Diehard fans of the Alien quadrilogy are bound to know the history behind this story, but casual fans might be surprised to learn that H.R. Giger, the Swiss artist who designed the iconic xenomorph at the center of the franchise, was never asked to be involved with James Cameron's Aliens. His designs from the first film were obviously the inspiration for the designs in the action-heavy follow-up, but Cameron's team never contacted the artist for input in regards to how they'd be (re)shaping his legacy.

While the film was in production, Giger's agent sent a letter to Cameron expressing his disappointment at being frozen out of the creative process. It then took Cameron nearly a year to respond to the letter, but instead of making up excuses for why he felt Giger shouldn't be involved, Cameron explained in earnest a fear most sequel directors may have but never share:

"I found that creating a sequel can be an uneasy exercise in balancing creative impulses, the desire to create a whole new canvas, with the need to pay proper hommage to the original. Mr. Giger's visual stamp was so powerful and pervasive in "ALIEN" (a major contributor to its success, I believe) that I felt the risk of being overwhelmed by him and his world, if we had brought him into a production where in a sense, he had more reason to be there than I did."

The entirety of the letter is available for viewing at H.R. Giger's personal website and worth reading for a different kind of insight into the mindset of one of the most talked about directors still working today. An equally interesting read can be found in the article that turned me on to the letter in the first place; Dread Central's interview with artist Dan Ouellette who feels his concept design contributions to Sundance favorite Splice will never be properly credited to him.
categories Cinematical