More than just a funny guy
When Danny McBride got the call to join Alien: Covenant — director Ridley Scott’s through line between his original Alien and the 2012 prequel Prometheus — he thought he was going to be there to make a couple of jokes and suffer a grisly onscreen death.
“I thought for sure ... I was going to come in there for comic relief and then I was going to have my head ripped off and crammed up my ass,” he chuckles.
Instead, McBride — who plays the pilot Tennessee — found himself an intricate part in an ensemble piece, which includes James Franco, Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup. Alien: Covenant (opening May 19), is an unrelentingly dark horror that reintroduces movie fans to H.R. Giger’s iconic xenomorph and will lead to at least two additional movies.
“I remember when I got the offer for the film and they gave me the script, just as a fan, I was just like, ‘F — yeah, this is exactly what I think people are wanting and it’s exactly what I’m wanting from this franchise,’” McBride says.
Following the world premiere of the film, McBride talked, in an interview, about the franchise’s revival, how watching Alien asa kid influenced his career trajectory and revealed what it’s like to come face to face with Alien.
Prometheus was missing a lot of the horror elements fans expect from this franchise. What did you think of Covenant
turning that up this time?
This is a dark, dark, dark movie ... I’m someone who loved Prometheus. I know that some people missed the horror element, but I loved what Ridley was proposing in it. I had no idea where the hell it was going or what it was all going to add up to. And I just love what Ridley is going after in this movie and it makes me excited to think where this is all headed from here.
Ridley Scott is pushing this universe in an entirely new direction. Was that surprising to you? I think he has managed to make
Alien, once again, horrifying. That’s no easy feat. And there are some concepts at work here — everything to do with David and Walter, for example — that are going to push the franchise even further.
Covenant takes place roughly 30 years before Alien. What did you think of the rumours that Katherine Waterston’s character Daniels was related to Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley?
I thought the same exact thing. I asked Ridley when we were on the set, ‘How far before Alien are we? Is Daniels Ripley ’s mom?’ And he was like, ‘No, this is many years before
Alien.’ But I don’t know if that’s a smoke screen or if that’s reality. I have no idea. What was it like to come face to face with the Alien?
It was crazy. There actually was a contortionist in the Alien costume that would pursue you and run after you and that left little to the imagination.
Do you think there’s alien life out there?
I would have to assume so. I can’t imagine we’re the only things in the universe. I do think we should look for it and I hope that what we find is something cool and not just a weird cockroach or something like that.
You’ve made people laugh as the outrageous Kenny Powers on Eastbound & Down and the cartoonish Neal Gamby on Vice
Principals. What’s harder, comedy or horror?
I feel like comedy never gets the respect it’s due. Comedy is the hardest f---ing thing to do in the world because it is so obvious when comedy is not working. It was nice to come into something where I didn’t have that pressure of adding jokes onto things.