The Stan Winston School of Character Arts recently published an article discussing the building of the full size Queen puppet from Aliens. While huge fans of the film may have seen some footage and photos from previously released “making of” features, we have never before seen photos of the Alien Queen being built by Stan Winston Studio.
“Whereas Cameron had relied on stop-motion animation for wide ambulatory shots of his full-body endoskeleton in THE TERMINATOR, he intended to shoot his queen alien live and full- size, interacting with the actors as much as possible. “Jim had seen what we could do with puppets on Terminator,” Stan Winston observed, “and so it made perfect sense that he thought of puppeteering techniques when he needed a way to realize the alien queen. But, even so, it was a huge leap of faith to believe that we could build a fourteen-foot-tall, acting puppet.”
Cameron conceived a radical approach to puppeteering her, which would involve hanging the creature from an overhead crane and stationing two stunt men inside the mid-section to operate the puppet’s four arms. Other key functions would be controlled through external rods, wires and hydraulics. “When Jim first came to me with this idea of putting two guys inside a giant alien queen suit,” Winston admitted, “I thought, ‘This man is out of his mind.’ Nothing like that had been done before. But in the next moment, I realized that if he had imagined it, we could probably do it.”
“The alien queen required up to eight operators, all coordinating their efforts to create an organic performance that seemed to come from a single mind. The conductor of that puppeteering orchestra was Stan Winston. “Stan taught all of us to think of puppeteering a performance as music,” veteran Stan Winston Studio mechanical designer, Richard Landon, commented”
We’ve included a huge photo gallery of behind-the-scenes photos below. For additional information on the creation process, visit: https://www.stanwinstonschool.com/blog/aliens-alien-queen-full-size-puppet