changed for the later films).
The horseshoe-shaped alien craft became known by the nickname "The Big Croissant" among the cast and crew.
The engines of the Narcissus coming to life was created by having water pour out of showers with strong arc lights around it. This gave the illusion that it was plasma.
The production designers, in an attempt to cut costs while still remaining creative, constructed several of the sets in such a way as to make them usable in more than one scene. A good example of this can be seen in the "Space Jockey" room (the room in which to away team discovers the skeletal remains in the alien ship) and the "egg chamber."
The sets were designed so that the skeleton and the revolving disc on which it sits could be removed and the empty space then redressed with the "eggs," creating, combined with a matching matte painting, a vast cavern full of potential alien spawn.
When the Nostromo crew first discover the marooned alien spacecraft and exit their craft to investigate, the murky POV footage through their helmet visors was filmed by Ridley Scott walking a consumer camcorder at low level across the cramped set.
The large Space Jockey sculpture was designed and painted by H.R. Giger himself, who was disappointed he couldn't put any finishing touches on it by the time filming came about for the scene. Also, the Space Jockey prop was burned and destroyed by a burning cigarette left on the model. Los Angeles. The unfortunate event was covered by local TV news stations that evening.
Yaphet Kotto (Parker) actually picked fights with Bolaji Badejo who played the Alien, in order to help his onscreen hatred of the creature.
The embryonic movements of the facehugger, prior to bursting out of its egg, were created by Ridley Scott using both his rubber-gloved hands.
The vapor released from the top of the spacesuit helmets (presumably exhausted air from the breathing apparatus) was actually aerosol sprayed from inside the helmets. In one case, the mechanism broke and started spraying inside the helmet.
A closer look at the alien eggs in the scene right before the facehugger reveals that slime on the eggs is dripping from bottom to top. Ridley Scott did this intentionally by shooting with the egg hanging from the ceiling and the camera upside down.
At the start of production, Ridley Scott had to contend with 9 producers being onset at all times, querying the length of time he was taking over each shot.
After the first week of shooting, Dan O'Bannon asked if he could attend the viewing of the dailies, and was somewhat staggered when Gordon Carroll refused him. To get past that ban, O'Bannon viewed the dailies by standing beside the projectionist whilst he screened them for everyone else.
During production an attempt was made to make the alien character transparent or at least translucent.
While he was working on the visual effects for this film, Brian Johnson was simultaneously working in the same capacity on Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
According to myth, the name for the company, "Weylan-Yutani" (the spelling was changed to "Weyland-Yutani" in Aliens (1986) and later films), was taken from the names of Ridley Scott's former neighbors - he hated them, so he decided to "dedicate" the name of the "evil company" to
them. In reality the name was created by conceptual designer Ron Cobb (who created the Nostromo and the crew's uniforms) to imply a corner on the spacecraft market by an English-Japanese corporation. According to himself, he would have liked to use "Leyland-Toyota" but obviously could not so he changed one letter in Leyland and added the Japanese name of his (not Scott's) neighbor.
The space jockey prop was 26 feet tall.
Entertainment Weekly voted this as the third scariest film of all time.
Much of the dialogue was developed through improvisation.
The computer screen displaying Nostromo's orbit around the planet contains a hidden credit to Dr. Brian Wyvill, one of the programmers for the animation. Within the top frame entitled Deorbital Descent, it is possible to isolate the letters "BLOB", Dr. Brian Wyvill's common nickname.
For the scene in which the facehugger attacks, the egg was upside down above the camera, and the operator thrust it down toward the lens like a hand puppet.
The models had to be repainted every evening of the shoot because the slime used on-set removed the acrylic paint from their surfaces.
Among some of the ingredients of the alien costume are Plasticine and Rolls Royce motor parts.
130 alien eggs were made for the egg chamber inside the downed spacecraft.
An early draft of the script had a male Ripley, making this one of at least three films where Sigourney Weaver played a character originally planned to be a man. The second is The TV Set (2006) and the third is Vantage Point (2008).
