There is a lot of talk these days about Lieutenant Ripley, mainly to make comparisons with Naru, the protagonist of ‘Predator: The Prey’. It’s not hard to see why she turns to the unforgettable character played by sigourney weaverbut what some of her supporters may not know is that Ripley’s character was originally a man.
From Martin Roby to Ripley
Obviously, that changed throughout the development of ‘Alien, the eighth passenger’, to the point that several actresses were auditioned for the role. Own Ridley Scott described thus his decision to change the gender of the character:
I thought, what would you think if Ripley was a woman? She would be the last person you think is going to survive. She is beautiful.
Come on, that according to Scott it was all due to a blow of effect towards the end of the film, but the truth is that the script was written in such a way that it allowed to introduce such an important change without having to affect the whole too much. In fact, Dan O’Bannon made it clear that the initial idea was that they were all men, but that “the crew is unisex and all characters can be swapped for male or female“.
For now, the original name of the character was Martin Roby and Walter Hill states that it was he who proposed the idea of making that character Ripley – O’Bannon never liked that possibility too much because he considered having attractive female characters as a cliché – to the point of rejecting the proposal to make a woman of Dallas:
Producer David Giler had suggested that the captain be a woman. I tried, but I thought the money was on the survivor being a woman.
The funny thing is that Ripley was still a man when Fox greenlit the movie. the filmmaker himself would affirm years after not a single line of dialogue was changed when the character became a woman, hard thing to believe considering how publicized many alterations were that the script would still undergo, including its original dark ending.