Ridley Scott and his team had to decide whether to bring the Alien back or invent something else for this latest instalment, writes Susan Griffin
IN Alien’s terrifying Xenomorph, Ridley Scott believes he introduced “maybe the definitive monster in film history”.
“I can say that because I just spotted it but I didn’t [create it]. That was [surrealist] HR Giger,” says the 79-year-old film-maker, the man responsible for inducing nightmares with his depiction of chest-bursting aliens, but who doesn’t scare easily himself.
Not things that go bump in the night — “nothing” — says the man credited with producing more than 100 projects and directing 49, including feature films Blade Runner, Thelma And Louise and Gladiator.
As he puts it, his line of work doesn’t allow for a jumpy demeanour, but rather, a calm and clear head.
“When I do my job, I walk onto the floor in the morning and there can be 400 people standing there who all turn and say, ‘What are you going to do?’ So when you deal with that, it [everything else] becomes easy.”
Alien, which was released in 1979 and marked Sigourney Weaver’s debut as the heroic Ellen Ripley, spawned three further movies (Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection), as well as the spin-off Alien vs. Predator franchise, although none of these were directed by Scott.
The British film-maker only returned to this futuristic universe for 2012’s Prometheus, a prequel of sorts to Alien.While some people criticised Prometheus for lacking scares, the same cannot be said for Alien: Covenant with Michael Fassbender, although Scott is keen not to repeat himself.
Scott and his team had to decide whether to bring the Alien back or invent something else for this latest instalment.
They decided to do both and the Neomorph was born.
“Designing the Neomorph was tough,” says Scott, who used Giger’s work, combined with a deep-sea predator, the goblin shark, as inspiration.
“It was a big challenge, because I had to have something in addition to the usual suspect. I didn’t want that to wear [him] out, I wanted to save him. The Neomorph, in a way, is the first generation of an alien but it needs a human life form to cop onto and, if you like, mix with, copulate with.”
Back in 1979, spindly Nigerian artist Bolaji Badejo wore “a tight suit and hat” to depict the Alien.
“Digitally, you can do what you want now but you have to be careful, because when it’s digital, people kind of smell it, they can sense it,” says Scott.
“You’ve got to make sure digital doesn’t thin out the fear of the real thing. People sense the real thing.”
Scott turns 80 in November but retirement isn’t on his radar, with a raft of work already pencilled in, including Battle Of Britain, a second series of Taboo starring Tom Hardy, and All The Money In The World, which he starts shooting in three weeks’ time.
“People do five [films] in their lifetime and I go, ‘What have you been doing?’” laughs Scott, who won’t be marking his landmark birthday with a party.
“I’ve not celebrated a birthday for 20 years. I ignore it and woe betide anyone who reminds me,” he says with a grin.
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