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February 20 2009

Sigourney Weaver on Joss Whedon's (other?) Alien movie script. Turns out it didn't interest her that much.

Odd. It does sound like she's talking about a fifth film.

Actually, anyone read the nice stuff Danny Boyle said about Joss's script in a recent(-ish) Empire interview? It has probably been mentioned here. Tried to find it online but couldn't. Suffice to say, he liked it very much.
Ew. On earth? Ew.

Resurrection was the worst Alien movie anyways.
I thought there was more to say after "Alien: Resurrection," with its closing line "I'm a stranger here myself" as Ripley looks out the window at the clouds of Earth. Wynona Ryder's character was an interesting sidekick to Ripley and maybe, with Earth itself under attack, we could have found out where the creatures came from, why they were being transported and what they were created to do -- maybe fight something as vicious as they were?
It sounds like she didn't even give Whedon's script a read because it was set on earth. But it would presumably be earth of the distant future so it would be totally alien to us.

Yes, I hate sci-fi movies set in earth of the present or even the near or post apocalyptic future, but an earth of the distant future could be a lot of fun.

Why would you want to go back to the original planet?
There was nothing there but a barren rock, a blown up colony and a crashed alien spacecraft.

It would be far more interesting to see where the aliens actually came from, or to see where the alien that built the crashed ship came from.

Did any of the expanded universe Predator stuff (non-movies)cover this at all?
If anyone knew where the aliens were from it would be them.
Joss's original Alien Resurrection movie script ended on Earth. In a forest? Something like that. Big fight action set piece thang. Or that was the idea, anyway. It ended without the sucky alien thing snogging Ripley's face.

I think Sigourney may be misremembering things about Joss writing another script.
I would definitely be up for a fifth and final film to close it out (though I guess movie #4 technically already tied everything off. Well, #3 did, so #4 was unnecessary in the first place but...yeah). Only because at the end of Resurrection, I wanted to see Ripley readjust to civilian life (whatever that might look like that far into the future. The movies covered so much time with original-Ripley being in cryo-sleep after #1 and again after #2, then taking I can't remember how many decades or centuries to bring her back as a clone for #4). I liked that last scene is the "I'm a stranger here myself" line.

Earth is the logical place to end the franchise, IMO.

If they consider the crossover films with Predator to be canon though, then the xenomorphs have already been on Earth in the past.
Have to disagree. LOATHED Alien 3. It started off with the ignoble erasure of Hicks and Newt and then went on from there to have no point to make or even a reason to exist. A complete copout from beginning to end.

Resurrection, although cliched and full of annoying acting by Ryder et al., did at least have the redeeming feature of Weaver in IMO a stellar performance. She felt 'other' to me. So I re-watch it for her. There's NO reason at all to re-watch the third.

I'd love to see the hybrid-clone Ripley in a fifth.
Last time I read an article about Weaver and more Alien, they were exploring story ideas that had nothing to do with the Alien. As in, why does everything we ever tell about this character have to be about the Alien? Which, actually, I find kind of an interesting and daring idea, although one that audiences would probably string them up over.
Joss's original Alien Resurrection movie script ended on Earth. In a forest? Something like that.
I think Sigourney may be misremembering things about Joss writing another script.

Yes I did wonder about that. It could be that Fox resurrected the script after Alien 4 came out.

No matter what, I bet it's still better than AvP and AvP 2.
Joss's original Alien Resurrection movie script ended on Earth. In a forest? Something like that.

Didn't he say at some point that he actually wrote several different versions of what happened on Earth, so there was a choice? And then they ditched the idea altogether anyway.
I wouldn't hate 'em for making just an Ellen Ripley movie. A character piece set in the future could be very cool. Or it could be a big blow 'em up action feature, but still with heart.

Accross four movies though (especially when watched over a couple weekends the way I saw 'em all for the first time) it almost felt like she and the xenomorphs are practically fated to face off across time (not that the franchise has ever hinted at themes of destiny or anything, just an impression/feeling I was left with). I dunno, there might be a bit more mileage left in a story involving the two main elements of the franchise, with the right writer involved.
I would love, love, love to see a fifth film with Ripley to give the series a sense of closure! Ripley is one of film's best action heroes and I love Sigourney.

I agree she's talking about a fifth film but I think she's also talking about another draft of Resurrection.
I liked them all. Picky buggers, y'all!

