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"Alien: Ore" (2019) Q & A, Steven Stiller, part two

As part of my ongoing Q & A series on "Alien: Ore," this two-part interview will be with Steven Stiller, the actor who played Kolton Brown. Here is part two of the interview. New interview segments (when available) post on Fridays at 2 p.m., EST.


Getting the Role (cont.)

Steven and his "Aspen Beer" t-shirt (courtesy of Greg Massie).

Nick: You and the other miners seem pretty dirty on-screen. How long did it take to get "camera ready" in terms of your costume and make-up?

Steven: The make up took a bit of time—like 20-30 minutes the first day, but after that they shaved it down a bit. Costumes, they dirtied up and they just kept adding to it each day (at least with me). In between takes they would constantly spray us down with fake sweat and condensation, which was ice cold. Not a lot of fun, but it kept us wide awake during these night shoots.


Nick: The actors in Aliens were allowed to "design" their own outfits, to some extent. Were you allowed to choose your own costume, too? Did this include that amazing shirt?

Steven: Yeah, I didn't have a lot of input into the costume design (although we did end up using  my shoes).  I made some small suggestions like wearing my overalls tied up at the waist so I had maximum exposure for the t-shirt. 'Course that meant I had bare arms in that cold cold mine. I wish I could take credit for the t-shirt, but that is a complete Sam-and-Kailey piece of fried gold. [editor's note: I think that shirt wins the "best t-shirt in an Alien movie" award, for me.]


Nick: Were you allowed to keep it after production ended?

Steven: I made mention a few times on set that I would have liked it—joked frequently about stealing it at the end—but when we were done I turned it over to costume to be cleaned and I'm not sure where it got to after that.


Nick: Do you actually drink beer? If so, what's your favorite brand?

Steven: Absolutely—my adult beverage of choice. Favorite brand or brands [would have to be] Carlsberg Pilsner, New Castle Brown Ale or Guinness.

Being on Set

Nick: How did it feel being on-set, in an Alien movie?

Steven: It was such an incredible feeling—to be on [a shoot] that so many people are familiar with yet something [that feels] new as well. Dream come true, to be sure, and to be able to share it with such a talented cast and crew was just icing on the cake.

Kolton, in the cold, damp mines (courtesy of Greg Massie).


Nick: Being in Brittania Mines, did you ever feel claustrophobic? Were you familiar with the mines, prior to working inside them?

Steven: Yeah, I have a mild case of claustrophobia, but I had worked on a film about ten years ago that we did two or three days in the mine. So I was a little bit prepared for it [this time].


Nick: Kolton is alone when he finds Al's body. How did it feel being in the shot, with no one else around except a mutilated corpse?

Steven: It was an awesome way to start [the shoot]. It was one of the first things they shot with me so I got to jump into the horror aspect of it right away.

Nick: The reaction shots show you looking at the camera. Was Al lying on the ground in front of you when those shots were filmed?

Steven: Calder Stewart who played Al was there for me to act off of, but there were a couple of shots where he was not available (plus that ground was very cold).

Calder Steward, behind the scenes with Sam, and two members of Vancouver FX (courtesy of Suzanne Friesen).


Nick: When leading Lorraine and the others to Al's corpse, you have to walk down a pretty lengthy mine shaft? How long did it take to walk from one end to the other, and how did it feel having to go first?

Steven: It was a bit of a walk, but allowed everyone to absorb the surroundings a bit. Going first was interesting. I'm taking people to see something horrific and the body of a friend, but at the same time I know the whole point is to show Lorraine because she's our leader and she'll know what to do. I think, we as a group look to her for answers—to make sense of the situation.



Nick: When Clark/Ambrose Gardener is pulled into the darkness, how many takes did that need before getting the perfect reaction? Did the crew try anything to make you guys jump or act surprised? [editor's note: In Aliens (1986), the APC catches on fire and Vasquez begins to choke. Actor Bill Paxton thought it was "great improv" by Jenette Goldstein, when in fact the fumes from the burning vehicle were slightly toxic and caused her to actually begin choking.]

Steven: They kept the number of takes really small. One reason is you don't want to do a stunt more time then you need to; and two, Ambrose and the stunt team did such an amazing job of it that it only took a couple of takes to nail it.  I think Ambrose did such a great job of his death scream—that’s all the group needed to get into the scene.


Nick: From your point of view, how difficult was the shoot, itself? Were there any accidents on set, any funny incidents?

Steven: The shoot was tough from the prospective of doing nights shoots and a couple of long days. That mine is no joke: It's really not a built set, so you have tripping hazards, water dripping and it was very cold. There were no accidents; they kept us very aware and as safe as possible. I think we had some weird bonding moments over the cold and being sprayed with the ice cold fake sweat. [editor's note: The extended shoot for Helm's Deep in The Two Towers (2002) took weeks to complete. It was so intense, cold and damp that the crew were given commemorative t-shirts after getting through it.] No one moment stands out but we joked around with each other, and everyone was very funny and easy going.

Kailey and Sam, with the cast and crew inside the mines (courtesy of Suzanne Friesen).

The Ending (spoilers)

Nick: It's a little hard to see what you're holding in the final scene of the movie. What was it? Did you get to choose your final weapon? If so, what made you choose the weapon you did?

Steven: I was holding a sledge hammer. I definitely picked that one for myself. It was real and it was heavy. I think I chose it because I wanted something that looked like it could do some damage in the right hands. Also, I have always wanted to wield one; I think they look badass but that's just me. [editor's note: They're pretty intimidating. I think my favorite sledgehammer scene is from Misery (1993) when Kathy Bates "hobbles" James Caan. Absolutely brutal.]


Nick: How did it feel, staring down the tunnel at the end? Was Christian Lagasse standing in front of you and the other actors, trying to psych you out?

Steven: Staring down that tunnel was fun. It's the badass "hero moment." Even though our chances of survival are slim, it was our time to look cool and menacing.  It was also my last scene of the shoot, I believe, so it was kinda sad but also satisfying. Christian was there, but with the camera in front of us—and focusing on different eye lines for where the creature was at any given moment—it would hard for us to concentrate on him too much.


The final shot of the miners before the xenomorph closes in.

Nick: Who do you think wins, the xeno or the miners?

Steven: I think the xeno probably gets the best of us. I mean, we're miners not soldiers, and we have no real armor to protect us from that acid blood.


Nick: If Kolton dies and they had to shoot your death scene for the sequel, how would you like to punch out? Do you have a favorite Alien-related movie death you'd want to emulate?

Steven: For me, I would have liked to have seen Kolton get a little one-on-one fight action against the xenomorph—maybe do a self sacrifice to let the others or who ever is left get away. [Death-wise: a shot of me] losing with a xeno tail through the chest.

Closing Thoughts

Nick: How happy are you with the final product? Did it turn out better than you expected? In hindsight, would you do anything different?

Steven: I was very happy with the final product. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I also know how talented Sam and Kailey are as directors and of course anything the Talbots shoot looks amazing so I wasn't that surprised how good it turned out.


Nick: Given your experiences with "Alien: Ore," would you return for a feature-length sequel, if that were an option?

Steven: Absolutely. If that was something on the table, I would be there in a heart beat—especially if we could keep that cast and crew together.


***

This concludes the interview. More interviews are in the works! New interview segments (when available) post on Fridays at 2 p.m., EST.

If you liked this interview, check out all my interviews on "Alien: Ore." For even more details on "Alien: Ore," watch my lengthy analysis.

Many thanks to Fox for allowing these interviews; to the interview subjects; and to Kailey and Sam for being so friendly, enthusiastic and helpful

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