5 spoiler-free fun facts about ‘ALIEN: COVENANT’, plus new prologue!

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Ridley Scott directs Katherine Waterston in ALIEN: COVENANT. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

It’s Alien Day and we’re celebrating it right! Director Ridley Scott’s newest chapter in a much beloved franchise, ALIEN:COVENANT, is about to debut in less than a month’s time and we couldn’t be more excited. 20th Century Fox held a special presentation on their lot in Los Angeles, bringing in a few of the stars to talk about their experience filming with the auteur and cementing their roles in a legacy.

Stars Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Jussie Smollett and Demián Bichir told the audience about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans filming the highly anticipated sci-fi/ horror. Here are the best tidbits:

5. Daniels borrows one thing from Ripley. Of her role as “Daniels,” Waterston explained, “I’m sure that the thought of [Ripley] was so terrifying to me that I had to put it way back in the back of my mind. We all came into this feeling responsibility to give the fans something at the level of the other films. I think it’s also Ridley. He was excited to tell a new chapter of this. There were a few things that worked so well about what she did that I did kind of steal a little. It was more just like I’m just a physically spastic person and she’s so still.”

4. Danny McBride’s running made Katherine Waterston laugh. She stated, “It’s in the movie, but we were all having to get the hell outta Dodge. I’m close with his character and I looked for him to see if he was still with us. I looked to my left and he was sprinting like a robot. He made up this run and I almost blew the take because it was so funny. It was like those Christmas ornaments with the string on them that makes their [arms and legs] go out? It was like the perfect 90 degrees. High knees and total commitment and precision. This is why he’s in a league of his own.”

3. Ridley Scott wanted to keep the massive sets under wraps to preserve any available authenticity.  Bichir elucidated, “We were at the Fox studios in Sydney and we had three entire soundstages. We wanted to go take a peek and look, but they wanted us to wait until we were ready to jump in and feel it for the first time – the way it happens to the characters.”

Katherine Waterston as “Daniels,” in ALIEN: COVENANT. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

2. Michael Fassbender calmed nervous energy with lines from FLETCH and 80’s ballads. McBride said, “I had never met Fassbender before and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The first day we were on the set, I saw him talking to himself. I was like, ‘Is he practicing lines?’ And then I started to recognize lines. No – he’s reciting lines from FLETCH.” Waterston jumped in, stating, “He does a lot of on-set singing too. Breaks into 80’s ballads a lot.”

1. Katherine Waterston borrowed Matt Damon’s weave from THE MARTIAN. Waterston regaled the crowd with an anecdote about shooting a quick pick-up – one where she’s hanging upside down from a harness. “I had just come from a press tour in Tokyo. They to put Matt Damon’s extensions from THE MARTIAN in my hair because I had slightly lighter hair.”

They also took a moment to debut a second prologue, called “The Crossing,” which reveals what happened to Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and David (Fassbender) after the events in PROMETHEUS.

That final line in the above prologue (“Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”) may not mean anything to you now. However, when we dig deeper (thanks, Google Search!), we see it’s lifted from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s relevant, reflective poem, “Ozmandias.”

Here’s the whole poem:

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

It’s clearly a comment on the hubris of mankind – the pride before the fall. I’m having a strong feeling they won’t be met with friendly fanfare on that planet – just more decay and death.

ALIEN: COVENANT opens on May 19.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.