The writing partnership between Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett came about when Shusett approached O'Bannon about helping him adapt a Philip K. Dick story that he had acquired the rights to. That was "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" which later became Total Recall (1990).
O'Bannon then said that he had an idea that he was stuck on about an alien aboard a spaceship and that he needed some assistance. Shusett agreed to help out and they tackled the alien movie first as they felt it would have been the cheaper of the two to make.
In a preview of the bonus feature menus for the "Alien Legacy" box set posted to USENET, the bio for Dallas had him as being born female and Lambert as being born male, suggesting gender reassignment before the events in the film. Fan reaction prompted this to be changed before
production of the DVDs.
H.R. Giger's design for the Chestburster was originally based very strongly on Francis Bacon's Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, depicting creatures that while quite phallic are also more birdlike, being based on the Greek Furies. Giger's doubts about his first design were confirmed when Ridley Scott fell about laughing at the sight of the prototype Chestburster, describing it as "like a plucked turkey", and Roger Dicken ended up retooling it to resemble the now classic design.
Bolaji Badejo beat Peter Mayhew to the part of the alien.In The Blue Planet (2001), David Attenborough said the Alien (1979) monster was modeled after the Phronima, a creature spotted by submersibles at great depths. However there is little evidence to support this claim - the original Alien design was based on a previous painting by H.R. Giger, Necronom IV, which bears little resemblance to the Phronima. Giger's agent, Bijan Aalam, claims "He never inspired himself by any animals, terrestrial or marine".
Jerry Goldsmith was most aggrieved by the changes that Ridley Scott and his editor Terry Rawlings wrought upon his score. Scott felt that Goldsmith's first attempt at the score was far too lush and needed to be a bit more minimalist. Even then, Goldsmith was horrified to discover that his amended score had been dropped in places by Rawlings who inserted segments from Goldsmith's score to
Freud (1962) instead. (Rawlings had initially used these as a guide track only, and ended up preferring them to Goldsmith's revised work.) Goldsmith harbored a grudge against the two right up to his death in 2004.
Dan O'Bannon first encountered H.R. Giger's unique style when the two were briefly working on Alejandro Jodorowsky's ill-fated attempt at making "Dune".
The genesis of the film arose out of Dan O'Bannon's dissatisfaction with his first feature, Dark Star (1974) which John Carpenter directed in 1974. Because of that film's severe low budget, the alien was quite patently a beach ball. For his second attempt, O'Bannon wanted to craft an altogether more convincing specimen. The goofiness of Dark Star (1974) also led him in the direction of an intense horror movie.
Walter Hill's re-write included to make two of the characters female (and to add a romantic subplot that was deleted) and to alter much of the dialogue written by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett. The original dialogue has been described as poetic but Hill assessed it as pretentious and obscure.
Ranked #7 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Sci-Fi" in June 2008.
Three versions of the landing craft were built for the production: a 12" version for long shots, a 48" version for the landing sequence and a seven ton rig for showing the ship at rest on the planet's surface.
A lawsuit by A.E. van Vogt, claiming plagiarism of his 1939 story "Discord in Scarlet" (which he had also incorporated in the 1950 novel "Voyage of the Space Beagle"), was settled out of court.
Carlo Rambaldi constructed three alien heads based on H.R. Giger's designs: two mechanical models for use in various close-up work, and an elementary model for medium-to-long shots. Rambaldi was not available to operate his creations on the actual shoot, though he did spend two weeks in the UK as a technical advisor to Ridley Scott and his crew.
Walter Hill and David Giler's most significant contribution to the script was to make Ash a robot.
Although Dan O'Bannon has been reluctant to acknowledge any positive changes by Hill and Giler, Ronald Shusett has described the addition as a significant improvement to the plot.
Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist who, in her comic Dykes to Watch Out For, proposed a simple test to see if a film treated its female characters as equal members of the cast. The rule has three parts: the must feature 1. At least two female characters, who 2. have a conversation with each other that 3. isn't about one of the male characters. This criteria came to be known as the Bechdel test. The character in the comic who outlines these criteria says the last movie she saw that fit these criteria was Alien.
