Alien: Veronica Cartwright cast as Lambert

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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 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 but 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 rather than someone to be overlooked.

c) Sigourney would liked to have played Lambert
And since Veronica wanted the role of Ripley, we might reveal that Sigourney would rather have played Lambert because the first version of the script that she read.

Lambert was a woman wise-cracking all the time when everyone else was going hysterical and she didn't crack up until the end.

This was more of a character that Sigourney would identify with because that was how she assumed she herself would act.

If ever she got stuck in an elevator, that's what she would do.

But later the characters changed when they decided to give viewers a sympathetic character.


Veronica in her role in the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers
d) Re-reading Lambert
When Veronica 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?"

e) 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)
  8. Sigourney Weaver: Actually the part I wanted to play was Lambert,  Veronica Cartwright's part. In the first script I read, she just cracked jokes the whole time. What was wonderful about it was that here was a woman who was a wise-assing, telling stupid jokes just when everyone else was getting hysterical. And she didn't crack up until the end.  That's the character I could identify with because that's how I assume I would act. If the elevator gets stuck that's what I do. The character changed however when Ridley and Veronica decided to give viewers a sympathetic character (Screen Flights / Screen Fantasies, An Interview With Sigourney Weaver by Danny Peary, p159

Alien: Casting Tom Skerrit as Dallas

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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 it's 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

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Jon Finch in Roman Polanski's Macbeth
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.


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 July 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

c) Peter Beale's concerns
Peter Beale, the UK  executive in charge of production for Fox meanwhile was very concerned about it and expressed that concern to the main offices, wondering if the production should continue because Ridley's first film The Duellists lacked commercial success and so did not warrant full confidence

d) Michael Seymour's delight
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/)
  8. (In response to David J Schow picture of John Finch on Facebook) Charles Lippincott:  Wow, I was just talking about him tonight! Peter Beale, who was the UK Exec in Charge of Prod. for Fox, was worried and concerned about Ridley Scott and Alien because Jon Finch diabetes raged out of control and he had to be replaced by John Hurt. Beale was really concerned about it and expressed that concern to the main offices, wondering if the production should continue as Ridley's 1st film was not a tried and true blockbuster to warrant full confidence. (Facebook Saturday 2nd May, 2015)

Alien: Sigourney Weaver cast as Ripley

Alien: Ron Cobb's Nostromo Surveyor/Lander

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http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QO1IFn8kqNg/Ut6evGz6NNI/AAAAAAAAKKg/pVtWFawx0V8/s1600/nostromolander.png
Ron Cobb's Nostromo Surveyor/Lander drawing on paper with triangular grid

Alien: Helen Mirren auditioned for Ripley

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Helen Mirren had come to understand that there was no problem with roles for women, but it could be a question of taking a role for a man and giving it a woman's name. She auditioned for Ripley back at the time of Alien's production and when she read the script, she had no idea which character was male and which was female, they were just people engaging with each other in this situation. They all had what she found to be asexual names such as Ripley, and quite honestly she wasn't even sure if Ripley was supposed to be man or woman. All of the characters could have been interchanged, they could all have been male or female, any one of them could have been anything. And this was a revelation. So she came to think about how when people talk about writing for women, she would say "Don't write for women, write for people. Give it an asexual name and then decide whether you're going to cast a woman" and this what she would believe.
  1. Helen Mirren: There's no problem with roles for women. just take a role for a man and give it a woman's name. Done! It was reading the script of Ridley Scott's Alien - which I had the privilege of doing though unfortunately I didn't get a role in it - that made me realise it. All of the characters had names like Ripley. There was no , "a lean 32 year old woman who doesn't realise how attractive she is" - there was absolutely none of that! You had no idea who was a man and who was a woman. That was the revelation. (Empire, April, 2016)
  2. You hear of many A-list actresses doing that — women like Angelina Jolie or Jodie Foster, who take scripts originally written for men and star in them, because the roles become more interesting.
    Helen Mirren:That's happening much more now. That was the great thing with the first Alien — I read the original script for that, and when you read it, you had no idea which character was male and which was female. They were just people engaging with each other in this situation. They all had these sort of asexual names, so when Ripley said or did things, you had no idea whether Ripley was a man or a woman. You could have interchanged all the characters — they could have been all male or all female — any one of them could have been anything. When people talk about writing for women, I say, "Don't write for women, write for people." Give it an asexual name and then decide whether you're going to cast a woman. I've always believed that.
    Did you audition for the original Alien?
    I did, actually. Yes, I did, I went up for it. (http://www.vulture.com/2010/12/helen_mirren_chat_room.html#)
     

