BY DEOYE FALADE
It’s big, bad, horrifying, drips acid from its scary jaws and ‘impregnates’ unfortunate humans…
And it’s a Nigerian.
No, this isn’t a more horrific version predating Clifford Orji, it’s actually a six-foot-ten-inch lumbering actor, Biodun Badejo, who played the role of the iconic otherworldly baddie in the 1979 Ridley Scott movie, Alien according to CNN.
But while the main cast, chief of whom is Sigourney Weaver who played Ripley in the film are well known by enthusiasts, Badejo remained largely unknown and the movie was his only film credit.
Funny enough, Badejo wasn’t even the main go-to guy for the role in the movie. It all happened by accident.
Move over Olajumoke 🙂
According to special effects supervisor Nick Allder, Director Ridley Scott and associate producer Ivor Powell had long been looking for the perfect person to fit into the physically challenging role of Alien.
“We’d had this vision of a praying mantis,” Powell said. “We needed somebody incredibly tall with very long legs, so when they crouched down it gave the impression of an insect.”
Peter Mayhew (known for playing Chewbacca in Star Wars) was considered, basketball players, mime artists and six-foot-three-inch German model Veruschka von Lehndorff too; but none fit in like they wanted till agent Peter Ardam came across Badejo – who had never even acted before – in a London pub.
Ardam called Ridley, they set up a meeting with Badejo and the rest they say is history – with the film grossing over $100 million at the box office on a $11 million budget and winning an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
It was difficult for the actor though, having the physical attributes was one thing, wearing it was another thing entirely.
“I could barely see what was going on around me,” Badejo recalled in 1979, “except when I was in a stationary position, while they were filming. Then there were a few holes I could look through… It was terribly hot… I could only have it on for about 15 or 20 minutes at a time. When I took it off, my head would be soaked.”
Amazingly, despite being largely uncomfortable in the suit, the actor never complained all though the movie.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, 1953, Bolaji Badejo was the son of the director general of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and a welfare administrator, according to an interview his brother gave to the online blog Strange Shapes in 2014. He went on to study in Ethiopia and then the U.S., before moving to London to study graphic arts.
Not one for the limelight, he returned to Nigeria in 1980 to set up and run his own art gallery. Even though he had the legal opportunity to return for the Alien sequels, Badejo didn’t. That one time adventure was enough for him because he never set out to act in any movie. “The fact that I played the part of Alien, for me, that’s good enough.”
Sadly though, died in 1992, 39 years of age, leaving behind two children.