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  • Acting in the Dark: While on the set, Sigourney Weaver reportedly steered clear of the props used to depict the Alien Queen, in order not to desensitize herself to it so she could show proper fear when she would meet it in the movie.
  • Actor-Inspired Element:
    • James Cameron let the actors playing the Marines customise their costumes much like soldiers in Vietnam did to their combat gear. Bill Paxton wrote 'Louise' on his, as a dedication to his wife. Cynthia Dale Scott (Dietrich) wrote "Blue Angel" on the back of her helmet (as a Shout-Out to The Blue Angel, starring Marlene Dietrich). Ricco Ross drew a heart with "Heath", short for his girlfriend Heather. Jenette Goldstein wrote a Spanish phrase onto hers, translating as "the risk always survives", perhaps a loose translation of the SAS's famous motto "Who Dares Wins". Colette Hiller (Ferro) wrote the phrase "Fly the Friendly Skies" (the slogan for United Airlines) on hers, appropriately for a dropship pilot. The exception was Michael Biehn, who was a late replacement for another actor. He wasn't happy that his gear had a heart on it, because he felt it looked too much like a bullseye.
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    • Sigourney Weaver gave Cameron several notes after reading the script - detailing how she thought Ripley would react to certain situations. Cameron was all too happy to listen to her ideas.
    • Subverted in another case. Lance Henriksen wanted to wear double pupil contact lenses for the scene where Spunkmeyer gets creeped out by Bishop in the med lab. He came to set with the lenses but the director assured him he was creepy enough already.
  • Actor-Shared Background:
    • Al Mathews plays Sgt Apone. According to his official website he was "the first black Marine in the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam to be meritoriously promoted to the rank of sergeant."
    • Lance Henriksen is a US Navy veteran.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Sigourney Weaver had turned down offers to do sequels to Alien for years, afraid of Sequelitis. However once she saw the script - particularly the motherly bond between Ripley and Newt - she signed on immediately.
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  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Ripley doesn't say "Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure," she says "I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." What's worse is that the line is often attributed only to Hicks instead, who was repeating it in concurrence with Ripley.
  • B-Team Sequel: To Ridley Scott's Alien. Hard as it is to imagine now, James Cameron was a newcomer when he was tapped for this film; his filmography at the time had only spanned a few years and mostly consisted of under-the-radar B-movies, with his only major breakthrough prior to Aliens being The Terminator, just two years prior.
  • Cast the Expert: For his Vietnam allegory, James Cameron cast Al Matthews, an actual Vietnam veteran.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Carrie Henn, who played Newt, has said that she hates the line "They mostly come at night. Mostly." Mainly because her friends mocked her delivery with various derivatives. note 
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    • Sigourney Weaver revealed in The Alien Saga, a documentary centered around the films, that she was furious when she discovered the subplot involving her deceased daughter had been removed from the theatrical release of the film, as she considered it to be crucial to her character's development in the movie.
  • Creator Chosen Casting: Bill Paxton was cast as Hudson after a chance encounter with James Cameron at Los Angeles International Airport, during which he mentioned he would be interested in a role. The studio supported his casting because of positive feedback for his performance in Weird Science.
  • The Danza: All the actors playing Marines (except Michael Biehn and William Hope) used their real first names for their characters.
  • Defictionalization: The Power Loader, brought to you by Hacksmith Industries. Funny enough, some places wanted to buy power loaders when the film was released.
  • Deleted Scene: Scenes that didn't appear in the Special Edition:
    • After Burke informs Ripley that her daughter has died, he was additionally to tell her, "Some promises you just can't keep..." (referring to Ripley's promise to be home for Amanda's eleventh birthday). Following this, he checks his watch, anxious to get himself and Ripley to the hearing.
    • More footage was filmed of the day-to-day life at Hadley's Hope, including some colonists struggling to cover machinery and vehicles in the gale-force winds.
    • As the Marines wake up aboard the Sulaco, Spunkmeyer is seen saying, "I'm too old for this shit".
    • As the Marines prepare for the drop, Bishop was seen using a remote device to raise the section's APC into the Sulaco's hangar bay on a hydraulic lift. He then uses the remote to drive the APC towards Gorman (seen in the finished film). Model shots for this sequence were filmed but never used.
    • During the initial sweep of the colony complex, Burke watches the camera feeds as one of the Marines surveys a trashed room, commenting that it looks like his room from college.
    • When Newt flees from the Marines into the ventilation system, Drake nonchalantly comments, "Let her go, man, who cares!"
    • After pointing out how Newt never speaks while cleaning her face, Ripley additionally tells her, "It's alright with me. Most people talk a lot, and they wind up not saying anything". Soon after this when Hicks informs them that they are heading out to the Atmosphere Processing Plant, Newt attempts to escape but is caught by Hicks, who she tries to bite on the hand again. This time he pulls away before she can, remarking, "Hope she ain't got rabies".
