Alien Covenant: Danny McBride

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a) Experiences with Alien series
Danny was still a boy and attending Elementary School, and it was in the years when there were video stores, he would visit them with his parents and would always go for the R rated movies, and he would slide them in the last minute while his parents were checking out. Then he would get up very early on Saturday morning before they were up, to watch them, and so he would do this with Aliens.  Then his mother would wake up early to make breakfast and so she is there able to hear what's going on the TV, "this is not going to fly" he thought.

It got to a point where she said to him "what is this you're watching. If they curse one more time, this is going off. We're not going to sit and listen to this"

Danny probably responded "Okay, whatever"

Then Bill Paxton came into the scene where the dropship crashes and he unleashes his epic monologue with the words "Game over, game over" and drops the F bomb near enough thirty times, and that meant that Danny had to shut the movie off, and he never saw what happened to Newt or Ripley for ten years after that

Despite this set back, he would become a great fan of the series with Alien and Aliens as his two favourite horror films while he was growing up as a child.




b) Meeting Ridley Scott
 
When the filming of Vice Principals wrapped at around the end of 2015, Danny McBride came back to LA and got a call telling him that Ridley Scott wanted to meet him, he had no idea what it was for, but he was a great fan of Ridley Scott's movies, and whatever Ridley had see of his that he liked, for sure he had seen the 2008 film Pineapple Express because Seth Rogan who was a fellow actor in the film told McBride about how Ridley reached out to Rogan to tell him how much he enjoyed the film and inevitably it was the movie that McBride was the most well known for before then.

Ridley asked Danny McBride to come to meet him and talk about a film role, Danny didn't even know what movie it was for, he was so overwhelmed as it was to meet Ridley Scott, and as they met and talked, as it were "bullshitting", and then half way through the conversation Ridley started to pull out these books and show Danny sketches of the spaceships and aliens and then it occurred to Danny what this was all about

Danny's general thoughts were "Jesus, this fucking Alien, he's talking to me about Alien" and then "why would he be interested in me in this, am I going to be serious, just like the comic relief for this."

But at the end of the interview, he wasn't offered the role of Alien,  it was just to talk about it. He half wondered if Ridley wanted to test the material on him to see if it was "cool" or not.

Danny then got the script,  he assumed that he was being given a role for a wisecracking funny man, the story started out under some dire situation and it got worse from there and he found himself thinking, "This shit is dark, there is no comic relief in it at all, this is a dark horror movie."

As he turned the page of the script, he would think "Okay, I'm still in the script," before turning another page, "I'm still in the script," and another page, "I'm still in the script."


Slim Pickens as Major Kong riding the bomb in Doctor Strangelove


c)  Taking the role
By February 2016, it was revealed that he was in early discussions to co-star in Ridley's Alien movie

He would play the pilot of the Spaceship Covenant, which is a colonisation ship, searching for a plant where they would start life anew, and he would run the ship

When he went to talk to see Ridley to talk directly about the role,  Ridley informed him that the character was like an homage to the character actor Slim Pickens who played Major Kong in Doctor Strangelove.

Taking the role, he was excited to be able to step into something like that and participate in a way that's not relying on things that have to do with his usual work.

Danny's response was to brush up on the Doctor Strangelove film and watch different films with pilots in, just to see things such as what buttons they pushed. He would also study pilots to see how calm they stayed when they were working, and observing them, he realised that it didn't look as if his character was just flipping switches the whole time.

When he made the comedies series "Eastbound and Down" and "Vice Principals" , it was just a few degrees away from being a straight tragedy, and the preparation for Alien: Covenant was very similar because as an actor, he needed to just root it in reality. McBride had no idea what the tone of the set would be because in comedies, it's really loose, lively and they laugh a lot, but despite all the disgusting, horrible things that happened on-screen,  McBride was surprised to see how light Ridley kept everything on the set.

Watching the original Alien, he noticed that the crew had a sense of camaraderie and it seemed as if there was a history between them. Obviously Ridley was interested in bringing that aspect into Alien Covenant. The actors didn't find it hard to bond, they were near enough saying ‘holy shit, here we are!’, McBride felt as if they were really on an expedition , as if they ought to have been saying  "oh, I hope this turns out okay for everyone involved. I hope everyone makes it to the end!’”

Making the movie, it was the first movie he made where people habitually died because it was a horror movie. It was very intense with an extreme level of visual effects and gore and so when filming began, he would go to dinners with a big cast or twenty people and it was as if every week the table got smaller and smaller with less and less people at the table.

d) Meeting James Franco again

The film also featured a Cameo from James Franco, who McBride had worked with before on Pineapple Express, Your Highness and This Is The End. McBridge liked Franco very much and so enjoyed seeing an old friend show up., he found himself giving Franco a tour of the ship telling him  such things as "Yeah, this is where we do this, and this is where this happens".

