MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Michael Biehn was paid more for NOT starring in Alien3 than he was for starring in Aliens.
In the hit film, Aliens, Michael Biehn filled in for James Remar at the last minute and took over the lead male role of Corporal Dwayne Hicks, the head of the Colonial Space Marine unit that accompanies Ellen Ripley on a mission to a space colony that had been overrun by aliens. Hicks had a sort of flirtation thing going on with Ripley, as he taught her how to shoot…
Later in the movie, though, Ripley saves Hicks’ life while fighting against an Alien Queen. At the end of the movie, Ripley, Hicks and a little girl at the colony, Newt, are the only human survivors of the battle against the aliens. They go into cryogenic storage and head home.
However, in the opening of the sequel film, Alien3 (technically Alien cubed), with director David Fincher taking over from James Cameron, both Newt and Hicks are killed off while in suspended animation and only Ripley survives when their ship lands on a prison planet (not counting Bishop, the android who also survived the end of Aliens).
Biehn, obviously hoping that he would continue on in the franchise, seeing as how it is always nice as an actor to be part of a successful franchise, was upset that he was not going to be in Alien3. However, he was soon upset about something else entirely. He recalled to AICN:
The only way I was involved was I was shooting another movie in Los Angeles working with a producer named Raffaella De Laurentiis and Raffaella took off during our shoot, went over to England and came back and she said to me jokingly “I saw you over in England” and I said “What do you mean?” She said “I was at Pinewood Studios and I saw you over there.” “What are you talking about?” “Your character, Hicks, I saw him. He was over there.” “What?!? Really?” She said, “Yeah, it’s you…” They had done a face cast on me because they had to do those burns on my face you know… “And it’s you and your chest is burst open and obviously the aliens have come out of your chest.” I’m like “Oh really? I didn’t know anything about that.”
So I called my agent up and he called up Fox and said, “You can’t use Michael’s image.” They said, “Okay, we’ll get back to you.” I got a call from David Fincher saying “Please, can we just… We’d really like to use your character.” And first of all I was like “F**k you for not putting me in the movie.”
Now, you see, just recently at the time (as we covered in this old Movie Legends Revealed), actors were given special rights when it came to their image. Their image could not appear in films without their permission. So Biehn now could deny the usage of his image in the film if he wanted.
His discussion with Fincher, though, continued:
Yeah, I was pretty pissed off and “F**k you for even calling me, so go f**k yourself.” Now I wish I hadn’t, because now he’s (laughs)… Now he’s “David Fincher,” but I was upset at the fact that I was not in the new movie. What I said was “F**k you for having that happen to my character.” There was no way I would ever let that character have a monster come bursting out of his chest, so you can forget about that happening. Jim wasn’t happy about that either, so they dropped that idea and then they came back and they said “We want to use your picture” and I said “Okay, you can use my picture. It’s going to cost you and it’s going to cost you a lot.”
So they paid me a lot of money to use my picture in that movie. It was really probably the most disappointing moment in my career when I look at like “Jeez, I could have been a part of a franchise that went like four or five deep and made a lot of money and really had been able to…”
So his image is used in the film…
From the sounds of it, it does not sound like he got paid MORE, as you would imagine that Biehn would just say, “I got paid more than I got paid to do Aliens,” so I think it is more likely that it was just a very sizable fee. I’ve yet to see a good quote from anyone saying it was MORE than he got paid to do Aliens, so I’m going to go with the legend as…
STATUS: Likely Technically False, but True that he got paid a lot to NOT be in the sequel, which is really the main takeaway here.
Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film.
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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