Meet Bolaji Badejo - The 7ft 2in Nigerian Actor Who Played The Alien In 1979's 'Alien'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
June 18, 2012 9:00 PM
16 Comments
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It never occurred to me to browse through the credits of Ridley Scott's 1979 classic sci-fi/horror flick Alien, to find out who was underneath that monstrous Alien suit.

And if it weren't for "Jug" alerting me to THIS post on i09's website from earlier today, I likely wouldn't have even given it the slightest thought. And that's unfortunate, because, as I learned a few moments ago, the man inside the infamous Alien suit we've all come to love and fear, was 7ft 2in Nigerian actor Bolaji Badejo.

Did you know that? I certainly didn't.

Alien was Badejo's SOLE film credit, and sure enough, if you look at the film's IMDB page, scroll down the cast/character list to the name "Alien," sure enough, the actor's name right next to it reads "Bolaji Badejo."

With much interest, I did some digging on this fellow to learn that he was a 26-year-old graphic arts student in London, when he landed the role "purely by accident," as is noted in THIS 1979 interview with Badejo that I found online.

Here's how the story is told:

The production had apparently put out a casting call for a very tall, very thin actor. Bolaji bumped into agent Peter Archer while having a drink in a London West End pub. Archer thought of ALIEN as soon as he spotted Bolaji, and offered him the chance to try out for the part. "As soon as I walked in," said Bolaji, "Ridley Scott knew he'd found the right person." Scott had been looking at basketball players, and had tested Peter Mayhew [Star Wars' Chewbacca] for the Alien, but it was Badejo's combination of height, slimness and an erect posture that cinched him the part. Bolaji was signed for the part in May, manufacture of the suit began, and the filming of the Alien scenes started in August at Shepperton.

I don't own either the Alien DVD or Blu-ray discs, but I'd like to think that this info is included in the extra features, right (for those who own either disc)?

I encourage you to read the full interview with Bolaji, which can be found HERE. There is a lot of good info within it, like the fact that he worked approximately four months on the film, usually three or four days a week, sometimes on weekends, and kept getting called back to redo shots when the action didn't work; that the actors really were scared of him when he was in the suit, and what you saw some of the time, wasn't just acting - they were genuinely afraid (Ha!); most of the footage Bolaji filmed never made it into the movie, due to problems, stating "Ridley had a lot more ideas than what you see on the screen, but some things were impossible. There was one part where I was hanging from a wire about ten or fifteen feet above the ground, and I curled up. I was like a coccoon of my own, and I come out very slowly and stretch out. But I couldn't do it. I was held up by a harness around my stomach, and I was suffocating trying to make these movements;" and how he declined to repeat one particular stunt that required he be upside down, some 20 feet in the air, with blood rushing to his head, making him dizzy, and when the stuntman was asked to do it instead, he fainted; the suit consisted of some ten to fifteen separate pieces, worn over a one-piece black body suit; and the thousands of tubes of K-Y Jelly they used to get the effect of the slime coming out of his mouth; and more.

Given that this was his only role, Bolaji wasn't at all involved in any of the successive Alien sequels.

I couldn't immediately find any current info on the man, although what I did read states that he died a few years ago; but nothing to absolutely confirm that. 

In the above 1979 interveiw, he did admit some regret that he wasn't given any pub for his work on the film, and that no one (or rather very few folks) actually knew that he was the man in the suit. The rest of us only know the face of the suit, and never really got to see and get to know the man who wore it. 

Well, here's to you Bolaji Badejo! I'm going to watch Alien right now (forget Prometheus) and I'll be paying even closer attention to your movements in that film.

And if I may have a moment of even further *deepness*, now that I'm aware that the Alien in Alien was played by a black man, one could really start to watch the film in an entirely different light. 

He apparently appears in 2 making-of Alien documentaries, which you could probably find in bits in pieces on the web.

Watch some test footage in the clip below of Bolaji Badejo practicing his Alien "act" (and a much crisper image underneath):

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16 Comments

  • Endurance | December 16, 2012 1:33 PMReply

    I'm actually from the Badejo family :D

  • Caroline Gurney | July 21, 2012 4:53 PMReply

    I lived in Lagos, Nigeria from 1980-1984 and met Bolaji there. When he told us that he was the guy who played the alien in Alien we didn't know whether to believe him at first (this was long before the days of looking things up on IMDB) but as we got to know him and his friends we discovered it was true. I remember him as a really nice guy and am sorry to read here that he may be dead. I hope that's not true. He certainly deserves to be better known for his part in the film.