Franco's cameo presented a character who was the captain who dies very quickly in an accident in his cryotube and they were near enough saying to one another " Man, I hope that this doesn’t mess people up.". McBridge thought about how their characters in the apocalyptic comedy movie released in 2013, called "This Is The End" would really appreciate what was happening there, and in that way it was funny.


e) Acting opposite Michael Fassbender, 

McBride would see how Fassbender was dialed in with his android performance, looking at him and seeing zero emotion, no matter what he said. Fassbender as the android would always be processing. McBridge was spooked out a little bit after time, and he would have to look over Fassbender's shoulder because he thought it was crazt to look at someone who isn't registering anything he was saying with any emotion


f) Afterwards

Afterwards he would find himself at dinners that he had with his friends and he would get them to guess how he got slaughtered in the movie and afterwards just tell them "You'll just have to see."

Source Quotes
  1.  Matt HNR: You just got back from Australia, you're heading back. It is mind boggling to me that I'm going to see an Alien movie next year, and you're going to be in it 

    Danny McBride: Me too, ha ha ha ha 

    Matt HNR: How awesome is that.

    Danny McBride: It's a killer like, and even the role it's like, when I, when I was, when they asked, when Ridley asked me to come in and meet about it, I didn't even know what movie it was for, I was like wow, I would like to meet Ridley Scott, and he starts talking to me about it, and he starts showing me these diagrams of spaceships, and I'm just thinking like, as he's talking, I'm like Jesus this is fucking Alien, he's talking to me about Alien and er, and then by next I was like why would he be interested in me in this, lil am i just going to be the like am I going to be this silly like, you know, just like the comic relief for this, and then I'm like I got the script and then I'm like this shit is dark, there is no comic relief in this at all, this is a dark horror movie and I and that was exciting to be able to step into something like that and and participate in a way that's not relying on things that have to do with work. (Danny McBride Talks Alien: Covenant, Hitflix: Matt HNR  , 12th July, 2016)  
  2.  The “Eastbound & Down” star is in early discussions to join 20th Century Fox’s blockbuster sci-fi movie. Following a hilarious run as Kenny Powers on HBO’s “Eastbound & Down,” Danny McBride is preparing to move from comedy to sci-fi, as he’s in early discussions to co-star in Ridley Scott‘s big-budget blockbuster “Alien: Covenant,” TheWrap has learned.  (February 10th 2016 www.thewrap.com/danny-mcbride-to-join-michael-fassbender-in-ridley-scotts-alien-covenant-exclusive)
  3. Conan O'Doyle: You are in, gonna be in the upcoming movie Alien Covenant?

    Danny McBride:Yes

    Conan O'Doyle: Is that correct?

    Danny McBride:Yes, yes, yeah
    Conan O'Doyle: And, what's kinda cool about that is, it's a cool gig anyway, but you were a big fan of the alien movies which makes this an even bigger deal, how did this all happen?

    Danny McBride: I-it was a, yuh, incredible, you know I've always been a fan of a of of the films and and uh, yuh, I began at the beginning of at the end of last year, I got a call that Ridley Scott wanted to meet me, I had no idea what it was for, I'm a humongous fan of his, he directed the original Alien and I went into his office to meet with him and I wasn't sure what it was about and about half way through the conversation, he starts showing me these sketches of spaceships and aliens and I was like Oh my god, this is about Alien, he's brought me here about Alien, and when it was over, he didn't offer me the role or anything, it was just sort of like to meet me, to meet with me about it, so I, I didn't really know what it was, I didn't know like if he heard I was a fan, was testing out the material to see if I thought it was cool or not.
    (laughter)

    Other guest (jokingly): What do you think of this scene on here?
    Danny McBride: I just Mr Cool

    Other guest (jokingly): Oh thankyou

    Conan O'Doyle: Oh like, that's a cool, that's a cool spaceship! It's the moon you idiot! It just suddenly cool with you. I don't want you to give anything away but, the experience of shooting the movie, is it, is it incredible

    Danny McBride: It's incredible, it's also the very first time I've been in a movie where people like die in it, so it's like you start the film and at dinner, it's like a big cast are all there and it's like every week, the table gets smaller and smaller

    (Laughter)

    Conan O'Doyle: It's like Game of Thrones dinners. Let's all meet back next week! Oh no! Now you've always been a big film buff, you were a film buff growing up as a kid.

