-- Thirty years ago today, "Aliens," the much-anticipated sequel to the 1979 hit, "Alien," hit theaters.
"I said, 'Yeah, but I really want to do it. It'll be cool,'" he said in an interview. "It was like this ridiculous, stupid thing. It wasn't strategic at all, but I knew it would be cool."
Still, the success of "Aliens" was hard-earned. Here are a few secrets from the set of the 1986 movie.
1. Sigourney Weaver called herself "Rambolina": In "Aliens," Sigourney Weaver plays Ellen Ripley, an weapon-wielding, alien-battling astronaut. In an interview filmed around the time of the movie's release, the actress revealed that she called herself "Rambolina" on set because of all the stunts she performed. "The Yale School of Drama certainly didn't prepare me for this, but it was interesting!" she said of the experience. "Actually I felt that the actual use of the guns was very difficult from me. I had a sort of unanticipated, very uncomfortable reaction to shooting and killing things."
2. She practiced with the guns every day at sundown: Weaver said in the 1986 interview that she carried three guns in the movie: a flame thrower, a submachine gun, and a grenade launcher. To make sure she was proficient with each, she had regular shooting practice at sunset. "The only hard part, really, was the guns were extremely heavy," she said. "You always were alternating the guns so [you have] to be sure you didn't pull the wrong trigger and ignite the stuntman by mistake. So even the play guns are very dangerous and I have a very healthy respect for them."
3. Weaver was involved behind the scenes too: "Aliens" focuses on Ripley, so it was important to get Weaver, who originated the role in "Alien," on-board. Cameron said in a documentary of the film the actress was positive about the script when she first read it, but she helped him make tweaks too. "I took her input on how she would react, she speaking as Ripley: 'I wouldn't do that. I would do this.' 'Wouldn't I be a little more angry here or softer there?' That sort of thing," he explained.
5. Aliens were played by dancers, stuntmen and mannequins: Dancers and stuntmen wore lightweight suits that allowed them to fly around quickly, and 12 eight-foot tall mannequins were used when a body needed to be contorted into inhumane poses. However, "if we wanted something that looked really violent, we would hang up a dummy alien, sort of puppet control it and literally blow the hell out of it," special effects supervisor John Richardson said in the documentary. "They were the good ones because you could really go to town on those and you could blow arms and legs and heads off." To create an acid/smoke effect, Richardson said they combined titanium tetrachloride, cyclohexylamine and acetic acid, along with yellow dye.
7. A doll was made of Newt: In several scenes, Ripley carried around a young girl named Newt, played by actress Carrie Henn. However, the weight of a child in addition to weaponry proved to be too much for Weaver at times, so a lookalike model of Henn was created for production. "I had to do a full body cast. I had a double who was about the same size as me and I think they did her legs, but I had to do the body part and the face part," Henn explained in the documentary. "It was really cool in the end to see how much this dummy did look like me."
8. Weaver had a maternal role on set: "We had a lot of young actors who were really gung-ho and I was a more seasoned performer since 'Alien;' by that time I had much more experience and confidence," Weaver told Moviefone in 2011. "There were a lot of deaths and I gave a bouquet to each character the day they were killed; it was like 'Oh that's your day today! You get killed today!' It was fun giving Paul Reiser his bouquet, I just gave him a bunch of dead flowers." She also gave an engraved picture frame to Henn after production ended. "I have a really nice picture of us and I have it in my room," she said in the documentary. "She was almost like a surrogate mom I guess."