  • NOW POW | July 12, 2012 8:44 AMReply

    ----BTW ---everyone noticing?
    As Hollywood enters its 4th decade of
    --SOFT porn
    ----tech porn
    ------pain porn
    ---------and, most recently, torture porn

    ---AND!

    --retreads
    ----cultural incest
    -------demoralization
    -----------theme park rides

    -----AND!!!

    ---VAST and unrelenting predictive programming for
    the capstone EUGENICS agenda - -

    they've BURIED without a trace
    ---the RED Chinese Halocaust

    -----the 200th Anniversary of the Defeat of Napoleonic Globalism at Moscow

    -------the 100 Anniversary of the ever more sinister Jeckyl Island USURY coup

    ----------and the - -

    ----------60th Anniversary---------------

    of the RED China, Globalism and EUGENICS 'unfriendly'

    ---------------------KOREAN WAR--------------------------

    HAVE YOU --ANY! --IDEA HOW BAD THIS IS???---YET??????

  • Donella | June 19, 2012 1:11 PMReply

    Ridley chose Badejo for his unusual physique. Cameron chose dancers for unusual movement. Fincher and the rest chose CGI for technology.

  • sergio | June 26, 2012 8:50 PM

    Just watched Alien3 again recently and Fincher used a lot of CGI effects to create the alien in the film and it's pretty obvious. Expecially when the alien is either running fast and crawling on the ceiling. It's very "cartoonish" looking. Still I do like the film (the longer 145 minute Ficncher cut) but Aliens is still the best one

  • Aaron | June 21, 2012 2:39 PM

    CORRECTION, David Fincher used a professional suit performer and rod puppet! The only CGI he used was when the alien's head was cracking from the cold water... every movie after that was suit performer and CGI!

  • Adam Scott Thompson | June 19, 2012 8:43 AMReply

    So "Alien vs. Predator" was black-on-black crime?

  • smarterthenyou | June 28, 2012 1:35 PM

    yeah you are right about him only using cgi on the two scenes at the end , the one where the alien jumps out of the lead mold and the bit with its head exploding , the other bits people think are crude cgi are actually done with a miniature stop motion puppet not to scale ... watch something like clash of the titans ( the original) caraboss is done using stop motion

  • Peggy | June 19, 2012 1:00 PM

    Is that the one that starred Sanaa Latham? The first hollywood SciFi film that starred a black woman! That would be black-on-black-on-black crime!

  • Kai | June 19, 2012 3:01 AMReply

    I have always known the alien was played by a black guy. But I fail to see why you would See the film in an "entirely different light" now that u are aware of the race of the actor. They clearly wanted bolaji solely for his physique not his race

  • jc | June 19, 2012 10:47 AM

    I agree....

    Very good movie though Alien and Aliens; were the best...the rest....not that good.

  • Peggy | June 18, 2012 10:36 PMReply

    I was in high school when the first Alien came out. I was obsessed with it. I collected all the magazines, books, articles about it. I remember Dan O'Bannon being interviewed on Larry King's RADIO show after midnight. Dan told all the backstage stuff, especially the part about all the blood pumped out of the face hugger that jumped out of John Hurt's chest hitting Veronica Cartwright dead in the face and knocking her over a chair. You can hear her whimpering on the sound track.(The actors didn't really know what was going to happen, they were told to improvise that's why their table talk was so funny and raw) One of the producers told about meeting Bolaji in the pub. He said words to the effect " he just uncurled himself and stood up, 7 feet tall".

    Kevin Peter Hall was the Predator. His whole family was tall, they were house painters. They lived in my neighborhood in Pittsburgh, pa. I went to school with some of his younger brothers.

  • Peggy | June 19, 2012 12:53 PM

    Yep, Alien 3 was very underrated. I loved the speech that Charles S. Dutton's character gives during the funeral for Newt and the android. He was the leader of the inmate religious cult and the warden sucked at giving the eulogy so Dutton's character steps in and gives an impassioned speech about life and death and god. It was impressive. And the cool part, Fincher cross cuts it with the birth of the alien facehugger. Worth watching only for that.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | June 19, 2012 8:47 AM

    I've been watching "Alien" since kindergarten 'cause my mother is a hardcore fan just like you! I remember her excitement when we went to go see "Alien 3" -- the only one I've actually seen in a theater (and a very underrated installment via a young David Fincher).

  • Tasha | June 18, 2012 9:22 PMReply

    Yes! i knew something the great tambay did not! ...although i confess to confusing him with the actor that played the predator and was married to Rose from 227...but still i did know this!

  • PRISS | June 18, 2012 9:22 PMReply

    might be the coolest post shadow and act has ever made. i'm in love with this! alien geek here. thank you!

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