The DVD time is in green while the bluray time is in blue. As it happens the Blu-Ray commentary is a slightly different mix of the commentary materials. Words spoken only in the DVD version are highlighted in green while words spoken only in the blu-ray version are highlighted in blue, while words common between both the DVD and the Blu-Ray version in a part of the commentary near enough each other along the time are in pink
(00:00:08) Sigourney Weaver: Hi, I'm Sigourney Weaver, I played Ripley
(00:11) Terry Rawling: My name's Terry Rawlings, I was the editor of Alien.
(00:00:11) Ridley Scott: Hi, I'm Ridley Scott, I'm 32 years old, and I'm the director of the movie
(00:00:14) Sigourney Weaver: (chuckle)
(00:14) Dan O'Bannon: Well, I'm Dan O'Bannon, and I wrote the film Alien
(00:00:17) Ridley Scott: funnily enough on the way here this morning Alan Ladd called me
(00:00:20) Sigourney Weaver:You're kidding!
(00:00:20) Ridley Scott: Yuh, he called me yesterday and so he obviously has some material, and Laddy was always, is very interesting 'cause he somehow gets his hands on some very interesting material, and either develops it or otherwise, and this one, Alan was the head of the Studio of Twentieth Century Fox and he was enjoying a tremendously successful run of everything, which would, what leaps to mind is, Star Wars , okay, and that was the first Star Wars, and so Laddy was in full glow here.
( 00:00:20 / 00:00:53 ) Ron Shusett: I'm Ron Shusett, I'm executive producer of Alien and also co-wrote the original story, with Dan O'Bannon. And there I am. The title sequence took us a long time, we first...er... tried it, the first concept I think was bits of flesh and bone were forming the word "Alien" and we decided that was too gory, it was too classy for that, I don't know who came up with the concept of the letters slowly building and generating until it said Alien, but it was certainly a great forward for the movie, give it a really er classy quality
(00:00:30) John Hurt: Hello, this is John Hurt, I played Kane,
(00:00:34) Veronica Cartwright: I'm Veronica Cartwright and I play Lambert, the navigator
(00:00:39) Harry Dean Stanton:And I'm Harry Dean Stanton, and I play Brett
(00: 00:43) Ridley Scott: I'm Ridley Scott, I'm going to be your guide through it.
(00:00:47/ 00:00:53 ) Ron Shusett: I'm Ron Shusett, I'm the executive producer of Alien and co-wrote the original story with Dan O'Bannon. (00:01:00) The title sequence took us a long time, we, uh, first tried it with, the first concept that I think was bits of flesh and bone were forming the words (00:01:00) Alien, and we decided that was too gory, it was too classy for that, I don't know who came up with the concept for the letters, slowly building and generating until it said "Alien" but it was certainly a great forward for the movie, give it really a classy quality.
(00:01:11 / 00:01:32) Ridley Scott: The titles were something, er, which is always a difficult thing to do , and it's always the last thing to get considered but because I'd started talking about the marketing on this fairly early on 'cause we figured we were gonna go out, erm, you know, we knew pretty soon where we were going to go out, we were going to go out one of the peak moments of the year which is May 29th which is always the favourite day of the studio at that point so we'd already started talking to the designers who would actually come up with a poster and came up with a beautiful logo, (00:02:00) so then I asked them if they would then consider taking that particular logo, the "Alien", the word "Alien", and incorporating it into the front of the film, and er, they said "what do you want?", and I said, "well I, some how it should come off as an... hieroglyphic or a readout (00:02:00) so you don't quite know what it is," I said "it's coming up and being spelt out" and that's what they did, and I, it's still one of the best, um, logo, title cards I've ever had, you know, for any of the films I've done, beautifully done.. and intriguing somehow, absolutely appropriate for the film
(00:02:36) John Hurt: Hello, this is John Hurt, I played Kane, (00:02:21) well here we are, these one, these are one of the shots that we're so used to at the time because of erm, the other space films you know, the er, Star Wars, that sort of thing, because they were all spanking new and things like that, and where as one of the things that Ridley wanted to get was the feeling of a, really an old, battered old (00:03:00) ship that had been bashing around the planets for donkeys years
(00:02:42 / 00:03:05) Ridley Scott: So here we are inside our erm, retro industrial corridors which were fundamentally made up of remains of aircrafts that we found in aircraft graveyards, erm, none of the things we could really afford, vacuum moulding, or pressers, or anything like that (00:03:00) and therefore a lot of the stuff was found and then assembled like sculpture and then painted and then joined together with nicely designed door architraves in polystyrene and sprayed to look like plastic. You know I was very conscious of the set and the condition of the set, as to whether it looked aged enough.
(00:03:26 / 00:03:50) Ron Shusett And Ron Cobb designed a lot of these Earth interiors, he had never worked on a movie before, except a low budget movie which Dan O'Bannon discovered him in called Dark Star that was done (00:04:00) as Dan's thesis at Film School. All of these interiors were Ron Cobb's, the Earth, erm, human interiors and the alien interiors were by Giger mostly
(03:51 /00:04:09) Ridley Scott:The ideas of the helmets came again late in the day, I wanted them waking up. Before in the script, they used to have a computer wakes up the other computer, and fundamentally (00:04:00), erm, wakes the crew up. What I developed this into, is I put two helmets on the back of the seats, developed some little 16 millimetre projectors that simply projected onto the helmets as if it were the, the small TV screens or the small monitors relaying alpha numerics and conversation between the two computers, so these two computers are chatting. That was just worked out with us in the mixing theatre and the editing room. None of that thing is scripted, in fact Jimmy Shields worked a lot of that that out 'cause he was my sound designer at that particular moment.
(00:04:35) Dan O'Bannon: well I'm Dan O'Bannon and I wrote the film Alien. (4:38) I remember that bit of corridor that we're looking at now, they, they built that at my insistence. All the corridors that they were building in the space ship were straight, they were layed down in a grid and I said "There are no blind corners, you need some blind corners in your, in your space ship," and they built the thing and Ridley ended up putting the er, the the the hyper sleep (00:05:00) vault (00:05:00) at the end of it. Very nicely handled the way that the door opens, the... the little coat hanger by the door movies slightly.
(5:02 / 5:09) Ridley Scott: Little details like this where you get negative air, and that door opens there's the negative air, which is protecting them inside from bacteria and er, it's all, not really scientifically thought through, it's viscerally thought through 'cause of, I'm too much of a logician , that's the problem, and I have never quite bought yet into the notion of cryogenics in terms of its possibilities, I'm sure it may one day happen but I think we're a long way off. If you think about it carefully it doesn't make sense but I think we er, got away with it, and Jerry particularly helped here with a… one of the best parts of the score in the film, from that waking sequence, I really loved (00:06.00) that, erm, somehow helped to convey everything and allay all the doubts and insecurities I had about "How do you bring somebody round, having been asleep for two years?" (00:06:00)
(00:06:13) Veronica Cartwright: I'm Veronica Cartwright and I play Lambert the navigator
(00:06:17) Tom Skerrit: Tom Skerrit, I played Dallas
(00:06:20) Harry Dean Stanton: And I'm Harry Dean Stanton, and I play Bret.
(6:03 / 00:06:23) Veronica Cartwright: Right, now thi... this was the lovely waking up pod scene, we've all been, uh, put in suspended animation and frozen for some time …. we…the women…. we had to wear, erm, white surgical tape across our nipples because we were all wearing those boxer shorts, those lovely boxer shorts and apparently they lost erm, about five countries if we didn't, um so maybe there'll be a shot in there and we can actually see that we were wearing tape .
(00:06:48) Tom Skerrit: Wow, didn't lose Harry or I , I think we were right there watching, weren't we Harry?
(00:06:53) Harry Dean Stanton: yeah I was thinking about pussy the whole time
(00:06:55) Tom Skerrit: Oh yeah, I think we were
(6:26 / 00:06:59) John Hurt: We did this one morning as I remember, (00:07:00) you know, when we're doing a science fiction, most of it is lighting, getting the shots dead right, and so on, very little acting, and and, all that happens quite quickly
(6:41) Ron Shusett: Ridley was entirely responsible for most of the casting, he said "I want to cast it with only seven people in the movie," I believe he said and all of them have to be brilliant actors, but I don't want to have to worry myself about coaxing performances out of them, so I'm going to get, each of them is going to be a brilliant actor, but we decided to go with perfect character actors for it (00:07:00) and an unknown female lead rather than go for the big name.
(7:10)Harry Dean Stanton: Did I say right every time anybody said anything or was it was just Yaphet, 'cause I kept saying "Right"
(7:17)Tom Skerrit:: What I hear is, being in England, "right!" We'd heard a lot of "right". Ridley said "Right".
(00:07:15) Ridley Scott: So I had Giler and Carroll, er, through the whole process of the pre- and casting, and Giler and Carroll, were any... any companions you want, any city you go to, make sure you've got Giler
(00:07:30) Sigourney Weaver: Oh
(00:07:30 )Ridley Scott: and Carroll with you.
(00:07:31) Sigourney Weaver I couldn't agree more.
(00:07:32) Ridley Scott: Because you'll find every party in town.
(00:07:34) Sigourney Weaver: Absolutely
(00:07:35) Ridley Scott:And you know, this was , you know, lodged with serious jetlag and casting sessions, so I was pretty gaga through the whole process of playing
(00:07:42) Sigourney Weaver: Well, that explains it
(7:29 / 00:07:46) Ridley Scott: But we finally saw this er beautiful giant walked in the room, we had a whisper about... 'er , saying you've got to see this girl, Sigourney Weaver because er she's doing a lot of theatre and she's getting important on broadway, and er, you'd better see her and...
(7:42 / 00:07:59) Sigourney Weaver:: hardly
(7:44 / 00:08:00) Ridley Scott : yuh, but I was thinking, oh god we've got a real Thespian here, or I thought so …..so (laughter from Sigourney) In she walked and I thought, er, that's it, that's it, that's it, it was that simple before you.
(7:56 / 00:08:12) Sigourney Weaver: you're kidding ,
(7:57 / 00:08:13) Ridley Scott :Yeah
(7:57 / 00:08:14) Sigourney Weaver: :before I opened my mouth.
(7:58 / 00:08:15) Ridley Scott :… before you spoke, right (00:08:00) there you go
(8:01 / 00:08:16) Sigourney Weaver: : so sweet of you.
(8:03 / 00:08:18) Sigourney Weaver: : well I was wearing my hooker boots so that helped.
(8:07 / 00:08:21) Ridley Scott: right, that helped a lot, yeah
(8:09 / 00:08:23) Sigourney Weaver: (laughing)
(8:10 / 00:08:24) Ridley Scott: And then we did that, did the exchange, I think there was a bit of reading, then , I can't remember the order of events of at one stage we decided to all have dinner, 'n', in a Japanese restaurant.
(8:22 /00:08:35) Sigourney Weaver:Yes, that's right Fifty Fifth Street or something
(8:23 / 00:08:37) Ridley Scott: Which you suggested, okay
(8:25 / 00:08:39) Sigourney Weaver: I think it was to meet Walter and David.
(8:29 / 00:08:42) Ridley Scott: Right.
(8:29 / 00:08:43) Sigourney Weaver: And Bodie Boatright or something.
(8:29 / 00:08:45) Ridley Scott: eh, Bodie, there you go. And we were real close to production by now
(8:34 / 00:08:48) Sigourney Weaver: Yes
(8:34 / 00:08:49) Ridley Scott: We were in full board production, I mean in terms of building and , because we were tech
(8:38 / 00:08:53) Sigourney Weaver: I'd say you were desperate to find her.
(8:40 / 00:08:55) Ridley Scott: Absolutely
(8:42 / 00:08:56) Sigourney Weaver: (chuckle)
(8:42 / 00:08:56) Ridley Scott, But we were on , now I was very very meticulous about (00:09:00) casting always
(8:47 / 00:09:02) Sigourney Weaver: Mmmm
(8:47 / 00:09:02) Ridley Scott: Because I figured if you cast right from the director's point of view
(8:50 / 00:09:06) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(8:51 / 00:09:06) Ridley Scott: If you cast right, at least fifty percent of your problems are over
(8:54 / 00:09:09) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(8:55 / 00:09:10) Ridley Scott: On the day
(8:56 / 00:09:11) Sigourney Weaver: Yuh
(08:57 / 00:09:12) Ridley Scott: Because you know there's a lot to do and I cast, (00:09:00) I, I lay still painful on casting
(09:03 / 00:09:18) Sigourney Weaver: Yuh, yuh.
(09:03 / 00:09:19) Ridley Scott: Long time on casting, so eventually they were getting uneasy thinking I didn't really know what I was doing, but I had done then 2000 commercials, I'd done the Duellists,
(09:11/ 00:09:27) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(09:11/ 00:09:27)Ridley Scott: I'd done.. you know, I was kind of bemused by that basically saying...
(09:14 / 00:09:30) Sigourney Weaver: mmm
(09:14/ 00:09:30) Ridley Scott: Thinking "Back off!"
(09:17 / 00:09:32) Sigourney Weaver: mmm
(09:17 / 00:09:34) Ridley Scott: okay, t'...'cause when you see it, you see it
(09:20 / 00:09:36) Sigourney Weaver: mmhmm
(09:21 / 00:09:37) Ridley Scott: and there it... there she was, right
(09:25 / 00:09:42) Ridley & Sigourney: (chuckle)
(09:26 / 00:09:43) Ridley Scott: and then Laddy said "you got to test." I said, "uh, Laddy, w'ere shooting in ten days "or something.
(09:31 / 00:09:47) Sigourney Weaver: yuh
(09:31 / 00:09:48) Ridley: and he said "I don't care, you've got to test, I'm not sure", 'cause Laddy's like that, very cautious. So we tested, and the test could have been almost cut into the movie
(09:41 / 00:09:58) Sigourney Weaver: "well, I was saying earlier I was so grateful because (00:10:00) you built a whole set, we did a run through of the movie which as an actor, especially if I was going to play the part I really needed, and er, it gave us a chance to work together and us… I was, I really thought going over there that I might be like standing next to a (00:10:00) potted palm going, "aaaah!" like that
(10:02 / 00:10:19) Ridley chuckles
(10:02 / 00:10:19) Sigourney Weaver: :and er, so I was so grateful for the day, it was a fabulous day
(10:06 / 00:10:23) Ridley Scott: yuh, so then Laddy saw it, I put it together, even put a little bit of sound on it, I think, so, I ran it for Laddy in the.. wherever it was, and then he said, "hmm", and then he said, "I'm going to run it again, choose half a dozen gals from the office". He chose girls and er, half a dozen women, gals, came in and probably PAs, secretaries, assistants, a couple of executives, we ran it again and er Laddy said, "So, what do you think?", and erm, and er, one girl suddenly said er, he said, "go on don't be shy!" (00:11:00), one girl said "well I think", excuse me, you don't mind, I'm going to say it over this
(10:46 / 00:11:02) Sigourney Weaver: Oh of course
(10:46 / 00:11:04) Ridley Scott: right
(10:47 / 00:11:04) Sigourney Weaver: *burst of laughter*
(10:47 / 00:11:04) Ridley Scott : one girl said (silly voice) "I think she's like Jane Fonda," right and another one said (silly voice) "I think she's like…" there's... there were four or five extremely complimentary things came out with cross references (00:11:00) to other stars and so he said "okay, okay alright, good, you've got it" and that was it
(11:05 / 00:11:23) Sigourney Weaver: Oh that's great, I didn't really know the story, I thought he said "do you like this woman?" and they went "yes, she's okay" (chuckle)
(11:11 / 00:11:30)Ridley: Yuh, but he's a...
(11:12 / 00:11:32) Sigourney Weaver: Well that's... that's shrewd, I think...
(11:14 / 00:11:34) Ridley: Very
(11:14 / 00:11:35) Sigourney Weaver: ...to ask women, you know, because
(11:17 / 00:11:36) Ridley: Yeahh
(11:17 / 00:11:36) Sigourney Weaver: ...it's become such an important...
(11:18 / 00:11:37) Ridley: I think
(11:18 / 00:11:37) Sigourney Weaver: ... film for women.
(11:20 / 00:11:39) Ridley: yuh
(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. That's what's good about the script, straight at it, but then nothing really happens actionwise for a, I think 40 minutes, and erm, they were always worried about that, I said "I don't agree with you because look at the world we're taking you into, everything's a new venture, everything's a new vision, I think it holds, until it happens, once it happens, then we have you."
(12:52) Tom Skerrit: I remember going over to Pinewood and watching them do all this.
