Alien 3 is a film that will always be notorious for its troubled production. It will always be an example used in film schools. It will always be something that David Fincher prefers not to talk about. And for fans such as myself, it will always be a source of new behind-the-scene stories and tidbits.
I will never not be fascinated with the behind-the-scenes could-have-beens, or factoids about how these movies are constructed and the troubled production of Alien 3 means it will always be a source of some new fact. Even to this day there exists drafts of this film that have not escaped the vaults of 20th Century Studios.
For the 30th anniversary of Alien 3, Alien vs. Predator Galaxy celebrated the troubled film’s release with a countdown of what we considered to be the more interesting aspects of the film. When we do things like that we also like to focus on the lesser-known or lesser told facts, 7 of which I decided to further expand on for this article. Here are 7 things you didn’t know about Alien 3.
Clive Barker, Ridley Scott and Stephen Hopkins Were Asked To Direct
Alien 3 is infamous for the amount of talent it went through during development – at least 9 different writers and 3 actually attached directors – but there’s actually 2 directors the film was offered to very early on who passed on the opportunity.
Before William Gibson even finished the first draft of Alien 3 in 1987, horror master Clive Barker was asked if he would be interested in writing and directing Alien 3. As early as January 1987 Barker was talking to the press about having been offered both the director’s chair and the job of writing the screenplay.
At this point in his career Barker had several screenplay credits, and had written a number of short stories and novels. Barker had also filmed Hellraiser, over a period of 7 weeks at the end of 1986, but it wouldn’t be released until September 1987, much later after Barker had confirmed he was offered Alien 3. When exactly in 1986 the Alien 3 offer came is still unknown.
Given that Hill and Giler would also engage novelist William Gibson to write the first drafts of Alien 3, it’s very likely that their approaching Barker was based entirely on the strength of his prose work.
Talking of the offer to David Hughes for the 8th issue of Volume 2 the Aliens Magazine in 1993, Barker elaborated on the meetings and why he ultimately turned down the offer:
“I had several meetings with David [Giler] in London and L.A talking about it, but I could never get my head around the fact that the Aliens didn’t seem terribly interesting to me. They’re inarticulate. They’re essentially machines, albeit organic ones. And that is so very far from what I do. I just couldn’t find my way around this warrior tribe of mute, instinct-led devourers; murders. It did capture my imagination, but for too short a time.”
Sir Ridley Scott was also offered the chance to return to the Alien franchise and direct Alien 3. Early in the development of the film, Walter Hill and David Giler were trying to get Ridley Scott back in the director’s chair.
Speaking to the LA Times in December of 1987, Hill told the paper that he was currently negotiating with Scott to return. These talks continued into 1988 where it seemed like the producers had secured Scott’s return. Talking to Starlog magazine for their March 1988 issue, Alien 3 scribe William Gibson told the magazine that Scott was attached.
Ultimately due to commitments to Black Rain and Thelma & Louise, Scott turned down the job. He would later visit the set and talk to David Fincher, where Fincher told Scott about how poorly production was going.
Sigourney Weaver would actually claim it was the news that an Alien vs. Predator film was being developed that led to Scott exiting Alien 3. However, the timelines for this don’t work out as Alien vs. Predator was not actually spoken about at Fox until 1991, many years after Scott had moved on from Alien 3.
Predator 2’s director Stephen Hopkins was also offered the director’s chair for Alien 3. Speaking to Alien vs. Predator Galaxy at the start of 2021, Stephen Hopkins told us that the offer came while he was still filming Predator 2, following Vincent’s Ward exit of Alien 3.
“I was still shooting so whenever that was and there was just a 50-page outline by Walter Hill. It actually sounded fascinating but I was kind of exhausted. I worked flat out for a few years in a row. I thought maybe I should try and do something different and had other ideas. I kind of sort of wish I’d done it now in a fun sort of way because I didn’t hate the film, Alien 3 at all. I thought it was quite sophisticated.”
Face-Hugger On the EEV Model
While the eternal question of where the Egg aboard the Sulaco came from may never have a satisfying answer, the model makers working on Alien 3 did provide an answer to a question you may have never considered. How did the facehugger get into the EEV and land on Fury 161 with Ripley?
Unknown to David Fincher and the-powers-that-be on Alien 3, the model makers at Boss Studios decided to have a little fun and sneak a facehugger onto the 40” long by 37” wide by 12” deep foamed pvc board, styrene, and resin cast model EEV used in the film without any approvals.