A bad Alien movie is better than the best Hannah Montana movie.
No offense meant to the temporally impaired, but Weaver is sixty some odd years old isn't she? Is she really ready for yet another action film? She and Harrison Ford are about old enough to do a remake of On Golden Pond. Sigourney could get together with Linda Hamilton and play the Aunts in Arsenic and Old Lace.

It's time to reboot the Alien franchise with an entirely new cast, a young youthful Ripley played by an actress with no producer credit, and a CGI team that'd make Peter Jackson's Gollum look like Droopy the Dog. In the first Alien the trick was to show the alien as little as possible due to production costs and gimmicky suspense tricks. This go around, the alien should be large and in charge. Two and a half hour long film. What happens on the Nostromo should be act one. The final act should be an invasion of Earth. Skip the prison colony stuff. Let's be raw and real about what a species like that could do to the human race. You want action and horror? Let's pull all the stops.

I liked Alien 3 because I enjoyed the acting. However, I don't want exceptional acting in my alien franchise. I want blood, gore, explosions, screaming, and general mayhem.
Could we watch the ageism? People her age, and I'm about a decade younger, are not used up hacks. We have plenty of juice left in us. But hey, that's me, and I love the idea of Ripley's journey being explored just a little more now that she's a hybrid. I also never heard of Joss having written another Alien script, especially since I've read how disappointed he was with what they did to the Resurrection script. But I'm not ashamed to say that I enjoyed many of the elements, particularly the exploration of identity/humanity with regard to Ripley, as has been discussed in these parts before. And having a new film set on a futuristic earth? I think that's a fine idea. (still kicking myself I didn't save Weaver's Resurrection journal from Premiere Magazine)
Agree about the ageism. And for the record, Weaver isn't ready for "On Golden Pond" -- she will turn 60 in October; Hepburn was about 74 for that film. And Hamilton is several years younger than Weaver.

As to your other suggestions, ZachsMind, I quite disagree.

You're right that the original reason for keeping the alien in the shadows was tech limitations, but I agree with the filmmakers that that treatment ended up being crucial to the fear factor of the alien. What you imagine is always worse than what you can see.

Also, I admit I'm in love with the first 2 Alien films -- so not an objective voice -- but a 'reboot' into a glossy CGI gore-fest? Isn't that largely what Alien 4 was anyway?
We've seen some grand treatments of males aging and coming to terms with their mortality in sci-fi (Star Trek springs to mind) and i'd love to see the same thing done with a female hero. That said, I also wouldn't mind seeing Ripley aged and curmudgeonly and a bit battered but still potent, still able to shake her bones one last time to fight the demons on our behalf (kind of like Will Munney from 'Unforgiven' in how it's handled, even if Ripley is a less morally ambiguous character). Either way, Sigourney Weaver's far from too old in my book.

Re: script, Joss apparently wrote a few versions of Alien 4. The one i've read (IIRC it's the one that came on the quadrilogy box set) ends on Earth - the ship crashes and Ripley kills the hybrid in something like a threshing machine or combine harvester or similar. It's not brilliant in itself to be honest (but it might've been the 20th iteration after numerous insane notes so I don't know enough to hold Joss responsible for it) but the idea of the final fight being on Earth is much stronger thematically IMO - it's a more solid design for an ending basically, regardless of the implementation details.

(as far as i'm aware Joss didn't write a fifth film script though - unless he did it before Resurrection was screened that seems unlikely anyway given how he's described himself feeling as he watched it. IIRC, tears were literally shed, doubt that'd inspire anyone to go back for more)

A moment that would totally have made the little hairs stand up for me might've been something like the hybrid crawls from the wreckage and stands up to inspect a semi-idyllic vista of Earth, all set to do its alien-y thang and then Ripley arrives in the shot to, literally, stand between us and it (a fight then ensues). It could stay just on the workable side of hokey I reckon but it'd sure be a full-blown hero moment (and theme wise it's a more emphatic statement by the Ripley character that she's chosen to be human, to fight for the pale blue dot - coming back to herself and leaving the alien orgy did that to some extent, this would seal the deal).

ETA: This is pretty close (or the same) as the one I read. It doesn't vary much from the film version until maybe 7/8ths of the way through, where they crash and Ripley and Call despatch the hybrid on Earth in a much more action oriented way. Oh and it's also not totally absurd ;).

(another cool aspect was the way they try the previous ways of killing an alien first in this version, and they don't work so that Ripley needs to use her abilities as a mesh - as a hybrid herself obviously - to beat it)

[ edited by Saje on 2009-02-20 23:31 ]
Thanks, Saje - great comments [you too FeathersMcGraw] (Will Munney ... Bingo).
I like the first one, but it was because of the tone (like a haunted house) and the ensemble, rather than all.about.ripley

Not that I don't approve of a kickass female protagonist.

