The Studio Didn’t Think Aliens Needed Sigourney Weaver

When the opportunity came to revisit the “Alien” story several years later, this time with “Terminator” director James Cameron at the helm, the last survivor of the Nostromo seemed like a natural focal point to launch the sequel from, but Fox had reservations. Cameron had departures in mind — expanding from one alien to swarms of them, including a formidable hive queen, for example — but the tenacious Ripley, now a lieutenant, and the actor who played her remained a hard constant for the filmmakers. Cameron confirmed to Jean-Marc Lofficier that the film’s beginning, with Ripley being recruited to investigate a possibly lost colony of terraformers on an exomoon, was “a given.” Although Sigourney Weaver had not yet boarded the project, producer Gale Ann Hurd explained Ripley was a north star for the developing story, and there’s no Ripley without Weaver. Cameron elaborates to Lofficier:

“I was asked to write a story based on Ripley. Later on it turned out that everybody but us thought that the film could be made without Sigourney Weaver, which completely blew my mind, and was absolutely out of the question for us. So, as far as we were concerned, we started with Ripley from the end of the last film, and it was her story. We, fortunately, were able to overcome these obstacles in the minds of the other people involved. We had to fight very hard for Sigourney to be in the picture, which to me was crazy …”

Without Weaver, Cameron argues, it’s an entirely different movie. A 1987 Best Actress Oscar nomination for Weaver, along with further sequels centered on her character (or a variation thereof) would support his sentiments. By the time she did “Alien: Resurrection” in 1997, Weaver would take $11 million to the bank.

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