The little 5 inch facehugger model was coiled around within the small circular component on the EEV. The actual facehugger was sculpted by – who was also the lead puppeteer on the 3rd scale puppets used during filming.
This little detail was revealed by Michael Possert, Jr, the Alien 3 model maker who built the EEV model, and is practically invisible in the actual film, but it was there in the model while filming the sequences of the Emergency Escape Vehicle being ejected from the Sulaco.
After this scene was filmed, Possert Jr. removed the facehugger when he redressed the EEV model for the sequence where it was dragged damaged from the ocean. The model was later sold in 2010 in this damaged state at auction for $7000, but it was missing the seaweed and that little sneaky facehugger.
First Time Weyland-Yutani Is Said Aloud
This is one I always forget about! The name Weyland-Yutani is as synonymous to the Alien franchise as is the name Xenomorph. Sure, it was originally Weylan-Yutani, without the D, but the Company had been a presence in the Alien franchise since the very beginning.
The theme of Corporations being antagonist was also carried across in the very first comics that came after Aliens was released, with Bionational being in part responsible for the Alien infestation that spread across the Earth and scattered mankind amongst the stars.
However, Weyland-Yutani itself was avoided entirely in the early expanded universe, and despite the Company also being the major off-screen villain throughout the first two Alien films, acting through other agents, the name Weyland-Yutani was not actually said aloud on screen until Alien 3’s release in 1992.
As Ellen Ripley stirs back into consciousness in the infirmary of Fury 161, she questions Clemens about his profession and where she is. Clemens explains that he “is the chief medical officer here. Fury 161, it’s one of Weyland-Yutani’s backwater work prisons.”
Until that point it was only ever referred to in dialogue as The Company. “I work for the Company, but don’t let that fool you, I’m really an okay guy.” However, the actual name was always known thanks to various set decoration that could be seen in both Alien and Aliens, with the Special Edition of Aliens featuring that very prominent Building Better Worlds logo.
But it took approximately 270 minutes of screentime before we ever heard a character actually say the name Weyland-Yutani aloud.
Where Did the Alien Come From?!
There was a time it was likely that fans would not be endlessly arguing about where the mysterious egg in Alien 3 came from, but where the hell the Alien on Fury 161 came from instead! There existed a time after the Ox burster sequence was cut from the film that there was no chestburster sequence at all.
20th Century Fox went as far as to test screen cuts of the film with no chestburster sequence. While talking to the Alien 3 Movie Special Magazine, David Fincher stated that “we previewed it to audiences and people would ask ‘where did the alien come from?'”
In fact, the chestburster sequence is entirely absent from the Alien 3 Workprint, a bootleg VHS of an early rough cut of Alien 3. Following the feedback from the test screenings Fox authorised Fincher to shoot a new dogburster sequence that was accomplished over 2 days during the reshoots that took place in Los Angeles.
The shot of the egg during the opening sequence was also a result of feedback following test screenings. Like the chestburster sequence, the egg was also absent from the Workprint and even all drafts of the script that are available online, as well as the snippets of the reshoot scripts that have been shared by the now defunct Alien Archives website.
Alien Archives also shared a Shooting Schedule from the L.A. reshoots, detailing that it was originally planned to shoot an insert of multiple, rather than the single egg we see in the finished film. To my knowledge, footage of two multiple aboard the Sulaco has never surfaced, nor does much behind-the-scenes coverage of the eggs exist. The only image I’m aware of can be found in the Japanese Making of Alien 3 book which features a single image of a number of eggs – with only one open – along with a section of what appears to be hive scenery.
While any further imagery has yet to surface, it’s possible that footage was filmed of the multiple eggs. When Alien vs. Predator Galaxy spoke to Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr for our Alien Day 2021 podcast, we asked them about Alien 3’s multiple eggs. Alec told us that:
“I think we made two or three but I felt like when we dressed those, we had a closed one and an open one but Alien 3 has got so many versions of the film that I mix them up”
The how and why of the egg aboard the Sulaco is something we’re unlikely to ever get a proper answer to. However, when the Alien Anthology boxset was released in 2010, producer Charles de Lauzarika added an easter egg into the menus of Alien 3 to suggest that the egg was located within the dropship that had returned the survivors from Hadley’s Hope. However, much like the Blade Runner easter egg that Charles had included in the Prometheus Blu-rays, this wasn’t something intended to be taken seriously.