Dallas' pursuit of the alien down the ventilator shafts, and the intercut scenes of the rest of the crew urging him on, was shot in one day.
"Nostromo" is the title of a Joseph Conrad book. The shuttlecraft is called the "Narcissus", from the title of another Joseph Conrad book. See also Aliens (1986).
Like the alien, parasitic wasps gestate inside a host's body; in this case a caterpillar; and then chews its way out with razor sharp teeth. Unlike the human host, however, the caterpillar usually does not die right away. Instead, it has been affected with a virus that changes its behavior. The caterpillar will usually create a cocoon for itself to turn into a butterfly. Under the influence of this virus, however, it spins its cocoon instead around the newly hatched wasp larva, and then aggressively guards the cocoon against other predators. It does this at the expense of seeking out food, so it will eventually starve to death.
Originally to be directed by Walter Hill, but he pulled out and gave the job to Ridley Scott.
Ridley Scott's first exposure to early Alien (1979) drafts were sent to him by Sanford Lieberson, then head of 20th Century Fox's London headquarters. Lieberson had seen Scott's The Duellists (1977) and was adequately impressed to consider the neophyte filmmaker.
Director Ridley Scott and composer Jerry Goldsmith were at odds with each other on the usage of the original music score. As a result, many crucial cues were either rescored, ill-placed, or deleted altogether, and the intended end title replaced with Howard Hanson's "Symphony No. 2 (Romantic)". The original intended score was featured as an isolated track on the now out-of-print 20th Anniversary DVD.
The decal on the door of the Nostromo is a "checkerboard square", the symbol on Purina's pet food label; it designated Alien Chow.
A green monitor visible behind Ripley while the crew discusses Kane's condition outside the kitchen shows nonsense characters as well as the word "Giler", obviously a nod to producer David Giler.
The literal translations of some of this film's foreign language titles include Alien: The Eighth Passenger (Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Denmark and France) and Alien: The Uncanny Creature from a Strange World (West Germany).
Ridley Scott was keen to take on the project as the one that he had been previously working on at Paramount, Tristan + Isolde (2006), was stuck in development hell.
The producers of the 1950s potboiler It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) considered suing for plagiarism but didn't.
When the movie was broadcast in Israel, its title was changed to "The Eighth Passenger" in Hebrew.
Nostromo's identification number is 180924609.
The alien's method of reproduction via implantation was deliberately intended to invoke images of male rape and impregnation. During early development, Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett ran into a writing impasse trying to work out how the alien would get aboard the ship. Shussett came up with the idea, "the alien f*cks one of them!", which was eventually developed into the facehugger concept.
According to screenwriter Dan O'Bannon, the inspiration for the iconic 'chest-burster' scene came from his own experiences with the pain of Crohn's disease.
In the chest bursting scene, Veronica Cartwright, who played Lambert, screamed when blood splattered on her. This wasn't planned, because the cast didn't know which way the blood would splatter.
Ridley Scott originally intended for the alien to be dying when found in the shuttle at the end and ultimately transforming itself into a new egg.
Kay Lenz auditioned for the role of Ripley.
The Facehugger was planned to be painted green, but O'Bannon, seeing the unpainted Facehugger on set and noting how inventive its human flesh-tone color was, argued for it to remain as is.
The room where Stanton's Brett gets taken out by the Xenomorph was a point of contention between Scott and the producers. They didn't understand why there would be water pouring or chains dangling in a ship such as this. Scott, feeling he needed the extra movement in the scene, stuck to his guns and got his chains.
There was discussion to include a gay relationship between Ripley and Lambert.
Before filming the scene where Ash shoves a rolled up magazine into Ripley's mouth, Scott told Weaver actor Ian Holm was going to stick the magazine "up her hooter." Of course, he is referring to her mouth, though Weaver was more than a little confused at the time.
A different version of Ash explaining to the remaining crew what his mission was had much different dialogue. According to Cartwright, Ash originally asked them if they had tried to communicate with the Xenomorph yet. There was also dialogue about the alien being an experiment of some kind.
