HN Entertainment’s Nicholas Whitcomb was able to speak to Australian actor Ben Rigby earlier this week about how he got his start in the business and his recent work in Hollywood including a small role in Legendary’s upcoming Godzilla vs Kong.
One of the segments from the interview included his experience working on Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant where Ben explains how the auditioning process went, a two-week boot camp the actors playing security forces undertook before filming and working with Ridley Scott during the shoot.
HN: With Alien: Covenant, what was that like auditioning?
RIGBY: “It was very covert, we even got dummy sides, as actors you’ll get your audition lines sent, even the piece that we had to read wasn’t from that script. So, you don’t really know what character you’re going for, you’re just going for a wide amount of characters.”
“I went for that and I didn’t hear for three months. At first it was like: ‘No, we’re moving on, we don’t want him’. Then three months later, I got a phone call saying I got a role. And I was like: ‘What the fuck?…In what, in what?’.”
“That was a really big step up from independent stuff to being in the pool for blockbusters and big TV. But I still try to go back and do independent theatre or film as much as I can.”
Then moving on to Covenant’s New Zealand filming location in the very beautiful Milford Sound, Rigby was a little shocked to see the exact location they had used for Covenant, show up in the opening scene for Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
HN: One of the things that I really liked about Alien: Covenant was that is was an Alien movie but it was sort of set on a lush planet. Can you talk about that experience filming in Milford Sound, New Zealand?
RIGBY: “It was, it was towards the south of the south island of New Zealand, which was stunning. They shot a lot of The Lord of The Rings there and a lot of the areal shots were pretty much where we shot.”
“Weirdly, I watched Mission: Impossible – Fallout last year and there was this shot at the very start of that film with [Tom Cruise] and Michelle Monaghan, and I was like: ‘That place looks really familiar…it’s Milford Sound!’.”
“But yeah, it was amazing I had always wanted to go there because my dad actually lived there with my mum before I was born…I would go on these hikes and send my dad these photos of these places he had been to before I was born it was really bizarre.”
“Especially where the lander is, where we walked out of, the tide was so bizarre like it was almost this alien planet. We’d walk out in the morning and it would be knee deep water they have us in these small cargo ships and them pushing us out. They were in the water, we weren’t. Because we couldn’t get our costumes wet. They’d push us out and we’d be on this man-made lander thing which was actually there and by the afternoon or a couple of hours that tide had fully gone out.”
HN: I wanted to ask, Ridley Scott tends to give people different backgrounds for characters in his films and with Alien: Covenant there was the established plot point of having them couples. Did you have any specific character background before for Ledward?
RIGBY: “No, not really. Because I had such a small role on paper, it was really just a big death. Ridley would come in during the makeup stuff and I’d ask him: ‘Can I do this or can I do that?’ and he would be: ‘Of course, that’s great’. Then he’d come up on the spot but before we started filming he was like: ‘Make it a clear concept of what you want your character to be and then if it works it works and if then not we’ll figure something out’.”
“But luckily we didn’t have to figure anything out.”
“I was like: ‘This guy [my character] is a dick, cool!’. He’s smoking on a planet where he shouldn’t be, so I’m going to make him as dicky as possible. You’d kind of want him to die in a way.”
HN: Did your character have a partner since a lot of the crew were couples, did he have a partner in cryo-sleep?
RIGBY: “We’d joke about that like everyone else had a partner but me. But I think because we were part of the protection of the squad we weren’t necessarily in couples, we weren’t there to reproduce we were there just to protect the people that could.”
While Ben admitted his character doesn’t even use his gun, he was still part of the team and meant he had to participate in a two-week boot camp to get the actors looking the part. Not to mention, the lengths the props teams went to make sure actors were able to able to customize their characters even down to what was in their backpacks.
HN: What kind of training did you guys do for the security force?
RIGBY: “We did a pretty intense boot camp. We had this full-on ex-New Zealand military guy kind of running us through the rings every day. It was two weeks of boot camp it doesn’t sound like much but every day from 8 [am] to 6 [pm] you’re doing full-on drills in these big sound studios with live blank ammunition and then you’re like taking the gun machinery apart and then putting them back together. I had never really fired a gun before, so it was kind of bizarre and amazing. Especially to get that in for a role and I didn’t even need to use a gun it was just so it could look like I knew what I was doing and because I was part of that crew anyway, you kind of have to partake in it.”
“The packs that we had on our backs they were fully stocked with everything that you would take on a mission, in case, because Ridley Scott likes to improvise and if you were perchance in a scene you had stopped and wanted to use anything that was in your pack you could. The people in the art department and props were like: ‘Hey, is there anything you want for your character?’. I had never been asked that before it was pretty amazing. That’s rare, they usually don’t ask actors what they want they just tell you [laughs].”
“While Ridley is like: ‘What do you want?’. It was an awesome breath of fresh air a director who genuinely thinks actors aren’t stupid.”
HN: And for Covenant, you shot some viral videos that came out during the lead up to the release of the film. What was that like filming those?
RIGBY: “That was cool, we kind of had it sprung on us. They’re all directed by Ridley Scott’s son Luke Scott, and they were fun. They were all pretty much loosely scripted but in the same vein, just say this or just have fun with it or whatever. We didn’t really know where they going or how much would be used, I’m glad that some of them were I really liked most of them.”
HN: I remember a lot of people saying that the Last Supper prologue should have been in the film.
RIGBY: “I know right? It was a nice precursor to the film but it would have been really nice to have it in as well.”
We’ll be posting more from our interview with Ben very soon where he talks about his recent experience working on James Mangold’s Logan follow up, the racing biopic titled Ford vs Ferarri which stars Christian Bale and Matt Damon.