I sometimes watch the beginning of the third one for Paul McGann.
@ Jaynes Hat -- I've always wondered about that 'other' alien from the first film, too. Could be an interesting angle, and would give a reason to go back to LV-426. (I'm such an Aliens geek!)

@ those noting Weaver's interest in a non-alien-focused Ripley movie -- I would like to see what kind of story could come from that idea, but I too fear there might not be a wide audience for that kind of departure.

@ Sage -- thanks for the script link; I was going to ask about that. Must go read now...
I was confused by her comments. It seemed on the one hand she was not interested in it because it took place on earth but then in the next paragraph she said she was "all for it". Maybe I misread that, I am a little foggy tonight having just said goodbye to a fifteen-year-old dog who is being euthanized tomorrow.

And speaking of being put out to pasture, if my mother can run marathons in her seventies, I feel pretty confident that Sigourney Weaver, at her ripe old age of 59, can handle another film. It's not like they don't use stunt doubles. I like Saje's concept.
@ marmost: She was 'meh' on the earth-based script but was all for going back to the planet from the first two films (not earth).

Sorry about your pup; I know how hard that can be. Mine was 17.
Ah, that's what she meant. Well, I'm sure some day she'll kick herself for ever passing up a Whedon script. No matter where it took place.
I AM OLD and have the grey to prove it, so I can be Age-ist all I wanna. Get off my lawn and all that.

I don't understand why so many people insist that the actor must be married to the character for life. I'm no more interested in a sixty-something Ripley than I am in a thirty-something Buffy. We'd get more stories about these characters if we'd allow other actors to play them.

The Ripley in the current franchise is dead. Her artificially induced offspring have some of her previous memories, but she's a hybrid of a long dead character, made in a vat by scientists that I think she ate or something. That means the Ripley we know from the first movie lost. GAME OVER MAN! GAME OVER!

I wanna new franchise with different choices and an unpredictable ending. Preferably about once every couple decades until well after we're all dead and our great great grandchildren are like "I ain't watching that holovid movie cuz aliens in space aren't like that cuz we're in space now and we'd know."

The Buffy in the current franchise, which is currently enjoying comic bookdom, is out of her element. That element being high school. Buffy out of high school is about as interesting as Batman out of Gotham. Sure, you can take Batman out of Gotham and tell a story and it's very okay but why do that when you can tell the story about him in Gotham which is really cool and awesome and all that?

Buffy in England or Japan or the Future is like Batman in England or Japan or The Future. There's a novelty to it but it wears off mighty fast and you end up with a person who, all things being equal, really would rather be shopping.

Especially since I loved Resurrection. For me it was almost as good as the first one (the other two I thought were okay, but nothing special). The first one being more original, but Resurrection is the one I re-watch most regularly.

But then again I am a Xena fan and consider Resurrection to be a kind of uber Xena movie. ;)
Buffy in England or Japan or the Future is like Batman in England or Japan or The Future. There's a novelty to it but it wears off mighty fast and you end up with a person who, all things being equal, really would rather be shopping.

It's true, that guy loves to shop.

I never really have understood the "actors are cogs in a machine/mere grist to the story mill" attitude to be honest (though i'm aware it's one you've long held Zachsmind). With some characters I think you can get away with it, by and large characters that we haven't really been encouraged to see as people, actual and whole or characters that are established before they appear on screen (e.g. James Bond who was an established character before he was "incarnated" by Sean Connery - or Barry Nelson if you want to be picky ;) but mostly, with truly great screen characters, the character and the actor playing them are their own kind of DNA mesh IMO (in fact, just typing that makes me wonder if that's not a meta point being made by Resurrection ?).

Rebooting "franchises" is fine once the original actors have lost whatever it is that allowed them to play the role (and sometimes that's even physical - Jackie Chan has always had a limited shelf-life, even more limited than e.g. Sylvester Stallone in some ways, because he doesn't have much beyond his physicality, utterly amazing as it is) or, more rarely, once the "franchise" itself has lost what made it appealing (Bond springs to mind again here and to a lesser extent Star Trek maybe) but even then, i'd rather they closed off the first run properly. So Kirk gets to die (albeit one of the most appallingly badly handled screen deaths ever IMO) and then we see young Kirk (and the old style Bond movies get to die in "Die Another Day", surely a conscious attempt to make the ultimate of that type of Bond film, possibly even with one eye on the future reboot - dunno if it was planned at that stage or not).

