9 Fascinating Things You Never Knew About Alien Resurrection

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien movie got a rough time from critics but is far better than Prometheus.

Alien Resurrection Image 20th Century Fox

On paper, the idea of the director of Amélie collaborating with the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer on an Alien movie sounds absolutely bizarre and, in practice, that kind of ended up being the case.

Alien Resurrection was lambasted by critics upon its release and ended up being the least successful Alien move yet at the box office. Writer Joss Whedon has made no secret of his disdain for the finished product, which removed much of the wit and humour of his original script while it remains Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s one and only big movie venture in Hollywood.

In the wake of painfully poor sequels since, however, Alien Resurrection definitely warrants reassessment. While not quite up to the standard set by Alien and Aliens, it’s still a film bursting with bold ideas. Some land, some don’t.

It’s also a film with more than it’s far share of fascinating facts behind it. Here are just nine of them.



The Original Idea Focused On Newt, Not Ripley

Newt in Aliens.
Newt in Aliens.

Alien Resurrection was originally conceived as a sequel focusing on the character of Newt. Producers envisioned a film where Newt, rather than Ripley, was cloned and born again with considerable agility, strength and fighting skills.

As a result, Joss Whedon was hired to write a 30-page story treatment. Whedon was enjoying notable success writing Buffy The Vampire Slayer, a series focused around a young heroine, at the time and was seen as a perfect fit. Ultimately the studio became concerned an Alien movie might not work without Sigourney Weaver’s character, Ellen Ripley. Whedon’s treatment was scrapped and rewritten with Ripley as the clone.



One Scene In The Script Convinced Weaver To Sign On

Sigourney Weaver in Alien Resurrection.

Weaver was initially hesitant to sign on for another Alien movie following the difficulties endured on the troubled shoot for David Fincher’s similarly underrated Alien 3. In the end, Weaver signed on after reading Whedon’s script.

She was particularly taken by the scene in which her clone character, Ripley 8, comes across the previous failed attempts at cloning the Alien icon. An $11 million pay day probably helped – that was more than the entire cost of the original Alien movie.



The Movie’s Villain Was Written With Bill Murray In Mind

Bill Murray
Bill Murray

Early in the development of Alien Resurrection, the studio hit upon the novel idea of having Bill Murray appear in the film as one of the movie’s main antagonists. They envisioned marketing the sequel as a reunion of sorts for Weaver and Murray who worked together on two Ghostbusters movies.

The part of villainous scientist Dr. Wren was apparently written with Murray in mind. It’s unclear whether Murray turned down the role or simply ignored the offer – he’s famous for not having an agent and screens all of his calls via answerphone. In any case, the late J.E. Freeman ended up taking on the role.



William H. Macy Walked Out Of His Audition

William H. Macy in Fargo.

Macy came considerably closer to signing on for Alien Resurrection than Murray. The actor, who was riding high off the back of Fargo, actually read for the role of Dr. Gediman, one of the movie’s secondary antagonists.

However, according to an interview Macy gave during the documentary Conan: The Day Lincolin Joined LinkedIn, he had a change of heart during an audition in front of Jeunet. Evidently struggling with the content of Whedon’s sci-fi-based script, Macy apparent stood up said “You know what guys, this is never going to happen” and promptly left the audition then and there. Brad Dourif, the voice of Chucky in the Child’s Play movies, ended up taking the part.



Weaver Made That Basketball Shot For Real

The behind-the-back half-court basketball shit Ripley 8 pulls off was not the result of any camera trickery – just lots of practice on the part of Weaver.

Weaver spent three weeks practicing basketball with a coach to pull the shot off. During practice she managed roughly once in every six attempts. When it came time to filming Jeunet suggested they use some camera trickery to pull the shot off but Weaver was having none of it.

Though it took several attempts, Weaver finally managed to pull it off on her one last try. Ron Perlman reacted (he broke character to look at the camera and say “Oh my God!”) was genuine. Weaver has since described making the shot as one of the best moments of her life.



There Was Originally An Awesome Garden Shootout

The cast of Alien Resurrection.

The original script for Alien Resurrection featured a big shootout, around halfway through, which took place in a giant on-board botanical garden. In this version of the script, Ripley 8 and the crew of the Betty are forced to make their escape through the garden while under the attack of several Xenomorphs. Though they would make it through, a character by the name of St Just was forced to sacrifice himself by distracting the aliens while the others escaped.

As the Xenomorphs descended upon him, the script saw St Just blast a hole in the side of the ship, sending himself, the aliens and the contents of the garden exploding out into space. The scene was ultimately deemed too expensive and cut, along with the character of St Just.



Ron Perlman Nearly Died During Filming

Ron Perlmann posing for Hand of God.
Dead on for Deadpool Ron Perlmann could be perfect for this Image Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Amazon Studios

During the film’s famous underwater chase sequence, Perlman came perilously close to dying. The near-miss happened when the actor attempted to surface and ended up hitting his head on a sprinkler attached to the ceiling. He was knocked out cold. Fortunately, a crew member was on hand nearby and pulled him to safety.

Winona Ryder also suffered a panic attack on the first day of filiming under water. The actress had not worked with water since nearly drowning in an incident that occurred when she was 12.



The Newborn Originally Had A Dick…And A Vagina

A still from Alien Resurrection
Mother and son Ripley and the biscuit beast. Image 20th Century Fox

The Newborn alien described in Whedon’s script differed significantly from the one that appeared in the movie. Whedon’s version was a spider-like creature with four legs, no eyes and red veins running along the side of its head.  It also had pincers on the side of its skull and an inner jaw that could drain its prey of blood.

None of these features made it into the version that appeared in the film. Jeunet’s version of the Newborn did have two more notable features though – male and female genitals. Both were eventually digitally removed on the orders of the studio.



Alien Resurrection Originally Had A Very Different Finale

Alien Resurrection Image 20th Century Fox

The original script had a significantly altered ending which saw Ripley and Call face-off against the Newborn on Earth.

After the Betty crash-lands on Earth, the survivors succeed in luring the Newborn away from a city and into a snowy forest. Ripley attempts to kill the alien with a grenade launcher but fails. Call would then have come to the rescue, arriving on a giant harvester farm machine which is then used to grind the Newborn to death. The ending was ultimately deemed too expensive to shoot. It would have also paved the way for a potential fifth instalment set on Earth – something Whedon was keen to explore.

Jeunet also filmed a bleak alternate ending with Call and Ripley on apocalyptic-looking Planet Earth which can be read about here.

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