We've known for some time that Sigourney Weaver very nearly didn't star in Aliens, and had the actress missed out on the critically acclaimed sequel...well, her career would have looked quite a bit different.
During a recent interview (via SFFGazette.com), Avatar: The Way of Water director James Cameron revealed that, when he wrote Aliens alongside Walter Hill and David Giler, he was under the belief that Weaver had already signed up to star. In reality, Fox had no option in place for her to return, and with Weaver asking for $1 million to return...well, the studio wasn't happy.
While Cameron was willing to pay her what she wanted, the studio wasn't and neither side was willing to budge. As a result, the filmmaker made a call to Arnold Schwarzenegger's agent to let him know he was writing Ripley out of the movie and retooling it for the Terminator star. Wouldn't that have been something?
Well, the twist in this tale is that the director knew Arnie's agent worked at the same agency as Weaver's...
"I called up Lou Pitt, Arnold’s agent, and I said, ‘Lou, we’re kind of over this. So, we’ve decided that we really like the story and all the Marine Corps characters and the world we’ve created and everything. And really, we’ve thought about it, and we really just don’t need Sigourney.'"
"'I’ve created all these characters, and my pride of authorship tells me I should go ahead with this, and we’ll just cut her out of it, and we’ll just cut her character out of it. We won’t recast it; I’ll just rewrite it. So, I’m going to start on that tonight.'"
"Now, did I have any intention of doing that whatsoever? No, not at all," Cameron admits. "But I happen to know that Lou is at the same agency as Sigourney’s agent, who was in New York. And I knew that the second he hung up with me, he called him and said, ‘Sign Sigourney now.’ And guess what? The deal was done in 12 hours after that."
"So, I never wrote a word of that hypothetical story that I said I was going to do, that I had no intention of writing anyway," he concluded. "Anyway, it worked, and Sigourney got her million bucks, and everyone was happy."
Cameron and Weaver continued working together in the years that followed, including in Avatar and the upcoming Avatar: The Way of Water. As for Schwarzenegger, the Predator star came close to starring in various Alien projects over the years, but they never quite came to fruition. Now, that franchise is being retooled as a TV series by Noah Hawley.
Check out the full interview with Cameron in the player below.