INTERVIEW: Alien: Covenant’s Benjamin Rigby On Entering Xenomorph Territory And Working With Ridley Scott.
Blood, Xenomorphs, and more blood – the words that some may use to describe Alien: Covenant. In fact, it’s a film based on a much wider meaning. Where do we come from? What’s our purpose? The return of Ridley Scott’s cinematic (and bloody disgusting) horror conventions, mixed with a hint of philosophy have made fans gush about the Alien franchise once again.
Actors dream about having the opportunity to work on films that create such love and meaning for fans around the world. For Benjamin Rigby, that dream became a reality since starring in Scott’s Alien: Covenant. And it seems with the global success of the film, his life is probably going to change. I talked to the Australian actor about all things Covenant related, Ridley Scott and his passion for photography.
Congrats on the film! Alien: Covenant is your second debut in a film, how does it feel to be a part of a franchise this successful?
Thanks so much. Being a part of this film franchise still feels literally out of this world. I’m just so lucky to have had this amazing opportunity and I need to keep pinching myself to make sure it’s real. Being a part of this universe is an absolute privilege and something that every actors dreams of.
The sets look insane and absolutely terrifying, what was it like to see Ridley’s visions and idea’s for the film come to life whilst you were filming? Did you have a particular favourite set or location that you filmed at?
The sets are just absolutely meticulously designed and executed. Ridley storyboards everything at the start, so he has just such a clear idea of how he wants each and every aspect of the film to look from start to finish and this comes across in every aspect of the set design. There aren’t many shortcuts, so you’re not having to pretend things are there as much as you’d expect. My favourite location would definitely be where we filmed in New Zealand, but I very much enjoyed the lander storm set. We were literally strapped into our seat belts in this raised lander simulator. The DOP’s and crew were also strapped into the ground to prevent them from flailing about. I’d never seen anything like it.
In the original Alien we had John Hurt’s iconic chestburster scene but in Covenant we see your character, Ledward experience something a lot more nightmarish – the backburster. What was the process like filming it?
This process was massive. I was in full dead make up for about a week. I’d get in the make-up chair around 5am, and it would take 2-4 hours every day, depending on the level of sickness. That whole med bay sequence was quite physically draining from all the convulsing, but when you have the late John hurt’s pivotal scene lurking in the back of your brain, you really just have to go for it and hope you can bring something entirely new to the process.
This film has an all-star cast. What was it like working with the likes of Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup? Did you learn much from them?
It was so brilliant to get to meet these actors I have followed and loved for years, let alone work with them. I wanted to be Billy Crudup when I was ten, so that was certainly a mind-blowing experience. Everybody was just so lovely and accommodating, and they truly are so professional. The choices they all made on set were sometimes so impressively bold, and in turn I felt I could make these bold choices with my character as well. It was a really safe and accepting set, and Ridley is such an actor’s director that we all were given the green light to improvise and play with ideas.
You’re also a talented photographer having just posted a bunch of photos from filming onto Instagram. Did you find the experience of working as an actor whilst on location in New Zealand inspiring in terms of how your work as a photographer?
Travelling anywhere is always great for any photographer, or person for that matter. I tend to find a lot of inspiration in new places. Having the luxury of going to New Zealand was one thing, but going to New Zealand on this film was the absolute best opportunity to document the backstage process of this film and I’m so lucky I got to blend my two passions simultaneously.
What’s next for you?
I’m heading back to Los Angeles soon to hunt for the next job. In the meantime, I’ve written a few short films that I plan to make over the next six months in between auditions and other potential work. Other than that, I’ll be taking a lot of photographs, and generally documenting my time until that next gig comes along, and then obviously on set when it does!
Check out Benjamin’s on-set photography below:
Alien: Covenant is in cinema’s NOW. Check out our review here.