When Alien: Covenant opens Friday, audience members will likely be thrilled to see Danny McBride piloting the film’s title colony ship. But nobody will be more thrilled than the Eastbound and Down actor himself.
“The idea that Ridley Scott was even familiar with me was pretty stunning,” said McBride in a phone call. McBride is such a huge Alien fan that seeing the Weyland-Yutani symbol on the ship console his first day on set as was like a near-religious experience. But what project of McBride’s qualified him in Scott’s mind for the latest franchise reboot?
“After Pineapple Express, Seth Rogen told me that Ridley had reached out to him and said how much he enjoyed the film,” McBride said. “So I’m not sure what he saw [of mine] that he liked, but I know he had at least seen that.”
McBride is primarily known for playing loners and losers with comically inflated egos in dark comedies like Eastbound & Down, Vice Principles, and This Is the End. But in Alien: Covenant, McBride plays a highly competent pilot outfitted with a cowboy hat—an homage to the Slim Pickens character in Dr. Strangelove—and works alongside other crew members played by Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Amy Seimetz, and Jussie Smollett.
To prepare, McBride studied pilots—“just seeing how calm they stay when they’re working,” and observing their mannerisms so “it didn’t look like I was just flipping switches the whole time.” Aside from that character research, McBride said that toggling from comedy to sci-fi was not particularly difficult.
“The kind of comedy we do in Eastbound and Vice Principals is just a few degrees away from being a straight tragedy,” McBride explained. “So weirdly, the kind of preparation was very similar because you want to just root it in reality. I had no idea what the…
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