Nowadays, when people think of Sigourney Weaver's legacy in film, the automatic first response is her role as Ellen Ripley in the Alien films. However, despite how legendary the first and second films are, go figure that sci-fi fans always fine something to complain about. In the case of the first film, there has often been question why, in the final scene of the movie as Ripley believes herself to be safe before her final confrontation with the Xenomorph, Ripley stripped down to her underwear which many felt to be gratuitous. Even James Cameron felt the scene stepped over the line when he went to make a more action-oriented take on the story with the first sequel, Aliens. However, most argue the point of this costume choice was to represent the exposed feeling of the human Ripley against the predatory alien. In fact, the scene originally called for her to be fully nude, but 20th Century Fox wouldn't allow it because they weren't sure if it would get the R rating or even the NC-17 rating. As it turns out, sci-fi fans should consider themselves lucky as originally more gratuity was in store for Ripley. A single scene that almost kept Weaver from signing onto the film that made her career!
In a recent appearance on the WTF With Marc Maron podcast, Weaver reveals she was initially not interested in the script since it featured ten male characters with Ripley originally set to be one of those men. In addition, Ripley was originally not meant to be the last survivor because, in Weaver's words, “no one in their wildest dreams will think it’s going to end up being a girl." Even more so, she recalled her first meeting with director Ridley Scott where she brutally trashed the film's script, specifically one gratuitous sex scene involving Ripley.:
We had a great talk about the script that I was pretty critical of. I said, "Eh, it’s pretty bleak, I don’t know about this love scene, would you really get it on while this thing is running around?" Anyway, we had a good talk.
It perhaps is for the best this scene didn't get added in, instead choosing to focus on the dynamics of the crew of the Nostromo before facing death at the hands of Xenomorph. While at the time this would have been considered against the entertainment element of the New Hollywood era that saw an increase in more mature material (as filmmakers sought to craft more realistic takes on people that strayed from the more glitzy Golden Age of Hollywood), this has become something many other directors have emulated in search of maintaining atmosphere. One such example was Danny Boyle's 2007 sci-fi Sunshine which originally saw Rose Byrne's character having a sex scene with the lead male role played by Cillian Murphy. This scene, similarly, was removed to maintain an isolated element among the crew as they drifted through space.
It goes to show sometimes that it's best to focus on engaging the audience over entertaining them, especially in a film that sets an almost immediate melancholic tone by depicting the crew of the Nostromo asleep and away from any kind of help. In addition, sexuality has often been used in the franchise in a twisted horror sense, with the Xenomorph given an androgynous look while H.R. Giger's concept designs wished to create an unsettling fusion of flesh and machinery with the almost biomechanical look of the creature. So, I guess given the way people are put in sacs and used as incubators for chestbursting aliens...would you have really wanted a sex scene? Please...it was rhetorical. Stay tuned!