Sigourney Weaver criticized Alien‘s script during her first meeting with Ridley Scott. Weaver originated the role of Ripley in the 1979 film directed by Scott which followed the crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo as an aggressive and deadly extraterrestrial life form known as a Xenomorph is set loose on the spaceship. Today, Alien is still widely regarded as one of the greatest science fiction and horror films ever made, and its legacy looms large over both genres.
Weaver led the cast of Alien as Warrant Officer Ellen Ripely alongside Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, and Yaphet Kotto as fellow members of the crew. Famously the last survivor of the Nostromo, Weaver went on to reprise the role of Ripley for three sequels – Aliens, Alien 3, and Alien: Resurrection. Even as the franchise how moved away from Ripley for the prequel film Prometheus, its sequel, Alien: Covenant, and Noah Hawley’s upcoming FX Alien series, there is still significant interest in seeing the 72-year-old actress return as the iconic female protagonist.
During a recent appearance on the WTF With Marc Maron podcast, Weaver reflected on her life-changing role as Ripely. The Alien actress remembers not being interested in the script initially since it featured ten male characters, but was rewritten to include Ripley as the last survivor, “because no one in their wildest dreams will think it’s going to end up being a girl,” Weaver says. She also recalled her first meeting with Scott when she brutally trashed the film’s script, specifically one gratuitous sex scene involving Ripley. Read what Weaver said below:
We had a great talk about the script that I was pretty critical of. I said, “Eh, it’s pretty bleak, I don’t know about this love scene, would you really get it on while this thing is running around?” Anyway, we had a good talk.
How Weaver Helped Shaped Ripley As A Protagonist
Weaver trashing Alien‘s script during her first meeting with Scott is notable for a few reasons, though it should be noted that the director didn’t have much of a hand in writing it. Dan O’Bannon received sole credit for writing the screenplay, while he and Ronald Shusett share story credit. Producers David Giler and Walter Hill also revised and made additions to the script. At this time, it was a lot more common for men to write and direct female roles in film with little to no input from female collaborators.
Luckily, Weaver wasn’t afraid to speak up during her first meeting with Scott and the director heeded her concerns about the script. In the end, Weaver got the part, the unwarranted sex scene was cut, and Ripely went on to become an iconic female protagonist and the face of a franchise. But in light of Weaver’s recent comments, it seems she had a much larger role in shaping the character of Ripely in Alien than previously believed.
Source: WTF With Marc Maron