June 23, 2024

The Gotham Awards are a night to celebrate independent film, but Cailee Spaeny snuck in a tease for 20th Century Studios’ upcoming “Alien: Romulus” when asked about the project on the red carpet Monday evening. The “Priscilla” star is leading the Fede Alvarez-directed revival, which has been described as a standalone story in the “Alien” universe. Now, Spaeny has confirmed a rumor regarding its place within the continuity of the franchise.

“It’s supposed to slot in between the first movie and the second movie,” Spaney tells Variety’s Michaela Zee. “They brought the same team from ‘Aliens,’ the James Cameron film. The same people who built those xenomorphs actually came on and built ours. So getting to see the original design with the original people who have been working on these films for 45-plus years and has been so much of their life has been really incredible.”

Ridley Scott’s original 1979 sci-fi horror film concluded with Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley ejecting a xenomorph out of her escape pod and putting herself into cryogenic sleep for a long voyage back to human civilization. Seven years later, James Cameron picked up the story with “Aliens,” which saw Ripley accompany a military mission to investigate a potential xenomorph attack on a far-flung space colony. Whether “Alien: Romulus” specifically relates to Ripley or the events of those first two entries remains uncertain.

“My first film was big-budget sci-fi,” Spaeny continues, referring to her role in the 2018 kaiju sequel “Pacific Rim: Uprising.” “I feel like I’m going back to that world. And I have so much fun. I like trying to do as many different things as I can. So I swapped my high heels and my beehive for spacesuits and lots of wire work. … I love watching those old ‘70s, ‘80s action sci-fi films. And I’m such a fan of that IP and Sigourney Weaver. It’s legendary to get to be a part of it.”

On the Gothams carpet, Spaney also offered a response to Variety’s report that Lisa Marie Presley expressed shock and horror over scripts for “Priscilla” before the film went into production. The late daughter of Elvis Presley, who died four months after sending emails regarding the Sofia Coppola film, stated that her “father only comes across as a predator and manipulative” in the project.

“My heart went out to her when I read those messages. But I spent my time talking to Priscilla because that’s who the movie was about,” Spaeny says. “That’s who I was playing. That’s where I put all my time was with her and to make sure she felt safe and that she felt represented in telling the story.”

Spaeny is nominated for outstanding lead performance for “Priscilla” at this year’s Gotham Awards. “Alien: Romulus” is set to hit theaters on Aug. 16, 2024.

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