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Terry Gilliam Was Offered Directing Job on Alien Sequel

Alien 3 was a notoriously difficult production and went through many writers and directors before ultimately David Fincher took the reins on the film and has since disavowed the film, refusing to talk about it. It seems that Terry Gilliam was also offered the director’s chair for the film!

In a new interview with Roger Ebert.com (via Movieweb) to talk about his own upcoming film with a hugely difficult production, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, the notorious director was asked about his thoughts on the Alien series and revealed he’d actually been approached to direct a film in the series!

“I got offered an ‘Alien’ sequel because I was hot at that time, as a result of ‘Time Bandits” and ‘Fisher King,’ and I just don’t want to do films like that. They are factory jobs, working for a studio. My last factory job was on the Chevrolet assembly plant in Los Angeles, during my junior year of college, night shift on the line. Never again.”

While he doesn’t specify it was Alien 3, given the timing of the offer (The Fisher King was released in 1991) it would seem he was offered the director’s chair for Alien 3.

 Terry Gilliam Was Offered Directing Job on Alien Sequel

Speaking about his thoughts on Sir Ridley Scott’s original Alien, Gilliam didn’t pull any punches, though at least he did have some nice things to say about Ridley’s general approach to filming the Alien suit:

“‘Alien’ is just a ghost train where something jumps out and you don’t know who’s going to die next,” laughed Gilliam. “When I watched the first ‘Alien,’ all I kept saying was, ‘Just kill them all and be done with it,’ because you just know that they’re all going to die along the way. In the end, Sigourney Weaver, who we’ve established is a really tough military officer, is running around in her underwear trying to find a cat. Give me a f—king break.

There are some great moments in it, but the shot that should’ve never been in the film is the one at the end showing the alien getting blown out of the airlock. You see the alien, and it’s just a guy in a rubber suit. Up until then, you only saw bits of the alien, and it seemed to be huge and vast and terrifying. That was so clever. It was like the shark in ‘Jaws.’ I told Ridley, ‘You don’t want that shot of the alien at the end. Cut it!’”

What are you thoughts on this? Would Gilliam have made a good fit for the Alien series? Thanks to ralfy for the news.

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Comments: 57
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  1. lost dragon
    Enjoyed his stuff in Monty Python.

    12 Monkeys wasn't a film i personally enjoyed.

    I was more surprised to hear he was even offered a shot at doing an Alien film, than anything he actually said about the franchise.

    Alien wasn't a film he enjoyed.

    12 Monkeys wasn't a film i enjoyed.

    I doubt my opinion on his work is going to have any greater impact on it, than his opinion on what i class as a film classic, will have on mine.
     :-)
  2. Gash
    I admire Gilliam for sticking to his guns, but I've always found his films lacking something, lots of layered design but there's just an element of disarray or plot indifference I find hard to get involved with. They always feel a bit self indulgent, almost like everything is in place except a driven narrative. I'd rather watch a Gilliamesque film, perhaps not The Dark Crystal, more Legend.

    However I've not seen every Gilliam film, so it's very possible there's one that breaks the format. I've never rushed to see a theatrical release though, having caught a lot of his stuff when it's arrived on TV I'm still left cold.
  3. SiL
    Terry G makes Terry G films, and expecting -- or even asking -- him to do otherwise would be a great waste of time. I remember an interview with him in Empire magazine years ago where he said that he never wanted to be the "next" anybody. He just wanted to be the first and only Terry Gilliam, and damned if he hasn't done that.
  4. SiL
    Quote
    Despite ALIEN's flaws I think that Terry Gilliam went too far in his criticism of the movie and I strongly doubt that he would've been able to make a better sic-fi monster movie than ALIEN.
    I think the point is he wouldn't try, because it wouldn't interest him to begin with. And asking a director to direct something that's fundamentally uninteresting to them never, ever works well.
  5. SM
    Terry G has always had an eye for movies that frequently departs from the mainstream view.  Which would explain his own output.  Plus he's eternally grumpy.  Doesn't mean he always wrong though.  :)

