The Stars of 'Alien': Where Are They Now?

3:43 PM 5/25/2019

by Abbey White

Ridley Scott's beloved science-fiction horror film about a crew's deadly run-in with a terrifying extraterrestrial hit theaters May 25, 1979.


It's been 40 years since Alien, Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror film about a space crew that comes face-to-face with a terrifyingly aggressive extraterrestrial, hit theaters.

Released May 25, 1979, the film stars Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, a member of a seven-person cargo ship crew whose return mission is forced to a halt when a mysterious transmission from a nearby moon awakens the team from their stasis. Answering the call at the command of company policy and their captain, Tom Skerritt's Dallas, they explore the moon to find the signal's source. In the process, Ripley discovers it's not a message of distress but of warning right before her fellow crewmember Kane (John Hurt) is attacked by something he discovered while searching an abandoned ship. However, when the crew decides to bring Kane back to the ship to remove the creature, the return home turns into a fight to survive a deadly alien. 

The first in what would become a long-running franchise for Scott, Alien was written by Dan O'Bannon and also stars Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton and Bolaji Badejo, who died in 1992, as the memorable extraterrestrial. In honor of the movie's 40th anniversary, 20th Century Fox released six Alien-inspired short films beginning in late March. That same month a New Jersey high school's stage rendition of the film went viral, with Weaver making a surprise visit to the school drama club's encore performance in late April. 

Read on for more of what the stars of Alien have been up to since the film was released.

  • Sigourney Weaver (Ripley)

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    Weaver starred as Ripley, a warrant officer on the Nostromo who leads the crew in their mission to kill, and eventually simply escape, a deadly alien species that's made its way onto their freight ship. Following her now iconic performance, which marked Weaver's first leading role in a motion picture, she went on to appear in several more Alien franchise films, including AliensAlien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. She has also appeared in a number of other critically acclaimed or cult-favorite films, including Ghostbusters, Gorillas in the Mist, Working Girl, Galaxy Quest, Holes and Avatar. She has also lent her voice to several animated films, including Finding Dory, The Tale of Despereaux and Wall-E. Her television roles have included starring as Secretary of State Elaine Barrish in USA's Political Animals and as The Defenders' Alexandra Reid. Weaver is expected to appear in all four of James Cameron's planned follow-ups to Avatar

  • Tom Skerritt (Dallas)

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    Tom Skerritt played Arthur Dallas, the short-fused, sharp-tongued captain of the Nostromo. Dallas raised suspicions early on about a last-minute crewmember switch and helped carry out Ripley's plan to stop the ship's aggressive extraterrestrial stowaway. Skerritt had worked long before his starring role in the Ridley Scott film, but in the years after, he would appear in several other notable horror films, including Poltergeist III and Stephen King's The Dead Zone. Other films include Top Gun, Steel Magnolias, A River Runs Through It and Contact. He's had several small-screen appearances as well on Cheers, Picket Fences, Will & Grace, The West Wing, Brothers & Sisters and The Good Wife. Skerritt's next project, a starring role in the screen adaptation of David Guterson's best-selling book East of the Mountains, will be produced and distributed by Heyou Media, a cross-platform entertainment company the actor founded. 

  • Ian Holm (Ash)

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    Ian Holm portrayed Ash, Nostromo's shifty, last-minute crew addition, whose role in the Xenomorph's discovery becomes clear much too late. The Academy Award-nominated, Tony and BAFTA-winning English actor was in the Royal Shakespeare Company before starring in the Ridley Scott classic. Knighted in 1988, the actor counts among his most notable roles the part of Bilbo Baggins in the high-fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings and its prequel series, The Hobbit. His other major big-screen appearances are in Hamlet, Kafka, The Fifth Element, Garden State, The Day After Tomorrow, Strangers With Candy and The Aviator. Holm also starred as the pocket-size patriarch of the Clock family in the TV miniseries The Borrowers and its follow-up, The Return of the Borrowers.

  • Yaphet Kotto (Parker)

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    Yaphet Kotto played Parker, the freight vessel's chief engineer whose raillery turns dark and desperate as the alien creature begins picking off his fellow crewmembers. Prior to his role in Alien, Kotto directed, wrote and starred in the crime drama The Limit before appearing in the Roger Moore Bond film Live and Let Die and the LeVar Burton-led Roots miniseries. After Alien, Kotto appeared with Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Running Man, in the Robert De Niro-led Midnight Run and alongside Donald Sutherland in The Puppet Masters. Kotto has also had guest roles on TV series like Fantasy Island, The A-Team, Hill Street Blues, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Wire. His leading small-screen roles were in army drama For Love and Honor and the police procedural Homicide: Life on the Street.

  • Veronica Cartwright (Lambert)

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    Nostromo's jittery navigator Joan Lambert, played by Cartwright, is the first to propose the crew flee instead of fighting the Xenomorph, but by the time everyone warms up to her plan, escape looks less and less likely. Post-Alien, Cartwright appeared in several films, including The Witches of Eastwick, Scary Movie 2, Money Talks, Kinsey and the Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig-led The Invasion. A more frequent performer on television, she's had roles on L.A. Law, The X-Files, Six Feet Under, Revenge, Grey's Anatomy and, more recently, Supernatural and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Cartwright's next project is Breaking Fast, a romantic dramedy about a gay Muslim man who finds love after heartbreak.

  • John Hurt (Kane)

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    As Kane, John Hurt helped make the "chestbuster" scene one of sci-fi horror's most iconic moments, but the actor also played another memorable character in a notable Hollywood franchise. The Alien actor starred as Mr. Ollivander, the famous wizarding world wandmaker, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and in both parts of the series' final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Hurt also acted in The Elephant Man, 1984, Spaceballs, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, The Skeleton Key, V for Vendetta, Hellboy, Melancholia, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Snowpiercer. He appeared in the BBC hit Dr. Who in addition to voicing The Dragon in Merlin and General Woundwort in the original Watership Down animated series. Hurt died in 2017 at the age of 77.

  • Harry Dean Stanton (Brett)

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    Stanton played Brett, the cargo ship's tight-lipped but affirming engineering technician who becomes the first crewmember to have an untimely face-to-face with the full-grown Xenomorph. Some of the actor's recent work includes Showtime's Twin Peaks and a leading role in 2017's Lucky, alongside fellow Alien alum Tom Skerritt and Twin Peaks co-creator David Lynch. Other post-Alien film projects include Repo ManRed DawnPretty in PinkTwisterFear and Loathing in Las VegasThe Green Mile and Seven Psychopaths. On the small screen, Stanton had a multi-season arc as Roman Grant on HBO's Big Love, in addition to smaller parts throughout his career on shows like Laverne & Shirley, Getting On, Two and a Half Men and Chuck. He died in 2017 at age 91.