Fresh off yesterday’s terrifying theatrical trailer comes a report from the set (via ComingSoon) of Alien: Covenant, Ridley Scott’s second chapter in a prequel trilogy to his 1979 classic Alien that began in 2012 with Prometheus. For all those like me who lap up any and all information about Alien movies, there were plenty of cool tidbits to learn, the most major of which I put in bullet points below.
- Katherine Waterston’s Daniels is the chief terraformer aboard the Covenant, married to James Franco’s Captain Branson, and, like Ripley in the original Alien, second mate. While we’ve only met about 15 members of the Covenant crew, there are 2,000 people aboard the spaceship.
“There’s a massive wing of the ship that’s dedicated to this machinery that we’ll need when we get to the planet. There’s green houses and farming equipment. I’m in charge of all that forwards and backwards, and I’ve been working on it for ten years before we take off and we’ve been prepping for seven months up there and we’ve gone into a sleep cycle and the film starts and we’ve come out of it. We’ve all been prepping on it for a year so, we all know each other.”
- Billy Crudup plays the first mate and chief science officer Christopher Oram. Like Shaw in Prometheus, Oram is a religious man. He inherits leadership of the ship after that Franco cameo comes to an end. Crudup said his character was originally written as an antagonist, but he chose to play him instead as more sympathetically in-over-his-head than outright malicious.
“When I first auditioned for this, the script that I read, he was sort of an antagonist. And I was like, ‘Well, I’m not so interested in playing him like that.’ I’d rather play him as someone who really thinks he’s doing a great job, and he’s so focused on that that he’s doing a horrible job of socializing and a horrible job of leading, but it’s not because he’s a sh*tty guy and it’s not because he’s nefarious or something . . . The problem with Daniels and her partner is that he’s the captain. And he’s also younger than me, and I’ve been a part of this program for some time and then in the system for some time. I think Oram had the expectation that he would be in charge of this mission and that in fact his faith, or his struggle with his faith, was an impediment to him ascending. So I think that’s the source of the conflict in addition to him being very self-serious and them being, um…. normal.”
- Demian Bichir plays the chief military officer Sgt. Lope, a gay man who, along with his partner Hallet (Nathaniel Dean) act as the muscle for the crew. Bichir said that the crew, while made up of couples to aid in colonization, still follows hierarchy and orders.
“One thing we do is thank our commanders, because we are grateful to serve on this mission together given the fact that in the past he worked under my command as my subordinate. That can create a problem, but not among us, because we know who we are and we are trained for anything. We are basically trained to obey orders and obey ranks but that might raise some eyebrows. The fact that they thought it would be a good idea to be put together on the same team, we are just grateful for that. Before partners, before husband and before lovers we are professionals and we know we can’t cross that line, because that would be the difference between dead and alive. No one really crosses any line, the rest of the crew is also formed in couples and whatever happens in our cabins is private.”
- While not confirmed, it is heavily-implied that Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw – whose dog tags and sleeping quarters are discovered by Daniels in the trailers – has died in the interim between Prometheus and Covenant (though Rapace will return to the role). At one point, while the crew investigates the crashed Engineer ship previously piloted by Shaw and David, Daniels finds Shaw’s According to Michael Fassbender, David meanwhile has evolved further as a sentient android. He also plays the android aboard the Covenant, named Walter, who is far more robotic and logical than the human-like David.
“In terms of what has been occupying his time, those traits that we saw in ‘Prometheus,’ his appreciation of beauty and nature, that’s all relevant. I suppose he’s on this planet and — like a human — thinking, ‘Why do we do all this?’ We want to leave something of us behind after we go. There’s a legacy of some sort that we’ve left behind. We sort of saw in ‘Prometheus’ the concept of David witnessing Weyland meeting his creator, and so David was in some respects, as Peter Weyland was, in awe of his creator. Until you see the fallacies of your creator, and how mortal they can be. It would be fair to say I think he’s moved on (laughs) . . . It’s been ten years since we last saw David, without any maintenance. So those human qualities have sort of gathered momentum a little bit, I suppose. They’re as much a part of him now as his synthetic qualities. But Walter’s just really there to serve the ship, and its crew like a very efficient butler/bodyguard/technician. So there’s no complications in his programming, not like anything we’ve seen in the previous ‘Alien’ films. I suppose he’s more like Bishop in ‘Aliens’ but with even less of those human traits.”
- “Paradise,” the planet at the center of the film, is the Engineer homeworld Shaw and David departed for at the end of Prometheus. It is not the Covenant’s original destination. Rather, they are drawn to it, like in the original Alien, by a distress beacon. There has been a planet-wide disaster, likened to Pompeii, that has killed all of the Engineers (as well as all other life-forms on the planet apparently). The visitors were treated to looks at concept art and models of the genocide, glimpsed in the trailer, with hundreds of dead Engineers laying outside a massive temple. Cancerous growths litter the landscape, presumably from an outbreak of their mutagen bioweapon.
You can find out a whole lot more about the upcoming entry in the sci-fi/horror from the set report! Alien: Covenant hits theaters May 19.