Enough of Ripley was left in the mesh for it to still be Ripley IMO so i'd love to see a film that closed her story off (as played by Weaver). Then you can have Megan Fox step into the role or whatever and we fogies can be appalled while the kids lap it up ;).
Please no, not Megan Fox! <:O

I agree that sometimes the character needn't be married to the actor -- Dr. Who is an example of how several different actors brought something new and worthwhile to the role. But of course, there is a narrative reason for viewers to accept a variety of actors in that role, so maybe it's not the best example.

The problem with reboots, or even just actor-switching within a series, is that you sometimes just get a BatClooney or a beaten narrative horse.

For me, Ripley's story ended with the closing credits of Aliens. It felt complete to me; she'd fought her demons and survived.

Because of that -- and because, due largely to Weaver's performances, the emotional resonance of the films holds up well -- I don't feel the need to revisit that story in a new form, even though the originals have some undoubtedly dated aspects.

But I'm curious, ZachsMind: When you think of your ideal Alien reboot, who would be your Ripley? I have to think on that one a bit...
I believe that some actors seriously own some roles. They take what is in the script and make it theirs. No one can ever play that character the same way. New actors may take over the role, but it will be inherently different (possibly better, though not typically).

The emotion and depth that actors are (sometimes) able to bring to their roles transcends what is on the page (although of course what is on the page is absolutely critical). This is why I never get particularly excited about things like an animated Serenifly series or about Buffy S8 comics (although I admit I plan on reading these eventually).
ZachsMind; Hey there! Sigourney is only 6 years older than I am and Linda Hamilton is a year younger. None of us are heading for tea in the old mansion anytime soon there, chief.

Seriously tho, a comedy minis-eries featuring a team of mother con artists aginst a team of their own daughters ina "who can pull the bgiger cam?" contest. Sigourney, Catherine O'Hara, Linda , and Julia Duffy against Charisma, ALy, Amber, an d MErcedes. Goin' for the burn here
This isn't a comment about ragging on people being too old for roles (I didn't need another Indiana Jones flick, but Harrison Ford is older now and they played him as such in the new one and it came off fine), but...Have you seen Sigourney Weaver recently ZachsMind ? She's still smokin' and looks like she could kick ass if she traded in her dress or business suit for army pants and a tank top again (last thing I saw her in was Be Kind, Rewind, wearing either a dress or business suit).

Not enough time has passed to entertain notions of a reboot of the Alien franchise, IMO (or, if you like, aren't those what the Alien vs. Predator films essentially are ? And unless Ridley Scott or James Cameron comes back to film a real movie, let's be honest here folks, A vs. P-level quality/type of spectacle is probably what the studios would aim for). Weaver can still fill the boots, there's still more mileage to be gotten out of the character with the right writer.

I remember you being hot on the idea of a Buffy reboot a while back, but again, the actors are still young enough looking that they could step right back into those shoes playing late 20-somethings if Joss was offered the possibility to do a film.

Otherwise, why can't the story just be over at Season 7 and we move on to other ideas for entertainment ? (or read the comics if you like) Good things have come from remakes/re-tries sometimes, the TV series itself from a cheesy early `90s flick. But that was improving on a cool/crazy concept. Do we really need an attempt at a better or different take on Buffy ? What's the point, when there're so many other kinds of entertainment out there you already won't be able to get around to viewing/reading/playing/listening to in this one lifetime ?

The idea of Alien flicks being made forever and ever is kinda lame, IMO. And would just go toward the large evidence pile of businesses-are-lazy-coming-up-with-new-stuff-so-long-as-tired-ideas-bring-in-profit.

I appreciated both the horror and the acting in the Alien films. The acting is a large part of what elevated them from just being showcases for atmosphere and well-designed puppetry/prosthetics (not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just that I think Alien would be more of a cult following film like The Howling--which I like well enough, don't get me wrong, just the first one though and the ending kinda sucked effects-wise--instead of the still-popular blockbuster franchise it is that we're able to have in-depth conversations about because of the writing and performances). The franchise could absolutely pull off a drama-in-the-future/Ripley film if they tried (although, yes, they would alienate a large portion of the fanbase...and some reviewers would take them to task over it, while others might applaud it for being a ballsy decision and saving them from having to sit through another AvsP to write about). That would be a far more daring choice than rebooting the franchise with a new actor from scratch.

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