Alien: Making the Movie

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Sets and models
Nostromo
The Creature
The Egg silo
The Derelict
The Planetoid  
The Space Jockey
Painting of the planetary system
  Alien's studio environments  

Props and Costumes
Brett's Nostromo jacket 
Brett's cargo pants
Kane's Space Suit 
Ash's Nostromo flight suit
Nostromo emergency suit
Key to mother

Further Developing Themes and Ideas
 Industrial Conglomerates And Their Ships
The Tomita Planets
The Idea Of The Alien As A Fawn

Filming of Scenes
The Chest Burster Scene
Brett enters the treasure room
Brett's death in the Claw room 
Industrial Paranoia
The Unraveling of Ash
The robot head speaks 
Incineration of Ash's head
Startled cat on seat
Alien vs Yaphet Kotto 
The Death of Parker (still collating) 
Death Switcharounds
Trying to override the detonation procedure
Ladder to the Nest
Human to Spore stage
Alternate Endings
One more surprise ending
The Creature In The Wall 
Sex and the Alien 


The End
Alien premieres at the Egyptian Theatre
Messrs Giler and Hill vs Dan O'Bannon
Problems with Alien profts blocking Alien II's production.

Alien: Trying to override
the detonation procedure


Leading from
Alien: Making the Movie   


a) In the climactic scene, the last human survivor, Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, flees from the Alien into the engine room of Nostromo, which is about to be blown up by a power overload. Scott tucked himself into a corner of the tiny set and squatted on the floor with the camera for a low angle shot. At a nod from Scott, his assistant commanded, "Quiet and still, please, boys. Camera turning."

 b) Weaver rushed in, flamethrower in hand, rapidly unscrewed two Perspex covers on the wall and pulled two red levers, then ran across the engine room to open a hatch cover on the floor ( cuing in a blast of Co2, and a flood of white neon light). Reaching down, she pressed some buttons, paused, then ran out into the corridor through a storm of steam and flashing lights.

c) Between takes - the drama briefly spent - technicians and prop men quickly attended to the mechanics that make the illusion possible. The hatch cover was closed (operated by a string), the Co2 "steam" canisters were placed in readiness, and Scott, with a smile, reminded Weaver not to forget her flamethrower, as she had done in a previous take.

d) "Whenever I could" Weaver said during a break "I've tried to play Ripley as a soldier. I had to take on the mentality of someone who knows that at any moment the end is coming, that everything is going to fly up in her face. No time to think about the people who have been list. I've never been in battle, but I imagine the same kind of thing happens when you're on the battlefield."



 e) Each day at the end of the shooting, Scott would get into a parley with his technicians to plan the next day's work. One evening he walked through the gadget-studded corridor of the star ship Nostromo toward a dark octagonal chamber pierced by a golden ladder. There were problems; An empty-ended corridor spilled into a cluttered sound stage and insufficient light. Scott frowned - his hands pouched deep in his shiny green parka - as he wandered around the dim chamber.

f) 'We could put a closed white hatch at the end and seal it off, " he said.

Art director Roger Christian suggested an angled mirror which, if properly placed, would extend the corridor obliquely into infinity. Scott liked the idea and nodded. Then he pondered the light. Gazing around, he fixed his eyes censoriously on a heavy. gadget-encrusted door.

"Let's take that out and put a sheet of white paper there - with some spotlights behind it."

"Won't it look too sunny," someone objected, "too much like a garden window?"

