On Alien Day, we were very busy and had multiple posts to publish, so we didn’t want to flood you with all this Alien goodness. Now that our schedule has freed up, we can share this interview that Luis/Ozymandias did with Billy Mansell.
He was an Engineer extra in Alien: Covenant/The Crossing.
is PIE(Proto Indo European, the language of the Engineers) for Paradise.
What was it like working in an Alien film? What was the set like?
The Alien franchise is my absolute favourite set of films followed by Star Wars at a close second. When I found out I had been selected for Alien: Covenant my heart literally skipped beats! I was literally like a kid on Christmas prior to filming. As for the film (apart from being in it), I absolutely loved it! Every time I watch it I see something new and different. The dialogue with Walter and
David, the special effects, costume design it’s all brilliantly done.
What was it like inside the Creature Workshop? What did you see?
have to be a little careful with this one because everything in there is secret but will say I saw Ian Whyte’s costume and a few eggs and the Neomorph model which at the time I had no idea what it was. I can’t really say what else
(just) in case. There was a lot of casts and moulds of stuff in there too.
Did they have any concept art for the Úrnājān Engineers? I understand you can’t really say much.
didn’t see any concept art but I asked what the costume would look like they
showed me a load of test pictures of things and I will say it was very
different to the final costume! They were very ancient Egyptian or Aztec. I
would love to see concept pics to see what the costumes would have looked like.
I would too, were those pictures of Engineers? Or were they boring earthlings?
Boring earthlings in test costumes I’m afraid.
Can you give us a brief description of one of those early costumes?
BM: I’ll try… One had robes similar to ours but looked cleaner fabric and there was a gold pattern on the edges and the model was wearing a big headdress almost like a tall crown with gold patterns! The robes were a similar colour to ours! Couldn’t see what was on the feet.
Did you film any more Engineer sequences besides the one we got in the final
BM: I didn’t personally but Juke [Hardy]was taken for more close up death shots I think Scott and Steve [Doyle] where to I can’t 100% remember? I do know they only wanted to do that whole scene with us. I will add, on the day they had a guy in a morph suit doing the sequences for the Xenomorph and Neomorph and another chap was the body double for one of the main cast doing add-ons.
Ozymandias: I noticed that Steve Doyle and you had some small talk going on in the waving scene, did you have any dialogue at all? If so what was it, was it in English or did you have to learn some Proto Indo European? We can slightly hear you two talk, very deep voices.
BM: [laughs] Good spot! We had to look at each other and pretend to interact! There weren’t vocals so these would have been added on later. We were never told what language they have.
Ozymandias: I bet that was awkward! [laughs]. I know we went over this but what was the casting like?
What were they looking for exactly? How was the costume design like? What
exactly did they have you wear and was it comfortable?
Casting wise we have the features they where looking for! We are all 6ft or over we all were short haired or bald and all had quite strong physiques there was no dialogue so the basic acting was all that was required of us! The costume design looks very basic but I do know the designer made them from scratch! They were very cosy to wear plus we wore thermals underneath because we filmed outside in mid-November so it was freezing plus we had sandals on and they absolutely sucked! I hated them! [laughs]. The costume consisted of very basic canvas trousers with a string tie, basic canvas top then the cloak which I believe is a bespoke pattern (I could be wrong) some of us had these strange caps too which luckily I didn’t get one because it looked horrible [laughs].
What was it like to play an engineer?
BM: Very interesting and great fun putting our own performances into them! We had all seen Prometheus and seen the other engineers and how they moved so based our movements on them. I personally really wanted to do them justice.
Was that a requirement? You really did! The way you moved was very much how I
imagined they would.
BM: Not really no they gave a brief on what was happening and what was about to happen and how we should react and we did what we were told just gave it a more
engineer type of reaction rather than an over emotional human one if you get me?
Yes totally, you guys really nailed it. Are you familiar at all with the Predator movies? And excited at all for The Predator?
BM: I’m a huge predator fan! I love everything about that creature way back when the first movie came out to collecting Alien v Predator comics you name it I had it! Yes, I’m really excited for the new film but a little nervous because of modern takes and sequels of older films can be a bad thing sometimes.
Ozymandias: That is awesome Bill, an Engineer who likes the Predator [laughs]. What are your expectations for it?
