Veronica Cartwright cast as Lambert

leading from

Veronica as Lambert in Alien


a) Going for the role of Ripley
Veronica Cartwright was sent on an interview and she had read the script and met them in Los Angeles for the first time. When she first read the story, she thought it was bizarre and really absurd, did didn't really want to do it, and also there was generally nothing to the characters

She had actually read for the part of Ripley, went back a couple of times, met with Ridley Scott for three or four hours, he brought a whole different psychological concept to the thing and he told her about the sort of research on what type of creature it go be, and she started to think about how this thing was possible. She also heard that Tom Skerrit and Yaphet Kotto were in it. And she thought they're damn good actors and there must be more to this than she was reading into it.

And so she happened to be going over to England and thought that she ought to get back in touch with the people.  She was British born and so while she was there she said to her agent "did they ever cast that movie? Because I'm over there and might as well see the casting director" and so her agent set up an interview.

She was probably lucky that she was British because they had quota systems for how many people could work over there and she fit that quota. She only ever read for the part of Ripley. Then she got over there ,  saw them again, read with them, reading again for the part of Ripley and when she went home, she found that she got the role, but she was convinced hat she had the part of Ripley.

b) Change in role
She went back over to England, and then got a call and they said to her "okay, you'll need to come in for your wardrobe for Lambert"

"Oh no, there has to be some mistake", she replied " I'm not playing Lambert, I'm playing Ripley"

But then she was told "No, you're Lambert"

She replied "I've always read for Ripley, I’ve have never even looked at the script from the point of view of Lambert".

So then she called her agent "Aren't I doing Ripley?"

And he replied, "Yes."

So she said, "Then why am I playing Lambert? Because all it looked to me was… all she did was cry,"

This character drove Veronica in the wrong direction for herself. The agent didn't appear to have an answer to that. The whole confusion drove her to the worst edge of her temper which was understandable.

"Well" Veronica added, "I'm gonna have to re-read this script because I haven't even looked at Lambert's point of view!"

She thought "No, no, this is not for me"

How this confusion about the roles happened is something that has become lost. Veronica at the time was a much more known as an actress because of her role in the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Veronica in her role in the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers
c) Re-reading Lambert
But when she read the script from Lambert's point of view and talked to the producers, they said "well actually, she’s the audience. It’s from her point of view basically that the audience is looking through"

And so Lambert would become this. She was the one who sort of said, "Let’s draw straws, let’s get the hell out of here, what are we doing sticking around?"

d) Revelation of the misunderstanding
Soon news came through from Gordon Carroll to Ridley Scott "God there's a huge misunderstanding that occurred today"

How it occurred, who knows, perhaps it was it an error due to a typo in Ridley's front office where they would send all the letters and Ridley would tell them who he wanted for this role and who he wanted for that role and he knew that he wanted Sigourney for the role and why.

However Veronica put the whole thing down to politics going on during the making of the movie, and the fact is was Sigourney's big job with the fact that her father was a 'bigwig' and there were a lot of favours going on. And the film had got bigger than anybody planned, so studio pressure and egos had the last word.

Source Quotes
  1. Cartwright: Because  I got auditioned in L.A. the first time, and then I happened to be going over to England, I’m British, I was born in England, and so while I was over there I said to my agent, ‘did they ever cast that movie? Because I’m over there and might as well see the casting director.’ And I think I was probably lucky that I was British because they've quota systems for how many people can work over there,  so, I worked, you know, I was,  I fit that quota.
    Interviewer: Now,  is it true that you, you had, had er,  originally auditioned for the role of Ripley, and didn’t know that you
    Cartwright: Yeah
    Interviewer: didn’t have that role until you showed up for costume dressing?
    Cartwright:  Yes, I know I ever test for the role, yes,
    Yeah. I only ever read  for the part of Ripley, yes things how could have been different – Interviewer: You showed up, you showed up
    Cartwright:I, I get a call, I go over there , I get a call and they said, ‘okay, you need to come in for your wardrobe for Lambert’.
    I said, ‘Oh no, I’m not playing Lambert, I’m playing Ripley.’
    No no… you're, you're, you’re Lambert’.
    I said, ‘Oh, I’ve have never even looked at the part from Lambett's point of view’. And so I called my agent and said, ‘Aren't I Ripley?
    And he goes, ‘Yes.
    So I said, ‘Then why am I playing Lambert?
    And I said "Because all it looked to me was… all she did was cry, " and she drove me absolutely…I thought "no , now this is not me." And so, erm,  I read the script from that you know,  from her point of view,  Lambert's point of view and I talked to the producers and they said, ‘well actually, she’s the audience. She is, the one that's,  it’s from her point of view basically that the audience is looking through-‘
    Interviewer: She’s the only logical one on the ship
    Cartwright: I know, I am. I’m the one who says, ‘Let’s draw straws, let’s get the hell out of here’  you know, I’m logical. I was emotional, but logical. (Alien Q&A panel - Texas Frightmare 2013 - May 4th, 2013)
  2. Interviewer: How did you first come across the Alien project? 
    Veronica Cartwright: I first got in touch with Alien, I was sent on an interview and I had read the script and met them in Los Angeles for the first time. And I had actually read for the part of Ripley, when I read, and I think I went back a couple of times and met with Ridley Scott and then I happened to be going over to England and I thought, well if I’m going over there I might as well see about getting back in touch with them and so my agent set up an interview, I think it was Mary Selway that was casting it. And I made an appointment and I went back in and saw them again and read with them and then ended up coming home and then I ended up getting it.
    But I thought that I was - actually when I got it I thought I was the part of Ripley, so when they took me back over to England, and said that I would be going in for wardrobe for Lambert, I said, oh there has to be some mistake, and they said, no. And I said, but I’ve always read for Ripley. And so I called my agent and I said aren’t I doing Ripley and he goes yeah. Cos that’s the only part I’d ever read for. So I said, well I’m gonna have to re-read this script because I haven’t even looked at Lambert’s point of view! And I guess Lambert sort of ended up being the voice of what the audience was feeling at the time. She was the one who sort of says, let’s get out of here, what are we doing sticking around? And I guess she expresses the fears of the audience.