    • During the Hive ambush, footage was filmed of Hicks propping a wounded Wierzbowski up against a wall after the Pulse Rifle ammunition explodes. He then goes to check on Crowe as seen in the film. A holdover from the removed footage can be seen when Hicks glances around in response to Wierzbowski's screams — the section of wall he looks at is the spot where Wierzbowski would have been sitting just moments before.
    • During the dropship crash sequence, model shots of the crashing ship hitting and destroying the APC were filmed, although were ultimately not used (likely because the footage is not particularly realistic). The scene appears in the novelization, in which the APC is said to be taken out by a piece of one of the dropship's engines.
    • Immediately after Bishop is elected to go to the colony's transmitter, the pounding of the Xenomorphs ramming the pressure door suddenly stops. Hicks points out that the creatures are inside the complex.
    • When Hicks asks Ripley how long it has been since she slept, she pessimistically tells him, "They'll get us." He responds with, "Maybe. Maybe not."
    • Model shots were filmed of the second dropship being fueled automatically aboard the Sulaco.
    • As Ripley searches for Newt inside the Hive, she is suddenly grabbed by a hand. It turns out to be Burke, who is cocooned to the wall with a Chestburster inside him. He says that he can feel it moving, and begs Ripley to help him; she gives him a hand grenade and moves on. As she leaves, Burke tearfully apologises for everything he has done.
  • Development Gag: Hudson teases Vasquez by saying "When they said 'alien', she thought they said 'illegal alien' and signed up." Vasquez's actress Jenette Goldstein actually did make that mistake; she showed up to the auditions dressed as a migrant worker.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: All the actors who played the Marines attended a two-week training session with S.A.S. officers, except Michael Biehn, who was a last-minute addition. The other main actors, Sigourney Weaver, Paul Reiser, and William Hope, were deliberately excluded from training, to generate a sense of detachment between their characters and the Marines.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • The scenes on board the Sulaco were filmed last, so that the actors playing the Colonial Marines would have had time to build up a realistic rapport with one another over the course of shooting.
    • Bill Paxton was unaware that his hand would be used in the knife trick. His look of panic is real.
  • Executive Meddling: The film had many scenes cut from it (though they were restored later in the home video release of the film) that expand upon many plot points in the film. Though some were legitimately dropped (giving away the likely existence of the Queen, for example, or the sentry gun scenes), removing the parts dealing with Ripley's daughter subtracts a major emotional element from the film.
  • Fake Brit:
    • Played with. Newt is meant to be American and Carrie Henn is likewise American. However her family had lived in England for a while and she had picked up a hybrid between the two accents - which is audible in a few scenes.
    • Played completely straight with William Hope, the actor who plays Gorman. Gorman is stated to be American, but Hope is actually Canadian.
  • Fake Nationality: Jenette Goldstein, who plays Vasquez, is NOT HispanicHispanic vs Latina 
  • Image Source: This film provides the page image for:
  • The Merch: Combined with Misaimed Marketing, Kenner did a series of figures aimed at kids about on this film (and Predator and Alien vs. Predator) around the time Alien³ came out. It should be noted that the toyline was based on an abandoned cartoon series that had been in development.
  • Orphaned Reference: Ripley shouting that they're going to nail Burke "right to the wall for this!" is supposed to foreshadow his death—being cocooned to the wall of the alien hive. However, that scene was deleted from the final cut of the film.
  • The Other Marty: James Remar was originally cast as Cpl. Hicks, but then he got arrested for drugs and James Cameron had him replaced with Michael Biehn shortly after shooting began. A few shots of Remar, mostly from behind, still made it into the movie.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • Bishop for Lance Henriksen. Retroactively, yes; but this is so far the only character in Lance Henriksen's career who is a gentle, polite and kind sweetheart. Everyone else is at best a tired and burnt-out cynic, but as a rule heartless and violent monsters. Until he played the first Weyland years later.
    • Michael Biehn later said that he almost never got to play heroic characters like Corporal Dwayne Hicks, saying that people who look at him must see something wicked in his eyes and assume there's something wrong with him. These days, he's arguably best remembered for playing heroes like Hicks and Kyle Reese in The Terminator for James Cameron.
    • Paul Reiser, who's known as a stand-up comedian and normally plays comic roles, excels in this serious role as sleazy, slimy Burke.
    • Mark Rolston usually plays villains or Jerkasses, but here he plays Drake, who is neither.
  • Production Posse: Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen are all James Cameron regulars. Jenette Goldstein joined Cameron's regulars starting here.
  • Prop Recycling: In the opening scene, the suits (sans the helmets) worn by the rescue team that enters Ripley's ship are the EVA suits from 1981 Outland.
  • Quote Source: for Ammunition Conservation.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • The picture of Ripley's daughter Amanda was of Sigourney Weaver's real life mother Elizabeth Inglis.
    • Newt's brother Timmy was played by Carrie Henn's actual brother Christopher.
  • The Red Stapler: Many businesses wanted to buy Power Loaders as forklifts; sadly none were to be bought, since it's a combination of a stunt man sitting in the loader behind Ripley moving the limbs, wires holding it up, and some miniatures work.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Though he was ultimately nominated for an Academy Award for his work, James Horner was crafting the soundtrack so late into the process of making the movie (due to it being rushed into a summer release) that a few sections had to be filled with stock music from Jerry Goldsmith's Alien score. The most obvious instance of this in the film is during Ripley and Newt's elevator escape from the Queen.
