"Wow, thank you," she marveled when she heard that MTV had named her "Alien" creation Ellen Ripley as the silver medalist in our Greatest Movie Badasses of All Time poll, beating out everyone from Travis Bickle to the Terminator. "I think Ripley would be very pumped, and I want to congratulate my fellow badasses."
Told that Ripley finished second only to "Dirty" Harry Callahan, Weaver took the honor with a self-deprecating grin. "Oh, it's a mercy award," she teased. "I think she is a badass. What makes me happy is that MTV didn't try to separate the men badasses [from the women]. I think it's incredibly cool that you threw us all together. You took the characters for who they were."
When we interviewed Weaver's "Alien" director Ridley Scott recently, the filmmaker told us that Ripley was originally supposed to be a man. As it turns out, that is only one of the various obstacles that nearly derailed Scott and Weaver's crafting of a cinematic icon.
"I almost didn't go to the audition!" she said of her initial hesitation back in 1979, when she was a virtual unknown. "I wanted to do Shakespeare!
"But then I went and I met Ridley, who is so fiery, and he showed me all the sketches that [designers] Carlo Rambaldi and [H.R.] Giger had done," Weaver remembered. "And I'm just looking at these pictures of eggs, big eggs with baby faces — which was the original Giger design. And I thought, 'I've never, ever, seen anything remotely like this.' And that's when I wanted to do it."
In the years to come, Ripley's battles with that Alien (and its friends) would help Weaver launch a career that would take her to the top of the Hollywood A-list. "Those sketches of the Alien, geez, it was right out of Francis Bacon," she remembered of Scott's initial presentation. "I just had great confidence in Ridley; he just seemed out there to me, and I thought it'd be fun."
Now, 30 years (and four films) after she nearly skipped the audition, film buffs all over the world are still finding fun themselves while watching Ripley kick ass.
"Very often," she replied when asked how often fans approach her about the "Alien" films, even after all these years. "I guess what surprises me is it really covers every single generation, from 5-year-olds — I know, that's shocking — to septuagenarians. It seems to have really found a unique place in people's hearts. It was very innovative, and I think that each one, each director had really set the bar higher."
Channeling her inner badass, Weaver told us that Ripley would most likely want to celebrate her award by inviting everyone to a big bash.
"I think we should have a big blowout badass party, you know? Bring your own flamethrower," Weaver said, adding that she would be careful not to invite one key guest, even if they have collaborated professionally in the past. "There's just one thing: Let's not tell the Alien that he didn't make the top 10. He's sort of touchy."
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