It was Weaver's idea to sing, "You Are My Lucky Star" while preparing to get rid of the Xenomorph. Scott mentions how much flack he got from the production because of how expensive the rights to the song were.
The character of Ash, and subsequently an android character being introduced into the film, is what O'Bannon calls a "Russian spy," someone on a mission who it is discovered intends to sabotage said mission. "If it wasn't in there, what difference does it make?" the screenwriter asks. "I mean, who gives a rat's ass? So somebody is a robot." O'Bannon was annoyed by the character being added and calls it "an inferior idea from inferior minds well acted and well directed."
Several planned but un-filmed scenes were;Dallas and Parker using a craft called, 'The Flying
Bedstead' to enact repairs on the exterior of the ship whilst in space.
The crew using internal cameras to look for the alien where they find it halfway matured looking something like a cross between the chest-burster and an egg with feet.
Dallas death was to take place in a huge upside down 'Wind tunnel' in the air duct system. Dallas looked up see the alien on the ceiling of this massive cylinder where it leaped from one side to the other in a super-fast descent toward him.
The alien was to pull Ripley out of the shuttle with the grapple wire where she shoots it with a pistol and makes her way back inside before destroying it with the engines.
Ron Cobb's explanation of the what happened to the Space Jockeys. "At some point a cataclysm causes the extermination of the adults in this unique race, leaving no one to tend and nurture the young. But in a dark lower chamber of the breeding temple a large number of eggs lies dormant, waiting to sense something warm. Years later, the Space Jockey's race comes to this planetoid. The Jockeys are on a mission of exploration and archaeology and they are fascinated by this marvelous temple and unknown culture. One of them finds the egg chamber and gets face-hugged. He's rescued, but no one knows what's happened. They take him back to their ship and continue their exploration of the planet's surface. When the chest-burster erupts from the Jockey it goes on a killing rampage until it is shot and killed. The Alien dies, but immediately decomposes and its acid eats through the hull
of the Jockey ship, leaving them stranded on the planet. The Jockeys radio out a message that there is a dangerous parasite on the planet, that nothing can be done to save them in time, and that no one should attempt a rescue. Then the Jockeys slowly starve to death."
Bill Paterson turned down a part.
Ridley Scott: [mothers] The Nostromo's computer is named "Mother". The incubation of the alien has also been interpreted as a metaphor for pregnancy.
.Ridley Scott reportedly said that originally he wanted a much darker ending. He planned on having the alien bite off Ripley's head in the escape shuttle, sit in her chair, and then start speaking with her voice in a message to Earth. Apparently, 20th Century Fox wasn't too pleased with such a dark ending.
Extra scenes filmed but not included, due to pacing problems:
The crew listens to the eerie signal from the planetoid.
An additional discussion between Parker and Ripley over the comm, concerning the progress on the Nostromo's engines.
A scene where a furious Lambert hits Ripley for her earlier refusal to let her team back aboard the Nostromo.
An additional conversation between Lambert and Ash, where Lambert notices a dark patch over Kane's lungs on the scanner, foreshadowing Kane's fate.
A discussion among the crew, immediately following Kane's death, on how to proceed further.
Alternative death scene for Brett: Ripley and Parker witness an alive Brett being lifted from the ground.
Ripley and Lambert discuss whether Ash has sex or not.
An unfinished scene where Parker spots the alien next to an airlock door. He asks Ripley and Lambert over the comm to open the airlock and flush the alien into space.
However, the alien is warned by a siren and escapes, but not before it gets injured by a door and its blood creates a small hole, causing a short decompression.
Ripley finds Dallas and Brett cocooned. Brett is dead and covered in maggots; Dallas is alive and begs Ripley to kill him. She does so with a flame thrower. The mercy-killing scene would eventually be recycled and used in Alien: Resurrection (1997) when an alien/human-hybrid clone of Ripley begs the real Ripley to kill her, to which she does so with a flame-thrower.
Ash's blood is colored water. Milk was not used as it would have gotten very smelly very quickly under the hot studio lights. Milk was used though for the close-up of his innards, along with pasta and glass marbles.
