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Noah Hawley opens up about his plan for FX's Alien series and why it doesn’t need Ripley

By Josh Weiss
Sigourney Weaver Alien

When Noah Hawley's Alien TV series bursts forth on FX sometime over the next few years, don't expect an appearance from Sigourney Weaver's Xenomorph-busting heroine, Ellen Ripley. Catching up with Vanity Fair, the Fargo and Legion creator stressed that the show is "not a Ripley story."

"She's one of the great characters of all time, and I think the story has been told pretty perfectly, and I don't want to mess with it," he continued. "It's a story that's set on Earth also. The alien stories are always trapped… Trapped in a prison, trapped in a space ship. I thought it would be interesting to open it up a little bit so that the stakes of 'What happens if you can't contain it?' are more immediate."

Discounting the two Alien vs. Predator movies, the currently-untitled project will be the first mainstream entry in the Alien franchise to take place on Earth. Speaking in previous interviews, Hawley voiced his desire to tell a quality human story that can stand on its own if you were to take the murderous extra-terrestrials out of the sci-fi equation.

The answer was to build the entire thing around the theme of "inequality" and give a face to the avaricious corporate entity that sends wave-after-wave of unwitting people (whether it's the crew aboard the Nostromo or Sulaco) into known danger in the hopes of recovering an alien specimen.

"In mine, you're also going to see the people who are sending them," Hawley said. "So you will see what happens when the inequality we're struggling with now isn't resolved. If we as a society can't figure out how to prop each other up and spread the wealth, then what's going to happen to us? There's that great Sigourney Weaver line to Paul Reiser where she says, 'I don't know which species is worse. At least they don't f*** each other over for a percentage.'"

Hawley, who is still in the middle of the writing process, revealed that the plan is to start shooting the series next spring. In the meantime, he's content to let the industry play catch-up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When you get to something with this level of visual effects, there's a lot of preparation that has to go into it," he concluded. "What's been really illuminating is to see that the entire film industry had to take a year off and they are now trying to jam two years of production into one year. So it's very hard to look on the planet earth and see where you might make something in the next six months. Everyone is racing to make up for lost time. So, I figure let that bubble burst a little bit and we'll do it right."