'Aliens' 30 Years Later: 6 Big Reveals

by IMDb-Editors | last updated - 25 Jul 2016

It’s hard to believe that 30 years have passed since Sigourney Weaver first screamed at the threatening monster alien queen in Aliens. Writer/director James Cameron and producer Gale Ann Hurd reminisced about the blockbuster at a Comic-Con round table along with the film’s iconic cast members, including Sigourney Weaver, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Carrie Henn, and Paul Reiser. — Susan Hornik

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James Cameron at an event for Aliens (1986)

James Cameron almost wasn't a part of the film.

The Oscar-winning Cameron initially got a call from producers Walter Hill and David Giler about a writing gig unrelated to Aliens. "I went off and wrote a pitch outline for a film, which they didn’t like," Cameron shared. "I was literally walking out the door and in the hall, about to leave, and David said, ‘Wait, we have this other thing, Alien 2.’" Cameron was thrilled. "My brain lit up like a pinball machine. Alien was one of my favorite films,” he explained. “I thought it was a masterpiece. I took it on as a writing sample, with the proviso that they let me direct it. Once I got my foot in the door, I said, 'Then Gale (Anne Hurd) has to produce it.' Because we were already a producing/directing team."

Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn in Aliens (1986)

Ripley was the inspiration behind the film.

James Cameron explained that the inspiration for the 1986 film was Sigourney Weaver’s character, Ripley, and the "idea of a strong female character who was in charge but is questioned by the ones around her, and yet ascends and becomes heroic." He added, "She was not a swordsman who is physically strong but [someone who is] mentally and emotionally strong. That’s what people really respect about her."

James Cameron, Bill Paxton, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Carrie Henn, Paul Reiser, and Gale Anne Hurd at an event for Aliens (1986)

The combination of the characters and cast played a big part in the film’s success.

While in the theaters, the heart-pounding action thriller grossed $85 million at the U.S. box office and $131 million worldwide. Cameron attributed the success of the film to a "perfect synchronicity between the cast and the characters." They spent a lot of time casting the film. He added, "We saw thousands and thousands of actors and we got the right people. And of course, we had Sigourney already; she was the center of that solar system."

Aliens (1986)

Today’s special effects would completely change the film ... maybe for the worse.

When asked how the advances in special effects would change the film today, Cameron explained that it would look completely different now, especially as he didn’t have access to CG back then: “At the time, we had no choice but to hide it all with smoke, steam, sparks, strobe lights, fast-cutting, and every other damn thing we could do to not show the rubber and guys in suits, cable controlled-puppetry and things like that." He continued, "I think it makes you a little more ingenious and circumspect in terms of what you are presenting to the audience. It makes it inherently creepier, moodier, and scary.”

Sigourney Weaver at an event for Aliens (1986)

Weaver had no idea how the role would transform her career and how people perceived her.

When asked if she realized the role would turn her into a trailblazing female action hero, Weaver said, “I don’t know that I did know, as I thought of myself as a character. But I did feel, when I had to strap on the arms and figure it out, I felt that it was such an important point to make that we don’t just [starts fake crying]. We don’t have time to do that; we get it done. We just grab this and do this and just go out and do it." She added, "To me, women are so incredibly strong. We don’t sit around. We are practical and get things done. That’s what people are still realizing, even women themselves. We are so capable, and in many ways, stronger more capable than men.”

Untitled Neill Blomkamp/Alien Project

There’s more Aliens to come next year

The next installment in the Aliens franchise, due out in 2017, will be written and directed by District 9’s Neill Blomkamp. "I read the script. It's a great, brilliant script," said Weaver. "[Blomkamp] gives the fans what they really love about the franchise, but he also breaks new ground in incredible ways. Eventually, I will be getting back to this!"

For fans who want to get back to the 1986 'Aliens,' look for the limited edition 30th Anniversary Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD coming out September 13th. It will include both the theatrical and special edition versions of the film, plus commentary, deleted and extended scenes, collectible art cards, and a book featuring art from the Dark Horse Comics Aliens series. (There's even a new documentary, “The Inspiration and Design of ‘Aliens,’” which goes deep into the origins of the film.)