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Paul's commentary-Alien 3

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Joined: 09 Feb 2006
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Location: Ontario Canada

PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:24 pm    Post subject: Paul's commentary-Alien 3 Reply with quote

I wrote down as best I could most of Paul's commentary and a few others that was on the Alien 3 commentary, found on the Alien Qudrilogy dvd set. It gives a good idea of how things went for this movie, and some of the reasons it was not well received here, I guess.

This dvd had an Assembly cut (scenes added back in that had been cut from the theatrical release) of the movie Alien 3. Many include Golic's scenes, that had been butchered out. The scenes that were put back in for this assembly cut, were not edited for sound by the director David Fincher, so they are hard to hear.


Paul’s commentary on the Assembly Cut of Alien 3.

My name is Paul McGann, I play Gollic in Alien Cubed, as they were fond of calling it. (Laughter). It’s fairly standard practice on such a big venture, that things are going to change. At that point, I never worked on anything on that scale. But there seemed to be, these characters moving around, particularly when Fincher was there, moving around in unison watching him—or, watching us. And the shenanigans and goings on behind the scenes tends to be kept from the actors. But we tended to be well aware of the atmosphere and the changes were coming down from on high, and uh—that said, the atmosphere was good. You know, if there were changes in the strand of the story then we’d get decent warning. But it became apparent after just a couple of weeks that there was a chance that that sequence that we just shot may not make it. So we’re going to shoot another version of it. You know, it seemed expensive.

I mean, just unsure, I—when I first met Fincher, Fincher was incredibly energetic. You know, it was the start of this twelve month process. I remember seeing him twelve months later in Los Angeles, towards the end of the thing and he was exhausted, quite naturally. But at that time, meeting him, he was full of beans, full of ideas. Don’t forget, Walter Hill, David Gile, these people were very experienced filmmakers themselves, you know, they were writers. You know any of the changes that were happening was the advice that Fincher was receiving was from highly experienced people.

His ideas seemed very cinematic, even then he’d be joking and say, Yeah, this is a Hitchcock-ian bit, and here comes John Ford, and there were these little nods. And there was a lovely energy, the energy of somebody confident and someone who’se a fan.

“I think that they were afraid to let the movie be as Fincher wanted, on other levels than just the fear level, and the action level. What David was after, was something very significant in the sense that when there’s no meaning and no spiritualism and you know that the odds are stacked against you, how do you cope in that environment? And the studio was afraid of it.” --Alien 3 Music Composer

“The comraderie with these particular actors, because a lot of them—we have similar training and stage experience so I’ve actually felt more at home with this cast than any of them.” - Sigourney Weaver

"I liked Sigourney Weaver, she was clever, charming, intelligent you know, she seemed, um—I even liked the impression that she was more in fact, for theatre in New York--- and literature, than this particular lark, you know. Um, she never said as much but I always got the impression that it was all slightly, not beneath her, but, um, movies were ok but, theatre is where it’s at. I liked that. We had some good conversations and she could give as good as she got, you know, as is well known. She palpably had power and control but she never wielded it, she never made you feel uncomfortable. No, she seemed charming, and good to work with. I mean a fine, a fine actor. But, you know, if she didn’t like you, you’d soon find out about it. But then, this was a professional scene, a professional outfit. I kinda liked her. She demanded respect, and she got it.

Ya know, these changes would come by, the script changes, we’d hear news from the front, and you take it in your stride. I know when my character, Gollic was concerned, um, there was this whole other subplot, this untold strand of the story, for people who may not have seen it. When we shot the footage, you know Gollic, he escapes from the sanitorium, the hospital wing. He breaks out of there, he kills somebody, and he goes to where the monster is incarcerated and manages to free the monster to appeal to the monster, and to join forces. Ya know, you and me, monster, we could go and kill them all, they all deserve to die, kind of scene. And we shot this scene. Um, I mean this is not again, nothing unusual for a picture of this scale. We shot two or three different endings. You know, if you were undecided, you would shoot the thing two or three different ways and then decide later. It’s fairly standard. But it kept you on your toes. And you could run a sweeps, as to which end you were going to use. (Laughing) If you were lucky it might be yours. And you’d feature in this thing. It’s like a multiple choice thing.