(12:55) Veronica Cartwright: Veronica: Oh yeah
(12:56) Tom Skerrit:Yeah, it was really something, these little models that they had mocked up to, (00:13:00) you know all this stuff, you know, they move these things back and forth on wire
(13:04) Harry Dean Stanton: I'm glad that I didn't see that, it would have ruined the movie for me
(13:12) Terry Rawling : Goldsmith wrote such a great score for this film, which is a bone of contention between the two of us, because i think he's a , a genius, but er, we didn't agree on everything. I temp music, put temp music in the film before we get the composer on to do the scrore because of er screenings we have to have and er, previews, and I went out of my way to temp it with his own music , with Jerry Goldsmith because I knew he was going to do the score, and one of the sections, the air shafts, I used his music from the film Freud that he did, which they liked better than what we finished up by getting from him for this film which upset him terribly and the end of the film which is Howard Hanson's symphony number two (00:14:00) was so perfect for it, it just did something that Jerry's end titles or end of the picture music didn't achieve even though it was good, it just didn't give is that emotional content.
(14:14) Ridley Scott: I always love the cue here in relation to the rolling craft, very good score, this is Jerry's, really at his best I think in this film, he may not agree but I still think it is, it's really great
(12:48) John Hurt: Well, I think Ridley was, you know, er, very trusting, he was very happy with the cast he got and he tended to leave you to yourself, er, he sent up several cameras and the scenes that we come to (13:00) later in this, so I'll tell you, but erm, he trusted us well, he set up, he' loved to get impromptu moments, and he did that by having more than one camera working pretty well all the time, er, so, he had angles well covered and things that he would have a documentary feel to it in a sense , you know
(13:25) Ridley Scott: The difference from the original cut is probably just over twelve minutes, twelve and a half minutes of material that hasn't really been seen before, the reason why it was taken out was basically about story dynamics and er there's a certain point when you have the story and therefore the dynamics, particularly in a film like this, which is fundamentally a thriller, really moving at the impetus it was going, you suddenly didn't want to have something or... seen where took a minute out or two minutes out to basically, you know work against that (00:14:00) impetus and so that's why the new stuff that you see ended up back in the editing room not going back into the film, so it's quite interesting to revisit this after all these years to see if maybe I should have left it in.
(00:14:22) John Hurt: What I understand was that I was er, er, intended to be in the film originally, but I was er, at that time not available and I was going to be doing a film in South Africa but I wasn't allowed to go to South Africa and then of course we had to try and find out what the reason was. It turned out in the end that I was probably confused with that very wonderful actor John Herd who is a political activist, and er, had gone down on the South African books as an undesirable because he didn't believe in Apartheid, well, erm, none of us agree with Apartheid, (00:15:00) but fortunately some of us were not on the books at that particular time. Er, so I came back, I didn't do that , and then Jon Finch who was going to do , be playing Kane in Alien became sick and er, so therefore, em, the inquiry came in again, er, I was available this time. I remember coming around to talk to me, and we were talking until twelve o'clock at night, and er he was pitching for me and er, at seven o'clock that morning I was on the set. So erm it all happened very quickly.
(00:15:32) Ridley Scott: The idea of a giant magnetic clamp. seeing it drop away is I guess fair game, why not, of course you get the thing you wouldn't see, flame on the thing, you wouldn't get vapour and eventually you just say "oh shut up". you know, (14:14) I always love the cue here in relation to the rolling craft, I wanted the roll, seeing to the graphic as the graphic rolls you as well, the logic of that, thankyou Stanley (16:00) very good score. This is Jerry's... really at his best I think in this film. He may not agree but I still think it is. It's really great
(16:09) Terry Rawlings My name's Terry Rawlings,(13:13) I was the editor of Alien. Goldsmith wrote such a great score for this film, which is a bone of contention between the two of us, because I think he's a... a genius, but er, we didn't agree on everything. I put temp music in the film before we get the composer on because of screenings we have to have and previews, and I went out of my way to temp it with Jerry Goldsmith because I knew he was going to do the score, and one of the sections, the air shafts, I used his music from the film Freud that he did, which they liked better than what we finished up by getting from him for this film which upset him terribly and the end of the film which is Howard Hanson's Symphony No.2 (00:14:00) which was so perfect for it, it just did something (17:00) that Jerry's end titles or end of the picture music didn't achieve even though it was good, it just didn't give is that emotional content.
(17:11) Ridley Scott: The experts were saying there is no atmosphere, I said there is in this film, otherwise my model look like not good. (14:37) And this is wraggling seats, well, I've got a guy crouch down there wobbling the seats which is driving everyone crazy and you get eyeball rolling, and erm you've just got to stick to your guns, I would've liked more wobbling, I would have liked the impossible shuddering and shaking but we weren't designed for that, every step you make, everybody's doubting thomas, you know, (00:15:00) so that's where ye got to earn your way, I just wonder how many people fall by the wayside because they can't push their point home and they don't quite get what they want, Nobody (18:00) respects you later for having been a nice guy and given up, you've got to get it , you have to get it now because you're gonna wear what you've got, basically. You could be very unpopular on the route, but if you're right, all is forgiven.
(15:31) (18:19) Dan O'Bannon: Now this sequence here, when the ah, the space ship is landing on the planetoid, this is one of the uh, scenes in the movie that came the closest to the way I imagined it when I was writing it. In science fiction movies up to that time, when a space ship landed on a planet, it was usually depicted as a pretty effortless endeavour, the ship would float down from space and poop, it would land. When I came to write this, I started thinking about (00:16:00) the times that I'd been a passenger on a big airliner and they were landing and taking off particularly during turbulence and the way that the, the aircraft would groan and rattle and twist, and and and you know, and bump and (17:00) clatter. And I thought that it would be really a novel and you know an interesting effect if you could show that landing through the atmosphere to be a horrendous and dangerous process where you didn't really know if maybe the ship would be torn apart before it ever made it to the surface of the planet, and when I saw the film, the sequence as it is in the movie now with the Nostromo coming down through that dense atmosphere and wrenching and groaning and crashing this, REALLY just very close to what I had imagined, I was very gratified by that.
(14:55):Ridley Scott: So you're looking in a lot of good acting, where a lot of technology and dead switches that don't really work (00:17:00) and so, it's really all about acting and the mood and the atmosphere evoke, and also we don't hang around the cutting, we just cut from putting the fire out to you're already talking about the problem, (19:37) And again we started to get a, the full use of what they had in those days was scissor arcs which are basically lightning effects, drawn the sound men crazy because you, basically means you are bring two arcs together and they splutter, so that's scissor arcs going on in the background. (chuckle) These two are really funny, they very real these two, i thought they were great, (20:00) like two guys on an oil rig you know. That's er, again a model with an insert of a... a teeny back projection screen about a foot and a half by maybe six inches. And I photographed them on 16 and then projected on the screen, interlocked and then photographed it. Pretty primitive. Today that would be a snaff, you wouldn't even think about it. But again coming back, having it in the window gives you the size of the craft, you'll see that the only thing left on at night on the craft is the little nose light, the bay window and the control room.
(17:33) Ron Shusett: I was there every second because I put in my contract, I never made a movie, it was my first film, put in my contract, they said you don't know anything about making a movie, "we'll give you the executive producer credit and everything, you can be the crown prince and then you can go and when you learn it you can be the king later,"
I said "well, I want to be there for every second", of course extra money and it was in London and they fought and fought and I finally insisted on it, and they said look, you're not going to be able to contribute anything, you'll just be a high payed fly on the wall"
I said, `"for years I've been a low payed fly on the wall (00:18:00) now I'll be a high payed fly on the wall",
So they said "okay" and I said "If I have something to contribute, and it sounds good, they'll use it, and if I get obnoxious, they'll throw me off the set", and so that worked out find with that attitude. So I got to be there for every single second of us, I didn't budge when Ridley held the camera, accept sometimes I was so acknowledgeable I didn't realise people were standing just outside the line of the frame and I would get accidently in it in my civilian clothes about three different times in the filming and they "Cut! Shusett's in the shot again!' It was so embarrassing.
(20:37)(18:37) Dan O'Bannon: And you've got to admit, Ridley is a master of atmosphere, when it comes to texturing a scene, texture, mood, subtlety of... of mood and feeling and atmosphere, he really is superb. And you get a lot of that in Alien, I mean without it it would have been a much lesser picture, when you're doing a... a scary movie, a horror story, a suspense movie, (00:19:00) naturally plot is important, it's vital, but so is atmosphere, and a horror movie that is not atmospheric is not a pleasing thing to watch and Alien needed it and he provided it.
(21:14) Ridley Scott: And again 'n' low key performances give it a kind of erm, a reality I think, erm, this is business as usual, they have to do it, they've got to go in. She has a certain amount of trepidation, a little anxiety. Ash is obviously a scientist who is... rather would be tramping about a... you know... an unfriendly landscape than, er, going back to Earth, so he's obviously got something going on then though not that you know anything like that other than you're registering his enthusiasm. (19:29) First strange look at Ash, I always liked those blisters at the bottom of the Blenheim, or bomber, Wellington Bomber and that's where you put him, in his own blister. That funny little (22:00) jog is a clue, maybe all robots get stiff, so he's not, he was, he's not a robot, he's a kind of humanoid, biomechanoid, you know, he's a replicant basically, half human, two thirds human
(19:56 / 22:17) Tom Skerrit: Okay, here we are on these things that have never been tried before and I remember (00:20:00) I damn near sufforcated
(20:04 / 22:25)Veronica Cartwright: These were the headgear, it was like football gear
(20:07 / 22:28) Tom Skerrit: Yeah
(20:07 / 22:28)Veronica Cartwright: But it weighed like 75 pounds
(20:08 / 22:29) Tom Skerrit: Yeah, I remember that they told
(20:09 / 22:30)Veronica Cartwright: They told us that they were going in oxygen through the little air hole thing in it.
(20:12 / 22:33) Tom Skerrit: Yeah,
(20:12 / 22:33)Veronica Cartwright: And then instead what would happen was the C2 canisters would leak and we'd see these lovely little swirls of smoke and we'd go "I don't know, I'm seeing smoke, that's impossible, just impossible!" and then when we had to lug John across the desert and then take him up, and we had these hockey gloves that had so much paint on them they wouldn't movie. We didn't have any sound, we had no air, and I started to pass out and you're waving your arms up there going...
(20:38 / 23:00) Tom Skerrit: Oh
(22:40 / 23:02) Veronica Cartwright:(gasping laughter) and I'm like,
(22:40 / 23:02) Tom Skerrit:yeah I started to , I started to pass out too
(22:41 / 23:02)Veronica Cartwright: and we're like twenty four feet up in the air, John Hurt, he had to have an oxygen tank every time he went out in this thing.
(22:47 / 23:10) John Hurt: and there... there was a moment when the plumes that were on our, you know, that er, were done with a sort of aerosol can, erm... came out of the, the top of the, you can see them shortly, they were actually leaking (00:21:00) into our helmets, and they said that they, you know, the helmets couldn't leak, there was a , there was a tube in it, which er, had to bend slightly and it broke and , erm, Veronica and I nearly fainted because the aerosol was getting into the, which is quite poisonous, into the helmet itself, "no no that's not possible, is it?" but it was, I can assure you.
(21:21 / 23:46) Ridley Scott: My most useful special effect in the corridors became dry ice in the tube, and erm, the problem is when you run it for any length of time, it sucks the oxygen out of the air, so at the end of the take, you start to get out of breath, (24:00) We were assured it was entirely safe, so I said "okay let's use them".
(21:54 / 24:14) Ridley Scott: Rocks, which were smooth and weather worn. I've always loved the space suits, I think they're great, and the uh, we had (00:22:00) a big problem with the space helmets because once you're inside that helmet, just your body heat, body temperature starts to send up the temperature inside the helmet and therefore you either form condensation or you get short of breath and then you get panicked because you've got no breath and some people are claustrophobic, and some people aren't, so we had quite a lot of problem with that and, um, with non stop complaints from the thespians, but then I don't blame them because I didn't have to wear them, and they did, but you know, we didn't have the technology and money to run airlines into those suits and into the helmets like you do today, like you know I think (25:00) Jim could design his own helmet on the Abyss... ffff... twelve years later and literally have some manufacturer make the head sets and the facemasks and they just walk along breathing happily off oxygen. You'd think we could do that those days, no. It wasn't... we couldn't afford it. I always liked that shot. (00:23:00)That's a light down there shining, pointing down at the camera across H stage. So all of this is shot in one stage, and you know being just careful about showing your angles , getting closeup because your real, your real investment here is in the, you know in the, for hardware's in the suit which is beautiful, so I have a little clump of rocks, I just kept circling the rocks until I was ready go, with that's a, that's a clump of rock, 'with that light over there in the background filled with smoke, looks real to me, and on the big screen particularly
(23:32 / 25:46) Dan O'Bannon: It really looks like the sun setting behind a, a stormy atmosphere, his understanding and command of how to achieve lighting effects was so good that he was able to achieve that with great simplicity
(23:48) Ridley Scott: That's shot on a crude 8 mil camera at the time, transferred back through tape onto a monitor and filmed off the monitor. I figured that I had limitations here (00:24:00) in terms of what I could see of the space craft and it was going to look dodgy, so I filmed it through a domestic camera, I don't think it was a tape camera in those days, it was actually 8 mil projected back on a monitor, filmed off the monitor, and for some reason I'm seeing it through the head sets of the protagonists walking through the landscape, and that look suddenly has scale, I always remember seeing it thinking "good god, that really works" and that was it, it was just a snap decision to do that because I was staring at the set thinking "it's not going to work, it looks awful through the camera, 'cause normally I'm operating and I'm thinking, "this doesn't work, it's going to be awful", and I remember we were at Bray and I said on the morning, "Has anybody got an 8 mil camera?", and they said "yeah:, and so I went off with a clockwork camera , I just walked around. Those mountains in there were about 18 inches high. That spacecraft's about two feet high. Maybe the tail end's about three feet., and erm so those rocks down there were about six inches, you know, (00:25:00) So I just got the camera and then pumped it back through a monitor and filmed it. Have the line so you've got the disintegration of the lines. You have an essence of reality. Somehow you know it's electronically connected from one astronaut to another. It just works. 'Cause you know while the set here is good, very good, it never quite had the scale I wanted, And erm, that's where also,
(26:00) Sigourney Weaver: Look how beautiful it is
(26:02) Ridley Scott: Yeah, you see, all that stuff is one pass done with artwork and erm, simplicity in terms of your effects, this was done because I had to do it because the set was not very good, the set was only a foot high, these rocks were about a foot and a half high and I walked in Bray and I hadn't had time to go and see it, saw the set and went, er god, and we just stood there, you know that necessity is really really the mother of invention
(26:29) Sigourney Weaver: yuh
(26:30) Ridley Scott: And I sat there staring at the thing, "what the heck are you going to do?", 'cause Peter Voysey's sculpture was beautiful
(26:34) Sigourney Weaver: uhuh
(26:35) Ridley Scott: And I said, "has any one got a", I think it must have been very early tape camera, "who's got a tape camera?",
He said "I've got one at home",
"Go and get it"
So what I did is I knew I couldn't film it, first of all I couldn't get a camera as Panaflex down that low which would have been 65 pounds, so and move around like, you know, hand held camera, so I simply got a domestic tape camera and walked (27:00) through the set like this, putting that in the background then put it back through a TV monitor and filmed off the monitor, so that's why somehow it looks hi-tech and suddenly has this massive scale and that was because I had to do it
(27:15) Sigourney Weaver: well, that's brilliant
(27:16) Ridley Scott: I had no choice
(27:17) Sigourney Weaver: it's fantastic
(27:18) Ridley Scott: Yuh
(27:19) Sigourney Weaver: Because also that, the fact it keeps going in and out, makes you so frightened
(27:23) Ridley Scott:: Sure
(27:24) Sigourney Weaver: That you wont be able to see something
(27:25) Ridley Scott:: And the great sounds of, you guys inter... talking back, talk back, talk back, which also makes it a little bit more fraught.
(27:33) Sigourney Weaver: Yuh
(27:33) Ridley Scott: And tense. And here's the frustration about only getting half a transmission. And erm, that's where also Jee...(25:37) Giger's illustrations are fantastic , but when they're translated literally, sometimes there can be too much fantasy and not enough sense of reality, but, so I was always a little anxious about the exterior, but then, once we got inside, I felt far more (28:00) comfortable because they really dealt with this very well, this is a great shot here, Les Dilley's set of (00:26:00) Giger's sculptural models and drawings. But you know, you see how well that's done, that could have easily have been very very corny. There's something very organic and interesting, unique actually about it, I still think it's probably one of the better sci-fi genre beast movies. The lights in the helmets helped tremendously 'cause you get nice flares so, half the time's what you think you see, like the end, get this over, if you shot this clean, it would've look like a set but we have the flare which helps a lot.
