Ellen Ripley isn’t just the defining role of Sigourney Weaver’s career, which is no mean feat when the actress has starred in a string of classics since making her feature debut with an uncredited part in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall back in 1977, notching up three Academy Award nominations and two Golden Globe wins in the process, but she’s also one of the most iconic characters in the history of the sci-fi genre.
Ridley Scott’s Alien may have been her first appearance, but it was James Cameron’s sequel that turned her into a genuine action heroine. Weaver’s performance in Aliens was so good that she scored an Oscar nod for Best Actress, and even today the Academy is very reluctant to dish out recognition for roles in blockbusters, never mind R-rated sci-fi actioners.
In a new interview, the 71 year-old was asked to name which of her four Alien movies she viewed as her favorite, and while it’s not surprising that she plumped for Aliens in the end, Weaver did explain why it stands out as her most enjoyable time playing Ripley.
“Oh, goodness, that’s difficult. The best-constructed story for the character to tell was in Aliens, just because Jim Cameron has such an amazing sense of the structure of the story. To take this character out of hyper-sleep, have no one believe her, have her be exiled into this limbo land where no one believes her and her family’s death. The whole set-up for Ripley in Aliens and then what she ends up doing and what it, finding this new family by the end. The whole structure of that story, to me, was gold. I always felt that I could jump up and down on it. It was such a great, supportive, arc for the character. In that sense, the second one for Ripley is probably the most satisfying.”
Talk of a return has never disappeared as the Alien franchise continues to find itself being rebooted and reinvented on a regular basis, and only recently it resurfaced that James Cameron wanted to team Ripley up with Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was toying with the idea of a canonical Alien 5 two decades ago.
Neil Blomkamp’s version may have been sidelined in favor of Ridley Scott’s prequels, but given how much Hollywood continues to rely on nostalgia when it comes to recognizable properties, the door is by no means closed on a potential comeback for Ripley just yet.