HN Entertainment’s Nicholas Whitcomb continued to speak with creature designer Carlos Huante now pivoting to his work on Alien: Covenant, where he talks about the production delay, some earlier versions that included a very much alive Elizabeth Shaw, some other creatures David was tinkering with along with a final battle between the Xenomorph and a bunch of Neomorphs. He also reveals one of the original intentions of the Engineers for creating the Xenomorphs in previous incarnations which would make a lot of sense considering the black goo is referred to as a “weapon of mass destruction” in Prometheus.
HN: Moving on to Alien: Covenant, could talk about what the early discussions on that film were? I know there was artwork where there were other animals and another sort of hybrid experiments that David was doing.
HUANTE: “Yes, well there are two versions of Covenant..the first one had more creatures in it…that was all edited out in the second version…So we had started Paradise which is the first version of Covenant and we were going, all-in already and It stopped right as we were just picking up steam. I got a call from [production designer] Arthur Max.. ‘Carlos are you sitting down?’….’Um, why? I say. I was just out to lunch with a friend of mine, what?’ Don’t tell me ……’How long have you’ve been working in this industry?…’ I say ok tell me, what?’…he says Well, Fassbender was going off to do another movie and so they weren’t going to have him anymore and so they decided to put the movie on hold. I’m telling him ‘Come on man, you’re gonna tell me I have to go look for another job now? I’m totally into this one, don’t do that’…’Don’t worry, he says we’ll call you back it may take a year’….’Okay, fine’.”
“So it goes away. But in that version we had this pitbull kind of alien dog named ‘Bug’ that David had running around loose on the Engineer planet and then he had created these Meerkats and that’s why I called the little white things [Covenant’s version of the Neomorphs] Meerkats because that’s what they reminded me of from the old story.. David, in the old script, had an army of Meerkats that were super violent. They were not normal. They would open their mouths to reveal that all their teeth were individually attached to a finger so they had this sort of hand of teeth inside of their mouth. A precursor of things to come. showing the projecting mouth thing already starting to happen in David’s creation there.”
Here are some of Carlos’ designs for Bug and the Meerkats.
“I didn’t know if it’s what Ridley was going for, that David was going to become the Devil but that’s what it was sounding like that he was the Devil that got ahold of Paradise and he’s now creating his Nephilim, his hybrids, and he even started to do experiments on some of the Engineers. It’s wrong in many ways, right, that the creation of the creation has come in to dominate you…story-wise back to Prometheus there was still no evidence that Engineers had anything to do with Earth through the whole film but for some reason, everyone was stupid enough to say ‘They created us’ because it has similar DNA..There was a lot of stupid talk in those movies.”
HN: That was more of a hypothesis since it was never confirmed [in Prometheus].
HUANTE: “There’s no reason to think that and then Charlie’s idea that ‘Anyone can create life. All you need is DNA’… well, that’s not ‘all you need’ that’s a huge one. You’re supposed to be a scientist.”
“I was gathering from what I was reading that obviously, they called it Paradise Lost. So It was going to be a science fiction version of Paradise Lost and that’s what I was kind of gathering even from the time we were working on Prometheus is that these are giants like the Nephilim, the created beings by these other aliens that had created these giants to infect humanity by mixing with them that’s kind of the old biblical story. The fallen angels and the Nephilim, and that’s what I thought he was trying to tell. And I thought ‘Man, this could be the coolest thing ever. No one would ever go into this area of the bible’…and then as in Paradise Lost David would essentially become the devil.”
“But I still don’t know where that movie was going because I don’t know if a third one is going to get made. But there were other creatures in there, there were supposed to be a bunch of experimental creatures…Neomorphs, the giant engineer creature, the many failed experiments of David, and the Primitive Xenomorph .”
While reassuring us that he knows what Ridley Scott was going for and that Ridley is the big dog, in Carlos’ humble opinion from a design standpoint that the environments could have been more fantastical/out-there taking cues from LV-426 and the established Engineer architecture used in Prometheus. Also mentioning that the Engineers should have been more beautiful and statuesque in the film looking less “goofy” and more “larger than life”. You can tell from some of his artwork on Alien: Covenant that he really wanted to try some interesting things with the planet’s plants as well as creatures. Suggesting that the environment he had imagined would be more beautiful almost like a Wizard of Oz-type colorful landscape which is sort of re-enforced by some of his botanical designs for Paradise.
