftentimes in films,
the incompetent person
is turned into the asshole
or they're kind of a running joke
for the rest of the film
and they'll always be
the incompetent person.
Whereas at the end
of Gorman's life in Aliens,
he's there with Vasquez
who wanted to kill him earlier
and he's there and he sticks with her
and he sees his mission through
to the best of his ability.
And I think it's a really beautiful thing.
You always were an asshole, Gorman.
To have a great death scene
is such a gift.
I truly wanted it to matter,
but of course,
you can't make something matter.
I just had to trust all the work
that me and William Hope
and everybody had done up to that point
would coalesce in those who were watching
the story to have it matter to them.
It was intense, but every day was intense.
And you think, "Yep, another intense day,
let's just get on with it."
I gotcha.
Newt! No!
My friends are often really surprised
because I don't like scary movies.
It was different with filming
because here's the alien right here.
But two seconds before
it was my friend who was in stunt
we're talking and joking around
and then he puts it on
and I have to be scared of it.
And I remember when Jim was talking
with her and saying that
in the scene when the alien warrior
rises up behind her in the water,
now there's going to be this monster.
And she looked at him and she said,
"Jim, it's a guy in a rubber monster suit.
And we were just speechless.
She understood that it was acting and yet
her performance, she looks terrified.
She was far more resilient
than the rest of us.
I'd like to say that I had worked
really hard on my scream, but I didn't.
And it wasn't even in the script
for me to scream.
There was a time and James Cameron said,
"Well, after you deliver this line,
I want you to scream."
So I said, "Okay."
So I delivered the line and I screamed,
and I just kept screaming and screaming
and screaming and screaming
and nobody said to cut or anything.
So finally I just stopped
and I looked at him and he's like,
and everyone was just staring at me,
and I really didn't know
what was going on.
And he's like,
"Wow, we're gonna use that more."
One of the greatest things
about Aliens is that it completes
the story of the xenomorph lifecycle.
This was all Jim Cameron
coming up with that,
he was inspired by that image
from the original Alien,
of the acres of eggs.
That got Jim to thinking
about a hive structure.
From Alien, certainly as often is the case
when you start doing sequels,
the people who do the original story
have no idea they're going to be sequels.
So they don't think about maintaining
a lot of the internal logic.
Nobody in Alien, for example,
Dan O'Bannon or Ron Shusett,
set up anything like a biological history
of the alien species.
We talked a fair amount as artists
about the lifecycle of the alien.
And it was something
that was being developed.
You saw some of it in the first film
that brilliantly parasitic symbiosis.
But you're like,
where do the eggs come from?
Thank God that scene
that was in the original
where Dallas was,
I think turning into an egg,
the concept was that a human being
turns into an egg.
If that had been in there,
you could have had no Queen
or it would've been quite a stretch
to put a Queen in there.
This opens the way for a hierarchy
and this big Queen mama who is gonna,
be the big third act of the film.
There was also an interesting thing
that Cameron had
in one of the early scripts,
which were these drone characters.
They were small versions,
three, four-foot tall aliens,
and their job was to move the eggs.
And for budgetary reasons
and other reasons, it was never done.
But we were very excited about that.
Like, "Ooh, we get to make these
albino drone characters."
It was a very logical,
almost engineering way to look at it.
It takes a lot of the mystery out of it
and just says, "There's a Queen.
She lays hundreds of eggs,
thousands of eggs, they hatch,
they need something to breed in.
And so there's hosts,
and there you go,
they're essentially parasites."
I would say the Queen
in the script was the one element
that I thought was really weird
because it was so insect-like.
And to me coming from the first film
where Ridley had
introduced us to this creature who had,
we didn't know what kind of origin
and it was so elegant
and it was so deadly.
And suddenly making a female
out of it and choosing to use
a structure
that we can recognize on Earth
as kind of a Queen bee structure.
It made a lot of sense,
at the same time,
I'm not sure I accepted it right away.
She's young, she's only been there
for a couple of years.
Whatever emerged on that colony planet
emerged quite rapidly.
So she's a young inexperienced Queen
who's already in her reproductive cycle.
And I created a whole story
for this female character,
just like I did for Ripley.
The marines, they make the mistake
of thinking of the aliens as animals,
as being unsophisticated,
as being less conscious than humans.
Ripley finds out at the end that
they're just as conscious as humans,
possibly just as smart as humans.