    Interviewer: Did you know Sigourney Weaver wanted to be Lambert? 

    Veronica Cartwright: No, I mean I had always gone up whenever I had read for it, which was like three times, it was always Ripley, so it was probably as big a shock to her as it was to me. (as reported from the interview for Alien Evolution)
  3. Interviewer: confusion with Veronica Cartwright and Sigourney about who was reading for what – how did that all happen?

    Ridley :
    I think that must have been true, I wasn’t party to that, I only have a front office who send out letters and say right, that’s who I want for that , that’s who I want for that. Somewhere along the line I do believe that Veronica who was certainly more known than…much more known than Sigourney at that juncture had thought that she was reading for the other part and this certainly came to me from the boys and the boys eventually were going to be personified in Gordon Carrol who said `god there’s a huge misunderstanding occurred today’ this was as late as her arriving in London. I don’t know how that happened. But I think it may be true. But anyway, thank god I wasn’t witness to that. But she was fairly bad tempered. That’s 2 or 3 weeks of prep. Jesus. But what a…that’s a terrible thing to happen. You know. And a really great thing that happened for Sigourney, but I don’t see how Sigourney could have been in any doubt whatsoever because I had her read and test for this character. So it must have been a typing error, a typo.
    (as reported from the interview for Alien Evolution)
  4. Veronica Cartwright: When I first read the story, I thought it was bizarre... really absurd. I talked to Ridley for about three or four hours. He was fascinated by it. He did all sorts of research on what type of creature this could be. - 'Aha... oh, yes...!' And then it gets scary. You start thinking that this thing is possible. ( Starlog May 1979, p28)
  5. Fantastic Films: What convinced you to do Alien
    Veronica Cartwright: At first I didn't want to do it. Then I met Ridley Scott and be brought a whole different psychological concept to the thing. So I went back and re-read the script. And then I heard Tom Skerrit and Yaphet Kotto were in it. And I thought they're damn good actors and there must be more to this than I'm reading into it.

    Fantastic Films: Did the script seem weak to you

    Veronica Cartwright: The script was so linear. it was a very difficult script. The characters were basically not there. And what wasn't there we had to created. (Fantastic Films #12)
  6.  Veronica Cartwright: I thought I was playing Ripley. I called my agent back in LA and I said "Aren't I doing Ripley?" and he said "I think so." I mean, that's what he thought too. I even auditioned again when I was in England and the part that I read for was Ripley. They didn't bother to tell me, and I'd never even looked at the script from the point of view of Lambert, so I had to re-read the script. (Dreamwatch #47, July 1998, Veronica's Closet)
  7. Veronica Cartwright: There was a lot of politics going on during the making of that movie. It was Sigourney's first job, but her daddy was a bigwig, there were a lot of favors going on. It just got bigger than anybody planned, and studio pressure and egos got involved. (Dreamwatch #47, July 1998, Veronica's Closet)

Alien: Casting Tom Skerrit as Dallas

leading from



a) First Approached
Tom Skerrit was in Minneapolis half way through working on a film called Ice Castles and he received the script for a movie called  "Alien". At the time he understood that it was going to be an inexpensive film, two or three million dollars. He read it through and it was at a time when they didn't know who the director was at the time.
 
When he read the script, he thought "oh this is not  an actor’s script, and a two million dollar film – it’s gotta be, you know, another Ed Wood movie." He saw that it was an ensemble piece but thought that there was not much for an actor to do here and two or three million dollars wasn't going to make a great special effects science fiction movie, so he turned it down.

b) Reapproached
In 2001 , looking back, Tom Skerrit's memory of the event stated that about a month later, he got a call from one of the producers, perhaps Gordon Carroll, he told Tom about "We’ve got Ridley Scott, and the budget’s up to ten or twelve million bucks. and that was certainly was a higher budget.
Tom's earlier story stated that his response to that was "hold on here, on second thoughts, let me see. I’ve heard of this Ridley Scott guy, I’ve heard that he did this thing called The Duellists. Can I see this?"
The producers said "yes, and we'll run a screening for you tomorrow"

By 2013, his memory of the event was that he saw the film a week or so after turning down the script,

But still his appreciation for the film would remain the same, he thought it was a remarkable masterpiece. He had never seen a movie that caught so much production value as The Duellists. It was a magnificent looking film painting from beginning to end. So now he had to do the movie.  He knew how Ridley did it with his own money for nine hundred thousand dollars and so when he saw it, he thought jeez, I’d like to work with this guy, I love this’. 

And perhaps in this other telling of events a week later, he got the call from the producer telling him the good news

c) Eager to join
To some extent he knew Yaphet Kotto and Harry Dean Stanton. He didn’t know Sigourney began she was brand new in the cinema seen and he was quite eager to work with Jon Finch (who had been cast as Kane until he was taken ill early into filming) and Ian Holm.

Source Quotes
  1. Tom Skerrit:I was working halfway through ‘Ice Castles’ when I received a script for a movie called ‘Alien,’ (http://bringmethenews.com/ February 19, 2013)
  2. Tom Skerrit: I had turned it down initially when I was offered that because I had, they didn't have the director at that point and, and the budget was small, and it seemed to me that they weren't going to make a good film out of that, given the parameters, but they came back a few weeks later and said, "Ridley Scott is going to shoot that", so I met Tony as a result of that and I saw the finesse, the , the detail, what they looked at when they were looking at a camera, because they'd always look through a camera, so that you're looking at a photograph, a damn good photograph. ( Tom Skerritt | CONVERSATIONS AT KCTS 9 12 Jan 2010)
  3. Interviewer: How did you first hear about Alien and how did you get the part?
    Tom Skerrit: That I remember very clearly. I was in Minneapolis doing another film. I got the script called Alien and my understanding of it at that time was that it was going to be an inexpensive film, two or three million dollars. I read it through, and they didn’t who the director was at that time. I read it through and I thought well this is all special effects. Not much for an actor to do here, it’s ensemble. I don’t know. Two or three million dollars is not going to make a great special effects science fiction picture. So I turned it down. Three or four weeks later I got a call from England, one of the producers, I forget which one it was at the time, perhaps Gordon, said Ridley Scott was going to be directing it and this was the budget. I thought well, "Hold on here, let me see. I’ve heard of this Ridley Scott guy, I’ve heard that he did this thing called The Duellists. Can I see this?" And they said "yes, we’ll run a screening for you tomorrow." So I went to see this The Duellists. And it was a masterpiece. I mean, he…I have never seen a picture that captured so much production value as The Duellists. Magnificent looking film, painting from beginning to end. So I had to do Alien at that point. And the only other actor I knew at all was Yaphet Kotto and Harry Dean Stanton to some extent. I didn’t know Sigourney, who she was, she was brand new. So…and to be working with John Hurt and Ian Holmes…yeah. (report from the interview for Alien Evolution, 2001)
     
