A lot of behind-the-scenes goodness in here. Some tidbits:
That infamous chestburster scene was actually a total surprise to the actors, but it wasn’t the only genuinely frightening moment:
Most of the footage shot of the Alien didn’t work, but there is one brief cut of Bolaji going through one of his miming routines in the suit, in the sequence where he attacks Veronica Cartwright. ”The idea,” says Bolaji, “was that the creature was supposed to be graceful as well as vicious, requiring slow, deliberate movements. But there was some action I had to do pretty quick. I remember having to kick Yaphet Kotto, throw him against the wall, and rush up to him. Veronica Cartwright was really terrified. After I fling Yaphet Kotto back with my tail, I turn to go after her, there’s blood in my mouth, and she was incredible. It wasn’t acting. She was scared.”
On that incredible costume:
HR Giger made the Alien suits worn by Bolaji and the stuntman out of latex, at a cost of more than $250,000. The suit consisted of some ten to fifteen separate pieces, worn over a one-piece black body suit, needed underneath to disguise the fact that the Alien fitted together in sections […] Bolaji likened wearing [the head] to having your head stuck up the middle of a huge banana.
“They must have had about 2000 tubes of K-Y Jelly […] just to get the effect of that slime coming out of his mouth.”
On that final scene where the Alien has stowed away in the shuttle:
“Bursting out of that compartment wasn’t easy,” exclaims Bolaji. “I must’ve ripped the suit two or three times coming out, and each time I’d climb down, the tail would rip off! But it wasn’t much of a problem for them, because they had more suits. I remember I had to repeat that action for about fifteen takes. Finally, I said, ‘No more!’ There was a lot of smoke, it was hard to breathe, and it was terribly hot.”
Via Shadow and Act (an African diaspora film blog, this is the second time today I’ve come across it, probably a good one to follow if you’re a movie buff).