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James Cameron took the action of Alien to the next level with his amped up, high-octane sequel. Aliens was one of the biggest hits of the 80s, taking the franchise in a different direction from Ridley Scott’s quiet classic.
Here are some of the fun facts about Cameron’s smash sequel.
1. Sigourney Weaver’s Best Actress Academy Award nomination for this movie was the first ever for an actress in an action role in an action movie.
2. Sigourney Weaver had initially been very hesitant to reprise her role as Ripley, and had rejected numerous offers from Fox Studios to do any sequels, fearing that her character would be poorly written, and a sub-par sequel could hurt the legacy of Alien (1979). However, she was so impressed by the high quality of James Cameron’s script that she agreed to return.
3. While salary negotiations were going on with Sigourney Weaver to reprise her character in the second movie, the studio asked James Cameron to work on an alternative storyline excluding Ripley, but James Cameron indicated the series is all about Ripley and refused to do so.
4. Cameron made sure the timing of certain scenes were accurate: In both the standard and special edition versions, the fifteen minute countdown at the end of the film is indeed fifteen minutes, and During the scene when they have landed and deployed in the troop carrier, Apone tells the Marines they have 10 seconds until they arrive. If you count from here until the first Marine jumps out of the carrier and his boots hit the ground, it really is ten seconds.
5. Sigourney Weaver would bring a bouquet of flowers to characters who were slated to die that day of filming. On the day Paul Reiser’s evil corporate character was set to die, Weaver brought him a bouquet of dead flowers.
6. To bring the alien queen to life would take anything between 14 and 16 operators.
7. Lance Henriksen caught a dose of food poisoning from the milk and yogurt combination that he had to spew up when his chest was pierced by the alien queen’s tail. Having this lactose combination sitting around under hot studio lights created a bacterial breeding ground.
8. The knife trick scene was not in the original shooting script. According to Lance Henriksen, the adding of Hudson’s hand to the knife trick was discussed with almost everyone, except Bill Paxton.
9. Bill Paxton improvised much of his lines including “Game over, man! Game over!”
10. Next door, Full Metal Jacket was filming, so the crews of both films often hung out together when they weren’t filming.
11. Was voted the 42nd Greatest Film of all time by Entertainment Weekly. They describe it as the “greatest pure action movie ever.”
12. Only six alien suits were used, and even then they were mostly just a handful of latex appliances on black leotards. The appearance of hundreds of aliens is simply clever editing and planning, and lighting plus slime helped make the “suits” more solid.
13. Michael Biehn got the call on a Friday night asking him to take over the role of Hicks and was in London to start filming on the following Monday.