  4.  Skerritt: Well my story's a little different. I, I was offered the role, I was sent the script,  told it was a two million dollar project and didn’t have a director, so I guess I was the first one that they did ask. And. er, I was somewhat snobbish in those days because  I was getting a lot of work and I thought, "oh this is not,  this is really not an actor’s script, and a two million dollar film – it’s gotta be, you know, another Ed Wood movie. "And then, um, couple of weeks later I saw The Duellists , have you seen the Duellists,  

    Interviewer: Ridley's first film

    Skerritt: you must see it, the first film he ever did, he was a graphics artist

    Interviewer: It's a double feature

    Skerritt: Yuh, it was just a remarkable film and he did it with his own money for nine hundred thousand dollars. It’s just a stupendous film. And I saw this and thought, ‘jeez, I’d like to work with this guy, I love this’. Maybe another week later I get a call from the producer, and he said,  and he says ‘we’ve got Ridley Scott, and the budget’s up to ten or twelve million bucks.’ 

    I said, ‘On second thought…(Alien Panel Discussion With Tom Skerritt & Veronica Cartwright at 05/04/13 at Texas Frightmare Weekend)

Alien: Productions Begins

Alien: Initial casting of Jon Finch as Kane

leading from 


a) Letting go of Jon Finch
John Hurt had been asked if he'd like to do Alien, but he had already committed to the South African film, so that was dropped.


Jon Finch in Roman Polanski's Macbeth

So Ridley approached Jon Finch to play the role as he had been impressed by his work for Roman Polanski's Macbeth. Ridley was impressed both by the work of Polanski and Job Finch.

So Finch had been cast as Kane, and on the very first day on the bridge, Ridley noticed that Jon started to look extremely pail that day. H R Giger wrote that this even took place on June the 4th when Jon Finch would be found to be sick again and then taken to hospital

Ridley went over to Jon and said "Do you feel alright?"

Jon said "No, I feel terrible, in face, I feel really bad. How do l look?'"

Ridley replied ''Terrible.''

And so he revealed to Ridley "I'm a diabetic"

Jon Finch as Kane

b) Brian Johnson's slightly different memory of the event

However Brian Johnson remembered that Jon Finch when into the sculptors place to have his life mask done and of course he hadn't told anyone he was diabetic but while he was having it done, he passed out, perhaps he had gone into a diabetic coma and there he was with two straws sticking out of his nostrils, they said to him "Okay Jon?" and there was no response. So one way or another, they got the medic there, they had to lift him out of the seat and carry him to a dressing room where he was checked up and taken to hospital to findout out that it was an extreme case of diabetes and that was the last they saw of Jon Finch for Alien.

As far as Ridley could make out, Jon had been drinking too much coca-cola and had not been taking his insulin. Brian understood that because he hadn’t declared his diabetes on his insurance, the company couldn’t go on using him. Jon Finch would reveal years later, he actually was suffering from a case of pneumonia

Curiously Michael Seymour seemed to Giger delighted by Jon Finch being taken ill because he imagined that this meant three more days to build set. Roger Christian would acknowledge that Jon Finch had done three days of filming before he was taken ill, and that Ridley was using  incense smoke being puffed around with a bee-puffer which caused a problem for Jon Finch