(26:37 / 28:44) Tom Skerrit: That was really awkward walking
(26:40 / 8:49) Veronica Cartwright: Oh it really was
(26:41 / 28:50) Tom Skerrit: Yeah
(26:41 / 28:50) Veronica Cartwright: Those moonboots, we had moonboots on
(26:44 / 28:52) Tom Skerrit: We were trying to look so cool walking around in the...
(26:46 / 28:55) Veronica Cartwright: Sweating like pigs
(26:50 / 28:58) Veronica Cartwright: And there's those masks kept fogging up, remember how they'd fog up
(26:55 / 29:03) Tom Skerrit: Oh yeah
(26:56 / 29:03) Veronica Cartwright: You couldn't even see John half the time
(26:58 / 29:06) Tom Skerrit: Pwey
(27:02 / 29:10) Harry Dean : Couldn't do that, they hadn't had the fog thing worked on, huh.
(27:05 / 29:13) Veronica Cartwright: No, they'd forgotten to put in any er escape
(27:07 / 29:16) Harry Dean :We can send men to the moon but we can't even figure out a simple thing like that
(27:11 / 29:19)Veronica Cartwright: And see those hockey gloves, they were really hard to manipulate
(27:17) Ron Shusett: This set cost a staggering amount of money. We built it full scale, and for its day it was just way hugely expensive. And for half the movie, they told us they wouldn't let us build it, the 15 foot tall so called space jockey and the walls and everything, and Giger hand airbrushed them, 'cause that was his artwork, on a scaffold. The creature and the whole thing. Besides his personal labour and effort just duplicating this and building this, they said "you can't put that set in".
We said "why?"
He said "it's only used once in the movie, it's not like your gonna come back to it. It's way too expensive. We'll just have him shoot a fifteen foot imprint in the clay of the creature as he's walking"
And we said "No, no, no. Look, you need... This is your Cecil B DeMille shot. You need to have this full scale built."
So they know they're right there, so their jaw drops, so they say "This isn't some little Roger Corman movie made to look pretty good, this is one of the most amazing movies I've ever seen.""
They said, "No, You can't have it, it costs way too much"
So they went on, we, you know, we were shooting the movie, we we thought they... we weren't gonna have to have the set at all, we were going to have to fake it and have a stupid thing in the ground. And one day, the studio's so big, there are 10 or 12 sound stages and I walked to the back, and I saw the set was almost completed and it was up already. And they told us we were not going to friggin have it in the movie. This was two thirds of the way through the movie. I thought they had made a mistake, that the contruction department didn't get the message from the high-ups in London, that they weren't supposed to build it. So I shut my mouth up. And in another two weeks later it was completely built, and it was completely built and I went to Peter Beale, who was second from the top and I said "You built the set, the one you said we couldn't afford to give us"
He said "Yeah we know, because as the The dailies looked so good day after day, and and Ridley kept begging for this , and we realised we should go, kit was worth the investment. But we didn't wanna tell you 'cause then you'd never stop asking. (00:29:00) Every single thing, ten other things, you'd want"
So I thought that was kind of funny. I don't think Ridley knew about it for a long time either. I didn't know about it until it was completed.
(29:27) Dan O'Bannon: Ridley when he shot the film, he went to a great deal of trouble to create a lighting situation which would duplicate the look of er, Giger's paintings. One of the things he did for example was to fill the er, the entire set with a, er, dense but uniform smoke, and he made sure that that smoke was uniformly distributed. He didn't want billowing clouds, what he wanted was atmosphere, (00:30:00) was a thickness of the air. He had people walking around with , erm, incense burners, filling the stage with smoke, and then he personally walked around through the sound stage with a big piece of cardboard, waving it, and waving it, and er, I couldn't quite figure out what he was doing, but he didn't shoot until the fog was uniformly distributed around the entire set so that you couldn't see it billowing at all. It simply thickened the air, and once he had that, he lit it with elaborate care. He didn't just put too big a lights on everything and be satisfied with it, I didn't understand half of what he was doing, he, he ran around clipping all these little snoot lights onto things where you wouldn't see them and aiming them at different objects and different parts of the set and different props, and elaborate and careful lighting, and filtering the colour of the light (00:31:00) :towards a certain blue-gray tone in order to get the end photographic result to resemble Giger's paintings, and if he had not done that, I don't think he would have gotten but a fraction of the value of Giger's designs from all of that
(31:17) John Hurt: yes Giger was, erm, he was kind of bleakly fascinatiing with his skulls on the top of his four poster bed and he was always dressed in black, as was his girlfriend, er which at that time was, er more unusual than it is now. In fact there are only three people that I knew who are always dressed in black and that was Harold Pinter, Giger and his girlfriend and my father, but then he was a clergyman
(29:10 / 31:46) Ridley Scott: I think that Space Jockey is actually somehow the pilot, and he's part of a military operation, if that's the word that you want to apply to his world, and therefore this is probably some kind of carrier, a weapon carrier, a (32:00) biological or biomechanoid carrier of er... lethal eggs, inside of which are these er... small creatures that will actually fundamentally integrate in a very aggressive way into any society or any place it dropped. So if you land on a human being, you have a... a resemblance to a human being. If it dropped on an ostrich, it would look like an ostrich. And there's a fundamental connection in that. in nature 'cause we'd actually watched , erm, in the preparation in this, Oxford Scientific had er, this interesting piece of, of footage where they'd watched a slice of bark, which in our terms of, to a (00:30:00) human being would be about twelve feet thick, and there's a grub underneath the bark, between the bark and the tree, there's always a space between bark and tree, across the top of the bark is crawling insect which passes over the grub, stops backs up and feels the grub is there, let's say the equivalent of eight feet (33:00) below you and goes up on its hind legs, produces a needle from beneath it's ugh... between its legs, and drills through the bark and bullseyes right into the grub and lays its seed, so that the grub becomes the host of the insect, and now does, what comes out of the union of the grub and the, and that particular insect, does that become a version of both, that's what we basically, you know, went along with. (00:31:00) The man running the laserbeams of this particular moment who had been doing rock shows and experimental laserbeams was Anton Furst who later became an art director and actually did films such as Batman, and erm , Anton was a , was great to work with, with his very small team, and I was absolutely literally blown away by the effect of these beams, because you know, we hadn't seen it before really, and I thought this would be very useful to me to create this skin, like a... (34:00) protection. As John says, a layer of mist, and then slips, goes through unharmed, but maybe that's what is like the membrane, or the.. em.. the protecting the eggs. So let's say he's broken the membrane, Maybe he's triggered something, maybe he hasn't. But if they're now sitting there, prewarned, and programmed , like org... organisms to react if touched. (00:32:00) And of course he will touch it. If you watch carefully, the drops are going upwards, and not downwards, That's 'caused I hung the eggs upside down. (34:15) See the drops going upwards, they're all going up, that's 'cause the eggs upsidedown, and then those are my hands in the middle there in a pair of rubber gloves, doing the old flutter as the light comes on, because again I said , we've got to have a bit of movement in the eggs, so I had a pair of surgical gloves, I just stuck my hands into the egg and backlit it and, you know, you do a little flutter flutter. There it is again, a pair of hands, it's a, there you go and it's got some liquid in there.
And I love the opening here, it's got a steel hydraulic on it, so you know that's gonna, that's strong. This is always a great moment, and I used actually here real organic material, this is, was delivered every morning from a... abattoir, (00:33:00) with steamed cattle and sheep parts from the slaughter house, and that lacy stuff in fact, is called Nottingham lace, in fact is lining of a , people , some people eat it, of a cows stomach, and the hose that comes out, in fact is an intestine of a sheep which they used to make sausages. I used it 'cause it's diaphanous, so to actually put a airline on it, it just behaves like that, it just whips and erm, that was all discovered on the day. The same happened , the use of the, when you get the facehugger , I bought all that stuff from a very good fish market who would deliver clams, oysters and other small, rather expensive shellfish and seafood. You can't do better than that. It's real. (00:34:00)
(34:02) Dan O'Bannon: 20th Century Fox finally authorised me to send him a cheque (35:32)) I'm over here in LA, Giger's over there in Switzerland, we're communicating on the phone, Twentieth Century Fox has finally sent him some money to get (36:00)started, and I sat down and I wrote out some very simple parameters for what I wanted him to start designing, and erm I described in the simplest terms what the Facehugger was to do, that it was supposed to be a small, sort of octopus like thing that would leap onto a person's face, wrap its tentacles around behind the person's head and then it would have an organ , an ovipositer which would... shoved down the person's throat. And a few weeks later, Giger mailed these large photographic transparencies to us at Fox, they came through through customs, who didn't understand what they were and were alarmed, and we had to personally go down to LAX and pick these things up, and I finally got these photographs that (00:35:00) Giger had made of the designs he had done for the facehugger and I held them up to the light where I could see them, I was stunned at what I saw! (37:00) There was the lobed creature attached to the face of a person, but instead of tentacles, there were fingers! Fingers! As soon as I saw those fingers I knew that I would do whatever I had to do to get those fingers into the film, so I thought that the Facehugger deserved to be given a great deal of our attention, I thought it was a very important element in the story and (35:32) nobody seemed to be finding the time for it. Giger's energies at that point were going in to sculpting the full sized alien, the life size one, the one which was manshaped and the face hugger wasn't being designed.
(37:43) Ridley Scott: Oh, this is an additional scene that we didn't have in the film. This was where I think Veronica whacked you, she'd given a huge...
(37:50) Sigourney Weaver: She did
(37:50) Ridley Scott: ...whack, first time...
(37:52) Sigourney: Oh you asked her to do that?
(37:52) Ridley Scott: No, absolutely not, but I, but it's like
(37:58) Sigourney: No, she really hit me, you can see how surprised I was, (38:00) and you put it in?
(38:02) Ridley Scott: Well, you know, by the time this is mixed and everything, I think it's okay. The only reason some of these things come out, wham, they have to be, she really hit you wow.
(38:12) Sigourney: And you, no one told me that she was going to do this,
(38:13) Ridley Scott: I, sorry (chuckle)
(35:47 / 38:17) Dan O'Bannon:: I asked Ridley, "what do you want in the facehugger?"
And Ridley opened up Giger's artbook and he found a page and he pointed to rather and amorphous painting (00:36:00) which showed a kind of an organic shape with a kind of pearly texture to it,
And he said "something like that". I said "okay.
I said, "if it looks like that you'll be happy?"
He said "yuh".
So I personally designed the facehugger, I went over to the art department where Ron Cobb and everybody else was slaving on designing every thing, and I, er, set myself up at a drawing board, put a great big piece of paper down, the first thing I did was I drew a front and side outline of a human head to start with and then I began to draw the alien over that, I drew it side view, back view and inside view and first I drew a basic lobed shape to fit where it had to fit, over the face and I took the paintings that, the very first paintings that Giger had done a year before, which was the facehugger with those fingers and with the greatest of care I drew fingers onto the thing, (00:37:00) copying his exactly, I mean I had artistic training, so I could, i could do this, I cou.., I could copy carefully, so i got those fingers in and then I went to the inner view, the part of the creature pressed to the face and I took the pearly looking organic shape that Ridley had liked , I very carefully sketched the, the soft underbelly of the, uh, alien, so that Ridley had what he wanted and then I looked at (40:00) it and the body of the thing still needed something, and the point at which the fingers attached to the body of the thing, I wasn't satisfied with, so i turned to Ron Cobb who was right there,
I said "Ron", I said, "Can you help me out here. Just take a look, see how these fingers attach to the sides of the body of the thing, I say these fingers would continue into the body, there would be some kind of skeletal under structure under the skin, would, would you please sketch in how these fingers would connect to the skeletal under structure as it disappears (00:38:00) into the body of the thing,"
'Cause Cobb is... is a genius at that kind of thing. He took a pencil and he looked at it for a minute and he said "well, let's see, if those fingers are attached here, then they would probably continue on in to the body, there would be a skeletal understructure like this and then over a space of a few minutes he then sketched the internal skeleton of the thing, and it worked, it looked right,"
I said (41:00) "okay, that now looks plausible, the fingers now have a biologically realistic basis in the way they fit into the thing."
And so then I finished the drawing, i rendered it very very carefully, and I er, detached the thing from the drawing table and I went walking over to find Ridley.
I finally found Ridley, and I held the drawing up in front of him, I said, "okay, Facehugger."
And he looked at it and said "yes, good, that's fine",
I said "this..this is good."
He said "yeah."
I said "good" and I took this thing and I delivered it over to the sculptors.
I said (00:39:00) "here is the design for the Facehugger, do it like this"
And er, a few days down the line, they came up with a sculpture of the thing, sculpted in clay, they then took a caste of that and they made, ah, a mould of it in foam rubber, and it hasn't been painted yet, it was simply the colour of the foam rubber which was a kind of the colour of a (42:00) manilla envelope, which was close to the, the colour of human skin, and I looked at it and up to that point, I had been thinking of the alien as having a sort of a lizard like colour, a dark greenish quality, but I looked at this Facehugger there and it was the colour of human skin
And I said "you know what"
I said "I had never seen a space alien which is the colour of human skin."
I said " doing this is not only novel, it gives it added plausibility, " and I said that to Ridley when he looked at the thing. By then they had inserted a wire armature inside the thing, so that you could stand it up and wrap its fingers around something and there it was, the Facehugger (00:40:00) the colour of human skin.
I said "why don't we not paint it."
I said "why don't we leave it like that, skin colour", and again Ridley liked it, and he went for it.
He said "Good"
(40:15 / 42:57) Ridley Scott: I just went for the script, the script appealed to me in all the (43:00) elements and graphic design and the sets started to come together in my head 'cause I'm a designer anyway, so I was able to storyboard the whole movie, and erm, at that moment, the movie was 4.6. I went back to London having said that I'll do the film and I storyboarded extensively, and by doing that you know you're working, I find storyboarding is interesting because it actually helps you think on paper, and it really makes you pin down in your head exactly what you're going to do, you start to see the scene. From that, we kind of doubled the budget, which just shows the power of the old storyboard. 'Cause they suddenly start to see things in, there was a lot more here than I think than just erm, six people in the old dark house. (00:41:00)
(43:52) Ridley Scott : I always liked the wardrobe in the film, I thought it was really well done and whilst Giger (he meant Moebius) designed the erm Space Suits (44:00) to largely... large extent he did that, and then it was carried out by John Mollo on, then John did also the other, this, the pale blue and the badges and the de... , every... the badges were designed and the erm, you know, the erm, broken down slightly worn out view of the uniforms and the..., I thought it was pretty good, kind of layered and interesting. Found a real flight suit for Sigourney so I couldn't do any better than that because those flight suits in those days were kind of new from high flying jet pilots, I always thought, wow, they're great, I didn't quite know what all the laces did but they were kind of sexy, so that's what she got. John designed all the badges, the prints, the patches were all printed, not printed actually, they're stitched. I wish I kept some of these things but I didn't. One never does at the (45:00) time. The symbol above the monitor at the back which is the wings, is actually taken from Egyptian erm... temple, and a lot of the elements architecturally in here is you look around are rather Egyptian. The shot of somebody in the room, or where you get a shot on their back is vulnerable, so people get very tense, you could start to acknowledge the signals and symbols which are almost like, maybe it's something primordial that er, because we were all fundamentally born as hunters and therefore there are those little elements that are of the basics that you can start to play with and make people paranoid, uneasy, fearful. I think it's getting progressively more hard to do, at the minute because there are so many, such an abundance of hardcore thrillers and every conceivable kind of creature and er, it's starting to get used up until (46:00) somebody comes along with something unique, I haven't seen anything unique for a while. It tends to be more of the same, I think that's why I haven't tried to do another science fiction since Blade Runner, because I haven't come across anything that really had the story, it's all about the story, and then the characters. If you've got the story, then the chances are you've got the characters. Then what happens after that, the art direction, it becomes relatively easy with the right people
(41:28 / 46:31) Ron Shusett: And you can see how seriously Ian Holm, a great Shakespearian actor already, 'mired for his London stage work, you can see how into it and how seriously they took not doing this by camp, and I'll tell you how that happened within the first few weeks, they got so scared because Ridley had the sets built so they were all. Each sound stage was a different level of the shop, and you locked them together. And you couldn't get out of that set without going through the whole thing except when he wanted to shoot a camera shot, he would lift a wall out (00:42:00) and do it. Otherwise he'd put it together, and that was his psychology, so you'd always feel you're trapped in there, (46:47) and and and the script was so good, I'll say in all native arrogance, the actors were so into it because they could see by the dailies, we were all looking at this stuff, it was working so great. If they, if they ever thought, "Oh I'm doing this as a paying job, this is going to be stupid but Ridley's so brilliant it'll look good, it'll be kind of a dumb or modest little thing" and they'll say "a little sleeper but silly." Within two weeks of shooting, I'd say by the third week, every actor realised. It was one of those things they say you never know when you're making a classic. I remember John Huston said "I had no sense of it making Maltese Falcon" Within three weeks, all of us all felt the same thing; this would be an all time great classic film. Which is unusual. You know, you usually think that and you're wrong. Or, or it doesn't come out and you don't have any clue. Tom, I remember Tom, telling me that when we were having dinner one night, he said "I, I think this, twenty years from now' I remember him looking at me saying (00:43:00)"Twenty years from now I think part of this will be in the Smithsonian" And now twenty years layer, the jaws of the alien are in the Smithsonian. And I of course completely agreed. We were all.... but it's rare that we all felt strong about it."