    He's criticised Schindler's List (quoting Kubrick) and Harry Potter (after getting knocked back as Rowling's first choice and calling Columbus's films dull and pedestrian).  Working on big studio franchises is not his thing as is hinted at in his comments on Alien.  He was even dismissive of the 12 Monkeys tv series.
  6. SpreadEagleBeagle
    As much as I love ALIEN I agree to a certain degree with Terry Gilliam on most of his points concerning ALIEN. Giving a full-body shot of the Alien did indeed break the spell, which in its turn made the creature less menacing and threatening, especially since you could tell that it was a man in a suit due to the limitations of creature effects back then. I also agree that having Ripley go out on a limb to save Jones seemed silly considering the circumstances, but since those scenes were executed so well tension-wise, atmosphere-wise and pace-wise, it never strikes me as silly while actually watching it (i.e. Ripley going risking everything for a cat) - it's only in retrospect it seems Hollywood silly.

    Ripley stripping down is very symbolical. She thinks she is out of harms way and safe and thus lowers her guard, finally allowing herself to be vulnerable and relax only to realize that she is stuck in the belly of the beast. Her crawling into the spacesuit while essentially praying (manically whisper-singing "Lucky Star" repeatedly) is interesting as she is now an official survivor of the beast, effectively hardened, this time quicker to put on her armor and arm herself yet realizing that only luck (i.e. the right timing) and a fools hope (determination and instinct) is what is going to save her in the end. On the other hand having a young sweaty female strip down to her undies in a horror movie might seem very cliche, hackish and cheap to a lot of people...

    But when it comes to simplifying ALIEN as nothing but a glorified ghost train movie I think it is kind of a dismissive and unfair assessment, especially since Scott's intention all along was to make a B-movie with A-list acting, pacing, photo, sound, ingenuity, special effects, themes/symbolism, score etc. Despite ALIEN's flaws I think that Terry Gilliam went too far in his criticism of the movie and I strongly doubt that he would've been able to make a better sic-fi monster movie than ALIEN. I'm not saying that because I don't like him or his movies (on the contrary - I really like them!), I'm saying that because his eye, style and liberal use of humor doesn't sit well with the cold somberness of ALIEN and A3 (as well as ALIENS to a certain degree). I think that he would've been even less a fitting pick than Jeunet (another director that is a little bit too fond of humor to direct an Alien movie).
  7. BringbackJonesy!
    I recall seeing an unfinished shot of the alien on the various extras which showed it coming towards the shuttle window and hitting it, leaving a slight smear - it looked to have the 'harpoon tether' attached to it, and I thought it would have been a far superior shot to the 'dangling' one we got before Ripley hit the rocket boosters.  I always wished that Ridley had used a finished shot of that angle instead of full 'rubbery suit' one he went with, as I reckon it was a far more effective visual overall.

    Still, the movie had easily won me over by the time that shot came along near the end, so it was no big deal by that point.  ;D

    As far as the 'Ash head' shots go, there's actually a straightforward way to re-edit them slightly to smooth things a bit - so it's a pity Ridley didn't do it for his 'Director's Cut' when he went about some other trims - but again no big deal to me.

    However, it's certainly food for thought how a Gilliam-directed 'Alien 3' would have turned out...but only if he could have had some input in where the storyline was going, as opposed to what Fincher had to go with.
  8. Darwinsgirl

    I do love Ridley mimicking the Ash grin :D from that scene. Its in one of the features from Quadrilogy or the Legacy Box set. He blamed the material for shrinking. As it was from a cast of Sir Ian Holm's head
  9. Necronom IV
    Never had a huge issue with the “Ash head” scene, but the Alien being blown out of the airlock is jarringly bad. As for people on here dismissing Gilliam as a nobody because he didn’t like the film, stop embarrassing yourselves...  ::)

    You are quite right. A little elementary research on my part would have spared me a good deal of humiliation: I had never heard of him and assumed he was not only wrong, but one of the endless third-rate opiners of the internet. I cannot see how such a man has any right to intervene in ''Alien'', but as for assuming he was a nonentity, in the words of an old friend of mine ''never assume: it makes an ass of both you and me''. I quite deserve to wear the donkey's ears.

