It’s hard to believe its been more than 30 years since Sigourney Weaver first duked it out with a xenomorph in Alien, but did you know she almost turned down the gig at first glance?
Weaver conducted a wide-ranging interview at the recent LA Times Hero Complex, much of which has been excerpted by Collider. One of the biggest tidbits: Weaver was pretty apprehensive to sign on as Ellen Ripley at first, because she judged the project solely based on the script — and it took the iconic alien designs of H.R. Giger to push her over the edge:
"I [had trepidations] because I hadn’t seen the designs. If you just read the script. It’s basically just ‘Ten Little Indians’ and the monster is just — some monster. I pictured this big blob of yellow gel rumbling around. At the first meeting with Ridley, he pulled out all these beautiful big drawings H.R. Giger had done. He’s one of the main reasons we’re still here talking about this film. Giger’s designs are so uniquely disturbing and Carlo Rambaldi’s vision of the Alien — I wanted to be part of whatever that was because I had never seen anything like that on the screen before. It took me awhile to warm up to the rest of it — the character and everything. I just had to get to know [Ripley] better.”
Weaver also had some insightful notes about the enduring legacy of Ellen Ripley, who the 1979 film established as one of the baddest-ass female heroes in genre history. For Weaver, she believes that strength was largely born from the basic concept of a plot twist, before it grew into real strength:
“[Everyone on the film] wanted to make Ripley a really strong character. They didn’t decide though to make a young woman the survivor because of any feminist philosophy. They thought nobody would ever think that this girl would end up as the survivor. So they basically did it as a plot twist.
… [Although] whenever I tap into Ripley — it’s hard to describe — but I feel like I’m a little human soul. When I tap into Ripley, because of the writers who have created her, there’s just so much story to tell and she holds that story for me. I’m the vessel and I can feel that people have a connection with her because of her moral compass and because somehow she’s so consistent. She can’t help but want to preserve humanity… I think that’s something that just reaches out to people. That she’s someone you could count on when you’re in a jam. She has some sort of steel thread running through her that’s not going to give up that I find, as an audience member, very interesting.”
What do you think? Could the film have worked without Weaver in the driver’s seat?