‘Alien’: Creature Design Duo On The Xenomorph & H. R. Giger’s Concepts

FX Alien Covenant Noah Hawley FX Ridley Scott Blade Runner Fede Alvarez Ridley Scott

The mastermind behind the original Xenomorph design was H.R. Giger, a name synonymous with fans of the Alien franchise. While the Alien films have taken on different genres, tones, and casts, one common theme that has remain unchanged (for the most part) has been Giger’s designs.  The beauty of the films is that each one has a strikingly different visual and creature design. The diverse visuals changed when Ridley Scott directed Prometheus, a prequel based on his first Alien film, and later Alien: Covenant. Each film prior to Prometheus had a different genre and tone it adhered to, often using the Xenomorph as a means to get audiences into the theater while using different ideas and motifs to create its own confined narrative.

Beyond the first Alien, one common occurrence in the series has been the presence of Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr, two artists who met on the set on Aliens. When it came time for Alien 3, regular visual effects head Stan Winston wasn’t available, so he suggested Gillis and Woodruff  Jr. to supervise. This recommendation lasted for all the forthcoming Alien films, until Prometheus.

During an interview with Yahoo Movies, both Gillis and Woodruff Jr. discussed their legacy with the films and their relationship with the Xenomorph. When asked about what it was like to take on Alien 3 by themselves, here’s what they had to say:

Gillis: We joke when we say we were cocky. I think we felt we deserved it because we had a good amount of experience, and a lot of confidence from working on films with Stan like The Terminator, Invaders from Mars, and The Monster Squad. We were so ready to take on the mantle of doing H.R. Giger right, making him proud as an artist. We didn’t want to put our egos in front of it. I remember on Aliens when Cameron decided not to put the domes on the Aliens — that didn’t sit well with me. We wanted to go back to the dome, and get more of the qualities we saw in Giger’s paintings than perhaps the work in Aliens had. We also wanted to elevate the suit in terms of mobility and durability. So we were very excited. When I look back, I don’t know who the hell would have hired us, but I’m glad they did.

Seeing that the duo wanted to adhere to Giger’s original paintings must bode well with the biggest of fans, being that one of the biggest criticisms of Aliens was the lack of adherence to the original visuals.

Speaking of Giger, he was originally meant to work on Alien 3, but he left production. Both artists spoke on his departure:

Woodruff Jr.: Where we parted, it was amicable. I think where the real hotbed happened was 20th Century Fox. They basically cut ties to Giger. This is a painful story to relate: Giger called us and said, “I did this sculpture of an Alien. It’s in my basement, and too big to take out. I don’t have the money to mold it. Can you guys come to Switzerland to see this sculpture I made?” And Fox told us we had to say no. Can you imagine? If we’d been a little cockier we would have jumped on a plane!

Gillis: There was some disconnection and confusion on the Giger side. We only spoke to him two or three times during the whole production. There was a point where Fincher looked at everything he had sent and said, “Okay, I think we’ve got enough.” And it was after that that Giger called us [about the statue], and we were sort of taken aback. We thought they had closed it up and that Giger was off the show, but Giger never realized he was off the show. After the movie came out, there was a hatchet job article in a [special-effects] magazine, so I think that might have inflamed him a little bit. From our point of view, it was too bad because we considered Giger an absolute genius who revolutionized creature effects forever. It was a shame that he felt he was being disrespected.

Directed by Ridley Scott, the film stars Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender, Danny McBride, Noomi Rapace, Demian Bichir, Jussie Smollett, Carmen Ejogo, Billy Crudup and Amy Seimetz. Here’s the official synopsis:

Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created in ALIEN with ALIEN: COVENANT, the second chapter in a prequel trilogy that began with PROMETHEUS — and connects directly to Scott’s 1979 seminal work of science fiction. Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.

Alien: Covenant is now playing.

Source: Yahoo! Movies