With six films, two spin-off films, numerous books, comics, and video games, Alien is one of the most renowned science fiction and horror franchises in the world. In pop culture alone, it has served as a timeless reference for audiences everywhere.
From its beginnings in 1979, one can only imagine how much time, effort, and crafting was put into the expansive franchise and the stories that might come from it. Here are ten things you might not have known about the Alien Franchise.
1. The original design of the Alien was supposed to be very different
H.G Giger, the artist behind the design of the Alien, had initially conceptualized for the beast to be albino and translucent. The idea being that audiences would be allowed to see all its internal organs, then as the story went on, the Alien’s skin would darken and grow harder.
2. The crew got very familiar with animal parts while making the film
The facehuggers, first seen in the original Alien film, were crafted using oysters, shellfish, and sheep kidneys. The alien eggs on the other hand, were made from the hearts and stomachs of cows, and the intestines of sheep.
3. Ellen Ripley was almost played by another legendary actress
Sigourney Weaver has made herself a household name through her iconic role as the heroine of the Alien franchise, Ellen Ripley – and it would be hard to imagine anyone else in the role. However, the Alien-blasting character was almost played by the great Meryl Streep. Streep was highly recommended by the caster of the original film, but producer Gordon Carroll felt that it would not be right calling in Streep from the country to audition, given that her long-time companion had just passed recently.
4. Director Ridley Scott took inspiration from three iconic films
Almost all artists take inspiration and influence from other great works of art. In Ridley Scott’s case, the Alien franchise was said to be shaped by 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, and 1974’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
5. There’s a special day dedicated to celebrating the Alien Franchise
With a film series as epic as Alien, it’s no surprise that fans around the world have dedicated one day a year in it’s honor. That day, known as Alien day, is April 26, which is taken from LV-426 – the former name of Acheron, one of the three known moons of Calpamos. In the series, this is where the film Alien is set. Alien day is celebrated with various special releases like books, video games, and comics.
6. Alien’s most iconic scream-scene was not scripted
Everyone can agree that one of the most memorable scenes of the whole franchise was when the baby Xenomorph bursts from Kane’s chest cavity. It turns out, it was probably one of the most memorable to film for the actors as well. Because director Ridley Scott wanted genuine and raw reactions from the cast, he had rigged the bursting scene in secret. Because they could not predict where the blood would spatter, actor Vanessa Cartwright was so surprised to be covered with blood that it caused her to pass out!
7. Alien: Covenant almost had a different name and different story
The latest film added to the franchise, ‘Alien: Covenant’, was almost named ‘Alien: Paradise Lost’. This initially was supposed to stray further away from the “Alien” lore and instead focused on the history of the engineers, humanity’s origins, and the creation of humans and xenomorphs.
8. In Prometheus, the unsettling and creepy musical score was achieved through unusual means
Marc Streitenfeld, the composer for the prequel film Prometheus, had his compositions played backwards by the orchestra. When he started putting the music together for the final film, he then digitally reversed the tracks, making the score sound unusual and unhinging – exactly the mood that they needed for the picture.
9. Sigourney Weaver’s bald family issues
In Alien 3, Sigourney Weaver’s character had to be bald. However, when not filming, Weaver wore a wig due to her then 2-year-old daughter becoming upset when seeing her mother hairless.
10. Gender was never pre-meditated
When creating the original script, writers Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett made all the character names unisex and even included a clause stating so. This was done with the intention that the characters could be played by either male or female actors, and also resulted in the later scripts having all the characters being referred to by their last names (Kane, Ripley, Brett, etc.) Given this however, the writers still did not really consider Ripley as a female character prior to casting.
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