  • Referenced by...:
    • Referencing this film is so common among video games that the A Space Marine Is You trope lists directly using the film's dialogue as a cliche...and that's just the science-fiction First or Third-Person Shooters!
    • StarCraft:
      • The Drop Ship is a Captain Ersatz of the one from the film (minus the never-used missile racks). It's pilot is even a 1-1 translation of Ferero, who quotes a couple of lines.
      • Terran Space Marines ask "How do I get out of this chickenshit outfit?" Come the sequel, they're still trying to get out of it.
      • In the prequel/demo, the Zerg are labelled "Xenomorphs." Their ability to "infest" Terran command centers (and, later, any Terran building) was inspired by the xenomorphs making the Atmo processor their hive.
      • The Battle on the Amerigo cinematic is heavily inspired from the film's first action scene, what with it consisting of overconfident marines getting ambushed (starting from the ceiling) in a dark environment devoid of people.
    • At the climax of Reaper Man, Professor Hix tells the other wizards, "Remember: WILD, UNCONTROLLED BURSTS!" when they're swarmed by living shopping carts.
    • One episode of South Park has Cartman watching the film on TV, and really liking the delivery of "They mostly come at night. Mostly."
    • An episode of Family Guy depicts the climax of the movie with Bruce (the local Ambiguously Gay character with a squeaky voice and penchant for rambling conversational tangents) voicing the Queen, who gets distracted from chasing Ripley and Newt by talking to her inner mouth's split personality.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: James Remar was dropped from the film and replaced with Michael Biehn after getting busted for drug possession.
  • Romance on the Set: James Cameron and Gale Ann Hurd married during production.
  • Shrug of God: James Cameron refuses to say what exactly Arcturian poontang is.
  • Sleeper Hit: The film wasn't expected to be a great success, as news of the Troubled Production circulated through the media. People also thought the Sequel Gap of 7 years was too much time after the original Alien - the film was only given $17 million as a budget after all. Everyone was surprised when it grossed over $100 million worldwide and got Sigourney Weaver an Oscar nomination.
  • Star-Making Role: Subverted with Michael Biehn. Despite well-received roles in both this and The Terminator, he wasn't launched onto anything bigger afterwards. He regrets turning down Near Dark which was offered to him almost immediately after this in favour of The Seventh Sign and Rampage - which were critical and commercial failures and killed off a lot of momentum for him.
  • Throw It In:
    • Apone's hyping up the Marines before the drop is heavily ad-libbed, and lent added authenticity by his Actor-Shared Background.
    • The "Game over, man!" line was improvised. Paxton also ad-libbed "another bug hunt?" as a reference to Starship Troopers, which Cameron had all of the Marine actors read as part of their training for the role.
    • Hudson's participation in Bishop's little knife trick wasn't in the script. According to Lance Henriksen, it was discussed amongst everyone except Bill Paxton. The look of complete terror on his face is completely real.
  • Trope Namer;
  • Troubled Production: James Cameron didn't get along with the English film crew at all, who thought he was a poor substitute for Ridley Scott and disliked him for the simple fact that he was American [actually Canadian] and not British (ironically, Scott himself would have similar problems when he didn't mesh with the American crew of 1982's Blade Runner). The crew was openly hostile to both Cameron and his then wife producer Gale Anne Hurd, whom they openly mocked by claiming she wasn't the real producer and only got the credit because she was married to Cameron. Bill Paxton later said that British film crew drove Cameron nuts with their "indentured" work ethics, stopping filming just so they could have tea and the like; Michael Biehn made fun of the British crew in the audio commentary by saying that they "weren't used to working" (a remark he threw in when Paxton was talking about the "indentured" work ethics). Things eventually hit their breaking point when Cameron clashed with an uncooperative cameraman who refused to light the Alien nest the way Cameron wanted (Cameron wanted dark lighting to create an eerie atmosphere while the cameraman kept going with bright lighting to show off the intricacies of the set) and finally Cameron, fed up with the bad attitudes of his crew, yelled at the guy "YOU'RE FIRED!" and threw him off the set, which led to the crew walking out, requiring Gale Anne Hurd to coax them back once they had all cooled down. The film went over-schedule and over-budget, and James Horner had barely any time to throw his (very memorable) music score together - to the point that he swore to never work with Cameron again. He recanted later.
  • Wag the Director: The special edition was a result of this. After Sigourney Weaver saw the finished cut (which deleted the subplot about Ripley's daughter), she threatened to never do another Alien film. Thus the edition was released.
  • What Could Have Been: See the franchise's page.
  • The Wiki Rule: Xenopedia has information on Alien, Predator, and Alien vs. Predator.
  • Word of God: According to James Cameron, Drake and Vasquez are childhood friends who grew up in a slum together - and they're serving in the marines as an alternative to prison.

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