BM: I expect it’ll be a big hit plus I’ve seen the costume in pics so it already has a big Yes vote from me! The rest is down to how it’s filmed. I hope the actors don’t use any one-liners from the original films! I’m likely to walk out of the cinema the minute one of the characters turns to another and says “want some candy?”
What are your thoughts on Predators wearing camo pants and using M60s as their main weapons?
BM: Yeah that! Well… I’m going to wait and see on that! There may be a good explanation, I had a theory that it could be the predator had lost its equipment etc for whatever reason and has to use human tech for whatever reason.
Ozymandias: I could really see that.
Who would win in a fight, an Úrnājān Engineer or a Predator?
Predator hands down! The engineer would be vaporised before he could start unscrewing the black goo lid.
Ozymandias: Engineer or a Xenomorph?
Xenomorph! Perfect organism.
Very well, would you like to share any behind the scenes stories you have?
Well… I said we had to shave right? Yeah, I got a little overexcited on that front! We only had to shave face, head and arms bald… I went a little more and oh boy did a regret it!!!! Itch, itch-scratch and literally after filming on Covenant I had to hot tail to Manchester and filmed on Snatch! If you see me you will see how bald I was due to being an engineer less than 24hrs before [laughs] hold on I have a screen grab.
I bet it itched like hell! [laughs]
That’s me dead if you pause it you will see I’m totally bald.
I can’t tell the difference! You look like an Engineer even without makeup [laughs] just joking. Are you still in touch with any of your Úrnājān brothers?
BM: Yes, Scott, Juke and Steve! I’ve become quite close with Scott and his wife! I love those guys they are absolutely A1.
Awesome! Do you have any behind the scenes pictures you can share?
a few I think they have already done the rounds…
Now, can you talk to us a little bit about yourself? Where/when were you born?
Do you have any siblings? How was your childhood like?
was born in a place called the Wirral in Cheshire where I grew up! My parents were really open about us watching whatever we wanted, provided there was no sexual content. So I grew up on sci-fi, Horror and War! As did my best friends!
I had an incredible upbringing and childhood until 1992 my parents separated and we moved to the south coast in a place called Bournemouth. I left school and trained as a plumber which I did for 20years and always wanted to be an actor but never knew how then I left Bournemouth and moved back to my birth town on the Wirral where I am now. And my acting started after a chance meeting with someone whilst attending Star Wars celebration in London and the rest is history so to speak.
I have two brothers who are younger than myself
and I have three children two girls and one boy aged 17,14 and 3.
how old were you when you first watched Alien and which is your favourite one
out of the original 4?
was 5 and it scared the hell out of me [laughs]. Alien is my favourite followed by an extremely close second Aliens!
Awesome! Did you ever think that you’d get to play “the big guy in the chair” in a prequel to the original 1979 masterpiece?
Not in a million years did I!!!! If you said to me way back “Bill you are going to be in an Alien Movie!” I would have laughed in your face probably.
And what if I said, remember the big space elephant thing? Turns out it’s actually a suit. What would you have said?
would have said yeah I remember the elephant in the comics and on the film.
What was your first acting job?
American Assassin with Michael Keaton. Although my part was cut you still see me briefly.
How did you get the job? Why did they cut it?
had the ‘look’ they were after it was as simple as that on that one plus I knew someone on set! Unfortunately, it’s a gamble when on films whether they cut the scenes for whatever reason!
Yes, like how they almost didn’t film the flashback sequence for Covenant.
BM: Yes! Exactly like that.
That was close, I wanted to see the Engineers back so bad, even though it was a
brief appearance I’m happy we got something.
Are you a collector at all?
I like to keep a few bits from my favourite films but I haven’t collected for a
Very nice, what are some of your upcoming projects and can you talk to us a
a little bit about them?
BM: The only one I can mention is Jurassic World 2 but still can’t say what I did as
still under an NDA.
Fantastic, best of luck with your upcoming projects. And finally, is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
BM: Only to thank each and every one of them for taking the time to read this it’s been an absolute honour and my pleasure to have answered your questions! Here’s to Prometheus 3 [laughs].
Thank you!, it was an honour as well, I hope you enjoyed this little chat we
had as much as I did.
Absolutely! And on Alien day too.