‘Alien: Covenant’ Footage Description: We’ve Seen Two Gory Scenes from the Terrifying Sequel

Cinema 26 December, 2016

Christmas came early this year for fans of the Alien franchise. We already knew that director Ridley Scott had been working on his third movie in the series with next year’s Alien: Covenant, but 20th Century Fox decided to release some early footage from the movie and give us a first glimpse at the trailer weeks before it would be seen by the rest of the world. If you haven’t seen the Alien: Covenant trailer you can watch it here.

The clips are especially exciting since they gave us our first look at the new “Neomorphs” and how they differ from the classic Xenomorphs in previous movies. After a taped introduction by Sir Ridley, we got to see two very quick clips, which showed the latest batch of colonists and their encounters with the deadly aliens.

alien-covenant-posterThe first clip showed the colonists traveling in a lander down to the planet below, much like the similar scene in Aliens where the Marines are landing on the planet to answer a distress call. We were told later that this group were not military as much as they are scientists and colonists meant to populate this new planet they’re visiting. The group consists of Danny McBride and a pretty diverse cast that includes Carmen Ejogo and Demian Bichir. Katherine Waterston and her character Daniels (the film’s lead) were noticeably absent from the group shown in the first set of clips, maybe because they were on the ship still orbiting the planet.

This world is very different from the planets in Prometheus and other Alien films because it’s a lot more like earth in terms of environment. There are forests and fields and lakes, which probably makes it more habitable for humans to live there, but also more prone to alien life. Now, mind you, these clips mainly showed the aftermath of some of the crew who had landed on the planet as some of them had clearly been infected with the eggs, as we got to see these new breed aliens escaping from their hosts in particularly gory fashion.

The first example of this is a scene that involves two of the film’s female actors and an unidentified male actor who has an alien inside him. We see that his back is being punctured from inside by a number of spikes, which turns out to be the new Neomorph, who eventually bursts out of him. We could see that it’s quite adorable as a baby even though it has this spikey tail we haven’t seen on previous incarnations. As it happens, one of the women has been isolated in the room with her now dead colleague and before she can get out, the alien kills her, too. (That recent picture of the blood-splattered window? That was from this sequence.) One thing leads to another and then that lander explodes, killing the other woman as she comes out with her body on fire as some of their crewmates return to the lander. Apparently, a man they’re bringing back with them has also been “infected,” but the Neomorph he’s hosting doesn’t bother exploding out of his body but rather climbs back up his throat and explodes out of his mouth, basically blowing his head up in the process.

Both those scenes were as gory as the famous “chest-burster” in the original Alien, and it gives us a pretty good that Ridley Scott is not going to be skimping on the blood and gore in his latest Alien movie even if the environment looks less hostile (and apparently, there’s breathable air, so the crew aren’t wearing the traditional spacesuits.)

Since Katherine Waterston wasn’t in the initial clips, we got a quick splash reel of her character Daniels in action, basically holding and shooting guns but with no actual aliens in that footage.

They then showed the first trailer, which included excerpts from the finished scenes we already saw, but it also included our first look at the new character played by Fassbender, seemingly the captain of the Covenant, though by his demeanor, we’re assuming that character may also be an android like David in Prometheus. One thing that seemed to be hinted in the trailer is that the Aliens may be able to breed in humans via small insects that fly into the ear, but we also see Fassbender coming up to one of the classic alien eggs where a face hugger jumps out at him, so there’s obviously a lot to absorb from the quickly-edited footage from this trailer. The trailer ends with a couple in the shower together and then what is clearly the tail of an Alien comes out and blood sprays into the shower.

The next day we got on the phone with the film’s lead, Katherine Waterston, to talk about working with Sir Ridley in his Aliens franchise. She basically said what she could say about her character Daniels while not saying too much either. (And we did ask about the relationship between her Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them character Tina with Eddie Redmayne’s Newt and how that might change in future movies.)

I’m not sure what you’ll be able to say, because Ridley loves to keep his movies a mystery. Even seeing the little bit we saw yesterday is pretty huge. He doesn’t give away a lot, so how did you find out about the movie?

KATHERINE WATERSTON: When I read the script. When I met him, he said to me, “You were in that movie with Joaquin” (Inherent Vice) and I said, “Yeah” and he said, “I like Joaquin, he’s a good actor,” and I said, “Yeah, I totally agree.” He said, “You’re good, too” and I said, “Thank you very much.” He said, “Okay, I like to stay out of actors’ way and I think they know what they’re doing, and I think it’s better if I just leave them to it. I like to work quickly so I only do a couple of takes and then we can all go to dinner after and get a good night’s sleep.” I was like, “Ridley Scott is somehow pitching to me how he likes to work? What is happening here?” Then he was like, “Are you around in the spring?” I hadn’t seen the script, I didn’t know the story was or what character he was thinking about for me to play, but like any actor, I felt pretty confident that whatever he wanted me to do, I would want to do, because he’s such a brilliant director and I liked his sort of straight-forward direct manner just in this meeting. So that was that, and I thought I’d never hear from him again, and then I got the script and then I made a tape with Ezra Miller reading for me on the set of Fantastic Beasts, and then the rest is history. But within that whole long-winded story—a long way to answer your question—he never really talked to me about the character or anything about the film. In a way, it’s just a testament to his genuine faith in actors and “If I hire the right people, they’ll understand what they have to do.” And then of course, if any of us are ever lost, he knows what to do. The best directors I’ve worked with are really hands off.

He’s a very smart guy. You can tell when you talk to him, and I feel like he’s made enough movies now that he knows how to do it.

