At the conclusion of the 2018 film “The Predator” written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker (and directed by Black), fans were introduced to a new piece of Predator technology referred to as the “Predator Killer”. Similar to something one might see in an Iron Man film, this wearable armored suit could seemingly give humanity a fighting chance if there ever was a Predator invasion on Earth.
Fan reaction was ultimately mixed towards the suit, so while it came as no surprise that two other alternate endings were filmed for The Predator, the fan community was taken aback by the revelation that these other endings featured the return of beloved established characters from the Alien franchise: Newt and Ripley – both played by stunt performer and actress Breanna Watkins!
Recently, we had the pleasure of speaking to Breanna about her involvement not just with these mysterious alternate endings, but about her dual profession in general.
While Watkins could not reveal everything about her stint as Rebecca “Newt” Jorden or her doubling of Ellen Ripley (or perhaps the clone Ripley-8), she was gracious enough to take some time out of her very busy schedule to answer what she could… and give Alien vs. Predator Galaxy a little more insight into these fascinating alternate conclusions!
AvP Galaxy: Breanna, thanks so very much for taking the time to speak with us today! We’re extremely excited to talk to you about your intriguing involvement with both our favorite franchises. But before we do, you have built quite an impressive resume of being a stunt performer and an actress. Can you tell us what inspired you to pursue these dual career paths?
Breanna Watkins: Thanks for reaching out about this whole experience I had. Well, after visiting Universal Studios theme park for the first time as a kid, I knew then that I had to be involved in the film industry. I grew up in a household loving all the classic action movies of the 80s and 90s, and I guess that’s what drove me to want to be both an actress and a stunt performer, as I wanted to emulate those characters as much as possible for real… which is true of many stunt actors! I started more in stunts but then began to move into the acting side of things as time went on, taking it more seriously with acting coaches etc.
AvPG: Do you have a preference between the two?
BW: The best is when I get to do both at the same time! (laughs) The stunt world is definitely one I’m more established in, and as many know the acting world is very competitive, however I’ve been able to utilize my stunt experience to help me land specific rolls that require both skills. As such I wouldn’t really say I have a preference as I find one tends to help the other. I’m currently working on a project now, an independent film, primarily as an actress where I’m able to perform my own stunt fighting and use my gymnastic skills.
AvPG: Now before you became involved with the Predator film franchise, were you already familiar with the Predator and Alien movies, and perhaps even a fan?
BW: Absolutely! Believe it or not Commando, Aliens and Predator were my favorite movies growing up. I even had a pet leopard gecko lizard which I named Newt after the character. Friends who know me thought it was crazy when they found out that I had gotten involved in these two franchises, since they know how much I love those movies. It was very surreal for me.
AvPG: So let’s fast-forward to 2018. Writer Fred Dekker and writer & director Shane Black were working on the latest installment in the franchise titled “The Predator”, and there were these intriguing alternate endings featuring the return of Ripley and the return of Rebecca “Newt” Jorden. How did you get involved?
BW: A casting call went out in Vancouver which I auditioned for, but we didn’t know what it was for or who the character was. It was so secretive though that I knew it had to be for something special. It was only when I found out I got the role that I was told what it was for and what I’d be doing. As you could imagine I was over the moon excited!
AvPG: “The Predator” took place many years before these beloved Alien characters Ripley and Rebecca were even born, creating the assumption perhaps time-travel was at play. Were you supplied any backstories from writer Fred Dekker (or anyone else) that you can recall, something to help put both Ripley and Jorden’s return each as a “Predator Killer” in context for the fans?
BW: I was brought into a meeting where Shane Black and some of the producers explained to me that the plan was to shoot multiple endings as options, two of which involved me. There were a number of production members there but I don’t remember if one of them was the writer.
A whole backstory was explained to me for each of my two endings… however I believe that the franchise owners may still want to have the option to use those backstories so I shouldn’t really go into specifics of what I was told, but I can say that time travel, cloning and genetic enhancement was involved. The backstory did vary depending on which ending they were going to use.
AvPG: Without revealing too much then, often characters travel back through time to change the course of history. Is it reasonable to imagine Ripley or Newt was trying to prevent some calamity involving Predators?
BW: Correct, except the calamity/conflict was to involve both Predators and Alien Xenomorphs.
AvPG: The Rebecca “Newt” Jorden character died as a child in the beginning of Alien³ which was very controversial at the time. Was there any sense to you of a plan to perhaps retcon the third Alien film out of continuity?
BW: There was no direct discussion of Alien³ to me and how it would fit into continuity, but the backstory given to me did go quite deep into explaining how and why these characters could turn up at the end of The Predator, specifically due to events happening in the future. Speaking from my own personal opinion I really wish they hadn’t killed off Newt in Alien³… it was heart breaking for me and I know many others share this opinion as well. James Cameron’s Aliens is by far my favorite movie of the franchise and my second favorite movie of all time.
AvPG: Did Shane Black direct these alternate endings or was it the second unit?
BW: Yes it was Shane Black who directed me on main unit, along with the DP and the main production crew. The Rebecca “Newt” Jorden scene involved a number of lines for me that Shane Black directed, showing me coming out of the pod and interacting with the other characters, which can be seen in the leaked BTS photos. That was great because in that moment I really felt that I had become the grown-up version of Newt in this proper sequence.
AvPG: Regarding Newt’s lines, can you recall generally what she had to say and to whom?
BW: It was a warning / call to arms, to the “In charge” characters in the room.
AvPG: How long did it take you to film these alternate endings?
BW: It was a tight schedule, my part was all filmed over 2 – 3 days.
AvPG: -They had you wear a breather mask that resembled an Alien Facehugger. (When you wore it as Ripley,) was this to conceal the fact that you were not actress Sigourney Weaver?
BW: Yes they also asked me to be the body double for Ripley as an alternative option for the ending, that was the idea. As Ripley I had to stay still in the pod with the breather mask on.
AvPG: Was it hard to breath through it?
BW: Not at all. In fact it was the pod that was more challenging as I was being blasted with this very cold cryofreeze steam-like effect!
AvPG: So when you played Rebecca Jorden, reports indicated that you were able to show your face. Was there a chance you could have resumed the role of Rebecca in a sequel in a more substantial part, had they chosen to end the film that way?
BW: Yes, they filmed me full on with my face as Rebecca Jorden, and there was some discussion about the future potential of the character to be continued in other crossover movies, along with my possible involvement with that if they decided to go with that ending.
AvPG: So ultimately neither of your alternate endings were used in the film. Writer Fred Dekker later revealed that the reasons why were 1) Sigourney Weaver didn’t want to clear any future for Ripley in the franchise and 2) (that he thought) no one remembered Rebecca “Newt” Jorden well enough for the scene to have meaning to the audience. How did you find out your endings were not being used?
BW: It was indicated to me before the movie came out that neither of the endings I was in were going to be used. It was disappointing… but I was aware that there was a lot going on with the future direction of both franchises around that time, so I can understand why they weren’t used.
AvPG: Now a few years removed from “The Predator”, what are your feelings towards the whole endeavor?
BW: I’m so happy that I got to do it. It was like a dream come true for me. Even though nobody got to see the alternate endings, in the end I know I got to play Newt! And also double Ripley! I just remember looking down at the name tag on my costume and getting chills. If you had told me as a kid that one day I would get to be some of my favorite characters on a proper movie set, I would never have believed you. I hope one day the scenes are released but my whole experience with the director, producers and the crew was incredibly positive and supportive, I had an amazing time!
Thanks again to Breanna Watkins again for taking the time out of her very busy schedule to share her experiences working on “The Predator” with Alien vs. Predator Galaxy and our community!