During a recent press-roundtable where he was discussing his latest film, ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,’ director Terry Gilliam took a moment to speak about the highs and lows of his own career and the types of movies he enjoys making, and comment on the beloved ‘Alien’ franchise while taking some pot-shots at the franchise along the way. As RogerEbert.com reports it, Gilliam spoke on the time he was offered the chance to direct an ‘Alien’ movie:
“I got offered an Alien sequel because I was hot at that time, as a result of Time Bandits and Fisher King, and I just don’t want to do films like that. They are factory jobs, working for a studio. My last factory job was on the Chevrolet assembly plant in Los Angeles, during my junior year of college, night shift on the line. Never again.”
Plus, it turns out that Gilliam was not much of a fan of the original anyways, savaging the film by claiming:
“Alien is just a ghost train where something jumps out and you don’t know who’s going to die next. When I watched the first Alien, all I kept saying was, ‘Just kill them all and be done with it,’ because you just know that they’re all going to die along the way. In the end, Sigourney Weaver, who we’ve established is a really tough military officer, is running around in her underwear trying to find a cat. Give me a f-cking break.”
There was one element that he really liked, however, though even that was ruined by a decision Ridley Scott made for the finale of the movie, which Gilliam explains by saying:
“There are some great moments in it, but the shot that should’ve never been in the film is the one at the end showing the alien getting blown out of the airlock. You see the alien, and it’s just a guy in a rubber suit. Up until then, you only saw bits of the alien, and it seemed to be huge and vast and terrifying. That was so clever. It was like the shark in Jaws. I told Ridley, ‘You don’t want that shot of the alien at the end. Cut it!’ “
The full interview is fascinating as Gilliam speaks on his preferences for acting moments over visuals nowadays and how he is willing to sacrifice pricey VFX shots for a good character moment, something he was reluctant to do earlier in his career, a way of thinking that most likely explains his dislike of big-studio franchise movies like ‘Alien’ where it is all about the spectacle.
Adding Gilliam to the roster of ‘Alien’ directors, which already includes Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet would have been interesting, but it looks like Gilliam would never have meshed well with the project, though his ideas on how to properly use the Alien creature (keeping him hidden and barely revealing him) does fall in line with the moments I love most from the first film.
What are your thoughts on Gilliam’s comments about ‘Alien?’ Do you agree that letting us see the shot of the Alien at the end of the first movie was a mistake? As always, your opinions are more than welcome in the comments section below!