    Danny McBride: I was, funny enough, even with er, with Aliens, it's like, we would on on Friday nights to the video store, things that don't exist anymore

    Conan O'Doyle: Right

    Danny McBride: And er, and I would always, this is young, like you know, I always, at Elementary School, I would always go for the rated R films and I would kind of like slide them in the last minute while my parents were checking out and what I would do, I would get up very early Saturday morning before they were up to watch them
    Conan O'Doyle: Right

    Danny McBride: And er,  and I actually did that with Aliens, I got up very early Saturday morning, put it on and then my mom wakes up early, starts making breakfast and she's there and I'm liked this is not going to fly, and at this point

    Conan O'Doyle: She can't see the screen

    Danny McBride:  She can't see the screen but she can hear what's happening and er, and at one point she says "what is this you're watching. If they curse one more time, this is going off. We're not going to, we're not going to sit and listen to this". And I'm like Okay, whatever, and then Bill Paxton comes on with like epic monologue with like game over, game over, drops the F bomb like thirty times, and that means to say, I had to shut the movie off and I never saw what happened to Newt or Ripley for ten years after that. (rough transcription, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AR88nyU4ZXc Danny McBride’s Long History With “Alien” - CONAN on TBS, Published on 16 Sep 2016)
  4. Rolling Stone: You're shooting Alien: Covenant right now. What can you tell us about it?
    Danny McBride: I’m the pilot of the spaceship Covenant, which is a colonization ship, searching for a planet where we might start life anew. I run the ship.
    Rolling Stone: Are you in a harness for eight hours a day, yelling at a green screen? 
    Danny McBride:
    No, I didn't know if it would be all green screen, but most of the stuff is practical effects: when you're running from an alien it's really a dude in an alien suit coming after you! The sets are incredible and you're in them: We go through some inclement weather at one point on the spaceship and this whole gigantic set is on a gimbal, shaking up and down. You don't have to use your imagination. 
    Rolling Stone:What’s the most impressive thing about Ridley Scott? 
    Danny McBride: He's got so much energy, and he shoots everything with four cameras. We move through stuff fast. When I got here some people said, "Oh man, he does two takes, three takes, tops," but I love it. It creates this attitude on set of, like, "You better fucking come with it because you've got two shots — you better bring it."
    (http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/features/danny-mcbride-on-vice-principals-trump-alien-covenant-July 6th 2016)
  5. Aside from Vice Principals, you’re a pretty busy guy: you’re making your first leap into sci-fi/horror with a major role in Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated Alien: Covenant. What can you tell us about it?
    Danny McBride: Man, that movie is gonna be nuts. Alien and Aliens were two of my favorite horror films growing up as a kid. I don’t think there’s anything that comes close to that franchise. I would’ve never thought in a million years I would be in one of those movies. When we wrapped Vice Principals, I came back to L.A. and got a call that Ridley Scott wanted to sit down for a meeting. I’m a humongous fan of his so I was blown away just at the idea of meeting him. So as we’re talking in the meeting and just kind of bullshitting, he starts pulling out these books and showing me these storyboard sketches. I finally realized, “Oh my God, this is for an Alien movie!” [Laughs.]
    Wow.
    Danny McBride:It was nuts. The idea that he trusted me to be a part of this thing is something that I’m still blown away by. I’m not allowed to talk a lot about what happens in it, but it is a straight horror movie. I’ve never been on something that intense before, with that level of visual effects and gore. I’ve also never been in a movie where people just straight up die like that. When I started the movie, the cast would go to these dinners and it was like twenty people. Then each week, the numbers dwindled and it became less and less people at the table. (http://ca.complex.com/pop-culture/2016/07/danny-mcbride-vice-principals-alien-covenant-sausage-party)
  6.  "I'm very excited about that," McBride recently told Business Insider. "When you read a script like this, you turn the page and go, 'Okay, I'm still in the script,' turn the page, 'I'm still in the script,' turn the page, 'I'm still in the script.'" (http://uk.businessinsider.com/danny-mcbride-future-in-alien-franchise-2017-5)
  7. "It was fun being at dinners that I had with my friends and getting them to guess how I get slaughtered in the movie," McBride said. "Then, I'd say, 'You'll just have to see.'"(http://uk.businessinsider.com/danny-mcbride-future-in-alien-franchise-2017-5)
  8. "I'm not allowed to say anything really, but just being a fan of the movies I feel like when people get in those sleep pods it's not usually good," McBride said with a laugh.(http://uk.businessinsider.com/danny-mcbride-future-in-alien-franchise-2017-5
  9. Danny McBride: To be honest, I was not the first person that came to my mind with the thought of the film, but it was actually Ridley who reached out to me and talked about this role, and I was just shocked that he even knew my body of work. But one I got the role, I was extremely honored and excited for the opportunity to play the part (https://variety.com/2017/film/news/danny-mcbride-ridley-scott-vice-principals-halloween-1202433981/)
