Celebrate Alien Day With 11 Chest-Bursting Facts About The Original

37 years after the release of Alien, director Ridley Scott is hard at work on the fifth (or seventh, depending on how you feel about the Alien vs. Predator movies) sequel/prequel. That staying power is also reflected in the fact that April 26 is now known as Alien Day, a celebration of all things Alien-related—and your opportunity to buy an unprecedented variety of new merch.

At this point, it’s hard to believe the whole phenomenon was once just a glimmer in screenwriter Dan O’Bannon’s eye. Without the inspired work of Scott, his cast, and the creative geniuses O’Bannon brought over from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s aborted Dune adaptation, it might never have gone any further. In the end, a classic of both horror and science fiction was born. This is how it got there.

1. Dan O’Bannon’s movie career started five years earlier with John Carpenter’s Dark Star. O’Bannon conceived Alien as an opportunity to overcome that earlier film’s budget limitations.

2. In the original script, the crew of the Nostromo was entirely male. During rewrites, screenwriter Walter Hill changed the gender of Ripley and Lambert.


3. The casting of Ripley came down to Sigourney Weaver and one of her Yale classmates: Meryl Streep.


4. The title role came down to Bolaji Badejo and Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew. Badejo ultimately landed the role, making Alien the one and only movie he appeared in before his death in 1992.


5. Harrison Ford turned down the role of Captain Dallas. Three years later, he starred in Ridley Scott’s Alien follow-up, Blade Runner.


6. When 20th Century Fox saw Scott’s storyboards, they doubled the film’s budget—from $4.2 million to $8.4 million.


7. According to Ridley Scott, the film had three cinematic influences: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.


8. The Xenomorph left an indelible impression on fans, but it has a mere four minutes of screen time.


9. Ridley Scott infuriated composer Jerry Goldsmith by replacing segments of his score with segments from his 1962 Freud score. Six years later, he abandoned Goldsmith’s Legend score altogether.


10. When the film was released, audiences had no sense of who might survive the Xenomorph, as Sigourney Weaver and her cast-mates received equal billing.

11. The film’s Hungarian title translates as The 8th Passenger is the Death. It was followed by The Name of the Planet: Death, Final Solution: Death, and The Resurrection of Death.


Keep your Alien Day going with the legendary Alien trailer below.