Ripley was the role that turned Sigourney Weaver from an unknown into a bankable star. Educated in acting at the Yale School of Drama, Weaver was discouraged from a career in acting by her professors, but triumphed nonetheless. Her first role was a bit part in Woody Allen's Annie Hall. She followed this up with her star-making turn as Ellen Ripley in Alien, a role for which she received an Academy Award nomination and which she would go on to reprise in the film's many sequels. Known for her patrician poise and angular beauty, Weaver became a well-respected actress following her performance as Ripley, and an iconic staple of the Science Fiction/Action genre. After Alien, she worked in films as diverse and critically acclaimed as Ghostbusters, The Ice Storm, Gorillas in the Mist, Working Girl, Galaxy Quest, The Cabin in the Woods, Avatar, WALL-E, and Finding Dory. In 1988, she won two Golden Globes for her work in Working Girl and Gorillas in the Mist.
In addition to her film work, she has often appeared onstage. Her first stage role was in Christopher Durang's Beyond Therapy, and more recently she appeared in another Durang play on Broadway, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, for which she received a Tony Award nomination. In 1984, she appeared on Broadway in Hurlyburly by David Rabe.
Skerritt was offered the role of Dallas early on in the development process, but almost waited too long to accept it. In the interim, another actor took a look at the part, but ultimately decided against playing it: Harrison Ford. Once Skerritt was informed Ridley Scott was directing and that the budget for the film had been doubled, he took the role. Primarily a veteran of television acting, Skerritt's extensive resume includes the television shows My Three Sons, MASH, Cheers, Brothers and Sisters, The Good Wife, and most recently, Madam Secretary. His films include Alien, Top Gun, Poison Ivy, Smoke Signals,A River Runs Through It, and Up in Smoke.
John Hurt was an acclaimed English actor of stage and screen, touted by many as the finest in the field. His films include A Man for All Seasons, 10 Rillington Place, The Naked Civil Servant, Midnight Express (for which he won a Golden Globe, and was nominated for an Academy Award), Alien, Spaceballs, The Elephant Man (for which he received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations), Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Harry Potter, V for Vendetta, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Dogville, Melancholia, Snowpiercer, and Jackie. He passed away in 2017.
Prior to Alien, Kotto was best known for playing Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big in the James Bond film, Live and Let Die. Having studied acting at the Actors Studio, Kotto started off acting on Broadway in plays such as The Great White Hope. Other credits include The Thomas Crown Affair, The Running Man, Midnight Run, and the long-running police procedural TV series, Homicide: Life on the Street.
Ian Holm is an incredibly accomplished British actor, known for his Tony Award winning performance in The Homecoming, and his Laurence Olivier Award winning performance as the titular monarch in King Lear. His films include Chariots of Fire, Alien, The 5th Element, Time Bandits, The Lord of the Rings series, Brazil, Hamlet, eXistenZ, Garden State, The Aviator, and The Hobbit series.
Prior to working on Alien, British actress Veronica Cartwright had been a child actress who appeared in One Step Beyond, The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, as well as Hitchcock’s film The Birds and the 1970s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. She also appeared in The Yellow Wallpaper, The Witches of Eastwick,Kinsey, and as a recurring character on The X-Files.
Harry Dean Stanton
Harry Dean Stanton was an instantly recognizable character actor long before he was asked to play the part of Brett. His career is filled with Westerns, and Alien was a rare stretch into horror. Credits include Cool Hand Luke, The Godfather Part II, Repo Man, Paris, Texas, Pretty in Pink, Wild at Heart, The Green Mile, Inland Empire, and Lucky.
Bolaji Badejo was a 26-year-old Nigerian design student before he got the role playing the alien in Alien. He was contacted for the role by Ridley Scott after being discovered by a member of the casting team in a bar. The fact that Badejo stood at an impressive 6 feet 10 inches, and was of slender build, made him perfectly suited to don the alien costume—which ultimately added 2 inches to make him 7 feet tall.
Alien Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Alien is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.