a) Directors mostly said "no"
All the A-Level directors they approached mostly said "no" because they thought the project had no credibility but the idea was that the directors would make it have credibility, however they didn't have the vision. The choice of director was crucial because it is the director's vision that makes a movie a success or failure. Without a director who had the ability to use special effects for the futuristic space scenes and to scare a movie audience, "Alien" would have to be scrapped.
b) Robert Aldrich
There was a point when Gordon Carroll had talked to Robert Aldrich, known for having directed "Kiss Me Deadly," "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane," and "The Dirty Dozen"
The conversations were numerous and Aldrich came up with different ideas
Carroll didn't like Aldrich's take on the facehugger when he said "Oh no problem, I'll just go to the market and get a liver and throw it in the guy's face." and then went on to point out "It's not as if anyone's going to remember that critter once they've left the theater."
When they were thinking what to do about a monster at the time Robert Aldrich said "The movie will succeed or fail on the conception of the beast. we’ve gotta come up with something really unique.’
Then he thought ‘I don’t know, just off the top of my head…. this may not be a good idea but… maybe we could get, like, an orangutan… and shave it – train the son of a bitch, you shouldn’t see it very much.’
For Walter Hill and the others, this strangely made sense and they thought in response ‘God almighty. That’s one we hadn’t thought of."
What serious consideration about having Aldrich direct may also have dissolved due to the fact that he had worked on a film "Twilight's Last Gleaming" made in Germany but his film, released 9th February 1977, flopped, and wanted to make a film in the US. His film The Choirboys that came out December 23rd in 1977 also flopped. Fox already had the idea of making the movie in England, using the Bond stage, and the success of Star Wars spelt out the idea of good luck
When Ridley Scott heard that Robert Aldrich had been approached, he thought that they meant the famous director Robert Altman and his flow of thinking in response to that was "How could you offer Robert that movie? He’d be like, this thing comes out of his chest, are you kidding?"
|Robert Aldrich, director of Kiss Me Deadly, The Big|
Knife, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The
Flight of the Phoenix, Hush… Hush, Sweet
Charlotte, and The Dirty Dozen.
c) Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg, known at the time for "Jaws" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" was brought in to see if he as interested in doing it, but due to prior obligations he couldn't because he was about to make the movie "1941" and the Alien script was known to be in a state of turnaround.
|Spielberg during the filming of Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind|
d) Peter Yates
Peter Yates was also name that the studio offered, Yates had directed "Bullitt" starring Steve McQueen, as well as "The Deep" and "The Friends Of Eddie Coyle", Brandywine were not too happy about the idea but Yates turned it down anyway.
e) Jack Clayton
Giler talked to Jack Clayton the director of the Great Gatsby, "Room at the Top," and "The Innocents" about it and he didn't want to do it either.
- Dan O'Bannon: Apparently Gordon talked to Robert Aldrich, didn't like what Aldrich had to say. He asked Aldridge how he would handle the facehugging creature, Aldrich said "Oh no problem, I'll just go to the market and get a liver and throw it in the guy's face" Gordon didn't want to hear that. (Direction and Design: The Making of Alien, documentary)
- David Giler: Peter Gates the studio wanted, we weren't crazy with that idea , but I think he didn't want to do it finally. I talked to Jack Clayton about it and he didn't want to do it(Direction and Design: The Making of Alien, documentary)
- Ron Cobb: Every once in a while they'd bring in a trial director to see if he was interested in doing it. One of which was Steven Spielberg, but prior obligations [meant] he couldn't. (Alien The Archive, p14)
- Aldrich in particular nearly got the gig, but when Hill and Giler met with him, it was clear that the veteran helmer was treating it as a job-for-hire: when they asked him what he thought the facehugger should look like, Aldrich responded "We'll put some entrails on the guy's face. It's not as if anyone's going to remember that critter once they've left the theater." (blogs.indiewire.com/)
- Ron Shusett: And everybody said "no" because they said we had no credibility and of course Directors would make it have credibility, but almost none of them wanted to do it. They thought it was a stupid monster movie, a dumb thing with something coming out of your chest like a Japanese horror movie, and none of them had the vision, none of the A-level directors we went to had the vision to see it. (Direction and Design : The Making of Alien, documentary)
- Ridley Scott: Then, somebody sent me this script called Alien. I said, wow. I’ll do it. I was the fifth choice. They’d been to people like Robert Altman. How could you offer Robert that movie? He’d be like, this thing comes out of his chest, are you kidding? (http://deadline.com/2015/09/ridley-scott-the-martian-star-wars-2001-alien-blade-runner-prometheus-toronto-film-festival-1201522484/)
- Walter Hill: You know the er, Ridley's involvement grew, we had sent the script to I don't know, how many directors , and they'd all turned it down
Mike Garris: Really
Walter Hill: Except, yeah, except for Robert Aldrich
WMike Garris: Interesting
Walter Hill: And Robert Aldrich wanted to do the movie, and er, Robert Aldrich, and initially it looked like that was going to happen, er, Aldrich liked the script, saw the potential , wants to do it, er, he was the, still the director, president of directors guild at the time, he felt he had been gone so much when he was making the movie he did when he was over in Germany, "Twilight's last gleaning" and that he had to make a movie in the US. Fox for various financial reasons very much wanted to make the movie in England on the ED plan that was a big thing then, and they also had a special deal on the Bond stage and they wanted to shoot the Bond stage, and they also had an awfully good run of luck using that stage because that was the Star Wars stage.
WMike Garris: right
Walter Hill: So the were a lot of, and then Bob had a movie that came out that didn't do too well, so suddenly that opportunity vanished (http://www.blumhouse.com/2017/04/03/the-legendary-walter-hill-joins-mick-garris-on-the-latest-post-mortem-podcast/)
- Walter Hill: [Aldrich] said the movie will succeed or fail on the conception of the beast. He said, ‘we’ve gotta come up with something really unique.’ And he said, ‘I don’t know, just off the top of my head…. this may not be a good idea but… maybe we could get, like, an orangutan… and shave it – train the son of a bitch, you shouldn’t see it very much.’ And we were thinking, ‘God almighty.’ That’s one we hadn’t thought of. (http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episode-805-walter-hill)