'Alien' End With Ripley Dead? Producer Walter Hill Chuckles at 'One of the Worst Ideas We Ever Heard'

Ridley Scott blew the minds of Alien fans right out of the airlock when he recently revealed that his 1979 franchise-launching classic might have had a very different ending. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Scott explained that, had he had his way, Sigourney Weaver‘s classic action hero, Ellen Ripley, wouldn’t have survived to see one sequel, let alone three. “I thought that the alien should come in, and Ripley harpoons it and it makes no difference, so it slams through her mask and rips her head off,” he said, adding that the Xenomorph would then display a previously unrevealed talent for mimicry, impersonating deceased Nostromo captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt) to say, “I’m signing off.” Fortunately, 20th Century Fox intervened to save Ripley’s life, ejecting Scott’s suggested ending into deep space.

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Chatting with Yahoo Movies recently, one of the architects of the original Alien — writer/director Walter Hill, who produced the film with his creative partner, David Giler — confirmed both Scott’s original plans for the final scene, and the distaste it immediately inspired. “We thought it was one of the worst ideas we ever heard,” Hill says, with a chuckle. “And we did what we could to squelch the idea. In the end, good sense prevailed.”

Ripley’s death certainly wasn’t among the creative decisions made by Hill and Giler when they picked up Dan O’Bannon’s original screenplay, and penned several drafts of their own. While O’Bannon receives sole “Screenplay by” credit, Hill’s contributions are well-documented and include the introduction of Ian Holm’s android science officer, Ash. His presence paved the way for popular ‘bots to come, including Lance Henriksen‘s Bishop in Aliens and Michael Fassbender‘s David in Prometheus and Walter in the upcoming Alien: Covenant, also directed by Scott.

Besides co-writing and producing Alien, Hill came very close to directing the film, but ultimately declined — a decision he doesn’t regret. “My heart wasn’t in it,” says the 75-year-old filmmaker, whose latest movie, The Assignment, opens in theaters and on VOD on April 7. His choice was partly motivated by an opportunity to helm a Western, a lifelong dream of his, which would have conflicted with Alien‘s production schedule. (While that project fell apart at the last minute, Hill would go on to make several Westerns, including 1980’s The Long Riders, 1995’s Wild Bill, and the 2004 pilot episode of HBO’s Deadwood.)

But Hill also acknowledges he was daunted by the technical demands of bringing Alien to life. “Technology was very different then,” he explains. “You worked with models and a lot of different things to make those effects shots. Frankly, I didn’t think I had the patience for it.”

While Hill disagreed with his successor’s desired ending, he firmly believes that Scott’s “magnificent direction” is the main reason we’re still talking about Alien — and still watching Alien sequels — nearly four decades later. “We who are part of this franchise are eternally indebted to his skills,” remarks Hill, adding that he hasn’t been directly involved in the Alien series since the controversial third installment in 1992, directed by David Fincher, which Hill co-wrote with Giler. “After all these years, I still say it’s [Scott’s] best movie,” Hill says. “He’s done a lot of good ones, but Alien is his best-realized motion picture.”

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