"At this point in the film, " Scott replied " everyone will be so deep in hyperspace that no one will be thinking of gardens" (American Film, March 1979, p21-22)

HR Giger's Passages I-IX

leading from
HR Giger's Art


Passage I (1970)

a) The Passages nightmares
Giger spoke about the Passages painting series, how the first of his corridor pictures were prompted by a series of dreams. In these dreams he usually found himself in a large white room without doors or windows, he would compare the place to being like a stone grave or a tomb and the only way out
lead to an all powerful evil represented by a dark, iron opening barred by a clamp in the form of iron hoop half way along that was basically a large safety pin. The dreams also reveal the place to be a sort of an oven and he would have his arms drawn up.

Passage II
b) Activities in the dream environment
Moreover in passing through this opening he regularly got stuck. And to crown everything,  the exit at the end of this long chimney, where he could see only a faint shimmer of light, would be promptly shut by an unseen force. Then he would be stuck in the tube with his arms pressed tightly by his sides unable to move forwards or backwards and feeling that he was running out of air.  He would always think in the dream "Oh my god, why am I here?" The only way out was to wake up.

Passage IV
c) Decision to paint his dreams
He subsequently painted some of these imaginary passages and then then had been spared this birth trauma. The passages became for him a symbol of growth and dissolution with all the possible stages of pleasure and pain, and continue to have a hold on him. His mother revealed to him that he had a difficult birth and that he didn't want to come out.

d) Influence on Alien
See also H R Giger's Passages i-ix influencing design of Nostromo Corridors and Giger's influence on Ron Cobbs Alien birth Temple

Source quotes
  1. HR Giger: A long time ago I used to have nightmares, they were, I was stuck in a kind of oven with my hands drawn up and I couldn't get any air, and that was probably a dream, which , from my mother... mine was a difficult birth, you see, that's what my mother told me, I didn't want to come out and of course I couldn't get any air and that happened again and again, and then from far away, I would see a light and then it would become dark again, couldn't get any air and so on, and these unpleasant dreams stopped when I began to paint those passages which actually represent that condition. At the time, I didn't notice that at all, but well it's turned out to be true because I haven't had any of those dreams since then. (report from unused conversation with H R Giger for Alien Evolution)
    Passage IV
  2. HR Giger: The strongest thing in my work, I think, is the claustrophobic stuff. I still sometimes have shitty dreams with that in… being inside rooms that are like graves, a stone grave, a tomb. And I always think in the dream, ‘Oh my god, why am I here?’ (He laughs)  Claustrophobic things are terrible. I used to think all that was finished but it’s still here. That’s more important to me than the erotic stuff.” (www.imaginefx.com/) 
  3. Giger: As a boy, I would dream every night that I was in a white room, from which I could only escape from a hole in the cieling. But even when I managed to reach this hole. I was stuck inside the wall and couldn't breathe. I freed myself from these obsessions when I began painting my Passages (Cinefantastique vol9, no 1, p37-39)
    Passage V
  4. Giger: The initial "Passages" paintings were created in 1969 following a series of dreams, I was in a large white room with no windows or doors. The only exit was a dark metal opening in which, to make things worse, was partially obstructed by a safety pin. I usually got stuck when passing through this opening. The exit at the end of a long chimney which could be seen only as a tiny point of light, was, to my misfortune, blocked by an invisible power. Then I found myself stuck as I tried to pass through the pipe, my arms pressed against my body, unable to move forward or backward. At that point I started to lose my breath and the only way out was to wake up. I have since painted some of these dream images in the "Passages" series (Passages I-IX) and as a result have been freed from recurring memories of this particular birth trauma. But the "Passages" which for me symbolize maturity and decay, with all the accompanying stages of pleasure and pain, have not released their hold on me (HR Giger's Retrospective 1964-1984 p34 (From Paasagen ["Passages"] H R Giger 1974))
    Passage VI
  5. Giger: The first of corridor pictures were prompted by a series of dreams. In these I usually found myself in a large white room without doors or windows. the only exit a dark, iron opening barred by an iron hoop half way along.  Moreover in passing through this opening I regularly got stuck. And to crown everything,  the exit at the end of this long chimney, where I could see only a faint shimmer of light, would be promptly shut by an unseen force. Now I was stuck in the tube with my arms pressed by my sides unable to move forwards or backwards and feeling that I was running out of air.  The only way out was to wake up. I subsequently painted some of these imaginary passages (I-IX) and since then had been spared this birth trauma. But the passages became for me a symbol of growth and dissolution in ever possible stage of pleasure and pain, and they had remained with me to this day.(From Giger's Necronomicon English edition, 1991)
    Passage VII (1970)
  6. HR Giger: The first passages paintings resulted from a series of vivid dreams. Most of the time I would find myself in a big white room without any doors and windows, where the only exit leads to an all powerful evil, which was represented by a dark, metal opening obstructed by a metal clamp. I often became firmly stuck when I tried to pass through this opening. To my misfortune, the exit at the end of this long tunnel, which could be spotted as a tiny gleam of light. was promptly locked by an invisible force. Now I would be stuck in the tube with my arms pressed tightly against my body and could not move forward or backwards, and I felt as if I was running out of breath. The only solution was to wake up. I then drew some of these imaginary PASSAGES (I-IX) and since then have been spared the birth nightmare. But the PASSAGES, which have become for me the symbol of Becoming and Passing with all stages of lust and suffering, have not let go of me to this day (Giger's Film Design, p10)
  7.  C J Fifer: I suffer from bad dreams, and use them to create my own art. Of all the night terrors you've had, is there one particular nightmare that has stuck with you .
    HR Giger: There are many. In a lot of cases, recurring dreams eventually led to the creation of some of my most poignant works. I frequently wrote about this in my books, such as the Necronomicon. An exampled of this is the 'Passagen' series of painting of the late 1960s and early 1970s. (Bizarre magazine, 2013 p67)
     