WATERSTON: Yeah, and he knows what to worry about and what not to worry about, too, and I think you can only get that from experience. But I love working that way, because then so much of my work is private work. There is such a thing as talking too much about a character, and sometimes, you can take the power and connection you feel to the character by blabbing on about it too much.

This seems like more of an ensemble piece with a lot of actors, so what’s Daniels’ role in this and what does she do?

WATERSTON: She’s the chief terraformist on this colonization mission, so she’s basically a space gardener. She’s an impressive woman, and she’s smart and capable and everything, but she’s just a member of the crew. She’s not a warrior or anything. It’s just that the circumstances push her into a very unexpected kind of combat, and she just happens to be one of those people, it turns out, that when push comes to shove, she’s got a great deal of strength and confidence. It’s not necessarily something she knows about herself.

You mean it comes out of her situation, which is sort of the same with Ripley in the first film.

WATERSTON: Exactly! She’s just a regular lady, who turns out… there’s definitely a parallel there, for sure.

One of the things I liked about the footage I saw yesterday was the look of the landscape and the environment, because we’ve gotten so used to these stark and barren worlds in Alien and Aliens and Prometheus, and this world looked kind of nice with lakes and trees and fields… It looks like a nice place to live… or obviously not.

WATERSTON: Yeah, it does, doesn’t it?

It must be strange making a Ridley Scott “Alien movie” in that kind of environment. It seems like a strange place for the Aliens to settle.

WATERSTON: Yeah, although if you wonder about what’s out there, it’s more likely that if there’s life anywhere else, it’s in a place that’s hospitable, and obviously, different sorts of God-knows-what alien creatures could be adapting and emerging on planets that can tolerate totally different atmospheres than ours, but it makes sense to some degree that life would lead to more life on some other planet. Does that make sense?

Sure. If there’s grass and trees…

WATERSTON: Yeah, there’s probably life. Exactly.

Are there connections between this and Prometheus besides Michael Fassbender being in this? For some reason, I thought this was going to be a direct sequel to Prometheus but it seems to be another separate Alien movie… I guess?

WATERSTON: You’re just going to have to wait to find out. Yeah, there’s this Carl Sagan line that’s something like, “Modern science is a voyage into the unknown with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop.” I feel that’s the case with these movies. You’re going into the unknown, and you will be humbled.

It’s interesting to see you go into this after doing Fantastic Beasts which is another big movie so how has it been as actor doing those movies that do involve a lot of effects and things you won’t see until you show up at the Walter Reade like you did yesterday and finally see stuff.

WATERSTON: Yeah, it is wild and sometimes it’s really, really impressive, as it was yesterday. It was so crazy to see those things that have come together since we stopped filming, but I always feel like it’s kind of mindblowing to see the finished product, because there’s the days you weren’t on set or on that location you never visit or even if there’s something like a really comedic scene you didn’t know about. Like when I saw Inherent Vice, seeing Martin Short in it, that was all news to me in the theater because I wasn’t there on set when he was working. So there’s always stuff like that where you’re like, “Holy Hell! I’m in this movie and I have no idea this is going on here or I didn’t know it was going to look like that.” To me, that’s always the stuff that’s the most fun when you go to watch a movie you’re in. It’s hell when you’re on screen, but it’s all the other stuff that the other actors are doing is cool to see. Amy Seimetz and Carmen (Ejogo) and Joe go in the lander and that stuff we watched yesterday, because I wasn’t there that day. So that’s always, to me, what’s most thrilling. It’s usually about what the other actors are doing and certainly, like you said, in Fantastic Beasts and then in Alien: Covenant, to get to see some of the incredible work that the visual FX department is doing is cool for sure, too.

What’s the dynamic like between this cast? Do you have some time before that craziness starts happening where we get to meet them and see the dynamic? I’m not sure where what we saw yesterday is in the movie.

WATERSTON: Hmm … yeah, we did shoot in sequence quite a bit. I don’t know if I’m allowed to confirm or deny anything, but I would say probably? (laughs)

I’m surprised how busy you’ve been since Fantastic Beasts so are you keeping enough time free to do more Fantastic Beasts since she’s busy writing another movie and they want to do five in total?

WATERSTON: Getting ready for the next one, yeah. We’re going to be there in the summer for sure.

Image via 20th Century Fox
Have you grilled Davids Heyman or Yates about what happens next since they have more contact with Jo (JK Rowling) then anyone else?

WATERSTON: Yeah, yeah, we know stuff now…

So you do know stuff now?


Will we see Tina and Newt get closer in future movies? Is that something you’re interested in seeing?

WATERSTON: Well, it is written, right? In the original Fantastic Beasts book that JK Rowling (as Newt), there’s a little bio about Newt and it says he lives with his wife, Tina.

Well, there you go, cause I’ve never read that book.

WATERSTON: That’s not even a spoiler. That is something I knew before I auditioned and that’s all I’ve ever known is that fact, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be in this stories. I have no idea, but I think we really worked with dipping our toe with that first film, and I think both of the characters are probably going to grow and change a lot, and that’s so exciting, because when you’re committing to doing so many films, you hope that you get to be stretch in different directions. I don’t know how or when or why, but I expect that I will get to be stretched in new ways with that character, so that’ll be fun. God! It’s so hard to be talking about two films that I’m not allowed to say a word about!

I was going to ask you about working with Steven Soderbergh, but I know how that goes, too.

WATERSTON: Oh, yeah. That was fun.

But it sounds like you’re keeping busy and working with some cool directors like The Current War you’re doing with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, whose last movie Me and Earl and the Dying Girl I loved.

WATERSTON: Yeah, I’m really excited for that. That’s coming up real soon, though.

Alien: Covenant is scheduled for release on May 19, 2017.