James Cameron reveals how he tricked Sigourney Weaver into starring in Aliens

Signourney Weaver in Aliens
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Aliens, the follow-up to 1979's Alien, is one of best sequels in movie history, with many claiming it's even better than the original. However, its star, Sigourney Weaver, wasn't originally keen to return as Ellen Ripley. 

James Cameron, who took over the directing reins from Ridley Scott for the sequel, therefore resorted to deception to get her on board – and pretended he was going to rewrite the movie's script with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the lead.

"I called up Lou Pitt, Arnold [Schwarzenegger]’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,'" Cameron told GQ. "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."

However, Cameron was never going to remove Ripley from the script – it was all a bluff to get Weaver on board. "Now, did I have any intention of doing that whatsoever? No, not at all," he continued. "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. Anyway, it worked, and Sigourney got her million bucks, and everyone was happy."

This ruse evidently worked, and Weaver not only starred in Aliens but also Alien 3 and a fourth installment, Alien Resurrection. Weaver and Cameron recently re-teamed for another sequel: Avatar: The Way of Water, which arrives in theaters on December 16. While we wait to revisit Pandora, check out our guide to the other most exciting upcoming movies.

Entertainment Writer

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections. I help bring you all the latest news and also the occasional feature too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.