  8. Giger: ... sometimes I have these images, while I was painting the Passage, it was okay, but when I get into unpleasant situations, I suddenly find myself in some kind of masonry in which I get stuck and it's getting hot or I'm sitting outside and I have to get inside... (Through the eyes of Giger, video interview)
    Passage VIII
  9. HR Giger: A dream where I can’t get enough air, that’s frightening. Or the kind of dream where I was stuck in a grave or something like that, that was frightening. But later I developed these passages paintings [Passage I-XXX] and they were very good for that. I got some sort of relief. I got no more bad dreams when I painted these passages. It was helpful.
    Conor Creighton: Does that happen often?
    HR Giger: No, not often, but I did the right thing because at the time these passage dreams were ruining my work. It was the right thing to make me feel better.
    (conorcreighton.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/) & (www.vice.com/)
  10. Giger found inspiration for his art in the night terrors he experienced beginning in his childhood. Painting his dark and disturbing visions provided a kind of self-therapy: (www.cgsociety.org/ 2 May 2013)
    Passage IX (1971/1972)
  11. HR Giger: I don’t have these dreams anymore. Well, maybe I do but I don’t make sketches of them. I draw some of the things I have dreamt. For example, there’s a rather unpleasant dream where I am stuck in a tomb and the only way out is a very narrow passage. There are huge stones and I am totally stuck. I cannot move at all. So terrifying, claustrophobic nightmares. I made some drawings of them, and every time I look at them, it puts me back into that terrible situation. Looking at these pictures bothers me so much, that I don’t look at them anymore. (www.cgsociety.org/ 2 May 2013
  12. Interviewer: Do you get your inspiration from dreams, and does your art work reflect your dreams.
    H R Giger:
    My dreams are usually very realistic, there aren't any figures like the ones in my paintings. But I for example used to have an unpleasant dream, I always tell people the same thing but it happens to be true; a long time ago I used to have nightmares, they were, I was stuck in a kind of oven with my hands drawn up and I couldn't get any air, and that was probably a dream, which, from my mother... mine was a difficult birth, you see, that's what my mother told me, I didn't want to come out and of course I couldn't get any air and that happened again and again, and then from far away, I would see a light and then it would become dark again, couldn't get any air and so on, and these unpleasant dreams stopped when I began to paint those passages which actually represent that condition. At the time, I didn't notice that at all, but well it's turned out to be true because I haven't had any of those dreams since then.
    (report from unused conversation with H R Giger for Alien Evolution) 
  13. Sonic Seducer : Die Bilder, die sie malen, haben sie diese vorher geträumt?