I explored a little bit of that
in the comics I did,
just trying to understand further
what the alien actually is.
I think I suggest there's a little bit of
a telepathic sort of thing they emit.
And the idea for that came
from the sense
that the Queen could kind of speak
to its hive a little bit.
That was about as far as I took it
in terms of expanding the alien mythology
that was in the Alien and Aliens movies.
And it's one of these things where can you
ever have too much of a good thing?
Like, I wanna be back in that world.
I wanna see what happens.
So I read the Dark Horse comics,
which came out in the wake of Aliens
and obviously was swiftly
undone by Alien 3.
I've listened to the radio production,
which Michael Biehn
returned to do in 2019,
which kind of dramatizes
what a sequel could have been
if Alien 3 hadn't happened.
I've played pretty much, I think every
Alien related game that's ever come out.
The world that James Cameron has created,
it is so rich and so vast.
It feels like from a fan's perspective,
in the extended universe,
in comics, in novels,
even video games, it would be
a sin to not explore it further.
It's something that has enriched
a lot of what we see in the film
and explained missing gaps.
For example, there's Alien: River of Pain,
which takes a look at the entirety
of the Hadley's Hope situation
from beginning to end.
Sometimes it doesn't work,
we have a video game
like Aliens: Colonial Marines,
Michael Biehn, we had Lance Hendrickson
back for that
what was to be a groundbreaking
video game experience.
Didn't turn out that way.
Alien: Isolation is fantastic.
Absolutely fantastic game.
Initially, like in the nineties,
there was a video game that came out.
And it was actually oddly enough
at our local bowling alley,
and my brother used
to love to go over there
and he'd not play like normal people,
but his goal was to try
to shoot at my character.
There's so much stuff out there,
which some of it enriches the experience,
some of it's just absolute nonsense.
I've read Judge Dredd versus
Aliens versus Predator.
I've read Batman versus Aliens.
The amount of stuff out there is wild.
Terminator versus Aliens is a thing
you can find a Dark Horse comic for.
There's a reason why Alien has persisted,
and I think it's because the xenomorph
itself captured people's attention.
But more than that, I think Aliens
in particular just awakened something
in the zeitgeist that we are not willing
to kind of let go of.
-I don't wanna hear about it, Bishop.
She's alive. There's still time.
I remember something happened
to me in the elevator scene
where she starts getting ready
to go to the Queen.
Putting her arms together
and getting herself together,
it was almost
like a samurai getting ready.
You now have 14 minutes to reach
minimum safe distance.
We have a klaxon going,
which is always emergency.
We have an emergency announcement.
All personnel must evacuate immediately.
And then when she gets down
to the bottom of the lift,
we are taken over by the tracker.
And there's this effects beat
of the power station.
Vrum, vrum, vrum,
going on, driving us along.
And we mixed in a bit of the heartbeat.
There's always heartbeats
In a movie chockfull
of jaw dropping moments,
the sequences with the Alien Queen
take it to a whole new level.
The Alien Queen was an idea that I had.
I took it to Stan,
I showed Stan my sketches.
We spent a lot of time trying
to figure out how to do it.
And Stan is gung-ho.
Before tackling the real Queen,
Stan felt it was very important
to prototype this thing
that they knew they could execute it.
They actually used foamcore to build
this full-sized Alien Queen prototype.
It was ski poles for arms, foamcore legs,
foamcore body, foamcore head.
And action.
Cameron came over,
he brought his video camera
and they shot it
from a lot of different angles.
Okay, arms full out, full width.
We're just shooting out there
in the sunlight, in San Fernando Valley.
It was very hard to put the idea together.
Stan or Jim, I think this one was Stan.
He covered the whole thing
with plastic trash bags, wrapped tight.
And so we had this big shiny black thing.
And thus was born the very first garbage
bag test at Stan Winston's studio.
The term "garbage bag test" after Aliens
became a synonym for prototyping.
Okay, that's a cut.
If you look at James Cameron's artwork,
you can see the feminine touches.
It's got a very wasp waist
and its hip girdle is sort of broader.
One of the things that makes it most
female is she's wearing high heels.
I mean, she's wearing high heels.
Look at that design again.
And if you really look
at the line work in the leg,
there's muscular striations,
but there's also strapping
that looks like garter belts.
This goes back to my first job
in the movie business with Jim
for Roger Corman
on Battle Beyond the Stars.
And Jim designed a spaceship for that.
