Why The Xenomorphs Are CGI, According To Ridley Scott

The Xenomorph on a ship's roof

The last few years have been a bit of a renaissance for the horror genre. We've seen an ton of new and exciting franchises break out onto the scene, as well as long awaited sequel from classic properties. Alien: Covenant is the latter, and brings the legendary Ridley Scott back to the franchise for a second prequel film. And the newest sequel, which hits theaters Friday, features a new terrifying version of the franchise icon: the Xenomorph. While the creature's roots began in practical affects, Scott recently revealed how the use of CGI has factored into the Xenomorph's likeness.

Legendary director Ridley Scott recently sat down with Yahoo ahead of Alien: Covenant's wide theatrical release. Regarding his use of CGI to bring the Xenomorph to the silver screen, Scott said:

Digitally, I thought I could do a lot more than just having a guy running around in a rubber suit which is all I had way back when, which worked pretty well actually. Throughout the whole shooting [of Covenant], the guy will walk around with the head on and he becomes the pattern of the performance, the digital performance, so we've always got an actor inside there doing his thing.

This is statement is sure to help quell the fears of Alien purists, who didn't like the idea of the Xenomorph becoming a CGI creation for Covenant. Luckily for them, Ridley Scott seems to understand the importance of practical affects, as well as having a physical point for actors to interact with.

Ridley Scott is truly a pioneer for the world of horror, particularly how he brought the horrifying creatures into the lexicon in the first Alien film. Iconic moments including the chestburster were created through the use of practical effects, but Scott saw a new opportunity with Covenant. He could give the Xenomorph a much more realistic appearance, as well as a wider range of motion, if it was created through CGI. Mission accomplished, because the monster is a shot of caffeine directly into the film that helps keep the threat of horror always in the audience's periphery.

But Ridley Scott's comment also refers to the use of a Xenomorph suit while filming Covenant. This allowed the actors to have scene partners, rather than simply interact with/running away from a tennis ball that's just off camera. Yesterday I had the opportunity to do a Facebook Live interview with Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, and Jussie Smollett, where the trio praised Scott's use of practical affects on set. So the director's decision seems to signify a changing of times, while also holding to classic values. Sounds like a great way to bring the franchise to new audiences, while also giving the hardcore fandom what they want.

Alien: Covenant will hit theaters this Friday. Be sure to check out our full 2017 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.