    Sonic Seducer: The pictures that you paint, you have dreamed about this before?

    HR Giger: Nein, meine Traumwelt ist sehr realistisch. Es gibt dort sehr viel bergigen Wald, es ist dort ziemlich warm, es gibt einstöckige Häuser und Gebäude, manchmal mit geheimen Durchgängen. Ich bin dort meistens allein und ganz komisch. Oder ich fahre Auto in einer Gegend, in der ich mich auskenne. Mein Traumreich ist nicht besonders phantastisch. Ich habe früher häufig Träume gehabt, in denen ich in einer engen Röhre steckte und irgendwie keine Luft bekam. Diese Röhre war am Ausgang immer von einer Art Sicherheitsnadel verschlossen. Dieser Traum kehrte in ähnlichen Varianten immer wieder. Nun, meine Mutter hat mir erzählt, daß ich eine sehr schwere Geburt gewesen bin. Die Sicherheitsnadel wird wahrscheinlich die Geburtszange oder etwas ähnliches symbolisieren. Die Geburt muß wohl für mich ein derart schreckliches Erlebnis gewesen sein, das sich in meinem Unterbewußtsein verankert hat und erst im Laufe meines Lebens zum Vorschein kam. Dies war einer der wenigen Träume, die mit in meine Bilder eingeflossen sind. Heute habe ich diesen Traum nicht mehr.

    HR Giger: No, my dream world is very real. There are a lot of mountainous forest, it is quite warm there, there are one-storey houses and buildings, sometimes with secret passages. I am there mostly alone and it's very funny. Or I drive a car in an area in which I am familiar. My dream world is not particularly fantastic. I used to often had dreams in which I was stuck in a narrow tube and somehow could not breathe. This tube was closed at the exit always by a kind of safety pin. This dream came in similar variants repeatedly. Well, my mother told me that I have been a very difficult birth. The safety pin is likely to symbolize the forceps or something similar. The birth must have been such a terrible experience for me, which has been anchored in my subconscious and only in the course of my life came to light. This was one of the few dreams that have been incorporated with in my pictures. Today I no longer have that dream.

    Sonic Seducer: Als Embryo wächst man im Mutterleib heran und ist mit seiner Mutter praktisch bis kurz nach der Geburt als Säugling verwachsen. In ihren Bildern sind fast immer alle Gestalten, Symbole und Gegenstände direkt mit einander verwachsen und stellen ein gesamtes, organisches Gebilde oder sogar eine Einheit dar. Glauben sie, daß Malen eine Art Therapie für dieses prägnante Schreckenserlebnis in frühester Jugend gewesen sein könnte, mit dem sie immer wieder in ihren Träumen konfrontiert wurden?

    Sonic Seducer: As one embryo grows in the womb, and is convenient to briefly united with his mother after birth as an infant. In its pictures all shapes, symbols and objects are almost always grown directly with one another and make a whole, organic structure, or even a single entity. Do you think that painting could have been a kind of therapy for this incisive horror experience in early youth, with which they were confronted again and again in it dreams?

    HR Giger: Darüber habe ich mir eigentlich noch nie Gedanken gemacht. Aber wenn ich mir es so recht überlege, ist das sicherlich möglich. Es ist auf jeden Fall ein interessanter Ansatz, der mich vor einigen Jahren zum Grübeln angeregt hätte. Heute bin ich jedoch froh, daß ich diesen Traum nicht mehr habe, da ich jedes mal schweißgebadet aufgewacht bin.

    HR Giger: About that I have never thought, actually. But if I consider it so surely, this is possible absolutely. It's definitely an interesting approach, which would have inspired me a few years ago to brood. Today, nevertheless, I am glad that I have this dream no more, because I have woken every time bathed in sweat. (SonicSeducer_3_99)