Sigourney Weaver On The Legacy of Alien And The Possibility Of A Fifth Movie
When my brother was fourteen or so, I made him watch Alien with me. “This movie’s important,” I said. “Sci-fi and horror movies are what they are now because of this.” He didn’t dig it at first. The expository pacing did not pair well with the restlessness of puberty. The comment “this is boring” was muttered more than once — right up until something horrible burst out of Kane’s chest. He was rapt after that.
The Alien franchise is something special, and it’s impossible to imagine it without its leading lady, Sigourney Weaver. Recently, Weaver took part in a Q&A hosted by the Hero Complex Film Festival, in which she discussed the legacy of the series, the experience of playing Ellen Ripley, and her thoughts on a fifth Alien film. We’ve got the highlights below.
Speaking about Alien’s lasting cultural impact, Weaver said that she hadn’t seen it coming.
I don’t think I could have imagined it. I felt at the time that it was going to be visually very stunning and that I had never seen a world that looked like that. I felt the atmosphere Ridley Scott was creating was incredibly real and unsettling; but I don’t think I could have predicted our little movie — and it felt like a little spooky movie — would have such legs.
The creeping atmosphere evoked by that “little spooky movie” isn’t the only iconic thing about the series. Ellen Ripley is a rightly beloved heroine, one who inevitably enters any discussion of female characters in
science fiction anything. Weaver spoke about her connection to Ripley, including the thinking behind making the character a woman.
[Everyone on the film] wanted to make Ripley a really strong character. They didn’t decide though to make a young woman the survivor because of any feminist philosophy. They thought nobody would ever think that this girl would end up as the survivor. So they basically did it as a plot twist.
…[Although] whenever I tap into Ripley — it’s hard to describe — but I feel like I’m a little human soul. When I tap into Ripley, because of the writers who have created her, there’s just so much story to tell and she holds that story for me. I’m the vessel and I can feel that people have a connection with her because of her moral compass and because somehow she’s so consistent. She can’t help but want to preserve humanity… I think that’s something that just reaches out to people. That she’s someone you could count on when you’re in a jam. She has some sort of steel thread running through her that’s not going to give up that I find, as an audience member, very interesting.
As for the possibility of a new Alien movie, Weaver thinks there’s potential there, but only wants to do it if it’s done right.
I feel after going to a couple of these Comic Cons and meeting so many fans who are so passionate about the series, passionate about Ripley — that there’s more story to tell; but I don’t know how to do that. I don’t think Alien belongs on Earth popping out of a haystack, which is where I was afraid it was going to go. I feel it should take place in the far reaches of the universe where no one in their right mind would go. There are very few filmmakers that I can think of that I would want to entrust this to. But I can think of a couple… I feel there’s a longing in certain groups of fans when I meet them for the story to be finished because we really left it up in the air and I feel a bit badly about that because I was part of that decision making process. I didn’t want to make four and five in a bundle. I think it’s hard to make these films all in a big lump. You need time to sort of let things resonate so I can imagine a situation where we could at least finish telling her story. I think that would be very satisfying at least to me — although I haven’t done anything about it; but I can understand why that could happen and I certainly know young filmmakers who are interested in doing that. So we’ll just have to see what happens.
What do you guys think? Would you be down to see Ellen Ripley have one more adventure? Or would you rather leave the franchise as it is?