Earlier this year, director Fede Alvarez went into production on a new Alien film that was originally intended to be released through the Hulu streaming service, but was recently given an August 16, 2024 theatrical release date. (Here’s everything we know about that movie.) And that’s not the only new Alien project we have to look forward to. Fargo TV series creator Noah Hawley has been developing an Alien TV series for “FX on Hulu” for the last couple years, and below you’ll find Everything We Know About the Alien TV Series!
One of the first things we heard about the Alien TV series – and one of the most surprising things about it – is that it will actually be set on Earth, a couple decades before the events of the first movie. FX chairman John Landgraf has said the show will take place “right near the end of this century”, and a late-2090s setting would place this between the prequel films Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Hawley decided to set the show on Earth because “The alien stories are always trapped… Trapped in a prison, trapped in a space ship. I thought it would be interesting to open it up a little bit so that the stakes of ‘What happens if you can’t contain it?’ are more immediate.”
Alien franchise heroine Ellen Ripley, who was played by Sigourney Weaver in the first four movies, will not be a part of the show – and not just because Ripley would be a small child in the 2090s. Hawley never considered putting Ripley in the show because he feels her story has been wrapped up. “She’s one of the great characters of all time, and I think the story has been told pretty perfectly, and I don’t want to mess with it.”
The Weyland-Yutani corporation has been a villain lurking in the background throughout the franchise (occasionally emerging more into the foreground in some installments), and Landgraf has confirmed that there will be references to Weyland-Yutani in the Alien TV series. For the most part, though, the show will “take place in the territory of a different corporation” that Hawley has come up with. Speaking with Esquire, Hawley said that there will be competing companies in his series. “In the movies, we have this Weyland-Yutani Corporation, which is clearly also developing artificial intelligence—but what if there are other companies trying to look at immortality in a different way, with cyborg enhancements or transhuman downloads? Which of those technologies is going to win? It’s ultimately a classic science fiction question: does humanity deserve to survive? As Sigourney Weaver said in that second movie, ‘I don’t know which species is worse. At least they don’t f*ck each other over for a percentage.’ Even if the show was 60% of the best horror action on the planet, there’s still 40% where we have to ask, ‘What are we talking about beneath it all?’ Thematically, it has to be interesting.”
SCRIPTS ARE DONE
Neither Landgraf or Hawley have ever confirmed how many episodes the first season of Alien will have, but back in August of 2022 Landgraf did tell Deadline that Hawley had already delivered all of the scripts for the show. So the writers strike didn’t hold up the progress on this one at all. The actors strike, on the other hand, did cause a bit of trouble…
With the scripts in place, Hawley was said to be meeting was the show’s production designer back in January, getting ready to dive into production on Alien as soon as he finished work on the fifth season of Fargo. At the start of May, it was announced that Hawley had found the show’s lead: Sydney Chandler, whose previous credits include Don’t Worry Darling and the mini-series Pistol. She will be playing the meta-human Wendy, who has the body of an adult, but the brain and consciousness of a child.
Hawley is working to make sure viewers will be interested in what’s going on with her even when the xenomorphs aren’t rampaging across the screen. Speaking with Observer, Hawley said, “If you’re going to make something for television, you’ve got 10 hours let’s say. Even if you have a lot of action, like two hours, then you’re still going to have eight hours left. So what is the show about? As I did with Legion, the exercise is: Let’s take the superhero stuff out of the show and see if it’s still a great show. What’s the show about? Let’s take the alien out of the show. What’s the show about? What are the themes, who are the characters and what is the human drama? Then we drop the aliens back in and we go, ‘This is great. Not only is there great human drama, but there’s aliens!’”
Chandler has been joined in the cast by Essie Davis (The Babadook) as Dame Silvia, Alex Lawther (The End of the F*cking World) as a soldier named CJ, Samuel Blenkin (Black Mirror) as a CEO named Boy Kavalier, Adarsh Gourav (The White Tiger) as a character named Slightly, Kit Young (Shadow and Bone) as a character called Tootles, and Timothy Olyphant (Justified) Kirsh, a synth who acts as a mentor and trainer for Wendy. Babou Ceesay (Guerrilla), Jonathan Ajayi (Wonder Woman 1984), Erana James (The Wilds), Lily Newmark (Sex Education), Diêm Camille (Washington Black), Adrian Edmondson (The Young Ones), and David Rysdahl (Fargo season 5) are in the cast as well, but no details have been revealed about their characters.
Speaking of the aliens, the rumor is that the special effects on this show will be handled by Weta Workshop, who have worked on the Lord of the Rings franchise, the Avatar movies, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Taika Waititi’s Thor movies, several Zack Snyder productions, and much more.
FILMING IS TAKING PLACE IN THAILAND – AND HAS BEEN COMPLICATED BY THE SAG STRIKE
Variety revealed that Alien will be filming in Thailand. They heard this is “a large-scale undertaking that’s reportedly booked out multiple Bangkok studios and hired vast quantities of lighting equipment”. Unfortunately, they went into production right as the U.S. actors union SAG went on strike. The cast is a mix of SAG-AFTRA and Equity members, and two of the main leads (including Sydney Chandler) are SAG members. This means they couldn’t report to set during the strike, so the production had to work around their absence.
Speaking to The Wrap, Hawley confirmed that they filmed as much as they could without their SAG cast members, and were “able to complete filming most of the first hour. That said, I wasn’t able to film anything with my star. So I still have the bulk of the show to film, and we have seven more hours to shoot. I certainly would have loved to get the show in front of people as quickly as possible.” Now that the SAG strike has come to an end, filming is expected to resume in February, aiming for a 2025 premiere.
BLEND OF HORROR AND ACTION
Landgraf has said that Hawley’s approach to the Alien TV series is to be faithful to the ideas and styles of both Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens. He’ll be bringing his own ideas to the table, extending and reinventing the franchise – but at the same time, the aim is to make this show a blend of “the timeless horror of the first Alien film with the non-stop action of the second.”
PLAYING WITH XENOMORPH LIFE CYCLE?
During a recent panel at the Austin Film Festival (as reported by Slash Film), Hawley hinted that he’s going to be shaking up some of the familiar elements of the Alien franchise, including finding a way to play with the xenomorph life cycle. He said the structure of the Alien films “always mimics the life cycle of the creature, right? Which is egg, slow, Facehugger, starts to get faster – you know what I mean? And of course, that’s great for a horror movie to build that way. So I found a way to kind of innovate around that structure and play with it.“
RIDLEY SCOTT STILL CLAIMS DOMINANCE
Ridley Scott is producing the Alien TV series through his Scott Free banner – but that doesn’t mean he has any expectation that the show will be able to surpass the quality of his original film. When The Independent asked him about the show, Scott simply said, “It’ll never be as good as the first one. That’s what I’ll say.”
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