For the alien's appearance in the shuttle, the set was built around Bolaji Badejo, giving him an effective hiding place. However, extricating himself from the hiding place proved more difficult than anticipated. The alien suit tore several times, and, in one instance, the whole tail came off.
For Parker's death, a fiberglass cast of Yaphet Kotto's head was made, and then filled with pigs' brains. The forehead was made of wax so that the alien's teeth could penetrate it easily. Indeed barbed hooks were fastened to the end of the teeth to make sure it broke the wax surface effectively.
Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett wanted all the characters to be male to avoid what was already becoming a cliché in horror films: the female in danger being the only one left alive to face the killer at the climax, later referred to as the "final girl" phenomena. Ironically, that's exactly where the character of Ripley ended up although it must be noted she is much stronger and more resourceful than the typical horror film "final girl".
Body Count: 9 (including the Space Jockey, facehugger, and the Alien itself).
Lamberts off-screen death according to the novel was supposed to be the Alien forcing her body into a vent too small for it.
Alien 4 Entertainment Facts
Sigourney Weaver made the behind-the-back half-court basketball shot successfully after two weeks of basketball practice, tutored by a basketball coach. Her conversion rate during that two weeks was about one shot in from every six. When the day came to shoot the scene, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet wanted to have the ball dropped in from above, rather than wait for Weaver to sink the shot herself, which "would probably take about 200 takes". Weaver insisted that the she could get the shot in
herself, which she was finally allowed to do. She sunk the shot on the very first take, even though she was six feet further past the three-point line. Ron Perlman was completely stunned (and thoroughly impressed), and turned directly at the camera and broke character, saying, "Oh my God!" The editors looked at the shot and decided that there was "enough room to get the scissors in". Weaver was
excited about making the shot, but Jeunet was concerned that audiences would believe the shot to be faked due to the ball leaving the frame. Upon Weaver's insistence, he kept the shot as it was. Weaver described the miracle shot as "one of the best moments in her life", after her wedding day and the birth of her daughter, of course.
The opening shot of Ripley cloned, albeit as a young girl, was based on photographs that Sigourney Weaver had given the special effects crew of herself as a child.
When pre-production was underway, the original 'Alien Queen' could not be located and the molds that were used to build the original were damaged beyond usefulness.
Fortunately, the original life-size puppet was located... in the personal collection of an avid Alien (1979) fan.
The underwater sequence marked the first time that Winona Ryder had gone underwater since a near-drowning incident that happened to her when she was 12 years old. The actress suffered a complete anxiety attack on the first day of filming in the underwater set.
Ron Perlman did most of his own stunts, particularly the scene in where he hangs upside down off a ladder by his legs whilst firing two guns at an alien. The next day, when he went to take a shower, he discovered that he had severely lacerated the backs of his knees in doing so.
Sigourney Weaver signed on to the film largely because of one scene in particular - when Ripley 8 encounters her previous 7 aborted genetic incarnations.
Joss Whedon has commented on his dissatisfaction with the movie. Fans had speculated that the finished article deviated from his original script in some fatal manner, however he put such rumors to rest. His dialogue, action and plot were essentially intact. However he had written with a playful, tongue-in-cheek tone, which didn't work when the director decided to "play it straight".
Eventually the Betty and her crew became the prototypes for Whedon's Firefly (2002), which captured the tone he had aimed for in this movie.
Actor Ron Perlman nearly drowned while filming the underwater sequence. At one point, when trying to surface, he hit his head on a sprinkler in the ceiling, knocking him out cold. He was rescued by nearby film crew members.
In her initial scenes with the Newborn, Sigourney Weaver makes a point of not looking in its eyes. This was a lesson learned from when she made Gorillas in the Mist (1988) in not making initial eye contact with a potentially dangerous animal.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet wanted to have a scene where a mosquito stings Ripley, then vanishes into smoke because of her acid blood. Eventually, he dropped the idea after the SFX team told him how much it would cost.
The studio wanted to cut the scene preceding Ripley's encounter with the alien queen because of its rather sexual nature. They decided to keep it when Sigourney Weaver threatened to not promote the film if the scene was cut.