Source Quotes
  1. (11:21 / 00:11:40) Ridley: John Finch had been cast as Kane, and on the very first day on the bridge which we're about to come to, the scene that we're about to come to is the first time on the bridge, apart from the tracking shot, I did the tracking shot first and I noticed that he started to look extremely... he didn't look well, I didn't   ask him, (00:12:00) I thought he was just naturally pale that day, we got into, I think the first slate, and I did er  action and then cut when I went over to him and said "do you feel alright?" and he said "No, I feel terrible", he said" in fact, I really feel bad", and so we got the medic there. They had to lift him out of the seat, and carry him to a dressing room where he was checked up and taken to the hospital to (00:12:00) finding out that  it's an extreme case of diabetes and er, that's in fact was the last of Jon Finch for the Alien and er I had to literally reconvene at lunchtime thinking about who we could get and I knew that John Hurt was in London, so I pitched to John and er, went and saw John Hurt that night and cast him that night. He was there at the studio the next morning.  (Alien commentary from Alien Quadrilogy DVD and Alien Anthology Blu-Ray combined)
  2. Ridley Scott: I had cast Jon Finch, who was Polanski's Macbeth, as Kane. First day, first shot, Jon Collapsed. I talked to him, he said, "I'm a diabetic..." He had gone yellow and couldn't get up - we had to lift him out of the scene. He was fine, but he had to recuperate. He hadn't taken his insulin and was drinking too much Coca-Cola. That night we looked at the book and came across John Hurt who I have always liked. (Empire November 2009 p109)
  3. Ridley Scott: I think it is known that there was another actor originally playing that part, Jon Finch, who became ill, and we had to recast. Probably identified at that moment very strongly by playing Macbeth for Polanski. I'd been impressed by Polanski's work anyway, and also by Finch. He said ''Yes, l'd love to do this.'' He came on board. The first day, the first shot, he starts to look as yellow as this pencil. I thought ''God, what's wrong?'' We did a couple of takes and he seemed absolutely lacklustre, no energy. We cut, and l got up and went over to him and said ''What's up? Are you all right?'' He said ''No, l'm terrible. I feel terrible.'' He said ''How do l look?''
    I said ''Terrible.''
    We had to lift him out of his seat, and he was carried away, and it turns out that he was a diabetic. (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  4. Brian Johnson: We started off, and we had – Jon Finch was the character that John Hurt took over. And Jon Finch went into the sculptors place to have his life mask done, and he hadn’t told anybody he was a diabetic, and he had to discover while he was inside his life mask. And he actually passed out. And they went, okay John, and there was no response. And they got the ambulance out there and dragged him out. Because he hadn’t declared that on his insurance, the company couldn’t go on using him.  So we had a 2 week period – we’d been filming on the interior of the Nostromo, in the cabin. The set was probably 4 or 5 feet higher than how you see it on the film. Because Ridley was shooting, in 2.35 or whatever it was, I can’t remember the format now. It was letterbox, anamorphic. He couldn’t get the roof of the set, and the actors and everything else in. He was getting really frustrated. John Finch was out and they had to wait two weeks for John Hurt to come on board, and in that time they got a saw and cut four or five feet out of the set, to make it neat. (http://www.originalprop.com/)
  5. Brian Johnson (31:14) I don't know if you remember, but  originally, erm, John Hurt's character was played by Jon Finch, did you know that, oh right, well Jon Finch was contracted to do the... to do the show and they took him down to the plasterers shop to do the life cast and he hadn't told anybody he was diabetic and he went into a diabetic coma in the cast just with two straws sticking out of his nostrils erm and they had... he had to be rushed off to hospital and as far as I remember, because they had to wait for John Hurt to start, that was the time when the set was changed, the dimensions of the Nostromo interior were cut down by three or four feet so Ridley could get all the ceiling bits that were hanging down in the shot because of using the format we were using, a lot of the stuff was out of the top of the frame so, um he used it to his advantage. No questions about that. And we got John Hurt who was superb (Alien Makers 2)
  6. HR Giger ; Jon Finch the main actor, is sick again and had to go to hospital. Michael Seymour is delighted because this gives him at least three more days to build sets (Giger's Diaries, p81)
  7. Shadowlocked: Did you have anything to do with Finch's initial casting as Kane in Alien? Roger Christian: No. But I'd constantly seen him and kept up with him. He looked really ill [on the Alien set]. Despite what the books and the other sites say, he actually did three days of shooting.
    Shadowlocked: Most places say that he only did one shot - even the Quadrilogy documentary, which includes the shot where he looks so unwell. Roger Christian: No, he did more than that. But the smoke, after the first two or three days…Ridley loves smoke, and that was when we were using the bee-puffer, the incense smoke. At that stage, that was really upsetting him. Plus there was the diabetes, as it transpired. But no, he did more than one shot - he was there for the first couple of days. He was really trying, and he looked great, actually, as the character. And then he got so ill he just couldn't carry on, and Hurt just took over and Ridley didn't have to re-shoot that much; just the parts with [Finch].(http://www.shadowlocked.com/)

Alien: Sigourney Weaver cast as Ripley

leading from 



a) News of Sigourney 
Laddie was going crazy saying to Ridley "you've gotta make your mind up".and Ridley's response was "yeah, I can't you know, I can't find it yet."

Sigourney was the last one to get cast . Word about her came the long way around where somebody had said to somebody "There’s this girl who’s doing theatre on Broadway who’s very interesting, is a giant, she’s 6 feet, I think she’s 6.1, in her stockinged feet, is very interesting. Smart performer, very physical. Hasn’t done a movie."

They started going through lists of actresses, seeing who was right for the role. In those days Sigourney was only to be regarded as an up and coming actress on the stage. She had become recommended to Ridley because she'd been doing Broadway. Ridley didn't get a chance to see the  play but he would meet her.

b) Getting to the Audition
Sigourney got a call to go in and meet a director about a science fiction film they sent her the script, and she pictured the whole thing as being a much more routine sort of movie with the alien as being a big yellow blog of gelatin chasing people without any clue of what she would eventually be facing, and so she didn't really think much of it

When she went for the audition, it was a Friday afternoon, she was supposed to go to the Regency Hotel, but for some reason she had gone to the wrong hotel. She called her agent "I don't know. should I blow it off. I mean the script was..."
Her agent said "Just go"

Ridley Scott , David Giler Gordon Carroll and casting director Mary Selway waited there. Perhaps she was due to meet them at 2:30 and then 2:30 arrived, then 2:45 arrived, but then at ten minutes to three they heard fast paced feed coming towards the door, and then slowing down, composing itself.



Loews Regency Hotel

c) Arrival
The bell rings, Mary opened the door and and Gordon and David immediately saw Sigourney as their Ripley standing there, this extraordinary looking tall woman with a commanding presence. She had a sort of American aristocratic bearing so that the viewer would believe her as an officer and that she was physical. It would obviously a nerve wracking experience for Sigourney projecting this composer, it was obvious that behind it all was a nervous actress.  There she was wearing very high hooker boots, and being already close to six foot, her boots probably made her look about seven feet

In LA, it was the kind of film joke, where you have a vision of the future where below the decks there are two crew members and the rest are officers , and the crew members don't really do anything

But they immediately saw what they wanted. A woman with a fresh star quality and also someone who they thought could bring something of the leading man quality to the part which was what it needed

Ridley was very impressed by her, by her height, her impressive character, intelligence and it seemed to make sense for him.  But Ridley's intuition would take note of the person from the moment they walked through the door, even before she opened her mouth and he knew somehow from it was his Ripley

Sigourney found herself liking Ridley right away.

He would first show her the drawings of the alien by Giger and also some sketches by Carlo Rambaldi. They talked about the script. Sigourney was an English major at university .
Ridley asked her what she thought of the script and because of her background, because to criticize it.

Mary suddenly set to her 'Shut up you idiot. Who are you?"

Sigourney had only done theatre, but luckily it Ridley scott who was there and he was at least pretending to be curious about her opinion and so they had a very straight talk

He expressed this to Laddy who responded with his usual caution 'Yeah, but you gotta test.''

Ridley responded ''uh Laddy, l'm three weeks from principal photography.'' 

