Greetings, my Little Xenomorphs. Yes, I know you’re all accustomed to the moniker of Little Monsters, but today is the 26th of April or 4/26, thus making it ALIEN DAY! I trust I don’t need to explain the relevance of the number combination in relation to the movie Alien. BUT, for those of you who don’t know, it’s a reference to the planet, known as LV-426, where the crew of the star-freighter Nostromo first encountered the facehugger that “impregnated” Ash (played by the late great John Hurt).
OK, that’s enough of that, because we’re here to focus on TWO wonderful Women of Horror today. That’s right, count ’em…one, two. As you can clearly see, the focus today is on the only two female female cast members of Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 film, Alien – Veronica Cartwright and Sigourney Weaver.
Both of these ladies would grace the world with their presence in 1949. Veronica A. Cartwright was born on April 20th in Bristol, England, but grew up in Los Angeles. Susan Alexandra Weaver was born almost six months later, in Manhattan, New York City, on October 8th.
Veronica became acquainted with show business at the age of nine, with an uncredited role in Philip Dunne’s film, In Love and War. She had a pretty active early career, making appearances on 17 television series and five movies before the age of 18. Even her younger sister, Angela Cartwright, is something of an actress herself. As Violet Rutherford on Leave it to Beaver, she has the distinction of giving Beaver Cleaver his first kiss…well, by a female that wasn’t a relative. Veronica’s introduction to sci-fi and horror would come by way of appearances on TV shows like One step Beyond, The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. But her most notable early genre role would be that of Cathy Brenner in Alfred Hitchcock’s (need I really say classic?) The Birds.
Susan, who would change her name to Sigourney at the age of 14 (after a character in The Great Gatsby), was also well acquainted with show business at a young age. Her father, Sylvester “Pat” Weaver, was an executive at NBC and her mother, Elizabeth Inglis, was a former English actress. The extent of her involvement in acting during her teen years was limited to some high school productions and summer stock troupes. Sigourney would attend Sarah Lawrence College and then Stanford University, where she majored in English Literature and also acted in in many dramatic productions. She would carry this love of acting to Yale, where she would earn a Masters of Fine Arts from their School of Drama. During her time there, Sigourney would actually appear in a production with her classmate, Meryl Streep. However, throughout her college days, she would also learn that being a tall drink of water could be problematic when trying to get roles. Having been nearly six feet tall since she was 14 years old, Sigourney was often taller than the many of the males she acted along side of.
In 1978, Veronica’s film career had been going for sometime, but Sigourney’s had started just one year prior with a bit part as “Alvy’s Date Outside Theatre” in (arguably) Woody Allen’s best film, Annie Hall. But it was in July of 1978 that these two women would take part in the film that would merge science fiction and horror in a way that had never before been witnessed. Do I really need to say the title or director again? I thought not. Veronica was cast in the role of Joan Lambert and Sigourney in the iconic role of Ellen Ripley. Lambert and Ripley are polar opposites, but it’s this stark contrast that works so well. Alien was a film with a true ensemble cast with no clear cut lead character, but with Ripley emerging as the strong, intelligent, capable and sexy final woman, NOT the final girl, it would become apparent who would be the lead character in the next three movies of the franchise.
In the years after Alien, Veronica and Sigourney have enjoyed success in their careers, displaying great versatility across multiple film genres. that’s not to say they haven’t revisited the horror genre a time or two, since their encounters with the deadly xenomorph.
Veronica has kept her hand in the horror game over the years appearing in Nightmares, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Neowolf and most recently, The Town That Dreaded Sundown. She also had a role in the horror comedy, Scary Movie 2 as well as the most recent remake of Invasion of the Body snatchers entitled, The Invasion.
Sigourney continued to star in the next three films of the original Alien franchise, and despite the fact they weren’t true horror films, also starred in the supernatural comedy Ghostbusters and its subsequent sequel Ghostbusters II. She would also appear in horror fare such as Snow White: A Tale of Terror, The Village (which some may dispute whether it’s a true horror film or not), The Cabin in the Woods and Red Lights. And although the chances are slim, I personally hope she and Neil Blomkamp may some day get their new Alien film off the ground.
Of all the roles these women have played the most important would have to be that of mother. Sigourney has a daughter named Charlotte with her husband, Jim Simpson, and Veronica has a son named Dakota with her late husband, Richard Compton.
It’s wonderful to see that these incredible women are still going strong after many years in the industry. Hopefully there’s a little horror and sci-fi left lurking in these two, and perhaps they’ll be good enough to let it run wild on screen for us all to enjoy.
As always, my Little Xenomorphs, there is definitely plenty more to learn about these wonderful Women of Horror…and Sci-Fi. For further info on Veronica, you can check out her official IMDb page or even head on over to her official website. And like wise you can have a gander at Sigourney’s upcoming projects and whatnot over at her official IMdb page.
In parting, just remember these simple words, in space no one can hear you scream, but if you are loud and obnoxious in a theater where I’m watching a movie, they DEFINITELY WILL. With that I bid you a Happy Alien Day!