After the success of Terminator, Silver and Gordon first approached Arnold Schwarzenegger
for the lead role, due to Arnold disliking the idea of it just being him and the alien,
the script was re-written and included a team of commandos.
After a short delay by Arnold Schwarzenegger, principal photography eventually began in the
jungles of Palenque, Mexico, near Villahermosa, Tabasco, during the second week of April 1986,
but the film overall was filmed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. After five weeks of filming Arnold
was flown out so he could get married and honeymooned for two weeks in Antigua, filming then continued in May.
Although Arnold lost weight during filming he and other cast members would weight train during
the early hours, also stopping filming so Arnold could weight train in one scene as it required
that the character Dutch would appear larger in a battle up against the Classic.
According to Schwarzenegger, filming was physically demanding as he had to swim in
very cold leech infested water and spent three weeks covered in mud for the climactic
battle against Classic. In addition, cast and crew endured very cold temperatures in
the Mexican jungle which required heat lamps to be on all of the time, with the rough
terrain also caused problems due to it uneven surfaces and dense vegetation.
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
A sizable force of the U.S.M.C. and home guard are deployed to the town
of Gunnison after they are called because of an alien infestation.
Once deployed in the town they are slowly picked off even though
they are armed and in Humvees and M1126s.
The USM Auriga a Medical Research Vessel run by General Perez under the United Systems Military (U.S.M.)
are the commanding force in the 23rd century. The USM Auriga under military command is
used for the scientist's experiments on Aliens using humans as hosts.
Nigel Phelps initially designed a circular spaceship but Jean-Pierre Jeunet decided
that it wouldn't be capable with the initial filming which required a pull back shot
from the Auriga. So with only 3 days before final designs needed to be given in for
produced, concept artists Jim Martin, Sylvain Despretz, Nigel Phelps and Bill Badalato
designed 20-30 different designs before Jean-Pierre Jeunet decided on the final one.
Some of the filming was against green screens allowing for seemingly larger sets with
visual effects added by VFI Effects 3D, LA, who created almost all the spacecrafts including the Auriga,
the Betty and the Lifeboats using matte paintings and CGI. These were then
filmed with the miniatures at 60 frames a second and when slowed in post production produced a feel of zero gravity.
The underwater scene was filmed at stage 16 at Fox Studios LA due to limitations of other
locations. A 100' x 50' x 12' deep water filled stage area was built for the flooded kitchen
area and the cooling towers, a further 9' deep tank which had the ladder stage was built above
it, this area included the elevator shaft were they emerged and struggled to get through the eggs.
A number of divers were used giving oxygen for the actors when filming, 10 training sessions
were completed before two and a half weeks of training on stage.
Although it appeared that the cast spend most of the time wandering up and down endless
spaceship corridors, in reality there were only two built for the film with a separate rail
system as they unloaded the stasis units which was filmed with miniatures and against a green screen.
Cameron opted to hire actors who had, or could imitate, American accents. After over 3,000
individuals in the United Kingdom were unsuccessfully auditioned, American actors were chosen
instead, including three who had previously worked with Cameron on The Terminator: Lance
Henriksen, Bill Paxton, and Michael Biehn. Actors who played Marines were asked to read
Robert A. Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers and undergo military training, which included
running, lifting weights, learning salutes, marches, deployments, and maneuvers, for two weeks.
Cameron wanted the Marines to train together so that they would form bonds that would show
on-screen. Sigourney Weaver, William Hope, and Paul Reiser were absent from training because
of other obligations, but Cameron felt that this suited their characters as "outsiders" in the film.
James Cameron and Doug Bush allowed the actors to develop their characters by decorating their lockers
and painting their guns and armour.
The armour for the film was built by English armourer Terry English, and painted using Humbrol paints.
Terry English the armourers creator drew the images on to the armour from the designs drawn by the actors.
For example Vasquez's gun has the word 'Adios' and her breast plate has a line from a poem she chose
which means "The risk always lives", Drake added bones which hanged from his hat and Hudson had his
girlfriend's name and a skull and dagger painted on.
Cameron wanted the actors to resemble characters that were battle hardened so multiple designs
were tried from different countries armed forces, the actors would then wear the armours around
set when filming testing their durability and effectiveness.
In production English armourer Terry English didn't bring the armours on set during the
day of filming so was forced to quickly paint designs on unpainted armours, fortunately
Cameron liked the ruff and quirky designs and so kept them in filming.
Sets of the Narcissus were rebuilt from the designs of the film Alien in the opening
sequences, a scanning drone was sent aboard from the salvage ship to find Ripley and her
cat Jones. Later at the Gateway Station produced from matte paintings and backgrounds of
the outside with model spacecraft orbiting around, she appears in front of a board of
inquiring and her testimony is met with skepticism, later she is offered a reinstatement
of flight privileges if she returns to LV426.
In filming with the crew the full size APC was used as they board the Dropship,
at the entrance as the squad first
enter the installation and as Ripley takes the APC collecting the surviving crew. Here
filming the Alien and the crew entering and as they run down the Aliens were produced
using silicon models which could be positioned in set ways. During filming the roof of
the APC was removed as built-up fumes were effecting the actors.
A number of Dropships were produced in the filming of Aliens, these included a number of 2-3' models,
a 7' model and a 12' model. In filming the large 12' Dropship can be seen on the cargo bay as the
crew are first briefed by Gorman and then during prep, using a number of techniques to appear larger.
A separate ramp, stairs, cockpit and underside for weapon loading and as the Queen emerges was
constructed, loading, flight and landing used scaled miniatures.