Laddy "I don't care, you've got to test, I'm not sure"

Sigourney met the producers and would eventually be sent to meet Alan Ladd Junior because she eventually had the screen test.

d) Japanese restaurant perhaps in 55th street.
Ridley took Sigourney out to dinner, they went to a sushi restaurant perhaps in fifty fifth street and had their japanese food. perhaps with Gordon Carroll and part of the idea was to meet with David Giler and Walter Hill and Bodie Boatwright. Ridley found himself always looking up at her, he was five foot eight inches rather than a midget but she was wearing her high heels as well as being near enough six foot. He walked into the restaurant hand in hand with her and he felt like a child about to call out for his Mummy and daddy

e) Screen Test
Sigourney was afraid it would just be her and a potted palm that was supposed to be the alien and she would be told to react and convince them that this was the alien.  She was able to do a number of scenes so for her as someone from theatre, it was like being able to do a complete run through with a convincing set. Ridley wasn't the sort of people who believed in using blue screen for these tests, he wanted to give the actor anything he could to help the actor get a feel of how the films is going to be, the ambiance was always very important. At the time was actually building the Nostromo, so Roger Christian cobbled something following what was being put together in England, so it was something near enough to the feeling of real sets that she used in the screentest. They had also built a corridor with red lights from packing crates and created something very similar to the interior of the shuttle.


The was some discussion about what he might do with Sigourney's hair and he said " leave it alone, don't muck about, don't start cutting her hair"
In the test Sigourney found herself trying to be tough instead of just of being in the scene for what it was. She would discover in film that she should play the scene for what it was instead of trying to work on an arc linking everything, as in real life, people are not consistent, so if they were fighting an alien, she would be acting different than when she might be fighting an alien.
Many people had been screen tested, but she was dynamite. Ron Shusett could see right there in the screen test in the way he saw later in the movie, although it was her first film, what she was doing was behind the eyes.

Ridley put it together with a little bit of sound sound on it, he thought it was so good that it almost could have been cut into the movie.  Then he ran it for Laddy, he saw it , remained silent and then said "Hmm" and then added " I'm going to run it again, choose half a dozen gals from the office". 


f)  Consulting Women
Laddy picked up his telephone and asked his secretary to send in perhaps eight or maybe a dozen women who were handy in the office to just pop in, and perhaps what he got turned out to be perhaps PAs, secretaries, assistants, a couple of executives, and it was run again for them.
Laddy said "So, what do you think? Go on, don't be shy!".

One woman said "I think she's like Jane Fonda," and then four or five more compliments came out with cross references to other stars.

Then Laddy added " What do you think of her as an actor?" and they were bowled over by her

It was clever that Laddy asked the opinion's of women of a female actress. 

Laddy response to Ridley in light of this was" okay, okay alright, good, you've got it"  And so with that he just walked out.

For many years, Sigourney imagined the story here was Laddy saying to the women "do you like this woman? " and they just replied "yes, she's okay"

Ridley had seen that Sigourney clearly had the authority that she needed to have for the role and could give any guy as good as he could give back, so she had that nice authority along with having all the other obvious advantages and attributes. It would seem as if Sigourney had been born to be Ripley


Source Quotes
  1. Sigourney Weaver: I got a call to go in and meet the director about this science fiction film and I was given the script and not having seen the designs I of course pictured something much more routine, like a big blob of yellow jello chasing people and I thought it was not that great. And I actually went ot the wrong place, called my agent and said science fiction, should I blow it off. And he said no, I think you should go. So luckily I ended up at the audition, met Ridley who I liked right away and he, first, showed me these astonishing drawings by Geiger that just were so startling and I realized I’d never seen anything like this in a movie. And some of the Carlo Rambaldi sketches as well. Then we started to talk about the script. And of course I was an English major at university. And he said well what do you think of the script and I started to criticize it. And I remember the casting person Mary was there. And she was going `shutup you idiot, who are you’ and I hadn’t done anything except some theatre but anyway I appreciated and I was lucky that it was Ridley Scott because he was at least pretending to be curious about my opinion and so we had a very straight talk about it and then I guess things just preceeded from there. I met the producers and then I guess eventually I was sent to Los Angeles to meet Alan Ladd Junior and then eventually I had a screen test. (report from the interiew for Alien Evolution)
  2. Interviewer: the version that we were told by a few people was that basically Ridley decided very early on that you were the person that he wanted to do it and he didn’t want anyone else…tell us about the screen test…