The Alternate Deaths of Aaron
Actor Ralph Brown was always quite vocal of his dislike of the direction that the character of Aaron took. When Ralph Brown first received the script for Alien 3, he thought of the character as being more heroic. But when he received a subsequent re-write, Aaron had taken on a less heroic role and became the butt of the 85 joke.
Changes to Alien 3 were commonplace all the way until just before the reels of film arrived at cinemas. Over the course of production, the fates of prominent characters during the final act of the film changed quite frequently, particularly Aaron and Morse.
In the October 10th 1990 draft written by Walter Hill and David Giller – a rewrite of Larry Ferguson’s first attempt to reconcile the ideas of Vincent Ward and David Twohy – Aaron makes it to the conclusion of the film, this time having a prominent role in the fight against the Alien.
In the next draft available to us, dated December 18th 1990, Aaron occupies much of the same role as what Dillion would in the finished film, with Dillion having perished earlier in the unfilmed Meat Locker sequence.
In this draft Aaron and Ripley are forced into the lead mould where Aaron stands in the way of the Alien, allowing Ripley to climb out of the mould. The Alien approaches as Ripley reaches down to help Aaron climb out, but rather than the extended fight that Dillion would engage the Alien in in the finished film, Aaron meets his end thanks to another traditional Alien kill.
While Dillion would also suffer this headbite in the finished film, he had an extended tussle with the Alien unlike Aaron in this particular draft.
The following rewrite by Rex Pickett on the 5th of January 1991 would take Aaron in a direction closer to the finished film, where he waits for the arrival of the Weyland-Yutani commandoes – a role that was previously given to Golic in the other drafts.
He still attacks Bishop 2 in this draft, but unlike the finished film, he just gets hit in the face with one of the Commando’s Pulse Rifle’s. He survives to be led out of the prison in chains alongside Morse.
Despite this draft being much closer to Aaron’s fate in the finished film, the next draft available to us dated January 31st 1991, once again credited to Walter Hill and David Giler, takes us in yet another different direction for Aaron’s fate.
Again he awaits the arrival of the Weyland-Yutani unit he is so certain will save him from the rampaging Alien. However, once confirming the location of Ellen Ripley and the Alien, and that he had seen the Alien himself, Bishop 2 orders the Commandos to execute the jailer.
And that’s the last draft of the script that is available for us to investigate. At some point Aaron’s fate in the finished film was changed to resemble the one he had in Rex Pickett’s rewrite, but he also took several 40 millimetre caseless explosive tipped rounds from the Weyland-Yutani Commandos.
Alien vs. Predator Galaxy reached out to Ralph Brown to ask him if he had actually filmed any of the other death sequences, but he confirmed it was only the one as seen in the finished film and that was it was filmed during principle photography in Pinewood.
Fans will no doubt remember when Corporal Hicks’ actor Michael Biehn told the story in Wreckage and Rage of how he was told by Raffaella De Laurentiis that she had seen a dummy of Michael Beihn’s likeness with its chest burst open as if it had been chestbursted, something Biehn was quite adamant not happen. This began a series of events that resulted in Michael Biehn being paid almost as much for the use of a single photo in Alien 3 than for his performance in Aliens.
This has always been a tidbit that I was especially interested in because no pictures of a chestbursted Hicks dummy ever emerged from the production, nor was it in any of the scripts that eventually made their way online.
When Alien vs. Predator Galaxy had the opportunity to sit down with Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. co-founders Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff for a lengthy discussion about their involvement with the Alien series, it was a question we were sure to ask. We wanted to know about this dummy!
But the duo told us none was ever constructed by the effects studio for Alien 3. Just that dummy depicting Hicks’ horrific death at the hands of a support beam, and it was likely nothing more than a misinterpretation on De Laurentiis or Biehn’s part.
In a joint interview with the fantastic Alien blog Strange Shapes and brilliant Monster Legacy blog, Woodruff categorically stated that:
“There was never a Hicks body with a chest burst open and it was never a story point in any of the material distributed to our crew. In the opening of Alien 3, we see the remains of Hicks with his head destroyed in the crash of the escape vehicle. That was done because we weren’t able to use Hicks’ likeness in the film.”