The original idea for the movie was for Newt (the child from Aliens (1986)) to be cloned, not Ripley. This was changed when Sigourney Weaver agreed to reprise her role for $11 million.
Joss Whedon was unhappy with everything about the film. He later commented in 2005: "It wasn't a question of doing everything differently, although they changed the ending; it was mostly a matter of doing everything wrong. They said the lines but they said them all wrong. And they cast it wrong. And they designed it wrong. And they scored it wrong. They did everything wrong they could possibly do. That's actually a fascinating lesson in filmmaking. Because everything they did reflects back to the script or looks like something from it. And people assume that if I hated it then they'd changed the script...but it wasn't so much they changed it, they executed it in such a ghastly
fashion they rendered it unwatchable.
The full-size Newborn animatronic puppet was originally filmed with genitals that were a mix between male and female genitals. They had to be digitally removed on studio orders.
In the scene where Dominique Pinon appears out of an elevator, his line originally was "Who were you expecting? The Easter Bunny?" However, Pinon kept saying "Eastern Bunny", to which his fellow actors would break out in laughter. The crew later even printed T-shirts with this line. Interestingly enough, the new line "Who were you expecting, Santa Claus?" had also been used in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's previous movie, The City of Lost Children (1995), where it was directed at Ron Perlman as well.
Winona Ryder agreed to do this film even before reading the script. She stated that she "didn't care if she died in the first scene", she'd do it. Ryder claimed that then she could boast about being in an "Alien" movie to her younger brothers.
This is the only Alien movie not to be shot in the United Kingdom. One of the reasons for this was that co-producer Sigourney Weaver didn't want to travel.
In order to heighten contrasts, cinematographer Darius Khondji added silver to the printing process. This had the result of making the dark colors richer and giving everything else a metallic tinge. He also used an electric blue tint for the underwater sequence.
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet spoke almost no English at the time of shooting and had translators on set at all times. By the time the Special Edition DVD was released in 2003, he had learned enough English to record a director's commentary.
On the February 14, 2013 episode of Conan, William H. Macy revealed that the last time he'd done an audition was for the role of Dr. Gediman. During the audition with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, he felt the scene he was reading was so ridiculous, he said "You know what guys, This is never going to happen," got up and left the room.
Sigourney Weaver was paid $11 million to come back as Ripley, which was the entire budget of Alien (1979) (not adjusted for inflation).
H.R. Giger was openly displeased that he wasn't given a credit for his alien designs and fired off a letter of protest to 20th Century Fox.
Milk had to be added to the underwater set as the water was simply too transparent to be convincing.
The production had trouble finding enough studio space as major productions like Titanic (1997), Starship Troopers (1997) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) were all taking up most of the available studio space in Hollywood.
Joss Whedon originally scripted the Newborn creature as a deadly four-legged, eyeless, bone-white creature with red veins running along the sides of its head. It had an inner jaw, similar to the all the other aliens. It also had a pair of pincers on the sides of his head. These pincers were used to hold its prey still as it drained the prey of blood with its inner jaw. The creature was also larger, nearly the size of the queen alien. In later script revisions, the creature was changed into a "more believable" hybrid of human and alien.
The $50-60 million budget was significantly lower than the director and writers originally imagined. Therefore, sets were toned down in scale and a more claustrophobic shooting approach with a lot of close-ups to characters' faces was taken.
Joss Whedon went through five different versions of the final battle with the "Newborn" creature, the first four versions of which all took place on Earth in such settings as a hospital maternity ward, a giant junkyard, a snowy forest and cliffside, and a desert.
The character of Dr. Wren was originally written for Bill Murray, with the intent of reuniting him with Sigourney Weaver, his co-star from Ghostbusters (1984).
Angelina Jolie turned down the role of Call.
Although it appears that the cast spend most of the time wandering up and down endless spaceship corridors, in reality there were only two built for the film.
As the film progresses, the walls of the ship's corridors become darker and more ominous.
The underwater segment was shot on a specially constructed sound stage on the Fox lot, which was converted into a permanent water-tank. It took nearly a week to fill it with water.