    Sigourney Weaver: well it was amazing actually and my interpretation at this time was that they were finally going to see Ridley Scott do Alien so that was one reason why he built this amazing set of a corridor with red lights and you know some people would have put the actor next to a potted palm and said you know, `react’, you know, convince me that this is the alien and luckily for me he probably created a world and I got to do a number of different scenes so it felt to me coming from the theatre, that I was doing a run through. I haven’t actually seen on the DVD that they have some of these scenes. I’m not sure that I would have liked them to see the light of day but for me as an actor it was such a valuable experience never having worked in film before to have this sort of run through experience and I really was very grateful to Ridley for giving me a reality to work in and not expecting me to imagine it all. (Alien Evolution)
  3. Ridley Scott: Sigourney Weaver, never. I mean she came recommended the long way around where somebody had said to somebody there’s this girl who’s doing theatre on Broadway who’s very interesting, is a giant, she’s 6 feet, I think she’s 6.1, in her stockinged feet (?). is very interesting. Smart performer, very physical. Hasn’t done a movie. So I met with Sigourney who walked in and I felt like a (...), I mean she’s like one and a half feet taller than I am and I remember taking her out to dinner, we went to a sushi. I’ll never forget that. We all went and had I think it was Japanese food, it was me and Sigourney and I think, Gordon or was it David. I can’t remember. Two or three people. It’s funny how those things start, you know, then you look back on it now. Sigourney’s got her history and she’s a big star and all that.
    Interviewer: what did you see in her that was…
    Ridley Scott:…impressive, she’s very impressive…smart, impressive and of course I had to test her. Because I don’t like reads. Reads are tricky and some people are great at reading, then you don’t get anything more than that. Or sometimes you get a really terrible read and yet the actor’s great. You know. So it’s not a good benchmark. And the casting session, the casting process is very tricky in that I believe like all…every actor’s kind of fundamentally, metaphorically exposing themselves when they when you’re asking them to do something. Ok. So the very situation is embarrassing. Slightly embarrassing for them and for me. And for everyone when you’re sort of doing the lead in the casting session so you’re getting an artificial view of what you’re about to get…And so I thought it made a lot of sense testing to find out…and this is how late we were choosing the woman, the girl, the lead, because I had already most of my sets up and Nostromo, my screen tests which should be on the DVD I think…is it?
    Interviewer: yeah
    Ridley Scott:…that was shot in the sets of the Nostromo. I was already…I wasn’t building, I was spraying the walls and aging them. I was way in. And (Laddie) said `well hmmm, she’s ok but I’m not sure, you’re going to have to test her’. And "I thought my god, we’re shooting in 2 weeks. I’m going to fly them in here in 2 or 3 weeks". So I had to test her. And the test was spot on.
    Interviewer: Ivor says that his memory is of you choosing Sigourney on first look…
    Ridley Scott: it was academic. It became academic. I knew…I knew…I could do a test which I could cut into the movie basically. So we made a very sophisticated test, I didn’t put a mix on it, and so Laddie watched it and went oh, ok, and that was it. But then she was on. You know.  (report from the interiew for Alien Evolution)
  4. Interviewer: What about Sigourney Weaver - Did Ridley manipulate the auditions to get her?
    David Giler:
    Actually we were there and she came in, a casting session in New York, and we said well there she is, that’s it, that’s true actually. We actually both decided that it was gonna be her and then we had to fight for her and it was a big fight.
    Interviewer: What was it about her?
    David Giler
    Well, her physical presence. She’s tall and kind of commanding and she has a sort of Amerian aristocratic bearing and that you believed her as an officer and that she was physical. That’s kind of joke in LA, where you got a vision of the future where the below decks there are two crew members and the rest are officers. So, and the crew members don’t really do anything. So she, and that she was, she was fresh, a kind of star quality we thought. And she was good, certainly good enough actress and we thought could bring something of the kind of leading man quality to this part, which is what it needed. Grow into it.
    Interviewer: She said she really liked the character of Lambert and Veronica said she thought she would be Ripley
    David Giler:
    I heard that. I didn’t know that to be the case. Ridley had met Veronica on his own somehow and he really wanted her and we said fine, you know. Very good actress. So she was certainly fine with us.
    Interviewer: But for you Sigourney was always Ripley.
    David Giler:
    Without a doubt, the minute she came to the office
  5. Mary Selway: Casting: We started going through lists of actresses, and who was right for the role.  You have to remember that Sigourney Weaver, in those days, was not a big star, and she tested for the part. (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  6. Sigourney Weaver: I got this audition. Erm,  they'd sent me the script which, of course, not knowing the Rambaldi designs, l pictured this big yellow blob of gelatin chasing these people! And er, nothing as elegant as it turned out to be. And l actually went to the wrong place, and l called my agent, l said ''Ohh...'' You know, it's , it was, like, Friday afternoon. l said ''l don't know. I mean the script was...'' She said ''Just go.'' (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  7. Ridley Scott: l'd met Sigourney on the last go in New York. Er, She'd come recommended because of a play that she'd been doing on Broadway. She was known as a real comer on Broadway. Right. l didn't see the play, l just met her. (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  8. Gordon Carroll: As l remember, we were in the Regency Hotel at the time. Sigourney, for some reason had gone to another hotel, we did not know this, and she was due at, whatever, 2.30, and 2.30 arrives, and 2.45 arrives. Ten minutes to three arrives, and er, and then we hear... l can't say running feet in the corridor, but we hear fast-paced feet coming toward the door, and then slowing down, composing itself... The bell rings, Mary opens the door, and Ripley was standing there. This extraordinary-looking woman, tall, commanding presence.(Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  9. Sigourney Weaver: And l was wearing these very high hooker boots, and l looked about seven feet tall. (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  10. Gordon Carroll:  ln a very nerve-racking situation, erm, projecting composure, but you knew that just an eighth of an inch behind that composure was a very nervous actress, who a.. a very tense actress, and that was exactly right. We knew, David and l knew, immediately. (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  11. Ridley Scott: l was very impressed by her, you know, height, and she was a very impressive character, very intelligent, and er seemed to make sense to me, so l expressed this to Laddy, who said ''Yeah, but you gotta test.'' And l said ''l'm three weeks from principal photography.'' (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  12. Sigourney Weaver: And We got to do what was basically a run-through of the movie, erm, with the real kind of set. and er, you know, l was afraid it would be, like, me and a potted palm, you know, and l'd have to go... But he gave me this whole run-through, which as an actor l really appreciated. (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  13. Ridley Scott: Sigourney was the last one to get cast. The sets, the test l shot in, were the sets l was building. That was the Nostromo. We didn't rattle that together. l was actually building, so it was scary. (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  14. Sigourney Weaver: What l didn't like about it that much was my performance, cos l think l was trying to be tough instead of just... What l discovered in the course of this, which was my first film basically was you don't try to... You just play each scene for what it is instead of trying to work on an arc. Erm, the people aren't consistent. They, they would be different in a love scene than they would be if they're fighting an alien. (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  15. Ron Shusett: They screen-tested many people, but she was dynamite. You saw it right there in the screen test as you saw later in the movie. This was her very first film. lt's all behind the eyes. (Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  16. Ridley Scott: My intuition always in casting is from the second they walk through the door. If I see something walk through that door... l knew somehow this was her.(Alien Quadrilogy Documentary)
  17. (7:29 / 00:07:46) Ridley Scott: But we finally saw this er beautiful giant walked in the room, we had a whisper about... 'er , saying you've got to see this girl, Sigourney Weaver because er she's doing a lot of theatre and she's getting important on broadway, and er, you'd better see her and...

    (7:42 / 00:07:59) Sigourney Weaver:: hardly

    (7:44 / 00:08:00) Ridley Scott : yuh, but I was thinking, oh god we've got a real Thespian here, or I thought so …..so (laughter from Sigourney) In she walked and I thought, er, that's it, that's it, that's it, it was that simple before you.

