Ridley’s Notes: The Original Character Biography of Ellen Ripley

The currently running 40 Years of Alien: 40th-Anniversary exhibit at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts has unveiled several previously unseen production documents from the making of the original 1979 film. Most notable among them are “Ridley’s Notes”—the original character biographies drafted by Ridley Scott to provide the cast with material to base their performances upon.

These notes were previously mentioned in interviews with Scott and others, but have never surfaced online until now. While they were believed by some to be the source of the character biographies featured on the original 1999 Alien DVD and the crew dossiers shown during the inquest scene in Aliens (and featured as an isolated bonus feature on the Alien Anthology Blu-ray set), this is now established to not have been the case.

RIPLEY

Good middle class background.
Intelligent woman.
High IQ.
Product of Officer Training Academy; following father’s footsteps.
First class passing…out…geologist first and first class pilot second.
Became Midshipman (apprentice) on passenger vehicles.
Disliked the life, for the same reasons that Dallas preferred not to do it. (Captain’s table bullshit.)
But unlike Dallas is a good socializer and politician (petty).
Made it to first officer easily.
Bored.
Volunteered for long range super tanker stint – not for shares – but ambitious to see other side-of-hill.
Instead of adventure finds tedium, routine and jaded companionship–still believes she will find the “Grail”.

Has never been tried – never been under duress – interesting to see how she could/would react under pressure situation.
She can come on strong and tough even to Parker.
She finds total authority.
Follow her own personal doubts.
Finds she has high sense of morality – “Can’t leave this […] around in space
Or simply she doesn’t like to lose.

Only the biography for Ripley is fully visible, but Dallas and presumably the rest of the crew all have their own notes. If Alien Archives is able to view them they will be posted at a later date.

In addition to the character biographies, several other preproduction documents have also been displayed, including previously unseen casting and audition notes.

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