(43:29) Ridley Scott: what I liked was the kind of, the low key, erm, you know, cadence of the characters which I always wanted to keep it real, and the people real, with normal behavioural patterns, not a movie character, erm, that's why Ash is particularly interesting, 'cause you don't really know there's anything special going on about him other than the fact he seems to be a bit of a (00:44:00) stickler for process and he might be ruthless, you just don't know whether evil or not. But obviously he's got some kind of itinerary going on with his fascination of everything attached to this new discovery of this alien
(47:19) Ridley Scott: We made up this set, because I said "Captain must want to go somewhere
to get away from everyone", so I figured the logic would be he goes and hides in this, one of the shuttles just to get away from everyone and play something very normal like, that was, I think, Mozart. I always thought that this was really a beautiful very successful set that we always wanted to be circular, and it always cost more money because everything that's circular is more expensive. Um, but it payed off, I think it's absolutely great, it's always like its b... positioned beneath the, the infirmary is beneath the kitchen, this would be a multi-decked ship, probably four or five decks. It's like if you're trying to lay a floor in your house, then you've got a circular room, yer use of tile is going to be more expensive than straight edges, so if you apply that to a big set, you've got a similar thing, you've got a high percentage of waste. (44:45) Half way through the film you start to get a bit weary of, erm, oh god , another scary scene, how do we deal with this because nothin' really happens, so now you resort to one or two tricks. And when I talked about (00:45:00) going to people's back view and put the camera is a funny corner position where you begin to wonder "Is that the alien?" ...er, "What has happened to it? Where has it gone?" you know what it looks like but you don't know where it it.
(45:19) Again, playing the silence is interesting, erm, because silence, oddly enough, tells you something's going to happen. What I liked always about this script was one of the few scripts where I read it and said "I'm gonna do this", I was literally sitting in Hampstead
(45:44) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(45:44) Ridley Scott: "I'm gonna do this". Picked up the phone. called my agent in London, said "I'm doing this" and within 22 hours I was in LA
(45:53) Sigourney Weaver: Wow
(45:53) Ridley Scott: I said "I'm gonna do this" They said "Any chance". I said "No", I said "No, this is it"(00:46:00). Because actually was it was is a B -movie.
(46:04) SigourneyWeaver: Mmhmm
(46:04) Ridley Scott: It's seven little... What's... ?
(46:05) Sigourney Weaver: Ten little indians
(46:05) Ridley Scott: Ten little indians, yeah. Is that politically correct today, yes, ten little indians. Yes, ten little indians, um, in the old dark house and that's what is is. But I think what happened is, we all elevated it beyond beyond beyond, actually
That's a cheap gag but it makes everyone leap out of their skin, (46:30) you know sometimes you keep these things going long enough, you get the tension really builds up with very little. Again, playing silence is interesting because silence oddly enough tells you something's going to happen. You don't know who it's gonna, who's gonna get it, but I think at this moment you think "this has gone on too long, it's too quiet, is it him?"
(49:16) Tom Skerrit: This is one of those first times I sat through the picture I was involved with where it scared the hell out of me, so's I mean it was you know (veronica laughs) I saw all this stuff going on when we were shooting it but... er... the magic of how Ridley shoots and the timing of it, this, you know
(49:32) Veronica Cartwright: Uhuh
(49:32) Tom Skerrit: So slow and you take the time to get every little slow move in
(46:39) Ridley Scott: And er (49:40)When you see this out of context and are able to examine it, that always gave everyone a bit bump, and funny enough I was always uncomfortable about that, erm, but er, I think by now we had 'em. I always remember the producer saying "don't worry, you've got 'em, you ha.... you've got 'em now.." (00:47:00)
(47:01 / 50:05) Ridley Scott: Here we have the visit from the , ah, fishmongers, where we use the real thing, basically carefully positioned with tweezers, that's a big oyster, um, into a case which is actually made of , erm, plastic
(47:20 / 50:25)Dan O'Bannon: There you go, see, he's just lifting up the edge of the oyster. These were the tricks that we used in our efforts to come up with a space creature which on the one hand looked completely different than anything that you'd ever seen before, but on the other hand looked absolutely like something that was alive and made of real flesh and on the third hand, it's terrifying to look at. And I believe that we succeeded. And I am, I am pleased with that. You see, there is the value of novelty, if it's new and you haven't see it before, it has impact. Once something becomes familiar, no matter how well it's done. If it's familiar, well you know the old saying, familiarity breeds contempt, and it's a shame in a way because you see Alien now and Alien no longer has novelty. So that Alien seen today by contemporary audience has only a fraction of the impact it had when the picture first came out, because they've see it all before, but at the time, there was a lot in Alien that was entirely new to an audience and the impact it had was considerable and it was even received well by the critical community, because in those days, science fiction films were very much looked down upon by movie critics and they liked Alien
(48:40) Ron Shusett: When they optioned Alien , we were so excited, they gave me $15,000, Dan got five, I got ten, because I was producing and working on the script, of the front money. And Linda and I went and eloped. We got married in a little church around the corner with no witnesses. We were so dumb, we thought when they optioned the movie that they'd make it. We didn't know that, it meant nothing. they could have easily ditched it. (00:49:00) So that's how I memorised my anniversary, it was then they optioned the Alien script. When I told Dan I got married, he was living on my couch, my wife was supporting he and I and working as a hospital assistant, when i told him I got married on the option, he said "You got married?! You'd be ill advised to buy a canary! How far you are gonna get on this $15000. I'm sleeping on the couch. If you can't afford to loan me any money, you haven't got any money to spare yourself" Once we ran out of this, our rent was $200 a month at the apartment where we wrote Alien.
(49:32) Ridley Scott: So see, this is just a hand held shot there, doing that. Most of this film was hand held, so it was murderous, 'cause those cameras wherever you look at them are heavy.
(1:27:14) This was, er, anamorphic, I wanted wide screen, perceptive widescreen is, you know somehow feels like it's bigger, um, then gradually they developed into the idea of super 35 which is, (00:50:00) the... the big difference with anamorphic is that you're using anamorphic lenses which means there's more glass on the front of the lens which means that the picture quality is not as sharp, means you need more light to push through more glass so, it's er, sounds like all downside and in these days it was because we had a lot of focus problems in this because we were kind of low on light level right on the edge so that means you're low light level and being right on the edge of wi...approaching wide open which is not good for the lens and clarity so we had a bit of focus problem (1:28:00).
(51:49) Ridley Scott: I mean, really this is the only horror film if you can call it that, I've done. The thing that really at that moment nailed me to the wall was Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I haven't seen that in recent years (52:00) so I don't know how that would play, whether it is what it is, whether it stands up, but at the time it was so shocking, they went to places that nobody had actually gone and you think, my god he's not going to do that when he does, but, but erm, I would say probably the best and still the most intelligent and, er, all rounder is probably The Exorcist, you know. The first Exorcist was really good, with a , a great very simple narrative, idea. William Friedkin made it all work, because to even make a film which begins with a film within a film, is very dangerous and tenuous, but he made that work, he made the Irish director work, and then he made the star living in her house in Georgetown work, and then he took almost the unlikely by making it real, make it stick, that's a, I think it all in all is still one of the best. There are many (53:00) versions of that, that's the problem, people settle for less, but then we have to make films.
(53:08) Dan O'Bannon: I was trying to figure out who these people were in this, wh-wh-what was this spaceship doing out there and and who were the people on board, so I was looking for something different in order to break the audiences mental mould. I was doing everything I could to forbid the audience to think of this as just a space movie because I wanted the.. to isolate them, I wanted this terrible sense of isolation so you just knew you weren't going to get help from all that.. all.
(50:34 / 53:41) Harry Dean Stanton: And I had this line, remember I had the line, ah, remember every time somebody would say something, I'd say Right, right whatever, yelling Yaphet would say. So we're doing a scene, one scene where Sigourney says to me, she says, ar, "Brett, why do you always say Right every time he says something", in the middle of the take, you know and I said "why don't you go and fuck yourself" (chuckle) and they said "Cut"(00:51:00), and then, ah, it wasn't in the script of course, and ah, Tom Skerrit or Yaphet or one of them said "well, if he's going to change the lines," or (chuckle) created a big furor
(54:31) Ridley Scott: I think this is an uncomfortable, er, atmosphere to the scene where they don't, they know, they can't believe it, that is simple, basically. (51:40) When you see the film with a proper mix and big sound, you can hear a lot of very subtle sounds all the time, always there, so they're always working on your paranoia, and I think these atmospherics are terribly important, erm, this is not score, this is just, uneasy, erm, almost (00:52:00) organic sounds that make you feel uncomfortable and you don't know what it is, is it a system of, er, air conditioning, is it the sound of the ship, so basically Jimmy was asked just to design the whole idea of the sound of ship, other than just the usual big rumble, but the big rumble is almost there throughout everything, so here we .. here we have, this er jocularity and er, and Ash' slight watchfulness.
(52:30 / 55:34) Terry Rawling: The whole point of this was to play this as if nothing was going to happen at all, but I don't think anybody realised what was going to happen, even the actors. I'm sure they didn't. I mean they knew what was about to happen, but the way it happened was a... a shock to them as well as the audience, especially her.
(52:52 / 55:59) Tom Skerrit: I remember coming in to watching Ridley setting this thing up with John, so I kind of some idea of what the mechanics were, and I don't think that (00:53:00) anybody else and you guys had gone in there
(53:02 / 56:08) Veronica Cartwright: No, they wouldn't let us, they kept us upstairs in those dressing rooms for hours
(53:05 / 56:11) Tom Skerrit:Well, I was down there watching it and er, the look you get on Veronica's face is the real thing, she had no idea what was going to happen. Ridley used some rather uncomplimentary intestines of animals I think (Harry Dean Stanton chuckles)
(53:20 / 56:27) Veronica Cartwright:Well, there were huge buckets of offal around and...
(53:23 / 56:30) Tom Skerrit: Yeaaaaah,
(53:23 / 56:31) Veronica Cartwright: But what was there, three cameras? Three or four cameras.
(53:25 / 56:34) Tom Skerrit: Yeah. This is
(53:27 / 56:35) Veronica Cartwright: Then they rigged them.
(53:27 / 56:36) Tom Skerrit: This is some serious indigestion going on here
(53:31 / 56:38) Harry Dean Stanton: Yuh, aeroplane food (chuckle)
(53:33 / 56:41) Veronica Cartwright: Remember they had, the, they had the , um, the shirt slightly slit
(53:37 / 56:45) Tom Skerrit: Yeah
(53:38 / 56:46) Veronica Cartwright: And, erm,
(53:38 / 56:46) Tom Skerrit: Yeah
(53:39 / 56:46) Veronica Cartwright: And then they stopped it because it wasn't cut enough and they told me I'd get a little blood on my face and they had an entire jet pointed at me
(53:45 / 56:54) Harry Dean Stanton: And that was the... the strongest
(53:46 / 56:54) Tom Skerrit: Yeah
(53:46 / 56:56) Harry Dean Stanton: Strongest vision I had in the movie when I looked up and saw blood on her face
(53:47 / 56:56) Tom Skerrit: They're off
(53:51 / 57:00) Tom Skerrit: Yuh, yuh. They were out to get her. They were out to get Veronica. Look this
(53:53 / 57:02) Harry Dean Stanton: Then I thought that was for real. Only once I thought was real
(53:56 / 57:05) Tom Skerrit: Look at this, look at the look on Veronica's face, I love this, (00:54:00) she was saying, "what am i doing here?"
(54:03 / 57:12) Harry Dean Stanton: That now, right in there, that's
(54:05 / 57:15) Tom Skerrit: Whoa.... Whoa (sharp intake of breath)
(54:10 / 56:19) Veronica Cartwright: It's those little teeth with the little projectiles.
(54:12 / 57:21) Tom Skerrit: Oh, the smile it had. I'm a scientist, don't touch it
(54:21 / 57:29) Harry Dean Stanton: That Ian
(54:23 / 57:32) Veronica Cartwright: And there.. remember there was a guy on a skateboard, underneath that table
(54:27 / 57:35) Tom Skerrit: Yuh.
(54:27 / 57:35) Veronica Cartwright: There was a cut in the table, and then they had him on a dolly and they WHIPPED him out.
(54:32 / 57:41) Tom Skerrit: Yuh. yuh
(54:34 / 57:42) Veronica Cartwright: It was just, it was like simple stuff, but it just looks so unbelievable
(54:39 / 57:47) Harry Dean Stanton: How many times did we do that?
(54:40 / 57:48) Veronica Cartwright: Remember that
(54:41 / 57:50) Harry Dean Stanton: Two or three
(54:42 / 57:51) Veronica Cartwright: Well no, one time! one time!
(54:42 / 57:52) Tom Skerrit: That was just one time. Yep
(54:44 / 57:53) Veronica Cartwright: It was a one off deal. they started to do it, they realised that the shirt wasn't cut enough, so they needed to go back and do that and that was a one time, and, well like, four cameras, and ah,,,
(54:54 / 58:03) Tom Skerrit: and You were ...
(54:54 / 58:03) Veronica Cartwright: And I got hit in that face, remember, I, I backed up and went like this
(54:57 / 58:06) Harry Dean Stanton: yes, that was my strongest vision in the movie, with blood on her face
(54:58 / 58:07) Veronica Cartwright: And my knees hit the back (00:55:00) of that erm, banquette and I flipped upsidedown and my boots were sticking up in the air.
(55:01 / 58:13)Tom Skerrit: Yeah And you were.....immobile. You were immobilized for four days,
(55:07 / 58:16) Harry Dean Stanton: and I thought it was real
(all three chuckle)
(55:15) John Hurt: You notice when all the blood splashed everywhere that was done with caps, explosive caps, which the cast didn't know about, so they didn't know they were going to be splashed with blood from that distance. They knew that the alien was going to be born now, naturally as I said it was in the script, but they didn't know how it was going to happen. And so there were about five cameras on that. So all those quick cuts from everywhere, were as I said, it was a long long lighting job. But the whole thing was shot in one morning, the whole sequence. But a lot of preparation went into it.
(55:40 / 58:38) Ridley Scott:Again Jerry's theme which tells us there's more, it's threatening, and somehow chilling, chilly, beautiful, and elegant. I think O'Bannon and and, I know Ronny (00:56:00) adored it, I'm not sure about Dan and I always wanted Dan's approval, but I thought Dark star was really amazing
(56:09 / 59:09) Sigourney Weaver: Yuh
(56:09 / 59:09) Ridley Scott : Very very humorous piece,
(56:11 / 59:11) Sigourney Weaver: Yuh
(56:12 / 59:12) Ridley Scott: brilliant, and er, that was wr... directed by John Carpenter, Dan had written that one. Dan had gotten involved in some of the directing process. I know Dan's deepest mo... inner most dream would have been to have directed this movie, right and therefore, I felt A, the fact that he was relieved, because oddly he really loved The Duellists which is really strange 'cause he's a science fiction fanatic and erm, I wasn't, so whoever chose me to do this , was, is bizarre 'cause I...
(56:42 / 59:44) Sigourney Weaver: You chose yourself.
(56:44 / 59:46) Ridley Scott :Yeah, well I just read it, I was fifth,
(56:45/ 59:46)) Sigourney Weaver: "I'm gonna do it"
(56:46 / 59:48) Ridley Scott: I was fifth in line. I was the fifth or sixth director.
(56:49 / 59:51) Sigourney Weaver: You mean, other people had turned it down
(56:51 / 59:54) Ridley Scott: Ooh yeah, I'll admit, do you want me to name them.
(56:52 / 59:54) Sigourney Weaver: Well, that's because (breaks into laughter)
(56:55 / 59:57) Ridley Scott: I know who they were. I was thinking, wow, what a dummy!
(56:58 /1:00:00) Sigourney Weaver: But also I remember being a dummy too because when I read it (00:57:00), erm, not knowing what the alien looked like,
(57:05 /1:00:08) Ridley Scott: Yeah
(57:05 / 1:00:08) Sigourney Weaver: I just saw this big, like, gummy bear, you know
(57:08 / 1:00:11) Ridley Scott: It would have been awful.