    (7:56 / 00:08:12) Sigourney Weaver: you're kidding , 

    (7:57 / 00:08:13) Ridley Scott :Yeah

    (7:57 / 00:08:14) Sigourney Weaver: :before I opened my mouth.

    (7:58 / 00:08:15) Ridley Scott :… before you spoke, right (00:08:00) there you go

    (8:01 / 00:08:16) Sigourney Weaver: : so sweet of you.

    (chuckling)

    (8:03 / 00:08:18) Sigourney Weaver: : well I was wearing my hooker boots so that helped.

    (8:07 / 00:08:21) Ridley Scott: right, that helped a lot, yeah

    (8:09 / 00:08:23) Sigourney Weaver: (laughing)

    (8:10 / 00:08:24) Ridley Scott: And then we did that, did the exchange, I think there was a bit of reading, then , I can't remember the order of events of at one stage we decided to all have dinner, 'n', in a Japanese restaurant. 

    (8:22 /00:08:35) Sigourney Weaver:Yes, that's right Fifty Fifth Street or something

    (8:23 / 00:08:37) Ridley Scott: Which you suggested, okay

    (8:25 / 00:08:39) Sigourney Weaver: I think it was to meet Walter and David.

    (8:29 / 00:08:42) Ridley Scott: Right.

    (8:29 / 00:08:43) Sigourney Weaver: And Bodie Boatright or something.

    (8:29 / 00:08:45) Ridley Scott: eh, Bodie, there you go. And we were real close to production by now

    (8:34 / 00:08:48) Sigourney Weaver: Yes

    (8:34 / 00:08:49) Ridley Scott: We were in full board production, I mean in terms of building and , because we were tech

    (8:38 / 00:08:53) Sigourney Weaver: I'd say you were desperate to find her.

    (8:40 / 00:08:55) Ridley Scott: Absolutely

    (8:42 / 00:08:56) Sigourney Weaver: (chuckle)

    (8:42 / 00:08:56) Ridley Scott, But we were on , now I was very very meticulous about (00:09:00) casting always

    (8:47 / 00:09:02)  Sigourney Weaver: Mmmm

    (8:47 / 00:09:02) Ridley Scott: Because I figured if you cast right from the director's point of view

    (8:50 / 00:09:06)  Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm

    (8:51 / 00:09:06) Ridley Scott: If you cast right, at least fifty percent of your problems are over

    (8:54 / 00:09:09)  Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm

    (8:55 / 00:09:10) Ridley Scott: On the day

    (8:56 / 00:09:11) Sigourney Weaver: Yuh

    (08:57 / 00:09:12)  Ridley Scott: Because you know there's a lot to do and I cast, (00:09:00) I, I lay still painful on casting

    (09:03 / 00:09:18) Sigourney Weaver: Yuh, yuh.

    (09:03 / 00:09:19)  Ridley Scott: Long time on casting, so eventually they were getting uneasy thinking I didn't really know what I was doing, but I had done then 2000 commercials, I'd done the Duellists, 

    (09:11/ 00:09:27)  Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm

    (09:11/ 00:09:27)Ridley Scott: I'd done.. you know, I was kind of bemused by that basically saying... 

    (09:14 / 00:09:30) Sigourney Weaver: mmm

    (09:14/ 00:09:30) Ridley Scott: Thinking "Back off!"

    (09:17 / 00:09:32) Sigourney Weaver: mmm

    (09:17 / 00:09:34) Ridley Scott: okay, t'...'cause when you see it, you see it

    (09:20 / 00:09:36) Sigourney Weaver: mmhmm

    09:21
    / 00:09:37) Ridley Scott: and there it... there she was, right

    (09:25 / 00:09:42) Ridley & Sigourney: (chuckle)

    (09:26 / 00:09:43) Ridley Scott: and then Laddy said "you got to test." I said, "uh, Laddy, w'ere shooting in ten days "or something.

    (09:31 / 00:09:47) Sigourney Weaver: yuh

    (09:31 / 00:09:48) Ridley: and he said "I don't care, you've got to test, I'm not sure", 'cause Laddy's like that, very cautious. So we tested, and the test could have been almost cut into the movie

    (09:41 / 00:09:58)  Sigourney Weaver: "well,  I was saying earlier I was so grateful because (00:10:00) you built a whole set, we did a run through of the movie which as an actor, especially if I was going to play the part I really needed, and er, it gave us a chance to work together and us… I was, I really thought going over there that I might be like standing next to a (00:10:00) potted palm going, "aaaah!" like that

    (10:02 / 00:10:19) Ridley chuckles

    (10:02 / 00:10:19)  Sigourney Weaver: :and er, so I was so grateful for the day, it was a fabulous day

    (10:06 / 00:10:23) Ridley Scott: yuh, so then Laddy saw it, I put it together, even put a little bit of sound on it, I think, so, I ran it for Laddy in the.. wherever it was, and then he said, "hmm", and then he said, "I'm going to run it again, choose half a dozen gals from the office". He chose girls and er, half a dozen women, gals, came in and probably PAs, secretaries,  assistants, a couple of executives, we ran it again and er Laddy said, "So, what do you think?", and erm, and er, one girl suddenly said er, he said, "go on don't be shy!" (00:11:00), one girl said "well I think", excuse me, you don't mind, I'm going to say it over this

    (10:46 / 00:11:02) Sigourney Weaver: Oh of course

    (10:46 / 00:11:04) Ridley Scott: right

    (10:47 / 00:11:04)  Sigourney Weaver: *burst of laughter*

    (10:47 / 00:11:04) Ridley Scott : one girl said (silly voice) "I think she's like Jane Fonda," right and another one said (silly voice) "I think she's like…" there's... there were four or five extremely complimentary things came out with cross references (00:11:00) to other stars and so he said "okay, okay alright, good, you've got it" and that was it

    (11:05 / 00:11:23)  Sigourney Weaver: Oh that's great, I didn't really know the story, I thought he said "do you like this woman?" and they went "yes, she's okay" (chuckle)

    (11:11 / 00:11:30)Ridley: Yuh, but he's a...

