In 2011 Andrew David Clark and Darren Kemp organized the Alien Encounters: 25 Years of Aliens Convention at the National Space Centre in Leicester, United Kingdom. The event saw the reunion of several of the cast and crew from Aliens including Chrissie Overs, Ricco Ross, Cynthia Scott, Daniel Kash, Collete Hiller and Trevor Steedman.
Following the convention, Andrew was kind enough to host an interview between Mikey, Corporal Hicks and the actor behind the marine Wierzbowski, Trevor Steedman, for the 6th episode of the Alien vs. Predator Galaxy Podcast.
Trevor unfortunately passed away at the end of this June following a second stroke. He was a vibrant and enthusiastic man who was grateful of his fans and the community. We’re immensely grateful that we had the opportunity to talk to him.
The below is a tidied up transcription of that interview.
Trevor Steedman – I’d like to say thanks to all the fellas that came along. All the guys that I met and said hello to and came up to me and had a chat with me and my young lady. Especially the two from Northern Ireland, Jim and his dad. A big thank you to Malika and everyone at the Space Centre. They always invite me along to these weekends. And this one I think was a bit special. Kept me smiling from day one to the time I went home. So big thanks to everyone. I hope you enjoyed it and look forward to the next one.
Mikey – Trevor, we usually do this question right off the bat. What got you interested in acting?
Trevor Steedman – I started off my career as an extra back in 1980/81. I soon started to get myself little parts being offered to me in various little things and it just sort of went on from there. I actually joined the British Stunt Register as I fancied being a stuntman. Through that is how I met James Cameron and had the audition for the part of Wiezbowski.
Since then I’ve been in various films, various TV programs playing all sorts of parts from hitmen, to policemen, villains. You name it, I think I’ve been it.
Corporal Hicks – Wierzbowski is a bit of a mysterious character and so is how you became involved in the film. So you got the casting opportunity through knowing Jim Cameron already?
Trevor Steedman – No. I had a phone call one night from – I can’t remember who it was – but they said “do you want to come along to an audition for a part as one of the marines in the new Aliens film” – which I knew nothing about. I turned up at the hotel in London where James Cameron had booked a room for the night where he was holding the auditions and I joined the mighty queue of people that was waiting to have their five minutes with him.
Corporal Hicks – Do you remember what the process was like? What specifically did you have to do for Jim?
Trevor Steedman – I do actually because there was a long wait. There was over a hundred people there waiting for this audition. They were all slowly going in and I was counting the minutes each one was in for. It seemed about five or six minutes was the maximum. When it eventually came to my time I was in there about thirty five minutes.
The first thing Jim said to me was “that bit of wood there? Pick it up, it’s a gun. I want you to come through the door and dive on the floor.” I did that and we just started chatting about…you know, I can’t even remember what we were talking about but it went on for a long, long time. It just felt like a positive audition. When everyone else had been in there for like five minutes and I’d been in there for that amount of time I really thought “I’ve got this!“and I came away from there thinking “well I’ve got this part.”
I got home and my Mrs at the time said “how’d you get on?” and I said “yeah, I think I’ve got this part.” For the next few days I was waiting for the phone to ring and it didn’t ring! The days turned into weeks and I think it must have been something like five, six weeks and being pretty much resigned to fact someone else had got it! Then about eleven o’clock late one night the phone rang and I answered it and this voice said “hello, it’s Derek Cracknell, first AD on Aliens, welcome aboard! You start next Monday.” And that was how my part came into being.
Corporal Hicks – And it was Wierzbowski you went in to audition for?
Trevor Steedman – Yeah.
Mikey – Did you take part in the military training? All the marching you guys had to do?
Trevor Steedman – Yes. From day one, it was like we’d all been brought together and we were all going to play marines so it was planned we had a gymnasium where we could all work out and have a bit of male and female bonding. We used run around Pinewood Studios and do a bit of gun work and creeping up on people. All sorts of stuff!
Corporal Hicks – Ricco Ross mentioned an operation to retrieve a pen as a practice session for you guys. Did you tend to do a lot of crazy sessions like that?
Trevor Steedman – No. There was one or two but creeping round the gardens of the place was what we were doing. Most of it was working in the gym, I think.
Corporal Hicks – What about all the cool weaponry? The flamethrowers and the Pulse Rifles? Did you ever really get chance to play with them when you weren’t busy working?
Trevor Steedman – We all pretty much had a go on the Pulse Rifles and we all had a go on the flamethrower just to see what they were like. The flamethrower was in special effects production when we were doing it and there were two different…we had one that really went like a rocket! When you pulled the trigger this jet went about fifty foot and then they had to tone that one down so it just had like a twenty foot flame on it. They were originally filled with gas.
Mikey – From what I understand actors usually create backstory for their role. Did you ever make a backstory up for Wierzbowski?
Trevor Steedman – No. I think that’s a big no on that one.
Corporal Hicks – Other than the training you did with the other actors, what sort of preperation did you do for Aliens?
Trevor Steedman – I was pretty fit at the time anyway. I’d been out running with a forty pound backpack on my back so fitness wasn’t a problem there. We were just in the gym. Every spare bit of time we had during the day we spent in the gym pumping this, pumping that.
Corporal Hicks – It’s pretty well known that there was some cultural differences between the US and the UK crew that caused a bit of tension. Did you ever have any issues while working on the movie?
Trevor Steedman – No.
Andrew David Clark – Oh, comeon, Trevor! You must have stopped for the odd cup of tea!