  10. As for McBride, his position as the Covenant’s pilot puts him in a good place to make it out alive, primarily because he spends most of his time off-planet, aboard the mothership. Best known for foul-mouthed comedies, the leftfield casting is even more surprising when you learn McBride wasn’t sought for his comedic chops. “I assumed this role would be the wisecracking funny guy,” he admits. “But because of the nature of this story, there isn’t a whole lot of comedy. It starts out under some dire situations and it just gets worse from there.” Scott may not have been looking for jokes from Tennessee, but he did have another cinematic icon in mind when casting McBride. “When I met Ridley, he said that this character was like an homage to Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove,” McBride smiles. “So 
I brushed up on Strangelove, and then
I watched different things with pilots in, just to see, like, what buttons do they push?” he adds, bellowing with laughter. (Total Film July 2017)
  11.  In that same vein, McBride also spoke directly about recreating a sense of lived-in camaraderie with his co-stars in Alien: Covenant so that it echoed back to the legendary (and doomed) crew of the very first Alien movie. “With [Alien], you do see that originally, and those people seem like there is a history between them,” McBride says. “So I think he was definitely interested in portraying that. I think for everybody, everyone’s just so surprised that they’re in a Ridley Scott movie, in an Alien film, that it wasn’t too hard to bond, because everyone’s just like, ‘holy shit, here we are!’ It really felt like we were on an expedition. Like, ‘oh, I hope this turns out okay for everyone involved. I hope everyone makes it to the end!’” He trails off with a laugh on the last remark.
    (http://www.denofgeek.com/uk/movies/alien-covenant/49485/how-alien-covenant-prepared-danny-mcbride-for-halloween)
  12.   “The idea that Ridley Scott was even familiar with me was pretty stunning,” said McBride in a phone call. McBride is such a huge Alien fan that seeing the Weyland-Yutani symbol on the ship console his first day on set as was like a near-religious experience. But what project of McBride’s qualified him in Scott’s mind for the latest franchise reboot?After Pineapple Express, Seth Rogen told me that Ridley had reached out to him and said how much he enjoyed the film,” McBride said. “So I’m not sure what he saw [of mine] that he liked, but I know he had at least seen that.(https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/05/danny-mcbride-alien-covenant
  13.  To prepare, McBride studied pilots—just seeing how calm they stay when they’re working,” and observing their mannerisms so “it didn’t look like I was just flipping switches the whole time.” Aside from that character research, McBride said that toggling from comedy to sci-fi was not particularly difficult.
  14. The kind of comedy we do in Eastbound and Vice Principals is just a few degrees away from being a straight tragedy,” McBride explained. “So weirdly, the kind of preparation was very similar because you want to just root it in reality. I had no idea what the tone of the set would be going in because in comedies, it’s really loose and lively and you laugh a lot. . . . Despite all the disgusting, horrible things that are happening on-screen, I was surprised to see how light Ridley keeps it on set. It’s pretty awesome.(https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/05/danny-mcbride-alien-covenant)
  15. McBride shares screen time, dialogue, and even a whiskey shot with Michael Fassbender’s character (one of them, anyway), an eerily human android named Walter. And Fassbender’s commitment to his robotic performance did pose a bit of a challenge for McBride.
    When you’re acting and you’re looking into [a co-star’s] eyes, they’re giving you something back,” McBride says. “It was crazy how dialed in Fassbender was with this android performance, because you’d look at him and there’d be zero emotion, no matter what you say. He’s just always processing. It kind of spooked me out a little bit after time, honestly. I would have to look over his shoulder. Just looking at someone who just isn’t registering anything you’re saying with any emotion is crazy.(https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/05/danny-mcbride-alien-covenant)
  16.  The film, which opens in theaters Friday, also provides McBride and James Franco fans with a brief reunion of the frequent co-stars, as Franco has a cameo that provides a surprising, space-set epilogue to their previous collaborations in Pineapple Express, Your Highness, and This Is the End.
    I love James, so it was amazing to see him there,” said McBride. “We had already been shooting for a little bit, so it was good to see an old friend show up. And you’re giving him a tour around the spaceship: ‘Yeah, this is where we do this, and this is where this happens.’ It was nuts. He and I were both like, ‘Man, I hope that this [cameo] doesn’t mess people up.
    Laughing, he added, “I felt like our characters in This Is The End would really appreciate what was happening there. It was funny.(https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/05/danny-mcbride-alien-covenant)

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