Alien (1979)

Behind the scenes cool facts about the hit movie that you never knew.

When the sci-fi film Alien was released in 1979 little did they realise the vast scope of it’s impact on the science fiction viewing community and the sheer volume of movies and shows that were to be inspired by its creation.

Ridley Scott’s masterpiece still features on the list of every sci-fi fan over 40 years after it exploded onto our screens.

  • The movie was initially titled ‘Star Beast’ and Star Wars played a part in it’s rise to success.

The Alien writing team O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett who co-wrote the story, (not the screenplay) were in talks with several producers over quite a long period of time, they nearly secured a deal with B-movie’s Roger Corman, but that fell through, and the script eventually ended up with Brandywine Productions, connected to 20th Century Fox. After multiple rewrites and edits, the bosses at Fox were still not satisfied, but then the first Star Wars film arrived, the box office went crazy, and every producer clambered to get the next big Sci-fi hit, and Alien was at last given the go-ahead.

  • The character of Ripley was originally intended to be a man.

The writers initially wrote the entire thing with male-only characters but added a footnote that roles may be interchangeable and that female roles were an option. When the movie got to the production stage, the producers decided that a female lead would make the production more unique a female Ripley was chosen, and the rest is history.

  • The character of Ash the android did not exist in the original story.

The character Ash was added at the production stage, the writers were divided over the addition, with O’Bannon liking the idea and Shusett less than thrilled, in a much later interview he is quoted as saying “Who gives a rat’s ass if someone is a Robot.” I guess he felt there were bigger creepier things to worry about!

  • Members of the cast were often found to faint on set.

The costumes were very hot, particularly the Spacesuits, and lack of proper airflow hampered breathing, so a nurse was kept on permanent standby with an oxygen tank should it happen. Veronica Cartwright, who played Lambert, revealed that on a one occasion Scott put his sons into suits for a perspective shot, they also passed out, which finally brought about a change in the costume design.

  • The lead Alien was played by a 6’10 Nigerian student named Bolaji Badejo who wore the famous alien costume.

He got the part through unusual channels, he was in a pub in London when he was seen by a casting agent who called the associate producer Ivor Powell. The team had been struggling to find someone to match the role, but physically the tall, skinny Nigerian was spot on. He took classes in mime to help him get the motions of the alien right, and between takes sat on a specially designed swing seat (the only way to rest when you are wearing huge alien prosthetics!)

 

Images: IAMAG

 

Article: Emma Murfin for Movie-Reliquary