(57:09 / 1:00:12) Sigourney Weaver: I know, it would have been
(57:10 / 1:00:13) Ridley Scott: Yuh
(57:11 / 1:00:14) Sigourney Weaver: That's why when I first met you, and you said "what do you think of the script?", I said, "well, I think it's very bleak" and...
(57:17 / 1:00:20) Ridley Scott: Yuh
(57:18 / 1:00:20) Sigourney Weaver: I remember the casting person,
(57:20 / 1:00:22) Ridley Scott: Yes
(57:20 / 1:00:23) Sigourney Weaver: old Bert
(57:21 / 1:00:23) Ridley Scott: Yuh
(57:21 / 1:00:24) Sigourney Weaver:: kind of going, you know, "shut up stupid"
(They both laugh)
(57:24 / 1:00:27) Sigourney Weaver: You're luh...cky, your lucky just to be here!
(57:27 /1:00:30) Ridley Scott: But bleak's right
(57:28 /1:00:31) Sigourney Weaver: Yuh
(57:28 /1:00:31) Ridley Scott: 'Cause that's what we wanted.
(1:00:32) Sigourney Weaver:Well, and once I saw the designs
(1:00:34) Ridley Scott: Yuh, yuh, yuh, yuh
(1:00:35) Sigourney Weaver: It completely changed the way I thought about the script
(57:31 /1:00:40) Dan O'Bannon: I was of course tempted to develop these characters up and give them, you know, full psychological profiles, and you know personal problems and the whole panoply of character stuff that is always done by knee jerk reaction in every movie and every screenplay, except for one thing and that was, that it bored me, I didn't give a rat's ass, (00:58:00) I didn't care about their personal psychological quirks except in so much that it had an immediate bearing on the situation at hand. I didn't want to stop and tell the life stories of these characters, because I didn't care, I cared about the monster that was going to kill them, that I cared about, so I didn't do any of that in the script, I did none of it at all. I thought I was going to direct it at that point and the idea I had in my mind was: "Once I have my cast, one the actors are... are hired, I'll sit down with each one of them individually and we'll work out a full history for the charactor for the actor. That way it'll be better and more convincing than if I make it up in advance, before I know who my actor is. I'll invent these histories with the actors when I know my actors. And even then, I wont have them sit and tell (00:59:00) it, but I will just flesh them out in that manner." Well , I ended up not directing it, and so that particular thing didn't come to pass.
(59:15) Harry Dean Stanton: I remember one line where Ridley, I mean Yaphet turns to me, I said " Why are these so difficult to deal with?" or something and he says "your personality, man" (laughter) Which wasn't in the script
(1:01:33) Ridley Scott: Everybody really worked great in the process of a film that in a funny kind of way doesn't call for background and who's writing to who at home and how you get that information back to families and da-ra-ra-ra-rum because actually what that was is a B movie
(1:01:59) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(1:01:59) Ridley: It's seven little what's...
(1:02:00) Sigourney Weaver: Ten little indians
(1:02:01) Ridley Scott: Ten little indians in the old dark house , and that's what it is, but I think what happened is, we all elevated it.
(59:30 / 1:02:11) Tom Skerrit: Well there was a scene here, I don't know where Yaphet came in, Yaphet, er, wants to kind of stir things up and he came in to work one afternoon, it may have been this afternoon here, and the English crew was very quite and always very gentle with me, standing back as, er, Yaphet came on set and said "er, lets cut this quiet shit, c'mon what's with you guys stand around here doing nothin', you just act like gentlemen!" (01:00:00), and he ca... really got it going and finally calmed down, he got his blood circulating at that point, and I was standing in the back and a couple of English men in front of me and one whispers to the other and says "Isn't it grand being English"
(Harry Dean Stanton laughs along with Veronica Cartwright)
(1:00:15 / 1:02:56) Harry Dean Stanton: He's got a point, mmm
(1:00:19 / 1:02:59) Veronica Cartwright: I think we're on to something here, ah that's
(1:00:21 /1:03:00) Tom Skerrit: Ah, Jonesey you, you beast you.
(1:00:22 / 1:03:02) Veronica Cartwright: Oh, it's the cat
(1:00:28 /1:03:06) Terry Rawling: It was a fantastic exercise I think for both of us, because this was I think Ridley's second film and it was my third, I'd done, I did two others before that, so it was all very new, and I don't think I've ever worked as hard as we did on this picture, the sort of hours we put in to do it. You know, we tried everything we knew how, all different ways around the whole idea was to terrorise people as much as possible, and that only comes with like pushing people into a corner endlessly, (01:01:00) going as far as you can go, but not going over the top you know
(1:01:10 / 1:03:47) Ridley Scott: And yeah, I remember running the film in, I think we were in London? Or as it L. A., the Egyptian, but I remember running it in London and er, and the film in L. A., and I knew we had something really extra-ordinary (1:04:00) because of mainly because of the reaction, not just during but afterwards
(1:01:27 / 1:04:06) Sigourney Weaver: Mmm
(1:01:27 / 1:04:06) Ridley Scott:There was this kind of stunned silence and er, and I remember Harry coming up to me, I think it was in the Egyptian, and he's so sweet, and Harry looked at me and said "Thanks for the closeups man"
(1:01:40 /1:04:19) Sigourney Weaver: Aaah, sweet
(1:01:41 /1:04:20) Ridley Scott : Yeh, and er, and he meant when he walks through and goes "here kitty kitty kitty"
(1:01:47 / 1:04:27) Sigourney Weaver:Yes
(1:01:48 /1:04:27) Ridley Scott :which is great.
(1:01:49 /1:04:28) Sigourney Weaver:Yes
(1:01:49 /1:04:28) Ridley Scott: That moment you know he is gone,
(1:01:51 /1:04:30) Sigourney Weaver:I know
(1:01:52 /(1:04:31) Ridley Scott: but but er, he was very sweet and er, he and Yaphet made this great duo, you know.
(1:01:58 /1:04:37) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(1:01:58 /1:04:37) Ridley Scott: And, er, in fact I think the whole (01:02:00) to me is probably the best ensemble I've ever had
(1:02:04 / 1:04:48) Harry Dean Stanton: Now this is where I screwed up, I could ne... I could never play terror. Oh, I can play crying, I can laugh, I can cry, I can do everything but playing terror, and I didn't know it at the time but I found out later how to play terror.(1:05:00) And I didn't use it in this part. It worked, but I wish I had known it, you don't look scared, you just look like "I've never seen anything like this before"
(1:02:28 / 1:05:12) Tom Skerrit: like... "woo-oo-ooh"
(1:02:29 /1:05:14) Harry Dean Stanton: that's all you have to do
(1:02:30 /1:05:15) Veronica Cartwright: Urrrgh, there's the skin, it's shedding its skin
(1:02:35 /1:05:20) Tom Skerrit: Something's up Harry
(1:02:37 /1:05:23) Harry Dean Stanton: God, these sickening images are gonna get'im
(1:02:40 /1:05:26) Veronica is laughing
(1:02:42 /1:05:29) Harry Dean Stanton: Disgusting
(1:02:46 /1:05:33) Terry Rawling: This is great soundwise too, when you just enter this like rain forest with the rain and the dripping just surrounding you
(1:02:57 /1:05:46) Ridley Scott: Again, sticking to your guns.
Why the water? (01:03:00)So I just say," why not?"
Why the chains? "Well, the chains aren't very high-tech".
I said, "yeah, you know what, you've still got to let things down, so it's still going to be rope or water, it's not necessarily electronic", (1:06:00)
So I had the chains dressed because the room looked a bit blank and I need the movement in there uh. How's it moving? I said, "I don't care."
Where's the water coming from? I said "condensation".
Why the condensation? "erm because er, something's gone wrong and the ship, but they can... it's not, it's not life threatening, they'll put up with it."
(1:03:36 / 1:06:24) Tom Skerrit: The clinking
(1:03:38 /1:06:26) Veronica Cartwright: Yuh, the chains and the...
(1:03:39 / 1:06:26) Tom Skerrit: Oh, yeah. Oh Ridley! Ridley! Ridley!
(1:03:43 /1:06:30) Veronica Cartwright: And the rain, see like that there. There's that, all that moisture that's coming in. You wouldn't get that moisture in outer space, I don't think but...
(1:03:51 /1:06:38) Tom Skerrit: You do now
(1:03:53 /1:06:40) Harry Dean Stanton: That was my idea, Ridley loved me for that one, he took .... he lapped it up immediately.
(1:03:57 / 1:06:44) Tom Skerrit:Yeah
(1:04:22 /1:06:53) Ridley Scott: There's always this sense that "Had I made it too slow?" But I think the slowness. It isn't slow, I think it makes it more tense, (1:07:00) you know something always is going to happen. This was always amusing, I couldn't get a reaction from the cat, so I said I'll know what I'll do, so I put a board along side Harry Dean Stanton and had a German Shepherd there and we just lifted the board, it was on a leash so it never harmed the cat, but that's how you get that reaction from the cat, it's basically going "Whaaaat!" and erm, it... there. And that's where it sees the shepherd (01:05:00) and Harry's trying to ignore it. That's still a pretty unique look at a new movie beast. I think it was very confusing when people saw that. I mean, diffused and horrified and I think particularly after what happened on the table, I , think that it got to a moment where some people wanted to leave. And there were. We have people walk out at certain points. Which I was really nervous about and I was told afterwards "no no no, actually, in this instance , that's a plus. 'cause that will drive the word of mouth". And so I started to realise that word of mouth is as important as anything else on a film.
(01:07:37) Would I do this today? Erm, not really, I'd be "queeda"(?), I'd still be going for the tension, I'd still be going for nothing happening, but erm, but I think it worked pretty well. Sometimes you look at these things and then go "I want to cut, I want to cut, over". (1:08:00)
(1:03:58 /1:08:15) Tom Skerrit: I think the only direction we got (01:04:00) from Ridley was... after we did one of those ensemble pieces in the dining room , he took his eye off the camera and he winced and said "interesting".
(1:04:12 /1:08:30) Tom Skerrit: you remember that was the only direction he ever gave us , that praise
(1:04:16 /1:08:34) Harry Dean Stanton:Which was enough
(Veronica Cartwright laughs)
(1:08:40) Terry Rawling: It's very hard to talk about editing, that's why I say this is very difficult, er, maybe you'll find other people who talk about it far more fluid than I can, but whenever I've talked about editing, it, it's.. it's people say "why did you do so-in-so", (1:05:46) yuh, I have to say," it was instinctive, I did it because it felt right at the time". (1:09:00) It's like if you're teaching somebody how to do something, you can't teach people how to edit, you can tell 'em what they can't or what they shouldn't do, but then those rules are already there to be broken (01:06:00) because we take tremendous gambles with editing, and I'm still after all these years of doing it, endlessly surprised at what we can achieve with the same pieces of film played in different ways and, and, and tricked around, but saying why and how you do things, it's got to come down to the material you were given and obviously what you were trying to achieve, and then it's got to be an in built thing, it's got to be your inner timing, and then of course that will work to a certain extent and then your director will suggest changes which you never thought of, and I hope that's what I do for them, is that with all the pressures that a director has, he doesn't have time to think of every variation on a scene. (1:10:00) I spend a lot of time talking to directors when they're shooting so I know what they're looking for , for the sequence, so that when i come to put it together, the first thing I do is to put it together with the takes that they like, with the ideas that they want me to (01:07:00) try and get across, but in doing that, I see other things, and I hopefully bring that to their attention or I do it that way so that they can see what other ideas there are. And I think that's what my job is to take what they give me a stage further, then we develop it together
(1:07:28)Dan O'Bannon: The actual life cycle of the creature was something that I personally spent many nights and weeks painstaking working my way through all of the possibilities and er, discarding most of them. Now, when it came to the creature itself and its life cycle, that was erm, to the best of my recollection , that was entirely my own efforts and labour, and I , I wouldn't have accepted anyone else's judgment on that matter even if anyone had anything to say about it, (01:08:00) and people had little to say about it, because most people had remarkable little to say about it while I was writing it because most people didn't find that kind of thing very interesting. I was kind of off on my own there
(1:08:11)Terry Rawling: This is interesting, this sequence, the t... the air shafts, because Ridley Scott and I worked so hard on this sequence. We worked night after night on this working this out, and when we got it done, we said to er, I think it was David Giler " Come and see this. We're thrilled wuth this. It really works now."
So he looked at it all the way through, he said "It really is good, But do you know what you've done? You've had the alien following him instead of him following the alien." or whatever way round we did it, we'd got it completely reversed, om... because of all these little lights moving about, we'd got them the wrong way round. Obviously it wasn't a huge complication because we didn't have to change the way we got it cut, we only had to change all the intercut and reverse them, change a few lines. The tracking light was going the wrong way. (01:09:00)
(1:09:01 / 1:10:43) Ridley Scott: Again, this is all industrial tubing and stuff, none of this we made, we just got the tubing, rigged it, this whole thing from here with offcuts to them as in a day, that's all I was given, a day, you have a day and that's that. And I'm shooting with a real flame and (1:11:00)a guy holding a light lighting himself. There's no other light in here than that, we just shot. That's what great about Derek, he's on anamorphic, I just shot this as it c... as it is, that's it, there's nothing else there. I still think Derek used to squeeze more out of anamorphic lense than anyone else, you know. But you know the advantages of an operator, when you're a director is because you're seeing it, you know you're getting it, yeah, you know what you're getting, so it's almost like pulling your..... the storyboard together in your head as you're seeing it happen. If you're not using the viewfinder, you're kind of insulated from what's going on. I mean we're helped today by good video assist and everything, but there's nothing quite like being through (01:10:00) the view finder and being close to the actor, you're very part, much part of it. To me there's an entire logic to that, of operating and directing are the same thing
(1:10:10 / 1:11:54) Ron Shusett: I remember when Ridley met me, he said "I want it to be the most straight forward unpretentious riveting thriller (1:12:00) like Psycho or Rosemary's Baby or even the most brilliant B level like Night Of The Living Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but I want it to look, and I'm going to do this like 2001", and I knew right then, I could, I had seen The Duellists, I knew he could make it look like 2001 but I didn't realise he had that frame of mind, I'm not going to make this into a pretentious, I want it to play just like it read on the page and then he said "we're going to watch together all the classic scare movies so that I can get the rhythm of how scares work" and we did that, we made a list and we all, Ridley, I and Dan O'Bannon, we all watched them and I knew from when he's even said that, that first meeting, I knew he was gonna do just the job he did.
(1:10:56 /1:12:43) Ridley Scott: I was a bit nervous about these flame throwers, we were assured they were safe (01:11:00) and of course the actors had taken them off for practice with them, so I was always nervous about them, the uh, liquid fuel, and I didn't like them at all, and we kept very care... We were very careful and cautious about everything, so fortunately there were no accidents, (1:13:00) but I do not like playing with fire.
(1:11:18 /1:13:05) Dan O'Bannon: I was stuck on one point which was, once they got the thing on the spaceship, I wanted to avoid the cliché of bullets bouncing off of the thing, the indestructible monster, I mean that's the ancient cliché right, you can't stop it, bullets wont stop it, not at all, I wanted the thing to be in every respect, in every respect a natural animal, which means, yes, if you shoot it, it will die, so the question was, in the second half of the movie, why don't they just kill the thing, why didn't they just squash it, right, stick a knife in it, whatever and I wasn't sure how to achieve that and I asked Ron Cobb if he had any thoughts.
Ron Cobb I remember who was always helpful (01:12:00) said, "well, suppose the thing bled acid that would like burn through metal."
I said "great", I said "then they couldn't kill it because then it would er, it's blood would eat a hole (1:14:00) in the bulkhead and the ship would lose all it's oxygen."
I said "great".
So that came from another party, that was from Ron Cobb
(1:14:05) Tom Skerrit: Oh look at this, this is the other guy that gets it, this damn fool. (1:12:21) Okay. Harry order me a beer, I think I'm going to join you soon.
(Harry Dean Stanton chuckles)
(1:12:31) Ridley Scott: Down the stairs and come to the same place
(1:12:35 /1:14::25) Veronica Cartwright :Eeeeuuugh!
(1:12:36 /1:14::27) Tom Skerrit: Oh yum! He sang me a ballad, that's what it was.
(1:12:18 /1:14::32) Veronica Cartwright exhales
(1:12:19 /1:14::33) Tom Skerrit:That's why I couldn't shoot him.
(1:12:46) Tom Skerrit: Prettiest ballad
(1:12:48 / 1:14:36) Ridley Scott: It's funny there, they always used to amuse the hell out of me because you'd see the whole audience would, though you get, when you get a nice bump of 800 people altogether, that really is gratifying, it almost becomes really amusing actually, (01:13:00) but er, it is fun to do a thriller, but er, I'd like to do it again, but I need to find the piece of material. It doesn't have to be that sophisticated you know. You, you can make it (1:15:00) more sophisticated really.