The actors were subjected to about 15 underwater training sessions in swimming pools around the Los Angeles area before arriving at the underwater set where they underwent a further 2 weeks of training before anything was shot. Sigourney Weaver missed most of this because she had been
appearing in a play on Broadway just prior to filming.
The Auriga interactive computer is named "Father." In the original Alien (1979), the computer's name was "Mother." There are even compatible scenes where people yell at Mother or Father for not responding to them.
Takes place in 2379, 200 years after "Aliens" and "Alien 3" (2179) and also takes place 257 years after "Alien" (2122).
The Newborn was specifically given eyes to answer some of the criticism that had been made earlier about how the alien could actually see, as it had no apparent eyes.
The underwater scenes took three weeks to film.
Originally, the fourth alien movie was to be a rendition of the popular comic Aliens Vs. Predator, which combined the Alien creatures with Predator (1987) since 1991. It took another 7 years before AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) saw the light.
David Cronenberg was also an early choice to direct but later passed.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet wanted to shoot additional action scenes using a fully digital Newborn creature. He wanted Ripley to be chased by the Newborn in the escape from the Betty scene, but could not realize it due to budget constraints. In the final film, a full-size Newborn creature can be seen in only one scene and almost all of the scenes involving the creature are animatronic.
One of the concept designs of the Newborn involved the creature sporting a likeness of Sigourney Weaver's face. This was abandoned as it bore too much of a similarity to Sil, the alien creature in Species (1995).
Winona Ryder was a big fan of Alien (1979) and jumped at the chance of appearing alongside her icon, Sigourney Weaver, for that reason.
WILHELM SCREAM: A soldier in the last escape pod when the alien enters it, right before Perez asks for the grenade.
In the theatrical release, H.R. Giger is not credited for his part in the design of the Aliens. The video release has his name in the closing credits.
Director Pierre Jeunet was given license to change the script as much as he wanted, and the final film is substantially different than Joss Whedon's original script. Characters and situations were merged, simplified or removed, and the overall tone was made more fanciful and less realistic. Things changed or removed include: An Asian assassin called St. Just (pronounced "San-Jhoost")
was original part of the Betty's crew. Johner was described as being more of a crazy, psychopathic
character. After the underwater sequence, the characters were then forced to climb up a 50 story lift-shaft, with aliens attacking them. After the Chapel scene, there was an action sequence in the ship's "farm", including a moment were the crew discovers the army has been growing cannabis. The Newborn alien was originally extremely deadly, the size of a Queen alien, and there was little emotional connection between it and Ripley. The final action sequence took place on Earth, ending with the surviving characters (including Ripley) deciding to stick together.
To play Ripley 7, Sigourney Weaver stuck her head up through a hole in the floor so it could be seamlessly grafted onto the grotesque body that the make-up department had created for her.
When Johner asks Ripley, "So I hear you, like, ran into these things before. What did you do?", she replies, "I died." Left on the cutting room floor was Johner's remark, "That's not exactly what I was hoping to hear."
The script and promotional material reveal that the orbit of Auriga was beyond Pluto. The project was not approved by the Congress, possibly due to its hazardous nature. According to the script the USS military cultivated vast quantities of cannabis to fund the cloning program since they could not rely on the goverment for an official subsidization. The goverment could not observe the military beyond the boundaries of the solar system. Although this subplot was dropped from the film there are still hints of this backstory when Elgyn remarks that the operation was not authorized by the Congress and that Auriga is located in unregulated space. This also explains the assertion of Call that Dr Wren is conducting illegal experiments.
The alien eggs were made to appear more vivid and pulsating at the request of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
After watching Alien (1979), he thought the eggs were too static.
The ricocheting bullet that takes out a soldier standing behind Gary Dourdan was an unused idea from Jean-Pierre Jeunet's The City of Lost Children (1995).
The Newborns' skull was made of plaster so that it could be sucked out of the window into space. Cast only at 1/8-1/4" thick, it was scored into various pieces. Each piece was individually attached to a wire, so that when struck against the window and cracked, each fragment could be pulled out one by one.