It was a female spaceship that,
well, it has boobs,
and if you look at it from the side,
it's a female torso, twisted a little bit.
What's interesting as a maker,
when you take your work
from the workshop onto the stage,
or in the creature case from the creature
workshop onto the shooting stage,
your work becomes something else.
When you put it
on a film set and it's lit,
it becomes what it's meant to be.
The scene where she runs into
the Queen's chamber with all the eggs,
that was from a dream.
Now it wasn't eggs,
it was a dark room where the walls were
a hundred percent covered by wasps
that could instantly take off
and attack me and kill me.
I was frozen, and there was that slow
motion moment of realizing where you are
and the stillness, the silence,
the moment before the storm
when she turns in slow motion
and you hear
that kind of big labored, raspy breathing.
She is formidable,
just so overwhelmingly scary,
daunting, and intelligent.
She is having a conversation with Ripley.
They interact at this interspecies level
that is without words,
but is probably one of the most tense,
cinematic moments I can recall.
That to me is where
the mother theme really is established.
At this point, I am Newt's mother
and she has her offspring.
I certainly knew as Ripley
what I was thinking,
and yet they'd created for me a character
of the Queen who was shrewd,
who was unstoppable,
much more powerful than a little human.
And just the reality of her
pumping out these eggs,
which is I think for Ripley, so awful
to see that there's a life force
that's reproducing these things,
these evil things.
So all of that I think is going on.
It's great fun to play a character again
because you bring in the first movie too,
you can't help it.
These are castaways,
they have a biological mandate.
They don't recognize anything,
they're just trying to survive.
I don't think of the aliens as evil,
I think of them as pure.
Let's just talk about the underlying
themes of the whole thing.
First of all, it's all sex.
It's penis, vagina,
the Playboy in the mouth.
It's all sexual items.
And then the second one,
of course, is mother-daughter.
It's the result of that.
Grab onto me!
And the cost of it
and what it really means.
What I love,
being a mother of three children
at the end when she
throws the kid on her hip,
and the gun on the other.
I think about how many women,
you throw the toddler on your hip
and you're shopping on one side
and you're trying to get in the car,
but she's got the gun
and the flamethrower and the kid.
It's brilliant.
You now have four minutes
to reach minimum safe distance.
And there was times when I really
felt like it was coming after me,
especially in the egg laying scene.
because It was so dark
and it was so dramatic.
You knew it had to be done just right for
Sigourney's part of it and my part of it.
And I think to some extent
it was very realistic acting
because we were just
like trying to be safe.
She's obviously
very protective of the eggs.
Obviously, she wants nothing
to happen to them
because essentially they are her children,
they're her babies.
And even as they get older
and you see the xenomorphs,
those are also her children.
There's a moment where it seems like
Ripley is willing to leave the nest intact
and to make her way out of there.
I think we know that the plan
is to blow up the entire colony,
but in that moment, it's almost a sense
of understanding one another
or forgiving the Queen for doing
what's natural in her world and her life.
I love the confrontation scene
between Ripley and the Queen.
Ripley holds the flamethrower to the eggs
and communicates to the Queen.
"I'm gonna destroy these eggs
if you don't back off."
But then she reneges on the deal
and has an egg open
and Ripley gives her that look of,
"All right, here we go."
Of course we have sympathy for her.
Even Ripley has a little sympathy for her,
but not so much that I'm not gonna do it.
But it is that recognition of the others'
priorities and that we are the same.
And who's to say whose child
is more important.
In the story,
the mother alien is threatened,
and particularly when she can see what
Ripley can do with the flamethrower,
she is reacting.
We had a whole mixture of pigs
and human sounds and tigers.
And they were treated,
processed to make them
not only sound as if
they were coming from her,
but actually blended with each other
so that they could be taken
as a vocalization.
There are some critics
of the logic of Aliens.
Specifically, how does she know
how to use an elevator?
Well, my answer to that is,
these xenomorphs are very smart, okay?
It's just a button. It's not a big deal.
Close your eyes, baby.
I think a lot of the horror
elements that Cameron
either consciously or unconsciously
brought to The Terminator,
he brought to full view in Aliens.
And it really became
this horror action film
that's built upon what
we saw in The Terminator.
And at the head of it all is the Queen.
Which much like with The Terminator,
we get these almost false endings.
And I remember Roger Ebert's
original review of the film
where he just came out and he was like,
"I can't say I enjoyed that film."
I felt physically ill.