(1:13:16 / 1:15::07) Veronica Cartwright: See I am the only smart one
(1:13:18 / 1:15::08) Harry Dean Stanton : yeah, yeah.
(1:13:19 / 1:15::09) Veronica Cartwright: We abandon this stupid ship and get the hell out of here
(1:13:21 / 1:15:12) Tom Skerrit: Yuh The audience is right with you, there's good... the audience is cheering you on, "san"
(1:13:21 / 1:15::12) Veronica Cartwright: Nobody listens, yeah
(1:13:25 / 1:15::15) Harry Dean Stanton : Why didn't you say that before they got to me.
(1:13:27 / 1:15:18) Tom Skerrit:Yuh.
(1:13:29 / 1:15:20) Harry Dean Stanton : Why didn't you bring it up earlier? Finally you bring up 'round here
(1:13:30 /1:15::21) Tom Skerrit: That's 'cause, 'cause er, whatever my character, Dallas and her, Dallas and her were having an affair and that's why she wanted to.
(1:13:39 / 1:15::29) Harry Dean Stanton: Yuh
(1:13::39 /1:15::31) Veronica Cartwright: which they... cut it out.
(1:13::40 /1:15::31) Harry Dean Stanton: She was getting layed
(1:13::42 /1:15:34) Tom Skerrit: So, there you have it
(1:13:45 / 1:15:36 ) Ridley Scott: This is the bit where erm. I wanted to raise the level a little bit, so Yaphet and I were a little complicit here and said I wanted to crank the volume up here and and push 'em and be irritating, (01:14:00) and er, we got it. It was very good.
(1:14:04) Terry Rawling: Well the, when she's trying to escape round the, round the corridors - all that material with her looking places and trying... once it starts when she's trying to get out of it, I remember Ridley kept saying to me that there's a shot in, there's a shot I shot, 'cause he did all the hand held stuff, he said "when I'm following along a corridor and I backed into one of the rooms , looked, then went on" and we searched the cutting rooms forever to find this shot, and er, i was convinced he was just imagining the shot he'd always wanted to shoot, like directors do occasionally, but he had a fantastic memory of the material. Then having searched everywhere, we said "we just...t..." he said "It was done, I know it was done", And then we suddenly decided we hadn't searched through all this sort of NG stuff that we'd , that had come up, there was something wrong with the lighting and there was the shot in amongst all this which we put in (01:15:00) obviously
(1:15:54 ) Veronica Cartwright: And I know that, I mean it was, because she started out being very emotional and all of this stuff 'cause of Dallas dying, (1:16:00) he just kept pushing her and pushing her and pushing her and I know Ridley was saying "get to her and get it" and so when he's dead, that whole switch and he slams down his thing and he walks off the set again, she was so pissed off which was what the movie needed, I mean, she had to take control of that ship, she couldn't be a wimpy person, I was the wimp. You know, I was the only sane one but I, I think he did egg us on. (laughs)
(1:15:36 ) Ridley Scott: I thought why not? (1:16:27 ) Relationships would be discouraged, you know the idea of casual sex would be normal for obvious reasons. I thought , why not, because if you've got seven on board, somebody's going to get left out, right erm and so casual relationships, whether its male or female, male with male, female with female, seems to be o-okay, seems to be okay in space when you're (01:16:00) locked away in a big tin can for years on end, could be years, plus hypersleep, so it might feel like a year, you might be away ten years, so I tried to instigate (1:17:00) that and there was a suggestion of that with Dallas and that was the beginning with Veronica, er, ce...a.. an idea, should we infer something here, should we have an inference of 'er, you know a Lesbian or gay relationship or not. It kee... it would have been kind of interesting, today I'd probably do that, just to thicken up the er, the layers 'n the characters
(1:17:29 ) Dan O'Bannon: The general idea of what constitutes a suspense story was an... an issue of some contention among the producers and I lost a couple of those battles. (1:15:02 ) There was no Ash in my original script, they added that. The idea being here that all, all scripts must have a subplot, simply to have a single plot by itself is inadequate, all stories must have subplots, so they created a subplot. Ian Holm gives a brilliant performance, it's (1:18:00) brilliantly directed by Ridley, but if you stop and think about it, if it wasn't in there what difference would it make one way or the other, I mean, who gives a rat's ass, I mean so somebody is a robot? It annoyed me when they did it because it was what I called The Russian Spy. It was a tendency in certain types of thrillers, when people are on an interesting mission to stick in a Russian spy. One of them is a spy and they don't know which one, he's trying to screw up the mission, Fantastic Voyage had that. When I saw Fantastic Voyage, I thought it annoying, you're just about getting ready to head off into the..er... body of this person and have this fantastic mission to go through his blood stream , get to his brain, and save him when you're informed that one of them is a Russian spy and he's going to, er, stop the mission from its completion, and instead of it adding any genuine suspense, all it did was annoy me and made me think, "Oh I see, so maybe now I don't get to see what I want to see in the movie because the Russian spy will prevent it (1:19:00)." It's a tensioning device which is commonly resorted to and doesn't work because it doesn't provide any real suspense, it doesn't do anything except provide, um, finger exercise for the writer who thinks that all stories must have subplots. (1:16:42) So I think its an inferior idea of inferior minds, well acted , well directed, and fortunately it occupies little enough screen time that it doesn't disrupt the main plot.
(1:16:57) Sigourney Weaver: We knew...We didn't know whose side he was on (01:17:00)
(1:17:03) Ridley Scott: Correct, But you know again that that was a pretty good ideas. I don't know whose idea it was, whether it was O'Bannon and Ronny Shusett, but the two, that's a first, in a way. All these films like have first ideas and therefore afterwards, the emulation occurs time and time and time again. So it was definitely a first coming out of a chest.
(1:17:21) Sigourney Weaver: Yes, yes, it was their ideas
(1:17:22) Ridley Scott: But.... I.....And then I thought (1:19:29) the Ash thing was interesting that Ash was an implant of the corporation, having a robot on board, so instead of just having a spy, you've got a biomechanoid
(1:17:36) Sigourney Weaver: Hmm
(1:17:37/1:19:40) Ridley Scott: human being
(1:17:38) Sigourney Weaver: Who can't be won over to the other side
(1:17:40) Ridley Scott: I know yeah.
(1:17:41 / 1:19:41) Sigourney Weaver: It's a very modern idea
(1:17:43 / 1:19:43) Ridley Scott: Yeah, very modern
(1:17:44 / 1:19:44) Sigourney Weaver: It's still very relevant
(1:17:45 / 1:19:45) Ridley Scott: It has a formidable memory, so it doesn't even need a computer, it all goes in and it will all spout out later, i thought that was a great, that was a first
(1:17:52 / 1:19:52) Sigourney Weaver:Yuh, yes
(1:17:53 / 1:19:54) Ridley Scott: I thought that's a really good idea. Makes sense, 'cos I'm sure they do it today. I know we've got robots in various organisations (01:18:00)
(1:18:01) Sigourney Weaver:Yuh, And he, he's so amazing in it
(1:18:04 ) Ridley Scott: Yeah, yeah
(1:18:05) Sigourney Weaver: Incredible performance
(1:18:13 / 1:19:52 ) Sigourney Weaver: He said "oh , come on downstairs, (1:20:00) it's gonna be great, Ash is gonna pick up this sex magazine and he's...he's gonna stick up your hooter". And I didn't know cockney, and I thought, hmm, my hooter. Erm, and so, luckily when we got downstairs, it was up my mouth to choke me but it was funny, it was one of those things, you know I didn't actually think, "well Ridley would never do... (laughter)
(1:18:39 /1:20:26) Ridley Scott: Yeah exactly, but I figured that
(1:18:42 / 1:20:28) Sigourney Weaver:Nothing more would have surprised me ....
(1:18:43 / 1:20:29) Ridley Scott: I figured that robots had to have, if they're really sophisticated, had to occasionally have the urge,
So I said to Ash, "how do you feel about sexual drive?".
He said "great".
(1:18:55 / 1:20:43) Ridley Scott: So I said "rather than just beating her up, isn't it more interesting that he (01:19:00) actually has always wanted to, and here's his opportunity but he doesn't have that part"
(1:19:07 / 1:20:55) Sigourney Weaver: Oh, he doesn't
(1:19:08 / 1:20:56) Ridley Scott: And therefore it's a magazine
(1:19:10 / 1:20:58) Sigourney Weaver: Ahh, I didn't understand the Freudian overtones (1:21:00) of the scene
(1:19:14 / 1:21:02) Ridley Scott: I hope there aren't any kids listening to all this
(1:19:16 / 1:21:04) Sigourney Weaver: Well, if kids can watch...
(1:19:18 / 1:21:06) Ridley Scott: It's pretty abstract
(1:19:19 / 1:21:07) Sigourney Weaver (cont'd) :...these movies they can hear this stuff
(1:19:20 /1:21:08) Ridley Scott: Exactly
(01:21:10) Ron Shusett: This is Giler and Hill's concept , it's the only thing that wasn't in the orginal script of Dan's and mine and the reason I knew it'd work because you needed something after the chestburster that was at least close to it as amazing and that is this, when the head... the head is knocked off and you don't realise he's a robot and that kept the sec... the third act from being a let down. Oh god, shit, Jesus christ!
(1:19:27/ 1:21:43 ) Ridley Scott: This is a great turnabout in the story because really just when you think your main and only aggressor is this thing loose on the ship, you now got a much bigger problem. You've got two (1:22:00)aggressors which raises the paranoia and that of the audience twofold, always useful at this moment when you're about three quarters of the way through. So also somebody that drops the milk maid logic, because instead of having spurting blood or fluid, (01:20:00) I said I'd have spurting.... I didn't use milk because it would stink in no time so it was basically coloured water, that was Ian lying underneath a pile of debris and that's just holding his head out but considering all things, erm , and the budget involved, we did pretty good. This was again, "What do we want to do for the innards?" and I'd said er, "pasta, glass marbles, you get me, not caviar, but you get me a bit of the cheap caviar and erm, milk and that's it", and er, just dressed it on the table, this is years of (01:21:00) pack shots, you see, erm, some pasta, thin rubber tubes, pasta and this is a cheap form of er, black caviar which is great, (1:23:00) dress that with the glass balls and you think, my God that's so high-tech that I don't know what it is. (chuckle) but it just shows you don't need that much, you don't need to go nuts.
I was always worried about the head through the table thing , but it has to be good enough. It's good the way the hand is playing it off behind the him.
And we fiddled with his voice, in the in the, well prior to the mixing theatre. This was .... (01:22:00) speech was written again and again where we wanted to have this Ash scene suddenly became new and we had developed this once we started, or we felt we didn't have the definitive speech to make this worthwhile which is to His final speech was basically saying, "It's indestructable, I'm sorry for you. But in a way, it's a kind of perfect creature". He has almost reverence for it.
(1:23:12 ) Veronica Cartwright: The original scene had more grapey things and stuff and so I guess they took in, erm, I talked to Ian later, he said they went back and reshot with more tubey looking odds and ends, and they also changed the dialogue, that wasn't what it was originally. Well that whole thing about how nobody'd bothered to try to communicate with it, I mean maybe if we gave it a chance, it was part of an experimental program which in a weird way didn't make him as evil. Originally this is where he brought up "has anybody tried to communicate with it?", and we were all standing around, and you know, and listening to him, he was so touching when he was doing it and and then Ridley shouts "Cut!" because he had milk, and he had grapes and he had little, he hated (1:24:00) the little silver balls that were like on the c.... so here we are, we were all like sitting there with bated breath listening to Ian, he's got his head in the middle of the table, you know with grapes and all sorts of stuff hanging off his head and then he uh, he shouts "cut" because he didn't like the silver balls so, what you see is Ian with that months later and redid it, but I r.. I loved his ideas. he, Ian had this twitch through the thing which you don't get to see very much, he had like, he starts out fine, but as he starts to get, why, this left eye, would like, twitch all the time as he starts to break down.
(1:22:51 /1:24:46 ) Ridley Scott: So now we're probably trying to work out all... you know, you don't have to explain it that craft, has, have droids on board, you know big corporations (01:23:00)... maybe the rumour has always been from the big corporations do out of (1:25:00) paranoia for their own investment of their huge craft and the cargo and their knowledge always plant a spy within the crew on board just in case they, the crew decide to go off and sell it somebody and therefore they always have their own security blanket as part of the crew and he of course is one, I think that was a ni... a really nice idea, a new idea which ugh, then gets used again, again, again, again, you know.
(1:23:34 /1:25:32 ) Ron Shusett: And Sigourney was a revelation because on the set, she never seemed to be acting much 'cause she's reflective, it's all behind the eyes. These guys, all of them are surrounded by the best character actors in the business , and we thought "Gee, is she gonna be any good? She's not acting, she seems..." , and every time we'd look at the dailies and say "She's great. How come she looks so great?' Because it was always... It's behind the eyes. As Orson Welles once said when he was watching Gary Cooper (01:24:00) shoot a scene in a set. He said "We'll have to reshoot that" (1:26:00) And he looked at it and then he said "it was fantastic!" Orson Welles said "That camera either loves you or it doesn't". And Sigourney's whole career and success is she doesn't overact it.
(1:24:16 ) Ridley Scott: So we're on a little tracking dolly here, and I'm thinking "What happens when the other two die? I'm gonna be left with 17 minutes of Sigourney by herself, no dialogue, moving up and down these corridors. And whilst Sigourney can certainly do it, I have to, I 've said as much, I've got to do my thing as well, help her." So then it becomes a combined effort, and erm, so we're already struggling with different forms of lighting, testing and Derek had discovered these kind of little stroboscopic night club lights that you can turn a knob and alter the shift the change of speed of the strobe. So I was already having this lash-up made on the front of the dolly (00:25:00) from the time when it would happen, 'cause I needed to throw everything at it
(1:25:12) Terry Rawling: All I can say that this was an incredible experience, working on this film. I still look back on this as one of the highlights. It's like everything. And at the time you think "It's good", but you had no idea what you were creating, really. You were just doing like you always do, try and do the best you can. And I've heard people say this before, but I believe it, they're all like your children, you know, you work on it, you think, "This is my youngest child now" You love it and nurture it and then it comes out and people don't like it and... or... or they love it. But you never have an idea. Not really. All you can say to yourself "So, I've done the best I know how and if I always do what I do to please me, I obviously want to please the people I'm being paid by but the first one I've got to please it myself." But the first one I've got to please it myself. If I please myself (01:26:00) and I hope my standards are high enough to make them like it as well. But then you do all you can to give the director what he really or she really wants, you know, because after all it's their medium and you're there to help them the most you can, but if you don't do it for yourself first, you can never do it for them. That's what I feel, anyway, as an editor.
(1:26:17) Dan O'Bannon: The whole point of Alien isn't that this is a dangerous space monster, the whole point of Alien according to Walter Hill is that evil corporations created this situation, this crew wouldn't even be in this desperate situation in the first place if the evil corporation hadn't sought out this organism and decided to use it as a weapon and stuck a robot on board to deceive the crew and get them trapped in this situation where this... where this alien organism can do its worst and show that it would be a very good weapon for the corporation's weapon systems. As far as Walter Hill is concerned, that's what the movie is about, but you can see how (01:27:00) having taken the time and trouble to have conceived of and write Alien in the first place, put upon by myself butting up against a producer who was a writer
(1:27:14) Ridley Scott: This was, er, anamorphic, I wanted wide screen, perceptive widescreen is, feels like it's bigger, then gradually they developed into the idea of super 35 which is, the... the big difference with anamorphic is that you're using anamorphic lenses which means there's more glass on the front of the lens which means that the picture quality is not as sharp, means you need more light to push through more glass so, it's er, sounds like all downside and in these days it was because we had a lot of focus problems in this because we were kind of low on light level right on the edge so that means you're low light level and being right on the edge of wi...approaching wide open which is not good for the lens and clarity so we had a bit of focus problem, (01:28:00) y...you use the loss of depths of focus on anamorphic, which is a thing in itself a part of the characterisation of the kind of style you're choosing of the story that you're telling.
(1:26:30)Just the remains of a helicopter there just sprayed gold, er, jet engines there sprayed turned on end and sprayed gold with gold foil on them just to make it more peculiarly , um, hi-tech, that's where you get the nice flares on the glass like that from anamorphic. Again silences silences... being with the actress or the actor, you can literally be right (01:27:00) there with them if you're hand holding, you see this.
Veronica was always great controlling barely controlled terror, catatonic terror, she's always two steps from a heart attack which I think she finally does at the end have a heart attack.
