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10 Things About The Alien Franchise You Probably Didn’t Already Know

With the 2nd annual #alienday on 4/26 and the release of Alien: Covenant in May, 2017 is the year for Alien fans! The Internet is awash with oft-repeated Alien franchise factoids, but please enjoy these 10 truly obscure Alien facts!

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1. Hicks was almost Dexter’s dad

20th Century Fox / Via

Actor James Remar was then known for The Warriors and 48 Hrs, and now as the apparition of Dexter’s dead dad. He was originally cast as Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens but was fired early in production.

If you think it was for some stupid Hollywood reason like drugs, then shame on you. You’re correct, but shame on you.

James Cameron brought in Michael Biehn, and the rest is Hicks history—mirroring the last minute replacement of Kane on the original film.

2. They weren’t easy shoots

20th Century Fox / Via

Alien3 is now synonymous with ‘Production Hell’, for numerous well-documented and foreseeable reasons. However, its two precursors were no walk in the park either.

The schedule on Alien was unforgiving, with nine executives in director Ridley Scott’s business day in day out, driving him to wall-punching frustration. He also purposefully ramped up the tension between actors. For example, he had Yaphet Kotto bully Weaver to put more fight to her performance—and it worked.

Aliens also had huge time and budget constraints. So, as unknown American cowboy James Cameron cracked the whip, the crew rebelled and the firings began. According to actor Ricco Ross (Pvt. Frost in the film), it was Sigourney Weaver who went to bat, got them back, and got them paid the overtime they were due. Ross said Weaver was the only reason any of the crew gave two shits about finishing the work.

Conversely, everything on Alien: Resurrection probably went fine, and Prometheus looked like a delirious hoot. Maybe desperation is the key!

3. Michael Biehn got paid almost as much for his image in Alien3 than Aliens

Stop! Think before you spray slobber all over your lovely screen! I know Hicks wasn’t in Alien3, he and Newt being unceremoniously killed off screen (spoilers).

Well, he was barely in Alien3

20th Century fox / Via

Michael Biehn felt hurt and betrayed by the decision, just like the rest of us, and it still doesn’t make a lot of sense. But, Weaver and producer/writer David Giler wanted Ripley alone and isolated again.

But at least he got paid. He demanded and received almost as much cash for this low-res image than his entire time on Aliens.

20th Century Fox / Via*hOv6gND5dj7eO7GX.jpg

John Spaihts’ original draft has character motivations that make sense, and some fucking aliens in it. But its prequelness was too prequelly for Ridley Scott. He wanted to connect the stories more obliquely.

He hired Lost’s Damon Lindelof to make it more original. In the process, he made it a lot less comprehensible.

5. Sigourney Weaver practised crucial butt-clenching with Rick Moranis

Columbia Pictures / Via

Aliens and Little Shop of Horrors filmed concurrently at Pinewood Studios and both feature huge complex puppets—Stan Winston’s alien queen and Frank Oz’s Audrey II. To articulate them realistically, puppeteers needed to work in slow motion, so in some shots the actors did too.

The trick to doing that, apparently, is to keep your butt tight! Moranis and Weaver, pals since co-starring in some movie about ghosts, practised together.

6. Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

Analog Science Fiction and Fact / Via

A group of travellers embark on a dangerous excursion to remote reaches. They encounter an ancient alien civilisation, destroyed by some abomination they created. But not all of them are dead, and neither are the monsters. Oh, and they created the human race, more by accident than design, and are pretty indifferent to us. Sound familiar…?

I’m describing, of course, HP Lovecraft’s popular novella At The Mountains Of Madness. Horror maestro Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak), who cites Lovecraft as a major influence, had been trying to get his version off the ground for about a decade.

While it was undeniably languishing in development, a blow-by-blow retelling called Prometheus finally put the kybosh on his passion project.

Look, it’s all fun and games until you rob us of a potentially good film. Tekeli-li indeed!

7. Vasquez actually thought they said ‘illegal aliens’

20th Century Fox / Via

Hudson’s jibe, “She thought they said illegal aliens and signed up...” was an ad-lib based on real events.

Jenette Goldstein (PFC Vasquez) was expecting to audition for a movie about illegal immigrants in America, and showed up with high heels, a short skirt, and makeup.

Because she’s a badass, she won the role after a second audition—going down in history as the only bit of ethnically inappropriate casting we’re strangely OK with (she’s about as Hispanic as Donald Trump).

8. The Conrad connection

Public Domain / Via

Spaceships in the Alien franchise are often named for references to great American author Joseph Conrad.

When starting on Alien, director Ridley Scott had just finished his first feature, The Duellists, based on the Conrad short story The Duel.

Conrad wrote many stories on a nautical theme, depicting the triumph of the human spirit against a deeply uncaring universe.

The parallels being massive but poetic, Scott named the ship in Alien (previously dubbed Leviathan) after Conrad’s book Nostromo. The escape shuttle Narcissus, the Sulaco from Aliens, and the Torrens from the game Alien: Isolation, are all named for Conrad references.

The Betty and Auriga from Alien: Resurrection aren’t, because they didn’t know what they were doing. And Prometheus went Greek.

In other naming-convention news, androids in the series advance alphabetically. So far we’ve had Ash, Bishop, Call, and David. Strangely though, they’ve chosen Walter for Alien: Covenant. Way to break tradition, guys!

9. Thank Dune

HR Giger / Via

As recently explored in documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, a doomed pre-Lynch version of the Frank Herbert sci-fi spectacular is responsible for the first gathering of the Alien design dream team. Artists Ron Cobb, Moebius, Chris Foss, Dan O’Bannon and HR Giger all created extensive concept art for what would later prove an overly cumbersome proposition.

After shutdown on Dune, O’Bannon started shopping his schlock horror script Star Beast around Hollywood. It was Fox’s Alan Ladd Jr, having championed Star Wars to success, who was looking to take another sci-fi property into A-movie territory. O’Bannon had to give up his plans to direct, but convinced Ridley Scott to bring on board his exceptional Dune team to build on concepts they already had in store.

10. The AvP mystery

Based on the success of the popular Alien vs. Predator concept, popularised by the computer games, we’ve long been promised a cinematic showcase that would pit these titans of science fiction against each other.

Even though detailed IMDB pages exist for two Alien vs. Predator movies, they have never surfaced and no one has ever seen them. It’s the longest enduring mystery in the history of both franchises.

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