HUANTE: “They kind of watered down that film…they didn’t want it to become a monster movie and I thought it was going to be a little more fantastic and they brought it down to a more terrestrial environment which I thought looked too conventional in the design of the environment. If it were me I’d want to see more of the acid burned stone formation which we can reference here on Earth in the Tundra valley. Some of the big stones in the valleys are blown-out into hollowed out spheres looking very Alien. Why did we have to go so conventional on a planet like this?”
HN: It looked like there was a bigger role planned for the Engineers originally was that ever discussed?
HUANTE: “Prior to the black goo genocide, I know that in the script I had, the early script, there was the story between Shaw and David, and how and why David got reassembled. That story happens at the beginning of the film but they kind of bypassed all of that which makes it a little more horrific in a way. Because it shows how screwed up of a sociopath the character [of David] is, I mean the character is a sociopath from the get-go. He has intelligence and he knows the rules but he has absolutely no feeling at all.”
“The new version of David in Covenant, Walter, seemed more human than David did, there’s a weird sort of description going on there wherein the film David asserts that he is more human because he thinks of himself and creates and Walter is more of a robot and less human. Well, Walter seemed more human because he had restraint and David had absolutely no restraint and didn’t care for anything living at all. That’s a strange character description but of course, David is a Damaged being fostered and programmed by a damaged creator… I just wanted David dead already [in Alien: Covenant].”
It sounds like Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw was going to be very much alive in one incarnation of Covenant, and we’re sad that version didn’t come together with her instead of returning in the movie being killed off-screen.
HN: Fans were really upset that Elizabeth Shaw’s character was sort of killed off in between films was she ever part of the story more?
HUANTE: “In the first version of what was called Paradise/Prometheus 2, Shaw was alive. They find her and she’s been hiding from David the whole time and she helps them escape. I told Ridley my wife and mother-in-law, who are strong characters themselves, they loved the Shaw character and the actress (Noomi Rapace) more than any other characters in the film and they’re not science fiction people, but they liked the film because of Noomi. I think it was a studio call as to why she didn’t return. What a shame”
“So in the first version of Covenant called Paradise, she was hiding in the catacombs from David under the city and the story was that on her trip to the homeworld she got lonely and she had David hanging outside the ship, she didn’t want anything to do with him. But she still had to talk to him. Eventually, she ends up bringing his body in and reattaching him as they become friends during this trip. He ends up having affection for her in a friendship way.”
“So they end up going to the city and that’s when David looks at her and tells that story ‘Do you trust me, do you trust that I love you and everything I’m going to do from this point on is because of you and that’s all to protect you’…she looks at him and says ‘Okay, yes I do’ so then he turns around and kills all the Engineers on the planet. It’s his own twisted way of vengeance for her, he kills the planet. She is like ‘Hey, I wanted to talk to these people’ but too late the whole planet is polluted now and everyone on the planet dies.”
“The first version of the xenomorph did show up at the end and the Neomorphs and the Xenomorph have a fight. There was supposed to be a monster fight at the end of the film as they are chasing the crew to get to the ship. So as they’re running to another ship they’re being chased by the Neomorphs and then this Xenomorph shows up and it’s fighting and killing these other creatures because it hates them, it hates everything.”
“The idea for the Xenomorph from the Prometheus era of the film series was that it was a creation of the Engineers, the original idea, made to wipe off a planet of life and then to wipe itself off because it [xeno/neomorph] has such hostility towards anything living even itself and that it would wipe off a planet and wipe itself off and leaving nothing there. Of course, all seems to have changed with Covenant.”
When asked about if he knew where it could have gone next after Alien: Covenant, Carlos wasn’t sure.
HUANTE: “I have no idea where it’s going anymore.”
However, he’s still ready and able to do anything Alien related if called upon.
HUANTE: “I think they’re doing a TV show or something right now. Nobody has called me about that even though I have no confidence that TV could pull something like that off I’d still like to work on it because that world is a fun place to play around in.”
Here are some fun original personal/commission pieces Carlos has done that weren’t for any of the actual films proving that he sure has a lot left in him idea-wise for future projects if they ever want more alien designs from him.
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Here’s the Neomorph queen in progress .. u can see the final when it shows up at Morpheus Gallery by next week..Monsters as art…sorry.. the music is one of my tracks found here https://soundcloud.com/carlosh-2/sets/tethys. Tracks I made for my artwork for Covenant.. it was my “Covenant” score…Titan was my “Prometheus” score
Please take a moment to follow Carlos Huante at his two Instagram accounts @carlos_huante and @galleryanatom to get a wonderful glimpse into the world of Carlos as he regularly posts his stunning artwork there.