(1:29:00) Terry Rawling: It's fantastic, you see the time you take over everything, this is what makes this film so special, and when it happens it's like that, it's over, it's over
(1:27:31) (1:29:15) Ridley Scott: Again would I buy Jonesy today? I didn't even think about it in those days, I thought why not, you know, you have a cat, she'd be attached to the cat, like I've got dogs, I'd do anything for my dogs, would I go back for my dogs, absolutely. The air condition going, the little fans working, so you have airlines at people (01:28:00) blowing things so, everything's moving, bouncing, and then there's the useful thing here. Again a useful shock, it's coming up. The air condition going, mmm, the little fans working. So you have airlines of people blowing things so everything's moving and bouncing. And then there's a useful thing here. That was very useful at this point and erm very simple, you know, just have a guy a prop man push it forwards with his feet, (1:30:00) none of that, ping, just somebody they're pushing it forward.
That is a clue, the cat, mroawhh, going inside is a clue, people were convinced that the alien was now inside the cat.
(1:28:43 / 1:30:26) Ron Shusett: Yaphet was so good, he was so intense. He said he'd be waiting fifteen years for something like this that I knew would become an amazing all time great movie before we even started shooting, imagine that what great vision. First day I met him he said that to me. (01:29:00)
(1:29:01 / 1:30:45) Veronica Cartwright: Yaphet is the one who keeps telling me to move but I can really move when I'm between him and the alien, and here it comes, see now, this thing is like fascinating in a weird sort of way. I mean how am I supposed I mean. Look at him, he's like looking at me, it's like checking me out. (1:31:00) So I was going off at the fact that I would end up in the locker somehow, you know, but obviously he's... he's doing other things to me.
Now, when she gets down there, he.. he's being.... he's being gored . So you never see me actually
Bolaji who played the erm Alien, he was just amazing, I mean he was this graphic artist that they found in a pub and he was seven foot tall and he was Massai, so he had very long limbs. So actually that suit fit him, but he'd walk around in these white sneakers, Tom was the one who actually said this poor guy can't sit down, they built him a special swing, because he couldn't sit down once he had that tail on, and I always remember Ridley wanting to do , and there is a shot of it, there is a head and a brain, well that was maggots, they just stick that on Bolaji's head and he goes "I draw the line".
(01:30:00) See those, that's Harry Dean's legs, cause I wear white pants and cowboy boots through the whole thing, that was taken from the scene where the alien comes down in that warehouse thing (1:32:00).
Now they manipulated the film so they don't look blue, but that's not even the grating what's on the floor. So I remember the first time seeing this with an audience and then there were of course reporters, they go "well how does it feel?", and I say "I don't know, why don't you ask Harry?" I was so pissed off, I mean later it works, so it's fine but I think they could have warned me. But you see this death scene, it was never completed, originally what I was supposed to do is crawl away and I basically die of fright in the locker and it was supposedly the same locker that Jones had been in. That was, er, never shot, and erm, I kept asking when were we going to finish the scene, I mean the next thing I knew they were on to something else.
(1:30:08 /1:32:52 ) Ridley Scott: I mean we didn't know how she died but er, the implication that there was a kind of sexuality to this androgynous (1:33:00) male/female who could give birth itself, it could also impregnate, so it's like a , there are insects like that, we based that on a , you know a little bit of good old mother nature and erm, was that some dreadful ending, was that some terrible you know invasion of her body, a rape and therefore would there be a version of the Cartwright character. There'll certainly whatever happens, there'd be more humanoid aliens now on board this craft and that's what she's now got to destroy.
That's one of the difficulties, you now go... go again into this genre and think of something that is you know equally unique and it's difficult. You know, I just fell on Giger at this moment, who hadn't been seen that much except in Switzerland, erm had a following at that moment but (1:34:00), he was just perfect, the, you know right elements came together at the right time
(1:30:55) Sigourney Weaver chuckles
(1:30:55) Ridley Scott: As I came in the main gate and Yaphet would be standing at the main gate and I'd have a second assistant say (01:31:00)" Calling car one, he's at the main gate" .
I'd go "Oh no, go to gate two" So we'd go round the back
"He's at door two"
I said "Ah Jesus let's go to door three."
'Cause Yaphet was there to meet me every morning and say "I'm not gonna die, you know. I can't die. There's no way this, can actually, can deal with me. I will kill it. I'm omnipotent , man." duh-duh duh-arum. He was like Muhammad Ali..
(1:31:21 ) Sigourney Weaver chuckles
(1:31:23 ) Ridley Scott : And, er, he carried that through onto the set and er it became really useful, actually
(1:31:31 ) Sigourney Weaver: mmhmm
(1:31:31 ) RidleyWeaver Scott: 'cause he would throw curve balls. And I know some actors don't like curve balls, ah, because it depends on what you're doing
(1:31:41) Sigourney : Yuh
(1:31:41) Ridley Scott : You don't want a curve ball if you're doing an essentially very very prepared emotional piece, right
(1:31:48) Sigourney Weaver: I think that they're awfully good, actually. Any kind of surprise is awfully good.
(1:31:54) Ridley Scott : Good.
(1:31:55) Sigourney Weaver : Um, but I think, I think it was a (01:32:00) hard scene even for me anyway, to say: "This puts me in command of thie ship just because of hierarchy"
And I remember Yaphet said "Commander of what? A lot of dead people?!"
And I was like "What? Where's that in the script?" and erm and it was in character. He's brilliant at improvising.
(1:32:19 ) Ridley Scott: Yeah
(1:32:21) Sigourney Weaver : But the sweat on everyone is because we're not really sure where that scene is gonna go and we know that Ridley of course is shooting it you know and he'll love it. whatever happens even if we tear each other to bits, he's gonna capture it all on... on film
(1:32:37) Ron Shusett: O'Bannon discovered Giger too when he was working on Dune, that time he left me and went to Paris for six months. He met Giger them, who was hired as a Swiss Surrealist artis, not a picture designer, but Jodorowksy had hired him to do some of the designs for Dune. And then we went back to him after we wrote our script and had... and looked through his book of creatures and we found there was a perfect version (00:33:00)of what would be the alien on Giger's books. And we picked one of those and that would be our alien, the tall alien. We got a letter from Giger that he would design the others. And we had that when we were running around shopping our script and none of the studios wanted to use him. They said he was... when we showed them pictures of Giger's artwork, they said it was so disgusting it would stop audiences from coming. And until Ridley came into the project 11 months later, they wouldn't let us hire Giger. They hired Cobb but they wouldn't let us hire Giger. As soon as Ridley saw Giger's work , he said "That's it, that the alien"
He came to our apartment, our beaten down apartment. Dan lived on my couch, My wife was supporting us. We showed him, we said "Giger should design, but Fox won't let us." Immediately Fox said: "Oh, okay well, you're the director, Ridley. If you think we have to hire, we'll hire this guy Giger." And of course years later when they saw the sets, they said "My god. This should be hanging in the Museum of Modern Art. We realise now why you wanted this guy Giger to design a lot of the picture"
(1:33:56) Veronica Cartwright: Now I think, all in all, it's pretty amazing. it's help up all these years (01:34:00). I mean everybody (1:34:05) If you think about it, everybody's... has done a horror movie after this , has copied what the alien looks like. The only one that hasn't really looked like this was in Signs as an alien but it was that still that elongated, erm, sort of body but erm, if you think about it, all of these movies, they've... this obviously is a classic and they've all sort of followed this theory, and this was the first time it wasn't clean every.. I think, all those other outer space movies were so clean, and this isn't clean, it's dirty and it's grotty and I think he established a whole separate world out there,
I mean these are people that had been floating in space for an awfully long time. Ugh, what are you gonna do, but after a while you're... You don't have a Laundromat up there. Maybe you do, but so it was a really interesting concept I think and then I, when you stumbled of course on the Giger stuff, which is... has all the erotic sort of you know overtones (01:35:00) to it (1:35:00) that er, it just sort of added to the whole thing.
And I like the fact you don't... Nobody (Goes to statements about Alfred Hitchcock)
(1:35:08) Ridley Scott: So here we are in a new area which wasn't shown in the film, and a lot of people asked what happened to it but we agonised over this, have it in , have it out, did we need to see what was happening to them, we need to see most importantly of all the tragedy of her having to incinerate all her old friends, colleagues, crewmates, and we finally elected not to, we wanted to move on, but she does it really well, completely unfearful and vulnerable at the same time, but somehow in control. Who would go in there at that point? If I mixed this, I would certainly have the echoes of warning systems going so she knows she's against the clock. This was always a marvelous panel of Giger's on the right (1:36:00) which was beautifully done and er, we get it, the fact that they're morphing, metamorphosing, they are changing into, being consumed I guess by whatever the alien's organism is into an egg.
Nobody has seen this kind of thing, that's one of the difficulties now as you go again into this genre, think of something that is equally unique, and it's difficult
(1:35:09 / 1:36:57) Veronica Cartwright: Alfred Hitchcock used to say if you don't see something, it's... it's your imagination, (1:37:00) 'cause I did The Birds, and um, there was the scene with the Jungle Gym, all the birds on the Jungle Gym. Well, a lot of them were cardboard and a lot of them were real. I said "well weren't people going to know?", and he said "well no, your eyes see something and it's your imagination that makes you belief that everything is alive", and it's the same thing with this alien, I mean, you're sitting there and after a while you start looking at the tubing and stuff to see if it's going to be coming out and then all of a sudden it comes out like this and you go (gasp) "Shit, I didn't see it there", I mean it's like it becomes so much more terrifying than having something that you can blatantly see, and I think that's where the other ones have sort of gone off and you just sort of lose interest I mean because you're not being participant (01:36:00) any more. You're not using your imagination to create things, I mean , this was the first time that there were people where each character (1:38:00) somebody could get involved with and I was worried because I seemed to cry through the whole thing and they said "No, you're the audience, you're you're what they're panicked about. You You're the one who's reasonable, let's get you know, out of here". So I guess it work, but obviously they've done four, so I, I think it was probably a very good formula, And er it's nice to be part of a classic.
(1:36: 41 / 1:38:20) Ridley Scott: You know, the thing about a film like this is, this is a lot of perpetual demonstation of heart stopping terror, because if the actor can't give it to you, then the audience aint going to feel it
(1:36: 54 / 1:38:32) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(1:36: 55 / 1:38:33) Ridley Scott: Right
(1:36: 56 / 1:38:34) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(1:36: 56 / 1:38:35) Ridley Scott: And eventually the wearout factor on the beast will wear out. That's why I always kept it to (01:37:00) minimal, like the shark,
(1:37: 01 / 1:38:40) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(1:36: 01 / 1:38:41) Ridley Scott: the less you see the better
(1:37: 03 / 1:38:42) Sigourney Weaver: Absolutely
(1:37: 04 / 1:38:43) Ridley Scott: And er, so there's a lot of .... I always remember in watching the end of a big mix, the big mix, thinking, good god, there's seventeen and a half minutes at the end of this movie where Sigourney has no dialogue, just a lot of physical stuff running around in a constant state of catatonic (1:39:00) terror. Right
(1:37: 23 / 1:39:02) Sigourney Weaver: That's my best thing (giggle)
(1:37: 26 / 1:39:05) Ridley Scott: No but it's hard, isn't it?
(1:37: 29 / 1:39:08) Sigourney Weaver: I loved that part of it. I loved, I loved the... the character and just doing it all with images, because I think it emphasized her loneliness, her isolation
(1:37: 40 / 1:39:19) Ridley Scott: Right
(1:37: 41 / 1:39:20) Sigourney Weaver: And the fact that she, you know, she could talk to a cat, i guess, but er, I I loved that, I thought she couldn't even speak, communicate with anyone , it made her more vulnerable, I thought.
(1:37: 50 / 1:39:30) Ridley Scott: Yeah, but it's hard it's difficult for... as an outsider looking in, because that's what my job is to look in. I always thought er, I always actually full of admiration (01:38: 00) for what you did , particularly through that whole process 'cause that's an area in the film that can easily become two dimensional
(1:38: 08 /1:39:48) Sigourney Weaver: mmm
(1:38: 08 /1:39:48) Ridley Scott: Right. And I think we... you got somehow, you added two dimensions, so we had four dimensions going there. I always thought that was great. (Pause) You know, I really like (1:40:00) the performance of the light here as well, because you're... you were just using flat... flat on strobe lights here. I'd love to get stills off this actually
(1:40:47) Dan O'Bannon : It was just like a bolt of lightning when i realised that the audience didn't have to be told, what I realised then was that if it was difficult or artificial to tell, then it shouldn't be told at all. Yet, the only things that the audience to be told in terms of exposition were things that were natural and easy for the characters to be speaking about. And if it was not natural and easy for them about these things, then it shouldn't be in there at all. And this is a principle of exposition I've used ever since. Not just in dialogue but in general. Any time that I find (1:41:00) myself explaining something in a screenplay, and it seems forced or unnatural, that's when I stop and say" ah, that's because it doesn't need to be told, it shouldn't be told." If it belonged in the story, it would emerge naturally. If it doesn't emerge naturally, it shouldn't be in there and it's just going to sound horrible. Didn't matter what they were doing out there, who give a honk. It mattered to us the film makers, it mattered to me the writer, so that we could create a plausible world for these people, so you could... could perceive them as real people in a real situation with a real history.
(1:38: 19 /1:41:50) Ridley Scott: Now the film was meant to be over when she goes inside, ah, you take off, you do the signing off. Now clearly you can not end the film (1:42:00) here, even with a big bang behind her. And you know, the big bang's then are not the big bangs we could do today, but you know what, today it'd be CGI, this is all real inside the... inside the studio on the set which is you know, only firewood. Okay so this is all design as the end of the movie. So there's a one megaton thing going to go off in a second, and graphic design, interesting uh. Just a flat card , nothing happening, (01:39:00) it's just the sound and mixing between three cards, and I figure you've got to have two or three, but this, I've go... I've got the wobbling down now pretty good. Nobody's really wobbled the camera 'til this moment you know I remember til that, so I'm literally wobbling the camera. Bit unsure about the red ball. (1:43:00) And score. Now, this would be the end of the film. But that.. that's it, you would do a signing off there, and I had to say "no way, you can't do that, you canna possibly end there"
Here we made it for 8.6, which even in those days was cheap
(1:39:41 / 1:43:30) Sigourney Weaver: I didn't know that, I thought it was $14
(1:39:43 / 1:43:32) Ridley Scott: 8.6
(1:39:44 / 1:43:30) Sigourney: Aah, Wow!
(1:39:45 / 1:43:32) Ridley Scott: Yeah, So at the end I said "I wanna spend X to give you a fourth act. "
And I said well, "it'll take us four days"...
I said "you really don't even know what I'm going to do yet," so I said, "let me explain to you what I'm going to do, then you'll go "how can you do that in four days?" as opposed to "four days!"(01:40:00). I said "we're not finishing the film when she jumps in the shuttle, there's a fourth act," And they said, "what do you mean, the film's over when she jumps in the shuttle and takes off and bingo!"
I said "no, there's a fourth act in there that will change the way films are made" because at at , I think until this moment, it's almost fair to say, there's probably going to be some small independent film saying to me "you know, you're full of bull", but you know, today we've got an interesting idea of "now, the end, then the end and then the end, and by the way here's the other end", right and I always wanted to close the lid and then suddenly let it out again, babbam, okay. So when Ripley goes into that shuttle, there's a moment when you know that the film isn't over where.. when you're sitting in the seat.
(1:40:47 / 1:44:37) Sigourney Weaver: mmm
(1:40:47 / 1:44:37) Ridley Scott: And the camera's craning up and Jerry Goldsmith does....
(1:40:51 / 1:44:41) Sigourney Weaver:Yeah
(1:40:51 / 1:44:41) Ridley Scott: a really great little turn in the cue, and that's where the screw turns and you feel a whole audience who are now,
(1:40:56 / 1:44:47) Sigourney Weaver: yuh
(1:40:56 / 1:44:47) Ridley Scott: at this first time screening, you could feel that they were like that, (01:41:00)so the, the... you could feel the screw turning there in the lid and you could feel people go "oh no, please god, let me out of here"
(1:41:08 / 1:44:58) Sigourney Weaver: yes , yes
(1:41:08 / 1:44:58) Ridley Scott: which is a great thing to have going
(1:41:10 / 1:45:00) Sigourney Weaver: yes , yes
(1:41:10 / 1:45:00) Ridley Scott: right
(1:41:11 / 1:45:00) Sigourney Weaver: well I love all that also, I've done a lot of dance so it really, I think so much of these movies is physical and sensory and you know to just be there with, with the smell of the smoke (laughter)
(1:41:24 / 1:45:14) Ridley Scott: Yuh
(1:41:25 / 1:45:15) Sigourney Weaver:And everything you know is,...
