This week we got our latest look at Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated follow-up to Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, in a brand new trailer that showed protagonist Daniels (Katherine Waterston) and the crew of the colony ship Covenant landing on the Engineers’ home world, where Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and the then-headless android David (Michael Fassbender) had arrived ten years prior.
The crew of Shaw and David’s last ship, the USCSS Prometheus, was completely wiped out in the previous movie, but fortunately for the xenomorphs waiting on the planet down below, the Covenant is bringing plenty of new victims to play with – more than 2000 people, to be exact. How many of them will survive (if any) remains to be seen, but here’s a quick guide to the new faces of the franchise.
Daniels (Katherine Waterston)
The new heroine of Alien: Covenant is Daniels, who is the chief terraformist of the colonization mission, meaning that when they arrive on the new homeworld she will be in charge of making it liveable for human beings. Like Ripley before her, Daniels is third in command when the film starts but, Waterston says rather ominously, “that changes as the film progresses.” One of her higher-ups in the chain of the command is the captain of the Covenant (James Franco), who also happens to be Daniels’ husband.
As the Covenant’s new home turns out to be a little more hostile than they had hoped, Daniels will be forced to step up. Waterston explains:
“I don’t think she thinks of herself as particularly special. She’s very smart, she’s good at her job, she likes her job and she’s a worker. The events of the film reveal parts of herself to herself she didn’t quite know she possessed, and that was really interesting to me. That’s the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night, what will you do in a crisis? Will you be the type of person to think clearly and make decisions quickly or do you fall apart, weep and then get a xenomorph tail in your eye?”
Walter (Michael Fassbender)
“How many Mercedes Benz are there?” Ridley Scott replies, when asked why the Covenant’s resident android looks exactly like David, Fassbender’s character from Prometheus. “You get a great android, it’s good business.”
“Walter is very much a synthetic, minus any of the human traits,” Fassbender explains. Whereas David is capable of feeling many different human-like emotions, from pride to rage to sadness, Walter’s personality is much more robotic, in the sense that he doesn’t have much of a personality (Fassbender says that Walter is closer to Bishop in Aliens than to Ash in Alien). Walter works closely with Daniels, who considers him a friend despite the fact that he can’t really reciprocate the friendship. “He’s like a very efficient butler/bodyguard/technician,” Fassbender says. “He’s just solely there for the purpose of the ship and the crew. So there’s no complications in his programming, not like anything we’ve seen in the previous Alien films.”
Tennessee (Danny McBride)
Danny McBride is best known as a comedic actor, but there isn’t a lot of comic relief in Alien: Covenant. Tennessee is the pilot of the Covenant, but as the above still demonstrates, he’ll have to fight as well as fly ships in the movie. Waterston says that McBride is “quite moving in this film, and so totally gifted.” However, even though he’s playing perhaps his most serious character yet, he still managed to make his co-stars laugh – though somewhat unintentionally. Waterston recalls:
“There was actually a day when we were in spacesuits and we’re both putting these helmets on which are totally functional and it clicks into place and you twist it. So something got caught and I looked at him all serious and his helmet was just a little bit off and I completely lost it.”
Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup)
Also on the Covenant’s science team, though not on particularly friendly terms with Daniels, is Christopher Oram – the first mate of the Covenant and the chief science officer. Crudup explains that when he first read the script for the audition, Oram was “sort of an antagonist,” but that he made an effort to portray him as “someone who really thinks he’s doing a great job, and he’s so focused on that that he’s doing a horrible job of socializing and a horrible job of leading” – rather than as an outright villain. Oram is somewhat “ostracized” by his colleagues due to the fact that he was raised in a Pentecostal household and, though he ultimately split from his church, remains deeply religious – something that isn’t particularly fashionable among scientists. Like pretty much everyone else on the Covenant, Oram is one half of a couple: his wife is a fellow scientist, played by Carmen Ejogo.
Sergeant Lope (Demian Bichir)
Sergeant Lope is in charge of the military side of the Covenant’s operation (after all, there might be unfriendly life on the planet they intend to colonize), and Bichir describes him as having an “old school military” personality. “If you think about a restaurant, this would be the kitchen and I’m the cook,” Bichir explains. Lope’s husband, Hallett (Nathaniel Dean) is part of the Covenant’s security team and therefore is Lope’s subordinate. This seems like the sort of them that could potentially cause problems, but Bichir says that Lope and Hallett are both highly trained to obey orders: “Before partners, before husband and before lovers we are professionals and we know we can’t cross that line. because that would be the difference between dead and alive.”
Bichir says Lope is prepared for the eventuality that he may be killed during the mission: “He’s a well trained military soldier, that’s the first thing you need to know is that you might not make it.” When asked how Lope reacts to meeting the xenomorph, Bichir jokes, “the first thing you think is whose idea was it to explore this f–king planet?”
Hallett (Nathaniel Dean)
Lope and Hallett were fortunate enough to be assigned togetheron the Covenant’s mission despite the complications of Hallett being Lope’s subordinate within the military team. While the majority of the people onboard the Covenant are in hypersleep, the science and security teams must stay awake longer in order to properly prepare for their eventual arrival on their new homeworld. Once they get there, however, their roles will be twofold. “We’ve all come from a military background and we’ve come onto the ship as colonists, as well,” Dean explains. “Our role is part of the society that will form on the planet.”
Rosenthal (Tess Haubrich)
Rosenthal is another member of the Covenant’s security team, along with Lope and Hallett, but Haubrich says that the soldiers in Alien: Covenant are a little more relatable than is typical of the action genre. “It’s a lot more human,” she says. “It’s not like in [Aliens] when they’re all doing chin-ups… We’re not like numb nut military types.” Rosenthal’s partner is one of the passengers being kept in hypersleep, effectively forcing a years-long break in their relationship, so Rosenthal is having “a little fling” with one of her fellow soldiers to help pass the time.