Aliens were so strong, it was overkill.
It really did upset me.
And you can understand why.
You have all the build-up to where
Ripley and Newt go to sleep
in the med lab.
And from that moment on, that's it.
There is no stop.
It's a sprint for the finish line.
They cut the power, you have the run,
you have the Newt gets caught.
We're not leaving. We're not?
-We're not leaving.
-We're not?
I think I've heard it described
as a kind of
jab, jab, cross, pause, uppercut ending,
which is perfect for me.
It does not let you rally,
it doesn't give you time to catch
your breath and it just knocks you flat.
Get away from her, you bitch!
There is that visual element
of the Queen tail
that rips through Bishop's chest
just when we think that
everything's been finished.
Sort of a spin on the chestburster scene
from the first film.
A dummy that Alec Gillis and I had built
of Lance Henriksen as Bishop
is on a turning plate that unwinds.
So it spins the body in two different
directions and throws him apart
while we still had Queen hands attached.
So it's a very effective practical effect.
The white blood that comes out was
established with Ash in the first movie.
So that was something
that Jim was sticking to.
Oh, I got sick as a dog with that.
It was actually milk and cream
and yogurt and all that mixed.
It had been left out a couple of days.
So they gave it to me,
and it basically came in one end
and out the other,
There's no shortage of fresh,
delicious, and viscous creams in London.
I had it on ice and we were
using it during the day,
and we just shot so much that I ran out,
I ran out it
and we had more shots to do.
So I went to the tea trolley,
and I grabbed cream
off of the tea trolley.
I didn't really think that the tea trolley
had been sitting out for a while.
So the milk was bad, I didn't know it,
Lance didn't know it.
He came in,
he looked terrible, he was pale.
He said he was up all night puking
because the cream was bad.
And I thought,
"Holy fuck, I'm gonna get fired."
As I'm putting the costume back on him,
the ripped in half costume,
which smelled of bad curdled milk.
And I said, "I'm so sorry."
And he said,
"Don't worry buddy, I'll use it."
For me, one of the greatest
action moments ever
is when she's in that skip loader deal.
And how they did all that, I don't know.
It's so fantastic.
I kind of didn't spend a lot of time
watching how they did it
because it was exciting for me just
to have her as a rival, as an opponent.
There's a scene early through the movie
that I think
is just wonderful scriptwriting
When the marines are getting prepared
and Ripley asks, "How can I help?"
She says,
"I can work one of those loaders."
Well, I can drive that loader.
It's such tight scriptwriting.
You establish that Ripley
doesn't wanna just sit around.
You begin to establish that connection
between her and Hicks.
And you also establish the loader
as something that exists and something
she knows how to control.
The thing that blew me away the most,
I saw his sketches and storyboard
for when Sigourney is in the power loader
and she's fighting the Queen.
He had drawn exactly the framing
that you see in the finished
product on the film
months, probably years before that.
He had it in his head
and he created it on the screen
exactly the way he had
envisaged it in his psyche.
Aside from the tears in the rain sequence
at the end of Blade Runner,
you can't get more iconic than Ripley
in the power loader.
At that moment, it's not just Ripley
in the power loader,
it's everything we care about
in that power loader.
It's everything we've suffered
through in Alien and Aliens
and the loss of all of these characters
and the loss of all of these marines
is embodied in this one person
who is there in this machine
to give us the ending that we need.
Get away from her, you bitch!
Get away from her, you bitch!
Straight out says it, it's incredible.
If you've ever seen a theater,
round of applause every time.
Obviously it needed as much
clearance as possible
and as much of an impact as possible.
I didn't know at the time how
important it did become,
but it was a great line.
Ripley's in charge now.
The line is so badass.
It's taking control, it's taking your
own power and asserting oneself.
Well, I knew it was an important line.
I only got to do it a couple of times
because it was all to do
with the door going up
and me coming out as fast as possible.
And then the whole thing was a big deal,
it was a big shot.
And I remember the second time I did it,
because I'd been to drama school,
I went, "Get away from her, you bitch."
Up, you were supposed to go down
if you wanna sound powerful.
And I went up and Jim said,
"Great, I love it. Let's go on."
And I went, "Oh, but I went up."
So that to me is funny
because I think it works very well.
I accept it. I think he was right.
It is a great line.
And certainly motivated.
Honestly, I think
that the number of actual
what we would call visual effect shots now
is about 200, a little over
200 shots in Aliens.
