What Could Have Been #17 | Aliens

What Could Have Been #17 | Aliens

As a fan of film, I love exploring behind the scenes. Reading about the production process, the special effects and the stories of what could have been.

Aliens. One of the most iconic science fiction films of the 1980’s and one of those rare cases where the sequel surpasses the original film. Director James Cameron took the alien creature and ramped up the tension by not having just one but hundreds of the nasty critters running around.

The film contains many great characters but the ones that most people remember are the four survivors at the end of the picture, Ripley, Newt, Bishop and the colonial marine, Hicks.

Hicks was played by actor Michael Biehn but he was bought in to replace James Remar. The film had already begun principle photography and was two weeks into the shoot. In an interview with Den Of Geek, Michael recalls the phone call from his agent,

I got called by [producer] Gale Hurd on the Friday night checking my passport was in order. I said yes, and I was shooting Monday morning. Which meant that I didn’t have to do that three weeks of rehearsal period, before the movie started, where they did the round table reading, and they would take all the soldiers out and march them over and over again, and have all the dinners

The rest as they say, is history. But why was Remar recast? In an interview on the Sidebar podcast four years ago, Remar said,

I was initially cast as Corporal Hicks, and I was fired after a couple weeks of filming because I got busted for possession of drugs, and Michael Biehn replaced me … Y’know, I got to talk with Cameron over the years and I really love the guy. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to work with him again but, y’know, he said I would. And he expressed that, and knows that I’ve been sober all this time and I like what the guy does, I like him … It was an honour to get started, I just wasn’t focused and I f**ked it up … getting fired from Aliens alienated me from [Walter Hill] for twelve years, he didn’t hire me again for twelve years. And I know why – because I made him look bad. Y’know, it was f**ked up.

The 2010 release of the Alien Anthology on Bluray was to include an extra entitled, “Dailies: James Remar as Hicks Enhancement Pod”. Presumably this would have been the first time anyone had seen footage featuring Remar as Hicks. Unfortunately for reasons unknown this extra was pulled at the last minute from a request by Lightstorm (James Cameron’s production company).

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However Remar is still in the film for one shot. When you first see the interior of the alien hive and the camera pans down to reveal the colonial marines, that shot includes Remar as Hicks albeit the back of his head. A still from that shot is shown below so you can see for yourself the next time you watch the film.


The only other available media is this collection of black and white photos. Click the picture for a higher resolution copy.


John Abbitt

About the author | John Abbitt

@UKFilmNerd | John loves film, and he used to write for his own website, The Tydirium Hangar Bay, in the late 1990s. Whilst that website became lost in the passages of time, John's love of film did not. He's back, writing for The Unheard Nerd.

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