Alien is a 1979 British-American science-fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto.
Let’s see some fun facts about it!
1. The film’s title refers to a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature that stalks and kills the crew of a spaceship.
2. Dan O’Bannon wrote the screenplay from a story he wrote with Ronald Shusett, drawing influence from previous works of science fiction and horror.
3. The film was produced by Gordon Carroll, David Giler and Walter Hill through their Brandywine Productions and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Giler and Hill made revisions and additions to the script.
4. Shusett was executive producer. The eponymous Alien and its accompanying elements were designed by Swiss artist H. R. Giger, while concept artists Ron Cobb and Chris Foss designed the human aspects of the film.
5. Alien launched the Alien franchise and is chronologically the first of the main series, with the prequel series set in an earlier timeframe.
6. Alien received both critical acclaim and box office success, receiving an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, Saturn Awards for Best Science Fiction Film, Best Direction for Scott, and Best Supporting Actress for Cartwright, and a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, along with numerous other award nominations.
7. It has remained highly praised in subsequent decades, being considered one of the greatest films of all time.
In 2002, the film was deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
8. In 2008, it was ranked as the seventh-best film in the science fiction genre by the American Film Institute, and as the 33rd greatest film of all time by Empire magazine.
9. The success of Alien spawned a media franchise of novels, comic books, video games, and toys.
10. It also launched Weaver’s acting career by providing her with her first lead role, and the story of her character Ellen Ripley’s encounters with the Alien creatures became the thematic thread that ran through the sequels Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992) and Alien: Resurrection (1997).
11. A crossover with the Predator franchise produced the Alien vs. Predator series, which includes Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007).
12. A prequel series, which includes Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017).
13. Giger made a point of designing the creature without eyes, so that it would look even more chilling and soulless.
14. Veronica Cartwright had read for the part of Ripley but didn’t realize she was to play Lambert instead until she arrived in London for costume fittings.
15. As a child, Cartwright had co-starred in another classic creature feature, Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” One of her co-stars in that movie was comic actor Doodles Weaver, uncle of Cartwright’s future “Alien” co-star, Sigourney Weaver.
16. Weaver was all but unknown as a film actress when she auditioned. She was the last of the seven principal stars to be cast.
17. In an early draft of the film was a sex scene between Ripley and Dallas (Tom Skerritt), but it was never filmed.
18. Also never filmed: an ending in which Ripley’s final confrontation with the alien ends with the creature biting off her head.
19. Ash, which proved a breakthrough role for Ian Holm after 20 previous films, was not initially supposed to be an android. The idea of making him a robot came from producers Walter Hill and David Giler.
20. For long shots involving the astronaut landing party, Scott and cinematographer Derek Vanlint put their own children in space suits to make the humans appear smaller next to the remains of the Space Jockey, the extraterrestrial pilot whose corpse is found in an empty ship on the planet’s surface. The body was already 26 feet tall.
21. When the alien burst forth, stagehands pumped geysers of fake blood through the cavity. A jet hit Cartwright in the face, and she passed out.
22. To scare “Jonesy” (who was actually played by four different cats), the filmmakers hid a German Shepherd behind a screen, then suddenly removed the screen.
23. Scott meant for the full-grown alien to have a lanky and angular form that no human frame would possess. In fact, there was a man inside the suit, a 22-year-old Nigerian design student named Bolaji Badejo who stood 7′ 2″. Scott cast him after one of the production crew members met him in a bar.
24. Badejo had to stand on the set all day; his costume wasn’t built to allow him to sit. A special sling was constructed to hoist him so that he could rest his feet.
25. With no technology or the money to run air into the space suits or helmets, there were lots of problems–condensation, heat, the actors would become short of air or claustrophobic. Tom Skerritt (Dallas) and Veronica Cartwright (Lambert) said they damned near suffocated; that they were supposed to have oxygen (pumped in by tanks), but that the tanks would malfunction.