(1:41:25 / 1:45:15) Ridley Scott: Yuh
(1:41:26 / 1:45:16) Sigourney Weaver:...it was so eery
(1:41:28 / 1:45:18) Ridley Scott: Yuh
(1:41:28 / 1:45:18) Sigourney Weaver: and scary,
(1:41:29 / 1:45:20) Ridley Scott: Yuh
(1:41:29 / 1:45:20) Sigourney Weaver: I loved that the music that you've picked and
(1:41:31 / 1:45:22) Ridley Scott: Yuh, yuh, yuh
(1:41:32 /1:45:22) Sigourney Weaver: what was the music?
(1:41:33 /1:45:24) Ridley Scott: We used Tomita. Because I said, I remember saying about, we talked about this before, 'cause I was thinking, "whatever I can do right now, she's on her own",
(1:41:41/ 1:45:33) Sigourney Weaver: mmhmm
(1:41:43 / 1:45:34) Ridley Scott: right, so I said, "I've been playing Tomita in the editing room as a temp track, er temp score," Tomita.... you know who that is right? And he'd done Planets,
(1:41:53 / 1:45:43) Sigourney Weaver: yes
(1:41:53 /1:45:44) Ridley Scott: and one of them was Holst's "War of The Worlds", War of the worlds was, no , not War Of The Worlds, Holst' s Mars , god of war is (01:42:00)
(1:42:01 /1:45:46) Sigourney Weaver:right, right,right
(1:42:01 /1:45:46) Ridley Scott: Mars
(1:42:02 /1:45:47) Sigourney Weaver: Which we used a lot in er Alien 3, I think
(1:42:05 / 1:45:50) Ridley Scott: Yuh, and I said, do you want... and I was very tentative about this, about suggesting it and I was really amazed when you said "absolutely, anything like that would be brilliant" and I said "Look, I can (1:46:00) organize half a dozen fifteen inch speakers down the side of the set and I've got this great piece of music..."
(1:42:21 / 1:46:06) Sigourney Weaver: Mmm
(1:42:22 / 1:46:06) Ridley Scott: which you may find extremely useful, 'cause not only does it sound like engines.
(1:42:27 / 1:46:12) Sigourney Weaver: Mmm
(1:42:28 / 1:46:13) Ridley Scott: It is extremely threatening and ominous,
(1:42:30 / 1:46:15) Sigourney Weaver:Mmm
(1:42:31 / 1:46:16) Ridley Scott: And you said "erruurr anything like that, what is it? let me hear it" bang and we used that, and but it drew the sound guys crazy because everything had to be re-loo... whatever
(1:42:42) Sigourney Weaver: Mixed or
(1:42:42) Ridley Scott: That, you know,
(1:42:44 /1:46:27) Sigourney Weaver: oh yuh
(1:42:44 /1:46:27) Ridley Scott: sounded. From that moment I didn't care
(1:42:46 /1:46:29) Sigourney Weaver: No,
(1:42:46 /1:46:29) Ridley Scott: I said " No "
(1:42:47 /1:46:30) Sigourney Weaver: There wasn't much dialogue
(1:42:48 /1:46:31) Ridley Scott: No, ha ha ha. Yeah but er,
(1:42:53 /1:46:34) Sigourney Weaver: And I , I remember asking you not to tell me what was going to happen.
(1:42:58 / 1:46:38) Ridley Scott: Yes
1:42:58 / 1:46:39) Sigourney Weaver: So that I could be really surprised
(01:43:00 / 1:46:41) Ridley Scott: Yeah right
(1:43:01 / 1:46:42) Sigourney Weaver: And I've always felt that the reason, I mean, just casting as you say, Bolaji Badejo, who's that... you know his arm, his my arm was like his leg, you know, I mean, he... he looked like he was from another world anyway
(1:43:14 / 1:46:56) Ridley Scott: Mmm
(1:43:15 / 1:46:57) Sigourney Weaver: but when you put the suit on him , it was, it was stunningly beautiful,
(1:43:18 /1:47:00) Ridley Scott: Yuh
(1:43:19 /1:47:01) Sigourney Weaver: as well as being terrifying,
(1:43:20 /1:47:02) Ridley Scott: mmm
(1:43:21 /1:47:02) Sigourney Weaver: and all you needed was that one gesture.
(1:43:23 /1:47:05) Ridley Scott: mmm
(1:43:24 /1:47:05) Sigourney Weaver: So scary
(1:43:25/ 1:47:07) Ridley Scott: We always wanted to make him intelligent
(1:43:27 /1:47:09) Sigourney Weaver: We actually wanted to have more of a...
(1:43:29 /1:47:11) Ridley Scott: yuh
(1:43:30 /1:47:12) Sigourney Weaver: sort of quasi sex scene and
(1:43:32 /1:47:14) Ridley Scott: yuh
(1:43:32 /1:47:14) Sigourney Weaver: And erm, who's the executive at Fox in London?
(1:43:35 /1:47:17) Ridley Scott: Erm
(1:43:36 /1:47:18) Sigourney Weaver: Peter
(1:43:37 /:47:19) Ridley Scott: oh yeah, Peter Beale.
(1:43:38 /1:47:21) Sigourney Weaver: Peter Beale would come on the set and give us a very stern Germanic look
(1:43:45 /1:47:26) Ridley Scott: mmm
(1:43:45 / 1:47:26) Sigourney Weaver: and kind of look at his watch and basically said to you, "you have two days to finish this" or something
(1:43:51 / 1:47:33) Ridley Scott: Mmm
(1:43:51 / 1:47:33) Sigourney Weaver: and er so this whole other thing, we wanted the alien to come and look at her,
(1:43:55 / 1:47:37) Ridley Scott: Mmm
(1:43:55 / 1:47:37) Sigourney Weaver: through the, the glass,
(1:43:57 / 1:47:40) Ridley Scott: Mmm
(1:43:57 / 1:47:41) Sigourney Weaver: and and be intrigued by the... the (01:44:00) soft pinkness of her compared to him . We wanted him to be that intelligent, and that it kind of turned him on
(1:44:07 / 1:47:51) Ridley Scott: Exactly. It was a moment that we wanted there
(1:44:09 / 1:47:53) Sigourney: Beauty and the beast we were going for.
(1:44:10 / 1:47:54) Ridley Scott: Exactly that, Exactly that, yeah
(1:44:17 / 1:47:57 ) Sigourney: There is an appetite for a fifth one which is something I
(1:44:20 / 1:48:01) Ridley Scott: Mmm
(1:44:21 / 1:48:01 ) Sigourney Weaver: never expected and erm, you know I said "it's really hard to come up with a fifth story that's new and fresh" and... but I have wanted to go back into space, erm, I think that outer space adventure is a good thing for us right now 'cause Earth is so grim, and erm, so we've been talking about it but
(1:44:44 / 1:48:27) Ridley Scott: Mmm
(1:44:45 / 1:48:28 ) Sigourney Weaver: very generally.
(1:44:46 / 1:48:28) Ridley Scott: Yeah, it's a tough one, particularly with the success of four, I think if you close the lid, it should be the end of the first chapter.
(1:44:54 / 1:48:37 ) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(1:44:55 / 1:48:37) Ridley Scott: And I think very simply what no one's done is simply gone back to revisit "what was it?" No one's ever said...
(01:45:00 / 1:48:43) Sigourney Weaver: Where did it come from?
(1:45:01 / 1:48:44) Ridley Scott:Who's the space jockey?
(1:45:03 / 1:48:46 ) Sigourney Weaver: Yeah
(1:45:03 / 1:48:46) Ridley Scott: He, he wasn't an alien
(1:45:04 / 1:48:47) Sigourney Weaver: Yeah
(1:45:04 / 1:48:48) Ridley Scott: What was that battle ship, is it a battle ship, is it an aircraft carrier, is it a, is it a biomechanoid weapon carrier, as opposed to an aircraft carrier. Why did it land, did it crash land or did it
(1:45:19 /1:49:02) Sigourney Weaver: crash land
(1:45:19 / 1:49:02) Ridley Scott: settle there because it had engine trouble if those things had engines, everything has an engine.
(1:45:25 /1:49:08) Sigourney: Or did he get the SOS?
(1:45:26 /1:49:10) Ridley Scott: Exactly, that and how long ago.
(1:45:28 /1:49:13) Sigourney: Yes
(1:45:29 /1:49:13) Ridley Scott: Cause those eggs would sit there....
(1:45:35 /1:49:22) Ridley Scott: Sigourney said "I feel I want to sing something to keep me distracted", and er, she came up with, you are my lucky star. I thought "what a great idea". And then the powers that be back at the studio said "do you know how expensive "You Are My Lucky Star" is?" (01:46:00), but er, that was it. I think it was nice the idea of having her choosing to sing almost as an iron bar to hang on to her own sanity. Can you imagine if this was real. I thought it was a good idea, so we just did it. (1:50:00)
(1:50:07) Harry Dean Stanton: Yuh, there's a lot of talented people involved in that. Sigourney was great. And that's usually a man's part and to carry it off with the strength that she has, the presence, that was, that's very impressive, and a great statement for the women too (chuckle) The women's movement.
(1:46:50/ 1:50:37) Ridley Scott: This is again a very good view of the Alien. I think you've seen very little snippets of him up to now, (01:47:00) but, and the danger is, yes, he's a man in a suit, but then it would be, it would be a humanoid version of an alien life form.... wham.... This is the most vulnerable (1:51:00) moment for the way the alien looks, bang, and that's the...half the ship hanging upside down. That's a stuntman called Roy Scammel.
And they said "yeah but how're you going to do the engines?".
And I said "Water".
They said "what do you mean, water?"
Make a ring of water, overcrank it all and it will look like plasma engine."
They said "what's plasma engine?"
I said "I have no idea but it sounds good and as far as I'm concerned, it looks like a plasma engine and that's that".
That's just water with an arc above it, obviously at a safe distance, so that when the water comes on, it's rings, the lights go on as well and you get a sense of jet power (01:48:00) I love the way the water almost falls towards towards us like liquid God-knows-what. But it works. And there's, there were are, back at what was the test
(1:48:18 / 1:51:47) Terry Rawling: Well, we wanted to linger on the demise of this creature as long as you possibly can. If you just had it with a blot in the engine shoot him away, it would have been over and done with and there would be no satisfaction with that for her but she got rid of it, so you have him (1:52:00) struggle to say in there but when he goes, he then goes again and again, and if you could have done it three or four times, I think he would have just held anyway, you just wanted to see this thing going forever or hopefully.
(1:48:29 / 1:52:20) Ridley Scott:I love all these oblique references to "frontier" and "six weeks" and, you don't really know what the distances are, you don't know how long, what six weeks means, how long is she going to go to sleep for, but either way she's going to go into a hypersleep and go into hibernation with Jonesy
(1:48:54 / 1:52:43) Sigourney Weaver: Would you ever want to go back to where they came from?
(1:48:57 / 1:52:46) Ridley Scott: oh, I, I think you have to
(1:48:58 / 1:52:48) Sigourney Weaver: I think that that's the question I've always ...
(01:49:00 / 1:52:49) Ridley Scott: err
(1:49:00 / 1:52:51) Sigourney Weaver: ....asked myself is what kind of society are they if they are one?
(1:49:05 / 1:52:55) Ridley Scott: Yeah
(1:49:06 / 1:52:55) Sigourney Weaver: What kind of world do they come from and why did they leave?
(1:49:08 / 1:52:58) Ridley Scott: yeah
(1:49:08 / 1:52:58) Sigourney Weaver: Why did they send aliens out?
(1:49:11 / 1:53:00) Ridley Scott: It's entirely illogical that we are the only people in this galaxy
(1:49:14 / 1:53:04) Sigourney Weaver: I would think so too
(1:49:15 / 1:53:05) Ridley Scott: It's entirely illogical that there are not... there are no more
(1:49:16 / 1:53:06) Sigourney Weaver: It would be so disappointing
(1:49:19 / 1:53:08) Ridley Scott: Exactly
(1:49:19 / 1:53:09) Sigourney Weaver: and ridiculous
(1:49:19 / 1:53:09) Ridley Scott:That's us?
(1:49:20 / 1:53:11) Sigourney Weaver: We can't
(1:49:21 / 1:53:11) Ridley Scott: If you believe in the big bang, which is... the Earth was the size of a golf ball but still weighed the same amount , exploded, right , that erm, why are we the only ones? 'Cause to from that to where we are now is such an accident of trillions of events to do the right thing so that you can sit right here is actually impossible
(1:49:42 /1:53:24) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(1:49:43 / 1:53:25) Ridley Scott: So, a scientist will say " it is actually the wand of god or it's a far more superior being that enables us to be sitting here".
(1:49:50 / 1:53:33) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm
(1:49:50 / 1:53:33) Ridley Scott: That's where science and religion start to do that.
(1:49:53 /1:53:35) Sigourney Weaver: Mmhmm, mmhmm, mmm, mmmhmm
(1:49:54 / 1:53:37) Ridley Scott: Right. Huh
(1:49:56 / 1:53:38) Sigourney Weaver: I, I think it would be great to.. to go back, because I'm asked that question so many times, "where did the alien (1:50:00) come from?" People really want to know in a very visceral way
(1:50:08) Ridley Scott: Er, it's an interesting thing... anecdote to say but um we thought, at one stage, er, Gordon Carroll and I, much rumination in the evenings after shooting, we'd always sit there with a drink and our feet up throbbing on the desk and er, we were saying "How will we finish the movie?" And we came up one night with the bright idea of actually, at the very end, killing Ripley, and erm, we thought, "wouldn't it be great if he comes out the wall, comes out the box and she shoots him in the chest and he goes out through the door but he just rips the harpoon out of his chest, comes forward, and basically kills her?" Then you cut to the desk and you see the shadow of the great kind of horse's head over the desk and you hear the creak of the seat as the.... sits in the leather seat and the hand comes in over the buttons and starts to press tentatively on the buttons. And then this (01:51:00) voice comes out, which is a pretty good mimic of either Dallas or Ripley sending a message back to Earth saying that they're on their way. And therefore you have the alien hurtling through space in a shuttle going towards Earth. Of course I recounted one evening over the telephone to Laddy and I think Gareth Wigan. I think that was a Wedn.... Tuesday night. By Thursday morning we had two executives arrived from LA saying, "Are you out of your minds?" you know. And I said" Yes I know I had a bad idea" but ye-huh-huh-huh, (chuckle) but erm , err, whether they do another one or not, I don't know. And erm, Ripley still lives, so there you go.
(1:53:49) John Hurt: Well, I mean. It's, it's become an enormous, I mean on a huge scale cult film. You know, and and you know I think er, the scifi freaks, I mean, it's a it's a major (1:54:00) major movie so, and you know, I happened by chance to be in one of the major scenes, so er, the the the photograph they're always asking me to sign is the actual birth itself. I almost have to put an arrow to say which is me (chuckle)
(1:54:17) Veronica Cartwright: Well, part of the whole thing was that, um, Ian's character , remember he, he asked us whether or not we tried to communicate with it, and none of us ever did. We just assumed it was big ugly and nasty. So now. Nobody ever bothered to communicate with it or tried.
(1:54:33) Harry Dean Stanton:With the monster
(1:54:34) Veronica Cartwright:With the monster
(1:54:35) Harry Dean Stanton: What the fuck am I going to say to him weh-weh-weh!
(1:54:37) Tom Skerrit: That's the problem Harry,
(1:54:37) Veronica Cartwright:Well no, it's like a beauty and the beast thing.
(1:54:38) Tom Skerrit: We didn't communicate with it , it felt ignored it got pissed with people. It wanted a hug probably
(1:54:45) Harry Dean Stanton: It didn't look like something that would be articulate in English. What are you talking about? Communicating...
(1:54:51) Veronica Cartwright: That's what...No. That's what he said "did anybody tried to communicate with it"?
(1:54:56) Harry Dean Stanton: What, Ian says that?
(1:54:57) Veronica Cartwright:Yeah. When he's a robot. The whole thing is nobody tried to
(1:55:02) Harry Dean Stanton: I hate Ian in this
(1:54:05) Veronica Cartwright: Nobody bothered to try to communicate with it. They just assumed it was , it was awful. Who knows, maybe it wasn't necessarily out to hurt us, but nobody bothered to try, see if there was any difference
(1:53:16) Tom Skerrit: No, It was out to hurt us, yeah
(1:53:18) Harry Dean Stanton:We should have cuddled him and pet him all over
(1:53:21) Tom Skerrit: Anyway he's got hydrochloric acid
(1:53:03) Veronica Cartwright: Hydrochloric acid
(1:53:03) Tom Skerrit:...running through its veins, it's out to hurt us
(1:53:03) Veronica Cartwright: It's out to get us. But that's part of the whole thing.
(1:53:03) Harry Dean Stanton: That's all from me isn't it. (chuckle) Can I go now?