    (11:12 / 00:11:32) Sigourney Weaver: Well that's... that's shrewd, I think...

    (11:14 / 00:11:34) Ridley: Very

    (11:14 / 00:11:35) Sigourney Weaver: ...to ask women, you know, because

    (11:17 / 00:11:36) Ridley: Yeahh

    (11:17 / 00:11:36) Sigourney Weaver: ...it's become such an important...

    (11:18 / 00:11:37)
    Ridley: I think

    (11:18 / 00:11:37)  Sigourney Weaver: ... film for women.

    (11:20 / 00:11:39) Ridley: yuh (
    Alien commentary from Alien Quadrilogy DVD and Alien Anthology Blu-Ray)
  18. Roger Christian: Ridley had decided to have a section of corridor built especially for the test, and also for us to create a hold area, so he could film Sigourney in action, as if hunting the alien. (http://www.shadowlocked.com/ 27 October 2010)
  19. Ridley: Sigourney Weaver, erm, I had recommended when we were doing casting sessions in New York, and er, I think on meeting her immediately when she walked into the room, because clear that this, this lady could be it. The studio at that particular point were obviously a little nervous, while this was a high budget movie, that point was that it was six million, even in those days it wasn't high, little nervous that it wasn't about the first time, they still regarded me as a newcomer even though I had done The Duellists, so the final discussion was about, and er, this is what you see right now, this is a test that we did, er, with a few little setlets that I had managed to get Roger Christian to actually cobble together, so we can actually erm,  make the test look as good as possible. I don't believe in tests against blue backdrops, I believe in giving the actors a little taste of the environments, anything you can do to help the actor to feel you know , what the film is going to be about or feel how the film is going to be, the ambiance is always very important. There was a lot of discussion about what I could do with her hair and I said leave it alone, don't muck about, don't start cutting her hair, I try to tend to find that when they walk through the door in the casting session, the final of the bottom line is always er, how good are they, what they are gonna do, I mean as an actor, as a performer, but erm, we are dealing with movies, and the thing that's far more interesting when they walk through the door is the physical, is the physical appearance or power or weight. Some have it, some don't. Whether or not you can learn to have that, I'm not really sure. I think very often an actor who's simply great actor, you know, to a certain extent it doesn't really matter how they look, that becomes their power, their intellectual and acting capability, and so somehow there's something atractive about that. If they have everything and that's how you get a big star. This was all playing into a gal who hadn't really been in front of a camera, erm so it's not just about how she looks, I knew how she looked, I think I'd done 1700 commercials at this point, including a lot of cosmetic commercials, sorry, I could tell really from watching her walk into the room, so this was really about her acting, and that's why I wanted to feel, secure in myself that she could take all of this on board. Whole presentation on the test, actually was good, but you know, focus on the test with Sigourney, but she got the, she got the job. In fact Laddy what he did when he saw the tests, was silent, and then, simply picked up the telephone and asked his secretary to send in about half a, eight, maybe a dozen women who were handy in the office, just to pop in, and he wanted them to watch the test, so we ran the test again and Laddy simply then said "what did you think?" and there were these, whatever it was, I don't know, maybe eight, twelve women, who immediately, jumped in, one said "I think she's like Jane Fonda" and the other one said I think she's like this, I think she's like that,  and er, and what do you think of her as an actor and they were all bowled over by her, so Laddie had cleverly also asked women's opinion of you know, female actress and right there, she said, he said, okay and he just walked out. She clearly has the authority that she needs to have and can give any guy as good as he can give back, so she has that very nice authority, apart from having all the other obvious you know, advantages, attributes, erm. Sigourney's very smart, and erm, erm, you know, she was aptfully written, she was born to be Ripley (Alien Legacy documentary)
  20. Geoff Boucher:  When you say, uh, when you're talking about Alien, and some people criticise it for lack of characterisation but it's interesting to see that Sigourney Weaver. Sigourney Weaver by the way, everybody, what an amazing... 

    (round of applause)

    But she was voted by many many many fans to be the greatest female character in the history of science fiction, and I don't that surprises a single person in the theatre, um could you talk a little bit about her performance and also, I mean, because that movie was so lean, what do you think it is that came through that really connected with people?

    Ridley Scott: Um, I met Sigourney who hadn't done a movie when she was, um, beginning to get known off broadway, and erm, we were casting. everyone else and I had heard of everyone but her,  in fact I didn't have sigourney cast until almost three weeks before principal photography, because I tested here, the test I could have cut into the movie, I tested on the sets that were being built. So that would put me, I don't know, that would put me a month or five weeks out, so Laddie was going crazy saying "you've gotta make your mind up". I said "yeah, I can't you know, I can't find it yet." And I heard about this wo-… woman… girl. I just dug up some fil- photographs out of the archives I drew up which are spectacular, about this big of her as  a , like a bathing suit, bathing, you know. She looks twenty three twenty four. And em, i went to meet her in New York, and er she had a very good, bio on her capabilities as an actress., very very smart, and her dad was Pat Weaver, you know, her dad was Pat Weaver. The star of CBS. Is that right? Any body know that? Is it Pat Weaver?

    Geoff Boucher:  I believe so

    Ridley Scott: So, erm, I met her and erm immediately, just her sheer physique , because she's , she came in her high heels, I mean, um, I'm a , I'm a, like not a midget, I’m a 5’8”, and Jesus Christ I was always looking up at her! And erm,  I walked into a restaurant with her and I felt like, she hold my hand, I felt like "Mummy, Daddy"

    (audience roars of laughter)

    Geoff Boucher: Did you like that?

    (audience roars of laughter)

    Ridley Scott: And erm, I said we're going to have to test, so she tested, and that was certainly a great test, you could have cut it into the movie, and um, it must have been hard for her, but because, the, there was so little dialogue, but the dialogue that existed was I think was pretty damned good, but it was austere, I call it austere, and er, it doesn't give you a long… a lot to get into, there's no five minute scenes, right, and the last thing for her will be...  (Ridley Scott at Hero Complex festival on Youtube)