Sigourney Weaver spent Alien Day in a unique way. The 69-year-old actress, who played Ellen Ripley in the original Ridley Scott film that spawned a mega movie franchise, showed up at New Jersey’s North Bergen High School to congratulate the cast of a now-viral Alien play. Sigourney Weaver’s cameo at the high school stage production comes just shy of the 40th anniversary of the sci-fi/horror classic, which opened May 25, 1979, and spawned three sequels.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, students at the New Jersey high school first performed Alien: The Play on March 19 and March 22, and the production went viral. The school’s drama department was praised for the show, as well as its perfectly replicated sets and costumes, all of which were created by the students from recycled materials.
In honor of the school’s encore performance, which occurred on Alien Day, April 26, Sigourney Weaver surprised the cast by showing up to introduce the show and congratulate the performers backstage.
“I am representing all of the ‘Alien’ fans, all over the universe who think what you’re doing is so cool,” the sci-fi queen told the teens in a video shared on Twitter.
Several of the students said they couldn’t believe Weaver was there, and one cast member called the star “my childhood hero.”
Sigourney Weaver previously praised the viral high school stage production in a YouTube video posted in March. In the video, Weaver revealed she had seen clips of the school’s Alien production online and thought it looked “incredible.” Weaver said the alien looked “very real.”
The high school show was such a hit that Alien director Ridley Scott sent a letter to the New Jersey school to praise the cast and crew of the production. Scott also donated money to pay for the school’s encore performance on Alien Day, and he even pitched an idea for the school to perform an adaption of his Oscar-winning film Gladiator as their next production.
In 1979, Sigourney Weaver, a stage actress with little film experience, debuted what would become her signature role as warrant officer Ellen Ripley, a survivor of a commercial ship decimated by the violent alien creature. Weaver told Entertainment Weekly the low-budget horror film wasn’t exactly what she had in mind for her big screen debut, but that she liked director Ridley Scott right away.
“I’d done so much weird Off Broadway stuff that I thought, ‘This is sort of the film equivalent of that,'” Weaver said. “So to me it was a very cool, dark, low-budget movie with amazing elements in it, a great cast, and a clearly brilliant director.”
The film was a major hit and spawned a media franchise of movie sequels, comic books, toys, video games and more. The first sequel, Aliens, came out in 1986.