I know this isn’t a podcast, but allow me a quick tangent here anyway as I have an interesting fact about that gruesome dummy. When Tom Woodruff was in college, he was a stringer for a local news channel. One morning he got a call about a train accident and was sent to film footage and this is where Tom Woodruff saw his first ever dead body. While designing Hicks’ corpse, Woodruff revisited this horrific incident from his past and replicated the upper torso of that real dead body for Hicks.
And though that dummy was never constructed, it did turn out that Alien 3 did genuinely flirt with the idea of an Alien being born from the unfortunate United States Colonial Marine Corporal.
In early 1992 Alien 3 was about to undergo an additional 6 weeks of reshoots in Los Angeles that would begin March 9th, and as had become tradition for the film, the script was continuing to receive additional rewrites. In the opening for one particular draft dated September 27, 1991, Hicks did actually receive the fate that Michael Biehn had feared.
However, by the time the reshoots actually began, this sequence was dropped. At what point this grim fate was dropped for Hicks is unknown, and so is the reason that Dwayne Hicks avoided the fate his actor was adamant not happen.
H.R Giger’s Aquatic/Super Facehugger
There exists no world where I could include ADI’s Super Facehugger in an article that claims to be telling you about things you didn’t know about Alien 3. However, there was a separate design conceived by H.R Giger for the Super Facehugger that I barely ever see mentioned. In fact, it’s entirely absent from the making of documentary Wreckage and Rage!
Like much of the production, there was confusion and fighting around Giger’s involvement with Giger believing himself to be the primary Alien designer on the film, but the production saw him as a work-for-hire concept artist.
While the finished film’s dogburster design was heavily inspired by Giger’s Bambi-Burster design, none of Giger’s work actually made it into the finished product. His puma-like concept for the adult would be repurposed in Alex White’s incredible novel Alien: Into Charybdis. Giger also worked on a design for Alien 3’s eventually dropped and then restored in the Assembly Cut Super Facehugger, though Giger referred to it simply as the Aquatic facehugger.
H.R Giger’s take on the aquatic Facehugger is an often undiscussed part of his work on Alien 3. Unlike the more armoured approach of ADI’s Super Facehugger, Giger’s take on the redesign focused on how an earlier script had the Facehugger swimming in the waters of Fury 161.
Discussing his involvement on Alien 3 with Stewart Jamison for the 12th issue of the Aliens Magazine, Giger told the outlet that: “One of the first scripts had it swimming, so I visualised how it would move: the fingers would retract so that it would crawl just under the water’s surface.”
None of the available drafts feature a swimming facehugger so I can only assume it was Larry Ferguson’s still unreleased first draft or confusion over the cut scene where the Queen chestburster emerged from within the drowning Newt and slithered into Ripley’s mouth.
Further supporting the idea that there may have been some miscommunication around facehuggers and chestbursters, Giger also did artwork of a facehugger inside of Ripley. Also, Fincher specifically mentioned a facehugger, rather than chestburster, when talking about why that scene was cut.
“The original montage onboard the Sulaco was planned with a facehugger that was going to crawl out of Newt’s mouth. I’d seen that effect in The Company of Wolves and it just always looks like a rubber casting of someone’s head with somebody else’s fist being forced through it. I just never thought it would work.”
Much like ADI’s take on the Super Facehugger, Giger’s aquatic concepts included webbing between the fingers – something Giger referred to as Swim Skin – which would help the facehugger propel itself through the water. The artwork also seems to show more flexibility in the facehugger’s body and tail, again, geared towards allowing the creature better mobility when submerged. Other than these details Giger’s aquatic design doesn’t seem to be as radical a shift in design as ADI’s version.
Unfortunately, with none of Giger’s artwork for the aquatic facehugger included in any of the official behind-the-scenes coverage of Alien 3, the only place you can view them is at the HR Giger Museum in Gruyères, Switzerland. As you’re not actually allowed to take photos while in the museum, the only images we have of the artwork come from sneakily taken photos uploaded to the internet that I’m unable to find the original source of.
And, of course, an honorable mention for those people out there who still do not know that the full body shots of the Alien are not bad early 90s CGI, but actually an innovative, if flawed, special effects technique known as mo-motion where the Alien rod puppet was filmed against a blue screen and composited into footage filmed from the sets.
Are there any other facts about Alien 3 that you’re fond of that you never seen get talked about? Sound off in the comments section below to let us know!