I emailed him and asked if he'd do it, he said yes:
Hudson: Can you describe your acting career leading up to your role in Aliens? How did you get into the profession?
Jay Benedict: I went to Central School of Speech and Drama from 1969-1972 and got my first job in Guys and Dolls the Musical for Theatre 69 in Manchester. Did a lot of theatre in those days, some telly work and auditioned for Aliens like every job I've ever been up for.
H: Describe the process of getting the opportunity to play Russ Jordan. Were there many other actors auditioning? What was the audition like? Was there anything specific you said or did that you think got you the part?
JB: I had a recall I remember that. JC wasn't sure about me so I went up to 20th Century Fox in town where he filmed me some more and we tried the scene in several different ways but mainly he was just talking to me and I was talking to camera..
H: What was your first impression of the Aliens script?
JB: I still have it. It's pristine clean and have no marks on it at all! ALIENS was a deeper/darker/longer script than ALIEN which is why they cut 20mns for the original cinema release over here!
H: What were your first impressions of Gale Hurd and James Cameron?
JB: Formidable couple!
H: Did you develop a backstory for Russ Jordan on your own, or with Holly De Jong, or were you given all of this information by Cameron beforehand?
JB: Nah, just turned up on the day to find the whole crew had downed tools. I was told to go to my trailer and wait which was great for me as I was in the West End at the time appearing in Sweet Bird of Youth with Betty Baccall and was dog tired. I fell asleep and woke up at lunchtime to enjoy a hearty lunch then I was told we'd be filming in the afternoon after all. JC was delightful and Holly and I got on well as we did with Carrie and Chris. No problems at all.
H: You have a few scenes with the large vehicle prop and with the derelict ship. I’m guessing these were shot on one of the large soundstages at Pinewood. Had you ever, or have you ever since then worked on any kinds of elaborate sets like these before? How did these sets affect your performance?
JB: I'd been on the giant Star Wars set as that was another film I was cut out of initially. The big thing on Aliens was reacting to a piece of green felt on the end of a giant pole that represented the Alien being waved around the studio by a prop man- that we were focusing on- looking out of our dune buggy. Also the 2 prop guys blowing into 2 off screen tentacles attached to my facehugger mask which made it pulsate up and down?!?
H: Carrie & Christopher Henn had never before acted in a film. What was it like working with them? Were there any good or bad experiences from your time on set with them that has influenced your outlook on acting with child actors?
JB: The cliché is never work with animals or children, they'll always upstage you!! Happily we had no tantrums on set and the whole shoot went off smoothly.
H: The Obligatory Question: What was it like acting for the James Cameron? At that point in time he had directed Piranha II, but most importantly The Terminator. Did you consider this to be a big deal?
JB: He didn't have final cut in those days hence his Directors cut 5 years later. His reputation hadn't totally preceded him by then. He was furious that 20th Century Fox cut 20mns from his film-and quite rightly too-Also my entire role disappeared!! I was more concerned with getting back to the Haymarket theatre on time for the evening's performance. He was entirely pleasant to work for-Wish he'd use me again!!
H: Is it actually you lying there with a facehugger attached to your head, or was a double used?
JB: No, it was me...On the floor with 2 guys on either side of the facehugger blowing through some extra long tentacles (out of shot of course...) making the mask pulsate. I'd had a day in prosthetics to get the mask right.
H: After you’d finished shooting your scenes, how much time went by before you found out that your entire sequence had been removed from the film? How did you react to this development?
JB: I got a dear Jay letter on 20th Century Fox headed notepaper telling me how marvelous I'd been in the film but the film was overlong etc....My entire part went!! That would have been in '86 but I filmed it in '85. I was shattered you can imagine. All my buddies on the film went over to the States to cash in. I couldn't! That was going to be my calling card to go back...So, I decided to stay in Europe after all...
H: What was your initial reaction to Aliens in 1986? Did you feel the film was still good even though a pivotal sequence had been cut?
JB: The Director's cut is a much better film and not just because I'm in it. It's deeper/darker/more suspenseful-However, with 20 minutes cut it does make it a more commercial vehicle. I think the reasoning at the time was that the kids wouldn't be able to stand a film that was more than 2 hours long and it was designed to be released that summer, so....Seems arbitrary when you look at the length of movies nowadays....
H: Aliens was a very successful movie, gaining serious media attention, which included an Oscar nomination for Sigourney Weaver. The film also won 2 Academy Awards. How did you deal with the fact that you’d been involved in such a successful and important film, yet your scenes had been cut? Did you ever have trouble convincing anyone that you’d acted in it?
JB: Well, I'd been cut out of Star Wars as well so I had experience! I was depressed for years and my film career never recovered..I had 3rd billing in the Spanish movie CARMEN in 2003, which won a handful of Goyas and I got the red carpet treatment in Spain, but the critics in England ignored it. You know, unless you're mainstream telly over here or starring in Batman-they gave me one line in a mask-Nobody knows you! You just have to get on with your life, don't you?
H: When were you first aware that your scenes were going to be re-inserted into Aliens for a special edition release? Was this a relief to you, or were you “over” Aliens at this point in time. Also, were you involved in the process in any way, such as ADR recording?
JB: I was happy Jim C managed to get his version of his own film out in the end-But it was 5 years too late as far as I was concerned...
And yes, I was over it! I don't remember doing any ADR on the film however.....
H: When you were finally able to see your scenes, were you pleased with how they turned out? Did you think the special edition release of Aliens was an improvement over the theatrical version?
JB: A definite improvement and I was happy to see my scenes of course and it was only then that I'd remembered the whole reason why Sigourney was propelled back up to space, was because she'd lost touch with me aka Russ Jordan on my colony....
H: How do you view Aliens nowadays?
JB: If I got a royalty for each time they showed that film I'd be a rich man by now....I view it with fondness and have been dragged out to a couple of conventions recently to sign autographs for collectors and fans alike and did a Q&A with Carrie and Chris who flew over with their Families from the States which was fun. Hadn't seen Holly in 27 years....
H: Did your experience on Aliens ever open any doors for you in the acting profession?
JB: None whatsoever.
H: Can you describe the lasting effects of Aliens on your life? Have you ever been recognized by any fans for playing Russ? Have you appeared at any conventions, or will you ever appear at any?
JB: A lot of people came up to me after the Directors cut was released to say, hey, I didn't know you were in Aliens....What can I say?
H: Thank you for participating in this interview. What are your final thoughts on Aliens? Is there anything you’d like to add that hasn’t been covered?
JB: Wish Jim Cameron would employ me again someday.....