    This is a minority opinion, clearly, but I confess I found the Ash scene brilliantly done. I detest CGI and think the old effects are better by far:  the hideous pseudo-organic mass of tubes and globes entirely unexpected and different to the coloured electrical wires of most robots, the chilling screams of his malfunction, the thin, milky fluid (which reminded me of semen) spouting from his mouth (as unexpected and as frightening as the chest-burster in its way) and soaking the fragments, the head tearing as an artificial head would, with a rough flap of rubbery skin torn from the neck and chest, not a cheap neck-decapitation. The increasingly tinny, mechanical voice blended with Sir Ian Holm's is brilliant and thoroughly sinister, as is the burning away in separate gouts of flame the outward appearance of his humanity down to a mannequin-like foundation.

  10. Perfect-Organism
    Terry Gilliam is one of the most brilliant directors of his generation, exploring very thought provoking subjects.  Brazil is one of my favourite films, and I highly recommend it to anyone.  He gets the idea of socialist / corporate dystopia, which is often portrayed in the world of Aliens.

    He has a sensibility which is not far removed from that of Jeunet of whom I was a fan before A:R came out.  I had great expectations of A:R and was let down.  In much the same way, as much as it may seem interesting to have a TG directed Aliens film, I suspect it would fail to deliver on expectations.

    Yes, the guy in the rubber suit at the end of Alien looked hokey.  He's right.
  11. Rankles75
    Never had a huge issue with the “Ash head” scene, but the Alien being blown out of the airlock is jarringly bad. As for people on here dismissing Gilliam as a nobody because he didn’t like the film, stop embarrassing yourselves...  ::)
  12. The Old One
    It's because it looks really bad, that, Ash's head and the cut around the cat being smacked are the theatrical release's three imperfections.

    More irritating is how easily fixable they would actually be.

    Despite the fact I like Aliens less, I don't think it's imperfections are as glaring but there's more of them and become more obvious on each subsequent viewing. Some cliché/bad lines and strange editing.
    Also all easily fixable by some extra cutting and pasting.

    A3 would require some trimming of the fat in the AC and special effect fixing but is probably the most likely to ever actually happen.
  13. Corporal Hicks
    While I wouldn't go along with everything he mentioned, that shot of the creature outside the airlock has always been one of the most obviously fake (the other being the obvious change between Ash's prop and 'real' heads) and the film would probably have been better with a different shot in its place.

    A good few years back I went a marathon showing of the series in London with Dachande. New and old audience from the feel of it. When that scene came up...so many laughs in the screen...I was just so used to that that it surprised me at how funny the audience was finding it.  ;D
  14. Huggs
    Ok. You got me on Ash's fake head. That was bad. No doubt. Think, however, this movie was done with practical effects and had a rediculously low budget even adjusted for inflation. The studio boosted the budget due to R. Scott's storyboard art and it was still nothing compared to today's films...and yet no CGI then either.The Fisher King is a critically acclaimed film. Not taking away from that fact. "The Tree of Life" with Brad Pitt was critically acclaimed as well... (sound of hacking...cough...hack...gagg ing noise...wheezing...body hitting floor...crickets chirp...fade to black).

    We've got a guest down! Somebody go get SM and his sausage mitts!
  15. B.A.
    Ok. You got me on Ash's fake head. That was bad. No doubt. Think, however, this movie was done with practical effects and had a rediculously low budget even adjusted for inflation. The studio boosted the budget due to R. Scott's storyboard art and it was still nothing compared to today's films...and yet no CGI then either.The Fisher King is a critically acclaimed film. Not taking away from that fact. "The Tree of Life" with Brad Pitt was critically acclaimed as well... (sound of hacking...cough...hack...gagg ing noise...wheezing...body hitting floor...crickets chirp...fade to black).
  16. Huggs
    As for this Gilliam guy. Never heard of him until now. So he doesn't like Alien? Well, that's his loss.