The film's model miniatures were shot at a former Howard Hughes aircraft plant in Los Angeles. Visual effects supervisor Erik Henry and visual effects director of photography Rick Fichter used an advanced motion control camera system that required constant vigilance and re-alignment as the area was prone to small earthquakes and tremors.
Elgyn's spoken landing code for the Auriga is, of course, "EA-TM-E".
The gaps between the four Alien films steadily decreased. There was seven years between the release of Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986), six between Aliens and Alien³ (1992), and five between Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection (1997).
Ripley's outfit was going to be a different one than the dark red uniform she is wearing for the most of the film. After Sigourney Weaver saw Kim Flowers (Hillard) on the set, she wanted to wear the same costume. Hillard can be seen in the exact same outfit in the underwater scene.
Paul W.S. Anderson was in talks to direct but was unable to take part due to scheduling conflicts. Anderson would still get his chance to direct an outer space opus the following year with Event Horizon (1997). And of course he would visit the Alien franchise several years later with AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004).
The scene with Ripley waking up gradually was not in the script. It was an addition by the director in order to symbolize the creation of the clone as a larva which transforms into a butterfly and tears up the cocoon.
In Call's back-story: When the android industry declined. The second generation androids or Autons (androids designed by androids) were developed, after an attempt to revitalize the android industry. The Autons rebel and only a few androids escaped the massacre and Call was created as a Auton secret agent and joined the Betty crew as a mechanic, so she could destroy the cloned xenomorphs
aboard the Auriga.
Writer Joss Whedon wrote Christie's character with Yun-Fat Chow in mind. Yun-Fat's manager and producer Terence Chang turned down the role for him.
During the production of the Alien Quadrilogy DVD set, Frantic Films was brought in to re-shoot the title sequence where the bug's teeth gives way to a shot of the Auriga.
Danny Boyle was Fox's first choice to direct. He turned it down to work on A Life Less Ordinary (1997).
For the luckless human victims which the renegades find, already having had the aliens burst out of their stomachs, the crew devised costumes which had stomach entrails stitched onto the outside. This was directly inspired by a T-shirt that was popular around the time of the release of Alien (1979) in which an alien fetus (and a lot of blood) was attached to the front.
Producer David Giler was initially opposed to the making of a fourth film.
The first draft of the script contained an action sequence that took place in a garden contained within the spaceship "Auriga," with Ripley driving an electrically-powered jeep to avoid aliens attacking from all sides. This was to take place after the scene in the chapel but before the sequence where the Newborn is introduced. The sequence was cut due largely to budget constraints.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet originally wanted to cast a woman as the main villain but the studio refused, seeing as the film already had two female leads.
When the two aliens kill the third to get out of their cell, the intestines and guts and blood 'melting' through the floor was actually a descending platform with the intestines over top of it.
Nigel Phelps based the design of the spaceship "Betty" on a jackhammer. The "Auriga" was originally to be a vertical structure, but he abandoned this idea once he realized the difficulty of capturing the scope of such a ship design on film.
The money General Perez passes to Elgyn early in the film portrays the face of producer Bill Badalato. The prop money was handed out to the cast and crew after the film was finished shooting.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's long time partner, Marc Caro, with whom he had made Delicatessen (1991) and The City of Lost Children (1995), had no interest in taking part in the film. Caro did fly out to Los Angeles for several weeks to provide some costume and art direction designs.
The tube where the clone of Ripley is created was scripted as a regular bed like case, much like the cryo tubes in which the hosts of the aliens are carried by the Betty crew. It was an artistic choice to render the glass chamber vertical shaped.
The 2nd film which Ron Perlman has played a space pirate. 13 years earlier, Perlman played the space pirate Zeno in the 1984 science fiction comedy film "The Ice Pirates".
Michael Wincott would also play another space pirate in his career, namely in Treasure Planet (2002).
The name of the girl Ripley was trying to remember near the end of the Special Edition of the movie is Rebecca 'Newt' Jorden, who appeared in Aliens (1986).
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's first solo credit as a director.