Film and TV

LFCC 2015: The Aliens Panel Highlights

by on 20/07/2015
 

So this year’s LFCC came to a close yesterday. Among the many, many things that occurred, one of the highlights was the Aliens panel in which stars Bill Paxton (Private William Hudson), Carrie Henn (Newt) and Sigourney Weaver (Ripley. Obviously. Oh my god I sat right in front of Ripley.) Having wandered into finding it by happy coincidence on the morning of Saturday, what follows are the highlights of the panel.

  • The “acting masterclass” gag. Having been prepped in advance by the moderator before the guests’ entrance, the entire crowd was cued to shout out “get away from her you bitch!” following a question to Sigourney. I’m not entirely sure if she was more surprised or amused
  • Paxton tells his audition story. Having to jump around, pretending a cardboard tube is a rifle is essential to working out the character apparently.
  • The cast reveal some of the more horrible aspects of the Aliens shoot with a story about filming at a power station. “Asbestos rain” is a phrase you don’t hear too often and not one that’s  particularly comforting. Carrie Fenn told a story about the cocoon, being terrified of moving because they couldn’t shoot more than once due to the fragility of the setup. Sigourney apparently shredded her hands on the cocoon despite James Cameron assuring her it was nothing to worry about, it was just “candy glass”

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  • Paxton would often sit with Carrie during downtime on the set, used to “make forts” with her and make stuff. The pair realise how weird this now sounds. Ah, the innocence of youth
  • When asked about stunt work and difficult moments to film, the Queen’s chamber is brought up. Sigourney had to come in with a flamethrower, a bazooka and a machine gun. The crew had trust her to use the weapons in the right order as she had to flame alien dummies, machine gun blanks at stuntmen and then fire the bazooka. Getting the order of the flamethrower and the machine gun wrong would have ended in nothing good.
  • The drop ship set was revealed to also be problematic. James Cameron got hit by a piece of set on the head and, according to Paxton, the injury “looked like a geyser”. The flamethrower scene in drop ship didn’t exactly go to plan either, following the flaming the cast couldn’t breathe. Paxton initially thought the other actor was ad libbing at first, was impressed with her improv when she choked out that “I can’t breathe”. Then he tried to breathe himself and found out that there was no air left. The cast had to be pulled out rather quickly
  • Paxton got to do his own graffiti for his armour. His wife’s name, Louise, is on the chestplate but he only realised afterwards that it actually looks more like Louis
  • Sigourney wanted to die in Alien 3 because she didn’t want to get sucked into Alien vs Predator.  The um, distaste, for Alien vs Predator turned out to be somewhat of a theme amongst the originators of the series. She also thinks it ridiculous that the Alien didn’t win.
  • We then came to one of the most iconic scenes in the original film, Alien and the Sigourney was asked about whether or not it was true that the cast didn’t know that the chestburster was going to come out of John Hurt as Hurt had, in a previous interview, said that of course they knew, they’d read the script. Sigourney revealed that while they did know something was going to come out of John Hurt, they weren’t prepared for how it was actually going to look. Apparently there’s a big difference between reading that something comes out of his chest on a script page and seeing the monstrosity actually tear its way free, supposedly accompanied by the gleeful giggles of special effects crew members
  • The scene was so notable though that, during Alien, Sigourney had t shirts made up of John Hurts’ line in the chest burster scene. “Oh my gouaaahh”

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  • There was some rather obvious curiosity about the recently announced Alien 5. And while Sigourney was very cagey with details, for obvious and no doubt legal reasons, she seemed extremely positive about the direction that director Neil Blomkamp is taking this new installment in. “This is 100% happening”
  • Paxton also chimed in on the new film. “Can you put in a good word for me?” And when it’s brought up that he would have to be brought back. “There must be something of me they can claim.”
  • Oh, and in case you wondered about the Newt scream, turns out that it was incredibly real and Carrie Henn actually used to win bets on doing said scream. She then saw if she could still do it. My ears are still recovering
  • Sigourney got Paxton to do the elevator straight to hell line. After a bit of initial fumbling, it was joyfully delivered. It then turned out that the line was originally improved in early work pre-full filming that Cameron remembered and had Paxton do later on
  • “Game over man!” was semi improv. Cameron just told the cast to riff on the scene
  • When asked for more behind the scenes stories, it turned out that Lance Henriksen, the actor who played Bishop, got pulled over in customs carrying a load of knives. Apparently he used to practice the knife trick a lot and at one point caught the tip of Paxton’s finger in a way that would be most accurately described as very painful
  • Sigourney’s favourite memories are of the scenes between Ripley and Newt. Moments where the movie got to almost take a break, work in bits of hope and light around the underwear-ruining terror
  • Paxton’s most memorable moment of the film’s process was working in London.  They used to go to work in the dark and come out in the light. There also followed a Paxton anecdote, who told the story of how, while out drunk, he ended up in a lift and looked over to the man beside him. “Hey, you’re boy George.” “Yes I am.” Simple yet rather wonderful
  • Remember how I said Alien vs Predator distaste was a bit of a theme? James Cameron called Alien vs Predator like doing Alien vs the Wolfman
  • And finally, it turns out that Alien 3 was originally going to have James Cameron produce and Ridley Scott direct. The pair dropped out when they found out about Alien vs Predator and wanted to stay away from it. Moral of the story seems to be that the alien OGs really, really don’t like Alien vs Predator

 

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