Trevor Steedman – No.
Corporal Hicks – So it was all nice and easy then?
Trevor Steedman – Yeah. I think it all went pretty good.
Corporal Hicks – It’s nice to know not everyone had a problem with Jim then. James Cameron also encouraged you actors to customise your armour and weapons. I think you had Space Weapon on the crotch or something to that effect. Do you remember any other costomizations you did?
Trevor Steedman – Hold on, I’m just going to check that on a picture! [laughs] I’ll be quite honest with you; I can’t quite remember what I put on mine. We all spent time with a paintbrush and felt-tip pens, customising and doing various things. [checks picture] Spam in a can! And spare weapon on the cod piece.
Corporal Hicks – Spare weapon, that was it! Was it just a random thing? You just sat down with the paintbrush and whatever came to mind?
Trevor Steedman – Yeah. I think Jim had a quick look at it to make sure it was nothing that was untowards. Getting back to what you were talking about earlier – I got on really well with Jim. I’ve got no qualms with him. I didn’t find him at all bossy or whatever. He knew what he wanted and he wanted to get it so fair dues to him. He was the director – we should give him what he wanted and hopefully we did.
Mikey – Do you remember if there was any footage that was not used of you in the final release?
Trevor Steedman – I believe there was. Yes because we were shooting…You know the scenes where the dropship lands down there and they all get out and run across in the rain? I had quite a bit in there but it didn’t get put in because I was away having a bone marrow transplant. That is why you don’t actually see me anywhere until somewhere in the complex when he [Gorman] says “search in twos” and you see me up on my own! [laughs]
Corporal Hicks – So you missed a bit of filming then?
Trevor Steedman – Yeah, yeah.
Mikey – Wow. I never really noticed that. Would you say the movie affected your life in any way?
Trevor Steedman – It certainly has now-a-days. Who would have thought that twenty five years on…I don’t get people coming up to for Superman and Superman rescued me in Superman 5 from Nuclear Man. Nobody comes up and asks me all about that. Well, no, actually…I did have a couple of people come up with a couple of pictures from the movie and ask me to sign it. But I’ve never had anything major.
Mikey – Were there any memorable moments from your time on the film at all?
Trevor Steedman – Too many to mention! Getting blown up, I think! [laughs]
Corporal Hicks – Did you do the stunt yourself, being a stuntman?
Trevor Steedman – Yes because it was a stunt part really. Jim thought it’d be easier to get a stuntman who can act rather than an actor and have to get a stuntman.
Corporal Hicks – How long did that stunt take to do?
Trevor Steedman – From start to finish probably…I think we were filming that for about a day and a half. It was quite a complicated stunt to see on screen because you see Cynthia get grabbed by an Alien from behind and as shes dragged up into the air her finger goes on the flamethrower which roasts Frosty. He gets set alight and flies over the balcony and falls down three storeys.
In the meantime his ammo bag falls on the floor amongst the flames which is when you then see me run over to grab the bag. I think Hicks grabs my shoulders and pulls me away – or was it Tip [Tipping]? I think it was Hicks and as we both turn around there’s the big bang and you see me flying through the air upside-down.
Corporal Hicks – Was that the typical length that sort of stunt would have taken back then? A day and a half?
Trevor Steedman – Yeah, after the rehearsals had gone into it. I think it was probably shot in several sections as well.
Corporal Hicks – You’re also narrating Andrew David Clark’s Alien Encounters documentary and you’ve got a guest appearance in Aliens: Epilogue. How did you get involved in these projects?
Trevor Steedman – Through knowing Andy and Darren really. They asked me if I’d like to do a guest appearance and Andy asked me if I’d like to narrate his one and I said yes.
Cororal Hicks – Had you known them for a while before you got involved?
Trevor Steedman – How long have we known each other now, Andy?
Andrew David Clark – We met in 2007 so about 4 years. I think we started in late 2008, early 2009.
Corporal Hicks – Have you enjoyed the projects?
Trevor Steedman – Immensely! When you think that a lot of Andy’s film was shot in his front room with sheets hanging up from the ceiling… We had great fun. Six foot in front of us, when we were filming that, there’s people running around with sausages and hamburgers and everyone having a barbecue in his garden. We were on Stage One at Andy’s house!
Andrew David Clark – The tea trolley really pissed me off though! [laughs]
Corporal Hicks – There’s new Aliens game coming out called Colonial Marines and there’s a character in it called Wierzbowski being voiced by someone called Josh Ridgeway. Were you ever approached about the game?
Trevor Steedman – I haven’t been, no. Someone actually mentioned it to me about three or four weeks back and I was a bit surprised I hadn’t been contacted about it actually.
Corporal Hicks – I had the pleasure of meeting you at the convention this weekend.
Trevor Steedman – You did, sir. Enjoyable?
Corporal Hicks – Of course! These conventions tend to be an important part of post-movie community. You’ve done a few of these before haven’t you?
Trevor Steedman – Only since meeting Andy and Darren.
Corporal Hicks – It’s only the stuff that Darren and Andy have been involved with that you’ve come along to as well?
Trevor Steedman – Yeah.
Corporal Hicks – So there’s a personal connection in what you’re doing?
Trevor Steedman – They completely blew me apart when I first met them and I saw what they do. What movie projects they’ve got. And when I think they’re not a film crew and they’re not a big studio, they’re just a bunch of guys that get together and put all this stuff together and it’s fantastic. And I thought “well, if they can do it, I can put a bit of dedication in to help them.” That’s how it’s been ever since.