As hard as it is to imagine everyone's favorite alien-ass-kicking action heroine, Ellen Ripley, played by anyone other than Sigourney Weaver, it almost happened—and the other actress who almost got the role in 1978 was none other than Meryl Streep.
That's what Shadowlocked discovered in the Charles De Lauzrika Alien franchise documentaries on the new Alien Anthology Blu-ray release. The site reports that:
Alien franchise producer Gordon Carroll says, in an interview segment that never made it into the main documentaries either on the DVD or Blu-ray editions, that "We had a casting girl working for us named Mary Goldberg—she told us that there were two women we should see in New York that she thought would be perfect [for 'Ripley']. One who had done some films, but had not broken through as yet, and the other was a young girl who had not made a movie as yet. The first woman was Meryl Streep. Meryl's long-time companion had just died, and I did not feel that she should be asked to come in from the country. It had just happened the day before ... we could see her another time. The other woman was, of course, Sigourney Weaver."
While we're sure Meryl Streep would have been fantastic—as the most Oscar-nominated actress in history always is—but an action heroine? Though Streep is a wonderful actress, we do have a difficult time imagining anyone else in the role of Ripley other than Sigourney Weaver, who played the character for a total of four films. It's like imagining what Indiana Jones would have been like if Tom Selleck had played the character, as was originally planned instead of Harrison Ford; or what Back to the Future would have been like with Eric Stoltz in the role of Marty McFly instead of Michael J. Fox; or Burt Reynolds as Han Solo instead of Ford again; or even Clint Eastwood as Superman instead of the beloved late Christopher Reeve.
In the end Streep may not have ended up with the Ripley role, but the actress made a rather interesting cameo of sorts in Alien 3, because:
On the Anthology Blu-ray, prosthetic masters Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff note, in a segment excluded from the original De Lauzrika documentaries, that the face to which the face-hugger is seen attached in the opening credits of Alien 3 is actually that of Meryl Streep ...
If we squint our eyes really, really hard we can almost see Meryl Streep there ... maybe.
So—what kind of Ripley do you think Meryl Streep would have made?