It’s hard to imagine 1979’s Alien being any scarier than it already is. The sci-fi classic — directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, a very brave orange cat named Jones, and way too many Xenomorphs — was the first to really make one think about the futility of screaming in space. (To say nothing about worrying about Facehuggers.)
In honor of Scott’s returning to the Alien franchise with Alien: Covenant on May 19, we asked the famed director about the ending he proposed doing instead of the one we all know. Amazingly, it’s even more terrifying than the original — and would have meant a very different fate for Weaver’s heroine, Ripley.
Instead of Ripley having her final triumphant battle with the xenomorph and recording a captain’s log entry before grabbing hero cat Jones and tucking into hypersleep, Scott suggested the following: “I thought that the alien should come in, and Ripley harpoons it and it makes no difference, so it slams through her mask and rips her head off.” Next, Scott says, he’d have cut to the tentacles of the alien pressing buttons on the dashboard. “It would mimic Captain Dallas [Skerritt] saying, ‘I’m signing off.'”
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When Scott pitched this idea from Shepperton Studios outside London to the suits at 20th Century Fox, he could feel the tension over the phone. “The first executive from Fox arrived on set within 14 hours, threatening to fire me on the spot,” says Scott with a laugh. “So we didn’t do that [ending].” We — and surely Weaver, who went on to play the role of Ellen Ripley three more times — are grateful.
Watch the video above to see Scott describe that alternate Alien ending.