That means miniatures or opticals
or what have you.
And that film still feels huge.
And by today's comparisons,
every shot in a Marvel movie
is a digital shot, basically.
There are thousands and thousands
and thousands of shots.
Every movie is a creature
of its time and a snapshot
or a cross section
of its time and its technology.
Today we do it all CG
and it would be much,
the physics of it would be better.
And the Alien Queen would've leaped
on that power loader and flipped it
and thrown the Queen against the wall
and she'd have sprung back.
It would've been much more dynamic,
but it wouldn't have been as atmospheric
because we were hiding
so much of our technique
and our cables and our rigs
and everything behind,
steam and framing and crazy camera moves.
It's very aggressive, it's very violent.
You had another puppet on set,
you had the Alien Queen
and you had the power loader.
John Richardson and his team
get full credit
for that fantastic power loader suit,
but there was actually
a performer inside it
directly behind Sigourney Weaver.
Once Jim and Gale gave me
the mandate that I had to bulk up,
they had hired this amazing trainer,
a man called John Lees,
who was from Northern England,
and he was a farmer.
And this guy, I mean, he had guns
the size of my thighs.
I mean, honestly, I mean massive.
He was like the engine that moved
Sigourney in the power loader,
that's John dressed in black like kabuki
theater and moving her around.
So he was a beast.
Every lunchtime for weeks
I would work with John Richardson.
I'd go up and I'd get in the power loader,
and we would practice moving
so that I could move as fast
as possible without tipping over.
I did a lot of processing work on,
particularly the footsteps
of the power loader
and the sound editors did
a brilliant job of all the little whizzes
of all the hydraulics going on.
And then we had
Sigourney's brilliant vocals.
Come on. Come on!
Again, our animals in the Queen.
And it all works.
It's the close-ups
that sell everything else.
Like Sigourney firing up the torch
or the jaws coming very close
to Sigourney's face.
Those are the things
that are the emotional pillars.
And then in between
you have the wider shots
that bring the awe
and the spectacle to it.
I was almost as surprised
as anyone watching it in the theaters.
I was there for the full
scale aspects of shooting,
but the miniature stuff happened
in London shortly after we wrapped.
I think Cameron went on a vacation
for a little while and then came back,
and they had probably edited some
of the scene together so he knew
exactly what he needed.
But those miniature effects shots
were so flawless
that in the theater, I remember saying,
"I don't remember doing that.
How did we drop the Queen?"
The other thing I think
people need to remember is
that Queen is just a bunch of rubber
and fiberglass.
Sigourney, she's seeing something.
You're seeing her see it
and you believe it.
We'd have had to really mess it up
with the performance that Sigourney gave.
The work of Stan Winston and everyone
who had anything to do with the Queen,
they made her come alive.
If you talk to Jim, he will say
that it was my work
that made her come alive.
It was what they did
to make me believe it.
I remember the great makeup artist
Dick Smith, after that movie came out,
he called us on the phone,
Stan put him on the speaker phone
and he was just raving about it.
And he was stunned to hear that
that power loader was not an existing
industrial machine.
It was a very heady time.
Have you ever seen this really
old movie Aliens?
Jesus, I look like the robot from Aliens.
Stop. Not so fast, y'all.
Die, motherfucker.
In 1986, we reenacted
the knife game from Aliens
and I stabbed you in the middle finger.
Purging now.
-Aw, what the ...
-That's right, babe.
I do not want another single
pop culture reference outta you
for the rest of the trip.
I think it's about her healing,
finding that missing piece
that Newt gives her.
And I know Sigourney Weaver was
particularly unhappy when that early scene
was cut when she finds out
that her daughter's died.
That's the beginning of the arc,
which ends at the end
when Newt calls her mommy.
-Oh, God.
It's the hope of Aliens
that's really behind everything.
And I think we as a species
and we as fans,
we love hope, don't we?
-Sleep tight.
Despite all of the turmoil and the trauma
that Ripley and Newt and Hicks and Bishop
and everyone in the film goes through,
there's this shining beacon of hope
pushing them forward
that we can survive this.
The final image of the film,
I think is critical,
where the little girl's
also a victim of trauma,
probably much more so even than Ripley.
You feel a sense of healing
in the last moment of the film.
Can I dream?
Yes, honey. I think we both can.
It's a little on the nose,
but I think it's satisfying.
You've just been on a pretty horrific
heart pounding journey.