    You never heard of Terry Gilliam? Seriously? :) Watch The Fisher King.


    Seriously. I've honestly never heard of him. I'll have to check it out The Fisher King.

    You should have heard of Monty Python and the Holy Grail or 12 Monkeys.

    Heard of both. Never seen em.
  17. Ingwar
    As for this Gilliam guy. Never heard of him until now. So he doesn't like Alien? Well, that's his loss.

    You never heard of Terry Gilliam? Seriously? :) Watch The Fisher King.


    Seriously. I've honestly never heard of him. I'll have to check it out The Fisher King.

    You should have heard of Monty Python and the Holy Grail or 12 Monkeys.
  18. SM
    As an aside Michael Palin talks about Alien in one of his diaries, while he's on the board at Shepparton.  He mentions that its high point is the chestburster, and then fails to match that for the rest of the film.

    Someone update the article so it says 'Monty Python TRASHES ALL TEH ALIEN FILMZ EVA!!'
  19. Xenomorphine
    The first point, that it's a "ghost train" movie, sounds fairly accurate, although one can insist that there's also conspiracy involved with the company plan and Ash.

    The second point, about Ripley, is partly incorrect in the sense that she's not a military but a commercial ship officer. But the point about the underwear makes sense (unless there's a reason for focusing on her body as she strips to her underwear), and the one about the cat is open to discussion (perhaps she has to save something).

    The last point, though, about the alien being seen in full view, makes sense. I saw the movie in the theater when it was first shown, and I just realized that it did look pathetic. In the second and subsequent death scenes, the alien looked frightening because I only got to see parts of it, especially the head and the jaw, which were the most menacing ones. But after it was blown out of the airlock, it looked to me like a man in a rubber suit, then a little doll.

    Yeah, would agree with this. His comments have partial merit. While I wouldn't go along with everything he mentioned, that shot of the creature outside the airlock has always been one of the most obviously fake (the other being the obvious change between Ash's prop and 'real' heads) and the film would probably have been better with a different shot in its place.
  20. SM
    Clearly a complete idiot. I have never heard of him and I fancy that posterity will not hear of him either
    He's a well known, highly respected filmmaker who used to be in Monty Python. He has directed Time Bandits, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 12 Monkeys, Brazil, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and others. I doubt he's an idiot and wager that posterity will treat him very kindly.

    I don't think he'd have been a good fit for Alien, though.

    Yep.  This 'never heard of him' crowd trying to slate him...  :laugh:
  21. Stitch
    Clearly a complete idiot. I have never heard of him and I fancy that posterity will not hear of him either
    He's a well known, highly respected filmmaker who used to be in Monty Python. He has directed Time Bandits, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, 12 Monkeys, Brazil, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and others. I doubt he's an idiot and wager that posterity will treat him very kindly.

    I don't think he'd have been a good fit for Alien, though.
  22. Necronom IV
    Clearly a complete idiot. I have never heard of him and I fancy that posterity will not hear of him either: Ridley Scott and H.R. Giger will be immortal as long as the macabre and disturbing in art is appreciated by even one soul who can see a little beyond the veil of the commonplace.
  23. Huggs
    If it was, I wonder if it was some inside joke? I seem to remember that's what they called it. How fitting, to be critical of Alien, and then have a site named after you get nuked in what's probably the worst film these creatures have ever been in.

    I reserve the right to be wrong though. But it does sound familiar.
  24. B.A.
    Did this moron not take into account that it had human/bipedal DNA absorption abilities? Part of what makes the xenomorph so terrifying is that it takes traits from its host to better handle it's environment. Like I said, this guy didn't deserve to direct an Alien film.
  25. B.A.
    An idiot. A complete idiot. He trashed the epitome of science fiction/horror films. Glad this guy didn't get his hands on this beloved franchise...and all over his opinion of the "guy in a suit" crap. Jeez.
  26. Predalien39
    No, it’s a good thing he didn’t. 
    The guy is insane and many of his movies never feel very complete.
    There’s a handful I like, but something tells me his alien movie would be a mess.
    I prefer what we got.
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