David Fincher used Michelle Pfeiffer as a point of reference for the title beast in Alien 3. The third Alien film is legendary for its troubled production. The film spent years in development hell, where various directors and screenwriters worked on different concepts. One storyline featured Ripley in a coma while Hicks and Bishop took over, while another featured Ripley crash landing on a wooden planet run by technology rejecting monks.
Fox actually built sets for this wooden planet version, before firing the original Alien 3 director and rewriting the script to make it a prison planet instead. David Fincher made his feature-length directorial debut on Alien 3 but between the constant studio pressure and running to meet a strict deadline, the nightmarish experience has caused him to disown it. The Xenomorph itself was designed by artist H.R. Giger for the original movie, and he briefly returned to the series to redesign it for the third entry.
Both Fincher and Giger wanted to make the creature a little more sensuous and elegant, including giving it more of a puma-like quality and adding fuller lips. An article from Monster Legacy reveals that the director had a specific point of reference for how the creature’s lips should look, especially in the now-iconic shot of the beast hissing at a cornered Ripley:
We did give it Michelle Pfeiffer’s lips. That’s what they’re based on. It always had these little thin lips, and I said to Giger, ‘let’s make it a woman when it comes right up to Ripley.’ So it has these big, luscious collagen lips.”
Giger’s designs gave the monster a real makeover, including removing the tubes from its back, giving it retractable claws and a spike for a tongue. Sadly, the studio opted to reject most of his ideas, and the creature seen in the final version of Alien 3 bears little resemblance to his original concept, outside of the fuller lips. This proved to be a sore spot for the artist, who felt used by Fincher and didn’t receive proper credit for his contributions to the film.
Alien 3 remains a controversial entry for many reasons, from unceremoniously killing off Newt and Hicks to its relentlessly grim tone. Fincher’s hatred of it is no secret (or surprise) but the film has also been reappraised over the years too. It’s got stunning visuals, a rich score and some great performances, and while undeniably flawed there are fans who argue that it’s easily the most underrated in the franchise.
The Alien series itself is in something of a flux right now. Alien: Covenant received mixed reviews and disappointing box-office, and instead of a direct sequel there has been talk of rebooting the franchise again. Director Ridley Scott has also said that he belives the Xenomorph itself has run out, and he wants to replace it with Michael Fassbender’s crazed android David as the central villain instead – a notion that the Alien fanbase doesn’t seem too pleased about.
Source: Monster Legacy
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