I remember seeing the trailer
and I was blown away because
first of all, it was very, very
reminiscent of the trailer for Alien.
With that very pulse pounding base
and then the weird screechy
siren sound and all that.
I saw it where it premiered
at the Avco Theater in Westwood.
That's where they had the world premier
with the cast and the crew there.
And it was packed.
It was just so infectious seeing it
with that packed house,
everyone screaming
and cheering and rooting
for these characters that it was hard
not to be swept up in it.
I was in New York City, the cast was there
and Jim was showing the press,
New York Times, LA Times,
Siskel and Ebert,
all of those people
that were gonna review the movie,
he wanted to show them the movie first
and he didn't want any of the actors
to be in that screening.
So Bill Paxton and I
decided to go up into the projection booth
and we watched the movie, just Bill and I
watched the movie through the little
projection booth box up at the top
and we were just so excited,
jumping up and down
and high-fiving each other.
The first time I ever saw Aliens
was at the premier in Westwood.
We were all dressed to the nines,
and of course, there was
all the studio executives
in their penguin suits.
We ended up at the Beverly Hills
Wilshire Hotel in Sigourney's suite.
And she had cases of champagne,
and we just sat there
drinking champagne together.
Actually, I'd never seen myself
on film on screen.
It was overwhelming.
I went back to see it the next day.
I think all of us went back,
me and Bill Paxton and Lance and Mark,
we went back
to just like a regular showing
and sat in with the audience.
I could feel the reaction
of people I knew around me
who were amazed by the film.
I remember seeing the film
at a premier in New York,
and I remember it
because my family came with me,
and my parents and my older sister.
And I remember,
without any kind of hesitation
when Burke is revealed
to be as nasty as he was.
I mean, my sister punched me and went,
like, she just couldn't separate.
We all came down to LA
and we were all so excited.
Again, Jim had not told me
what he had cut out,
and that was very hard for me actually.
I think probably,
that was distracting to me.
It was hard for me to judge the film.
With that gone, our relationship is
I'm able to say what I want to Jim
and we get over it pretty quickly,
but I think he could tell how upset I was
and he was sorry he'd taken it out.
I mean, we torment each other
with these things.
My memory of first seeing Aliens is
a lot like other people's and seeing it
in the basement on tape,
I was a little kid, maybe 12 years old,
sitting alone in the dark,
experiencing the film,
terrified outta my mind.
Just becoming enamored
with this whole world.
Aliens. This time it's war.
I would've seen it
when it first came out on VHS.
I'm gonna say that was
probably what, '87 maybe?
And randomly it was my mom who rented it.
So we went down to a local video store
where I was probably looking
for the NeverEnding Story
or something like that,
and she was like, "Oh, Aliens."
I'm 11 years old.
We go home, we watch the film,
I distinctly recall watching most of it
from behind my fingers, just terrified.
I then rented this film
in excess of 50 times
over the next couple of years.
So much so that I literally
went in once and they said,
"Honestly, it would be cheaper
for us to sell you the tape
than for you to keep coming
back here and getting this film."
To this day, you are still pulled,
you're still drawn,
you still want the good guys to win.
It's 1:00 AM, you gotta
get up early the next day,
and there you are an hour
and a half later still watching it.
All I know is that when I rewatch it,
I always find something interesting
in every single frame.
There's a certain respect
that the camera is giving everyone.
It's not just focused on the lead
or just focused on the monster.
For what it's worth.
The first thing that you have
to remember is that
the studio needs to have
enough confidence in a film
to do a Academy marketing campaign.
And we were blown away
and so gratified that 20th Century Fox
really went after it in every category,
and especially with Sigourney.
And there was not a history of actors
from science fiction films,
much less horror films
being rewarded by the Academy.
So when we were nominated
for seven Academy Awards,
it blew our minds.
Absolutely blew our minds.
Sigourney Weaver in Aliens.
I think it's wonderful that the Academy
was able to be very open-minded
about the genre.
I've always loved visiting other genres.
To me it's all about the story.
But the Academy could
have been really snobby, but they weren't.
Thinking back on Jim Cameron's career,
which is just stellar.
I'd have to say that Aliens
was perhaps his work of passion.
His filmography isn't super extensive,
but it's monumental.
Given that Aliens was really
a low budget movie,
it's amazing how high it ranks
or it seems to rank
in terms of popularity.
I always wish he'd done a second Aliens
movie or whatever it would've been,
I respect him for not doing that
and moving on.