I worked on a Spielberg picture once and it was exactly the same circumstance. Ya know, Spielberg was good enough to call on the telephone and say “You know how I told you we were shooting three different pictures at once? You aint in the final picture.” But what can you say? You know, you enjoy the experience. You put it down to experience. It might be A for this picture aggregately for 59 minutes, or would it be B? Four and a half minutes? You know, most of my footage will end up on the floor. (Laughing) Same gig, you know, it’s just down to luck.

I remember, I was sent into the dressing room for a lie down, and he (Fincher) came in an hour later, uh—and he said, listen, drop the accent, so there’s a scene, I’ve watched the picture where in one scene I’m sounding like God knows who, Charles Manson, or Charles Manson’s British cousin, and then I’m sounding like um, some fella from Liverpool—in a straight jacket. Happy days. (Grins)

You know the atmosphere was good. We laughed a lot and it was boys own stuff. There were no fee-murs, except for Sigourney. You know, I just remember the atmosphere was very male, which does drive you nuts after three or four months of it. It was like being a kid. But if you can’t generate that kind of –that vibe, and Fincher understood that absolutely. That’s what makes him a great director, I think. He understands that acting is play, in the end you generate this atmosphere and you eschew the actors out. I’m convinced of it. That’s how it went.

I thought he did fantastically well, just on a personal level, to hang on to his confidence and his style. I think he’s been vindicated as well. I mean, from not only what I could see of the picture was good, and I think as well, I’m glad to see that, you know the opinion of it, amongst viewers and just ordinary people, in the last ten years, seems to have grown. Ya know, people’s perception of it with regard to its qualities, as actually improved. It’s become a picture which is now viewed as very under-rated. Years later, it’s held up, it’s held up well." - Paul

“Gollic had a Renfield to Dracula relationship, which I thought was interesting. When Gollic goes and let’s the alien out, but you can’t see it. They cut that out. I cannot remember why they didn’t want that in. I wish I could remember who suggested it should come out. It must have been insisted upon, by the front office. It became a real fight between the office and the cutting room. I bet you don’t hear this kind of love and warmth on the other audio tracks (Alien 1,2 & 4) (Laughter)”-- Film editor.

“I think that there are instances where there are parts that don’t make it into the final product of the film. I think one major sequence was where they actually capture the alien in a room, and one of the prisoners goes down and frees the alien. And it was shot and it worked great.” John Landau—Fox Exec (who doesn’t even know the NAME of the character—GOLIC-You great fool!

“I don’t know why the edict came down that we had to lose it. Cause we fought for it endlessly.” - Film Editor

“They wanted Gollic, ya know, to wig out, strike somebody and he breaks out of this hospital, runs amok, goes to find the monster, who by this point is trapped, and he’s meant to release this monster, (grins) team up with the thing, and go kill Ripley! (Really grinning) Fantastic! I’ll take the part! Most of that has disappeared. I had friends say, ya know, we saw you in one scene and then you kind of disappeared. Nobody knows where you quite disappear to which….is a bit of a mistake.” -- Paul

“In the context of the whole of the movie, when you take this mythic creature and you’re able to contain it, it loses some of its threat.” - John Landau

“Having caught that alien, made all the next part of the film more powerful. Cause you knew it was going to come out, but you just didn’t know when. And then losing this Gollic character, in and out” - Editor shrugs, “it was mindless.”

“I don’t know what the collective noun for producers is, but phalanx or a watch but there seemed to be these characters moving around. Particularly when Fincher was there, moving around the floor in unison watching him, watching us.” - Paul

“Well, I think one of the problems was that he had to be his own producer. After these long demanding days, he would have to get on the phone and talk to the brass at Fox and they’d be saying, don’t shoot the next day, we want to cut that, and I thought it was quite arbitrary.” - Sigourney Weaver

“Fincher tended to keep all the tribulations that was going on upstairs from behind the scenes. He kept it from us. He did confide more, I know I learned later, in Brian Glover, he was closer to Brian, and Brian was lovely and um, I think he kept Fincher’s morale up as well, ha know? Cause you forget all your – and for all the bravura and bravado and youth, and all the energy in the world, ye know when you get day ins, day outs, the kind of grief he was getting---just the pressure, I think he did fantastically well just to keep a smile on his face.” - Paul

“In the US, it wasn’t immediately, universally loved and accepted because, I think, of the tone of it. Of the tone that Fincher had insisted on. But look at it! It’s important, this was downbeat. I would contend this, that it was David Fincher’s style which was slightly ahead of the game, I’ve got a feeling he’s vindicated. Ye know, shooting in that style.” -- Paul
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