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With Alien: Covenant, a sequel to the 2012 Alien prequel Prometheus (got that?), Ridley Scott continues to do what he likes most — giving terrified audiences chest palpitations. But this film is much more than a mere fright-fest. Its central mystery is a cerebral puzzle, toying with the ideas of creation and human nature. “This is Ridley at his best,” Michael Fassbender says. “On top of action and humor and characters you become invested in, there’s these very real questions about life and the origins of life and what happens in the afterlife — if there is an afterlife.”
Fassbender reprises the role of David, the android ruled by such human-seeming emotions as vanity and ambition (and Lawrence of Arabia). In the scene above, he’s peering over the edge of the Engineer’s ship we last saw Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) pilot in the final moments of Prometheus.
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The events of Covenant take place a decade later (and 20 years before Ripley’s first Alien encounter), and the whats and wheres and whys of David’s actions are a twist we don’t dare spoil. What we can reveal is that Fassbender also plays a newer, updated model of the android, named Walter, who is a crew member on the titular colony ship. “I wanted Walter to be more Spock-like — devoid of human characteristics or emotional contents that are programmed into David,” Fassbender says. “I want him more like a blank canvas one can project things upon.”
Costar Katherine Waterston, who continues the Alien tradition of strong heroines, says of the Fass-bots: “It was genuinely fascinating. He’s so convincing! It felt like time-traveling into the future.”
Ridley Scott promises this film will help solidify the franchise timeline that will presumably link up to the 1979 original. “Prometheus opened that door and now we’re into the corridor,” Scott says. But even Fassbender hasn’t gotten all the answers. “I don’t really press Ridley too much,” the actor says. “He’ll reveal all at the right time.” Like the Creator himself.
Alien: Covenant will open in theaters on May 19.