But I always would've loved to have
seen where he would've taken that.
I remember asking Jim when
we were about to finish,
I said, "Jim, are you gonna
do another one of these?"
And he was adamant,
he was like, "Nope, that's it."
Nope, my signature. That's it.
And I'm sure Fox begged him.
I'm sure they begged him to do more.
This is the only film that
Jim was a director for hire on.
He's a creator.
He created Aliens,
yes, they're characters
that existed before like Ripley,
but he crafted it from whole cloth,
yet was not the rights holder.
From that point on, he did not want
to be a director for hire.
It makes absolute sense.
Aliens is a unique film, I think,
in that it came on the tails
of another unique film as a sequel,
but it was so beautifully built on
from the first film that was established
by geniuses like Ridley Scott
and H.R. Giger,
but yet it was its own thing.
Tonally, it was its own thing.
I mean, I love Alien. I really love Alien.
It's a perfect organism, if you will.
Perfect organism.
But it's not Aliens to me.
And it didn't speak to me
in the same way that Aliens did.
And I know there's an age old
debate about which is better,
the first one or the second one.
But for me, nothing tops Aliens
because nothing about the first one quite
made me feel the way the second one did.
Looks like it's grown out of the chair.
Alien was perfect in and of itself,
and Aliens is perfect in and of itself.
The creature's easier to kill,
and then maybe that feels a little
convenient to move the plot along.
But I think over time
those objections have subsided.
And really
what you're left with is a movie
that it is its own standalone piece.
Well, Alien 3.
I knew nothing about that movie
when I went to see it.
Oh, I went all pumped up
for another great Aliens film,
and then they killed Newt and Hicks
almost off camera in the credits.
I couldn't even believe it.
Not just because it did something
to my comic stories.
It's like you took this heroic journey
of Hicks and Newt and you just snuffed it.
So thank you, David.
Much as I love David
and I know why he did it,
which is this has to be my movie,
goddamn it.
I want to tell a completely
different story,
I don't care about these characters. Yeah.
Except that the fan base did. Yeah.
One of the interesting things
about all the Alien films
is that they are so all over
the place in terms of the genres
that they riff on.
Even though you could say that, "Okay,
Alien is a haunted house in space.
Aliens is a war movie in space.
Alien 3 is more of an existential,
almost religious journey
for Ripley in a way."
It's not possible.
All the films have a slight different
tweak to how they enter the world
and then what they get out of the world.
There's a version of PTSD
that has gone on in fandom
since the release of Alien 3,
where we've been let down time
and time and time again.
It is easy to look
at the first three films
as Alien is about birth,
Aliens is about life or survival,
and then Alien 3 is about death.
I mean, it's a pretty clean arc
between those three movies.
You're probably gonna hate me saying this,
but I really think Ripley in Alien 3
is probably the most developed
that character ever became.
The journey of the Alien films was filled
with controversy even with Aliens.
Because I remember James Cameron had
to write a letter into Starlog Magazine
basically addressing all the fans'
criticisms and questions
because there was
a lot of controversy about Aliens
that people don't remember now
because it's so beloved.
But it is like an itch that won't go away
with these guys, these studio guys.
What about another Aliens?
That was a wonderful part of my life.
It still is.
Fortunately, thanks to the cons,
thanks to the fans,
I get to see my buddies
every now and again.
I mean, we love it.
We love going to those
because we get to hang out
with each other again.
That's how much we care about each other.
So it's given me that existing legacy
and these people that I love
that I get to see, it'll always be there.
And that's kind of special.
We were at the San Diego Comic-Con,
and Jim and Gale threw us all
like a really fabulous party.
It was like sushi forever.
Jim gave a really, really heartfelt
speech to all of us.
Something he'd never shared before,
just about how grateful he and Gale were
for all the work
that we all did collectively
and how at that time we really had no idea
what this birthing
was going to mean to all of us.
Where fandom becomes valuable
is that when a film
gets an aura around it,
people approach it with respect.
They propagate that sort
of myth of the film.
The people are really,
really enthusiastic about
that adventure that they had
and that I'm still here
and I'm still a piece of it.
I mean, I'm the real deal.
Early on, they used to come up
and poke me in the legs,
say, "Where's your legs?"
We went to Comic-con
and I had never been to this world.
People dressed as characters,
people dressed as the marines,
people dressed as Sigourney,
not a lot of people dressed as Burke.
