Aliens Expanded (2024)

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Aliens Expanded (2024)

Post by bunniefuu »

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 as*ault.

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 k*lled 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 s*ab 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, g*dd*mn 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 w*apon

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 g*dd*mn 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 g*ng.

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.

g*dd*mn 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 f*cking each other over

for a g*dd*mn 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

sh**ting 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 g*n

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 f*ck 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 assh*le, 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 k*ll him.

-Wake up, pendejo, and then I'm gonna k*ll 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.

sh**t, sh**t, sh**t, sh**t 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,

as*ault 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 k*ll 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 g*n.

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 sh*ts

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 f*cking 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 sh**t,

you may be sh**ting eight weeks,

you may be sh**ting eight months."

The film ended up sh**ting

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 g*n

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 sh**ting 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 g*ng member.

If you were in prison for life,

you had obviously m*rder*d 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

sh**ting 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 sh**ting,

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 f*ck 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 w*r.

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 g*ng 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 g*dd*mn 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 sh**t 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 p*stol, a Pulse r*fle,

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 w*apon 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.

f*ck 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, t*rrorists" 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 g*n

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?


sh**ting 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 sh**ting

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. k*ll 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 sh**t.

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 sh**ting a warrior,

and he had added beautiful blues,

and he walked it out on set

and Cameron's reaction was,

"What the f*ck 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 sh**ting,

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? g*dd*mn 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 a*mo."

Frost, you got the duty. Open that bag.

During the chaos, one of the fire g*ns

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 k*lled

by the exploding a*tillery bag.

And Wierzbowski is actually

k*lled 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 k*lled 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 f*cking 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 r*fles 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, g*dd*mn 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 sh**ting with this guy

and then we're sh**ting 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."

-sh**t 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 sh*ts.

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 sh*ts 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 k*lled 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 f*cking 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 f*ck 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 f*ck 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 k*lling 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 g*n.

And I looked at the g*n

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 g*n.

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 sh**ting,

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 sh**ting,

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

f*cking kidding me, right?"

And I just watch this in horror

while 20 minutes,

I could do two sh*ts 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 f*cking 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 k*lled Hicks,

not to mention Newt.

Only Cameron would sh**t a briefing

about how to use a Pulse r*fle,

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, g*ns, 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 g*ns till I was on the set.

I want to introduce you

to a personal friend of mine.

This is an M41A Pulse r*fle.

We're already over in England,

and all the sets are built.

We're gonna start sh**ting,

we're in rehearsal, and she says,

"I can't sh**t a machine g*n.

I'm a g*n control advocate."

I said, "Have you ever shot

a machine g*n?"

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 g*n that was

a machine g*n, 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 g*n,

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 g*ns.

There must be g*ns.

At that point in my life,

in my career at least,

I was more than happy to fetishize

good w*apon 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 r*fles make,

that popping sound.

-Come on, come on.

-Get up!

It's a Thompson machine g*n, 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 w*apon

ever really has.

Every time they fired the machine g*n,

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 r*fles. 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 sh**t."

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 k*lling 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 sh**t 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 g*ns 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 f*ck

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 f*cking 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 sh**t it."

Instead of a big sh**t 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 g*ns,

which I'm terrified of,

then I don't pretend

that she's not terrified.

I literally cut clear frames

every time that g*n 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 g*ns 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 sh**ting 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 sh**ting 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 sh**t

and she was small like me

and she could wear my wardrobe.

There's a close-up

where she's sh**ting the alien.

Now, when you're sh**ting

close-ups of a g*n 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 sh**ting 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 assh*le

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 k*ll 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 assh*le, 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 sh**t 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 sh**ting 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 sh**ting 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 k*ll 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, vag*na,

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 g*n 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 g*n

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 sh*ts 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 f*ck, 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 sh*ts now

is about 200, a little over

200 sh*ts 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 sh*ts.

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 g*ns

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 sh*ts

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 sh**ting,

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 sh*ts

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

d*ck 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, m*therf*cker.

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 w*r.

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 k*ll,

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 k*lled 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,

g*dd*mn 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 w*r 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 f*ck 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 w*r 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 g*ns 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.
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