Few topics are as widely discussed in modern Hollywood as diversity. With the global film audience becoming itself much broader, the film industry has made a concerted effort to ensure that casting and storytelling are more reflective of a multicultural world in order to draw the biggest audience possible – most notably by creating and spotlighting characters who reflect the lived experiences of a greater variety of people. Case in point: Ridley Scott’s upcoming Alien prequel (or, depending on how you look at it, Prometheus sequel) Alien: Covenant is set to break new ground by featuring a husband-and-husband pair on board its “ship of couples.”
It is unknown whether the relationship status of the characters in question – Demian Bichir’s Sergeant Lope and Nathaniel Dean’s Hallett – will figure into the plot or not, though the fact that the crew of Covenant’s titular spacecraft is organized by partnered couples is reportedly a core aspect of the film’s still largely-secret main storyline. While the Alien franchise has previously hinted vaguely at same-sex attractions between various characters (most famously “Future Ripley” and Winona Ryder’s android Call in Alien: Resurrection), but has never featured an openly gay character before now.
During Screen Rant’s set visit last year, Bichir expounded on what the characters (who also appeared in the “Last Supper” prologue short) meant to him and to the broader context of the Alien mythos:
“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. No one really crosses any line, the rest of the crew is also formed in couples and whatever happens in our cabins is private.”
“We are all couples on this ship, all kinds of couples, even men and men. For me that’s a beautiful side of the story when you can have these two almost iconic macho types being together and loving each other and being a part of keeping everyone alive.”
Some of the Covenant’s couples got together during the ten years they spent on the ship, preparing for their mission (one couple in particular are enjoying a “friends with benefits” situation while their spouses are in hypersleep). The ship’s chief purpose is to be a Noah’s Ark – carrying more than 2000 passengers who will populate the new colony. When asked if Lope and Hallett intend to have children of their own, Bichir replies:
“I’m sure we will be many children’s uncles because we won’t be able to have our own. Or maybe by the time we tell the story we can actually get pregnant. Please don’t tell Ridley because he might bring it in on the script and I don’t look good in a belly.”
“It’s really great in the future… The thing within this film is that we don’t really italicize it. You know, it’s just a thing, they’re just two men who love each other and they’re happy to be bad-ass soldiers.”
Alien: Covenant opens in theaters on May 19, 2017. It may be followed by Neil Blomkamp’s Alien 5 project, which was placed on pre-production hold in order to make Covenant a priority but is still slated as an upcoming production.