Not as much of a draw.
People would often come over to me and go,
"Oh, man, it took me
a long time to trust you again."
What makes it this film that we keep
coming back to time and time again,
it's less about the movie itself
and more about what it's
doing for us emotionally.
It's the campfire
that we all sit around at night.
It's that conversation at midnight
we're having
with some of our best friends.
That's what Aliens is.
There aren't a lot of things
that you get to do
that become part of people's lives
on an ongoing basis.
What really astonishes me,
and it's something I'm very grateful for,
is the number of girls and women
who've come up to me
in my life and just said,
"Ripley means so much to me.
I had the poster of Aliens
in my bedroom growing up."
It's unbelievable
how many times that happens to me.
There's a concept called
"parasocial relationships."
And this is essentially
the non-delusional connection
that we have to fictional stories,
fictional characters,
beings, creatures, humans that we identify
and we even relate to,
but we know fundamentally
they're not real.
There are some research studies that show
that when we're not hanging out
with these fictional buddies,
we yearn for their companionship.
We wanna go back and hang out with them.
Yeah, the one that you had was male.
I think the science fiction fan
is a very special fan.
First of all, they're really smart,
they're really open, curious,
maybe somewhat scientific,
are fascinated by all the aspects
of making this film in this kind of world.
And I guess what really moves me
is how passionate they are.
I know that there are Star Wars fans
and then there are Marvel fans,
but the Aliens fans are really different.
They're like Jim Cameron,
they're really caught up
in all the details,
and they're kind of nerdy
in the most wonderful way.
And so I feel like, honestly,
all of us who are working on these films,
we're all the same.
We're all like the fans.
There's a lot of factors to it,
but it definitely is movie history.
Everyone can quote Bill Paxton,
every line he said in that film.
Now, what the fuck are we supposed to do?
Everyone can quote
Carrie Hern and Sigourney,
Michael Biehn, Jenette, and Mark.
-It is too bad.
They all have classic lines,
they all have classic moments.
It's one of those films when you
could be with a friend and you'd say,
"Well, you've seen Aliens, of course."
They'd go, "No, I've never seen Aliens."
It's like, "Well, we have to watch."
I think that it will speak to people
for many more generations.
Work fast.
You see yourself and struggle
the human condition
to be highfalutin.
There is a magic dust,
whether it's the movie dust
or the sculpture dust or the jazz dust.
When chemistry happens, it is a mystery.
You can like Aliens just
because it's an action movie.
You can like it because
it's got the great emotional story.
You can like it because it has monsters.
You can like it for the marines,
you can like it for anything
or you can like the entire thing together.
Jim Cameron knocked it outta the park.
I mean, he made one of the most gripping
sci-fi adventure war movies ever, ever.
It's so memorable, so seminal,
and such a milestone
filmmaking achievement.
The organic lifecycle they came up with,
and it never stops, it's just kicking
your the whole time.
The casting is tremendous.
Check it out.
-I am the ultimate badass.
-Yeah, right.
Great world, great story,
brilliant execution.
That's what makes Aliens
stand the test of time.
And that's why we're
still talking about it today.
Aliens is important to me
for so many reasons.
It was the beginning of my working
relationship with Jim Cameron,
and that has been
such a great collaboration.
And if anything, the Avatar films make me
realize even more acutely how lucky I am.
He's so passionate
about the stories he's telling
and he sees it so clearly and he feels it,
and he's so uncompromising.
Now he has a little more fun making
these movies, I'm happy to say.
I'm not sure that anyone of us
would've thought
that 40 years later that we'd be
still talking about it to people.
And it was a fun movie to make just as far
as all the relationships
and the guns and the sets
and the monsters and everything,
It was a great time in my life.
When it was opening night
here in Los Angeles,
Jim and I went all out,
we hired a car and driver
and we went to a number
of different theaters.
The one that we really remember
was Hollywood Boulevard
midnight screening.
We went into the theater
and we stood in the back
and we watched a lot of the film.
And it was literally
an audience participation film.
Everyone gasped, everyone laughed
at Hudson's lines.
And I remember one woman was so scared
that she managed to pull off
the armrest from her seat.
Luckily it was padded,
and on the padded side,
she was hitting her boyfriend with it.
She was so afraid.
People remember, when they first saw it,
they remember
when their parents showed it to them
and the impact that it had.
There aren't a lot of films like that
where you've had
a life changing experience.