Aliens: 10 behind-the-scenes facts from James Cameron’s sci-fi action sequel
In July 1986, James Cameron set off Aliens, the thrilling action-packed sequel to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror classic Extraterrestrial and showed how a fresh look, a unique idea and a little practical magic could open up a world brimming with traditions to explore. The blockbuster summer blockbuster introduced audiences to not only a new Xenomorph, but an entire army of fierce aliens led by an extremely terrifying queen, while also bringing back the legendary Screaming Queen Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley. .
The story of Aliens doesn’t start with the film’s release, but much earlier, as the following behind-the-scenes facts show. This assortment of stories from basically every part of the production process has something for longtime fans of the historic sci-fi action movie and newcomers alike.
James Cameron had a pretty unorthodox way of throwing the Aliens title
One of the most talked about urban legends surrounding the making of Aliens is the story of James Cameron’s meeting with 20th Century Fox where he wrote his favorite track, but instead of having an “S” at the end, the cheeky director replaced the last letter with a “$ sign “. Cameron confirmed this legendary story in a December 2021 interview with CinemaBlend. Basically Cameron felt that the movie should have a plural title because there would be an “army” of aliens instead of just one, and he added the “$” sign at the end because his way of saying the film would be a success.
20th Century Fox was initially reluctant to bring Sigourney Weaver back as Ellen Ripley
Given the portrait of Ellen Ripley by Sigourney Weaver in Extraterrestrial and her star power at the time, one would think that securing the actress for Aliens was a top priority for 20th Century Fox. However, the truth (which in this case is stranger than fiction) is probably not what you expected to hear. In an excerpt from JW Rinzler’s 2020 book The making of aliens (via SyFy Wire), it is revealed that there was a lot of “studio resistance” to Weaver’s casting because Fox was afraid of the hefty fees the actress would need. But Weaver was ultimately cast to play the lead role and was reportedly paid around $ 1 million plus a percentage of box office profits, according to the Los Angeles Times.
James Cameron tried to strike a balance between paying homage to Alien and directing his own movie
Although they are set in the same universe and feature some of the same characters, Ridley Scott’s Extraterrestrial and that of James Cameron Aliens couldn’t be more different. This was a conscious decision by Cameron as he felt he couldn’t get past the horror elements of the 1979 film that started it all, and so he had to find the right balance, as he explained during an interview with Film4 in 2016:
Later in the interview, the director explained that after careful consideration, he found a way out of the horror premise and create an action movie by continually tightening the screws to add tension to those memorable action sequences.
To see if the alien queen puppet would work, Stan Winston and James Cameron built a craft with two puppeteers and trash bags.
One of the most iconic characters of the set Extraterrestrial the franchise is the alien queen of Aliens. Since CGI was not an option for James Cameron, Stan Winston, and his small army of puppeteers and designers, the massive creature was brought to life through old-fashioned practical effects. While still in the early stages of planning, Winston and Cameron performed the famous “Garbage Bag Test,” which saw two puppeteers control a crude skeleton of the creature covered in black trash bags. Despite its appearance, the gigantic puppet was a success and the Aliens the crew had what would later become their Queen Xenomorph.
Michael Biehn was cast as Hicks after James Remar’s arrest for possession of heroin
Michael Biehn gave one of the best performances of his career as Colonial Marine Corporal Dwayne Hicks in Aliens, but the role was originally played by a very different actor, and that actor was James Remar. In the Netflix documentary series The films that made us, explained Remar halfway through filming in England, he was arrested for possession of heroin and was subsequently fired from the production. Days later, producer Gale Anne Hurd hired Biehn, who had previously worked with James Cameron on The Terminator, and quickly returned most of the images featuring Remar.
Bill Paxton proposed the iconic “Game Over, Man” line in Aliens
Bill Paxton’s William L. Hudson is responsible for some of the most memorable lines in Aliens, but the crème de la crème is his famous “Game over, man” speech after the Colonial Marines’ ship was destroyed and run aground on the LV-426. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Aliens at San Diego Comic Con in 2016, Yahoo! Entertainment sat down with members of the cast and crew to talk about the landmark film. At one point during the conversation, the late actor revealed that he made up a whole story for Hudson where the character “appeared on simulators and video games” and thought that would be a good idea. He had never thought that it would become a full-fledged monster.
Milk used to breed Bishop’s Android blood turned sour after days of filming his meeting with the alien queen
One of the most traumatic alien attacks in Aliens comes to the very end when it looks like Ellen Ripley, Newt, Hicks, and Bishop (Lance Henriksen) have escaped the Queen and are about to return home. But just when Ripley apologizes for the way she treated him earlier (remember, Ripley had a bad experience with androids with Ash in Extraterrestrial), the queen pulls the android in half and throws it to the ground, leaving it covered in a milky white blood-like fluid. In The Winston Effect: The Art and History of the Stan Winston Studio (via Stan Winston School of Character Arts) Crew member Lindsay Macgowan recalled that after several days of filming the milk used for blood started to spoil and Henriksen was just lying there and forced to endure the horrible sour smell throughout.
Powerloader scenes were performed with miniatures and costumed puppeteers
We see powerloaders a few times throughout Aliens, first when Ellen Ripley proves her worth to the Colonial Marines shortly after awakening from hypersleep, and then in the decisive battle between Ripley and the Alien Queen. In order to achieve these scenes (remember, CGI wasn’t much of an option at the time), Stan Winston’s team developed a system in which a person inside the massive costume would help Sigourney Weaver to stand. move on the board. In an oral history from 2016 Entertainment Weekly, Weaver explained that she would spend her lunch breaks working with John Lees (the guy in the costume) to calm their movements down before it was time to film the scenes. By the time of the final showdown at the end of the film, Winston’s team were using miniatures of the Charger and the Queen in addition to the full-size costume.
Sigourney Weaver tried to avoid all of the aliens whenever the alien queen was not “in her character”
In order to fully believe in the alien queen in Aliens, Sigourney Weaver insisted on avoiding the monster on set whenever he was not “in character.” In a 2016 appearance on TODAY to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary, Weaver explained that she “believed in the queen” and felt that it was best to approach the situation by viewing the creature as a realistic entity and not as a massive puppet controlled by a small group of technicians.
James Cameron was hired to write Aliens the same day he agreed to write Rambo: First Blood Part II
Aliens and Rambo: First Blood Part II were both box office hits, and James Cameron was responsible for their writing. This fact gets even crazier when you learn that Cameron not only was working on both scripts simultaneously, but was hired to write both on the same day. In 2016, Cameron told Entertainment Weekly that from the time he was hired to write both scripts he had three months to produce drafts, which required some ingenuity. To stay organized, the filmmaker had a desk for each scenario – one in his bedroom and one in his living room. He did this to make sure everything was in the right place as he moved from movie to movie.
Now that we’ve gone through all of these behind-the-scenes facts about the making of the James Cameron movie. Aliens, now is a great time to go back and watch all the Extraterrestrial movies in order. Otherwise, take a look at all the new movie releases in 2022.