Director Ridley Scott is returning to the Alien universe once again with Alien: Covenant, the upcoming film that takes place close to a decade after the events of Prometheus – Scott’s quasi-prequel to his original 1979 Alien – but before Ellen Ripley and the Nostromo’s own fateful first encounter with the Xenomorph. Covenant aims to further explore the history behind the Engineers/Space Jockey alien race that, as established in Prometheus, was responsible for creating human life on Earth in the first place.
Scott’s new Alien film takes place on a “dark, dangerous world” (believed to be the Engineers’ home planet) that has been largely abandoned, where the human crew of the spaceship Covenant encounter the android David (Michael Fassbender) from Prometheus as well as… something terrible and extraterrestrial in nature, by the sound of it. James Franco was previously rumored to be part of the human cast in Covenant, but the actor has now in essence confirmed that so much is true – even if he skirted around revealing what his role in the film is, in the process.
It’s rumored that Franco is playing Branson, the captain of the spaceship Covenant and husband to Alien: Covenant protagonist Daniels, played by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them costar Katherine Waterston. Franco’s role in Scott’s new Alien film is reported to be small, but essential, with the bulk of his scenes taking place during the movie’s opening 10 minutes – suggesting that his character may meet an early end in the sci-fi/horror film. That might explain why Franco didn’t deny the reports of his involvement with Covenant when interviewed by WGTC (see the video below) for his and Bryan Cranston’s new comedy, Why Him?, but refrained from saying anything beyond that.
Franco joins a cast in Covenant that also includes Waterston’s Fantastic Beasts costar Carmen Ejogo, as well as Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir and Prometheus veteran Noomi Rapace in supporting roles. McBride, for his part, has already dismissed suggestions that he’s playing the comic relief in the film, indicating that Covenant will find both McBride and his This is the End costar Franco in rare dramatic form. That doesn’t read as being a bad idea either, seeing as both actors have been praised for their more serious turns in the past (see McBride in Up in the Air and Franco in True Story, for example).
Covenant itself is expected to be a straight-faced horror film with sci-fi elements (in the vein of the original Alien), based on the footage from the film that was screened for reporters during a recent 20th Century Fox film press event. Scott’s new film may also have some action elements to it (in the vein of James Cameron’s Alien sequel, Aliens), as suggested by a mysterious Covenant screenshot that has been released online. As it no longer appears that Franco will be appearing in Shane Black’s upcoming The Predator (a project he was reportedly once under consideration for), Covenant could therefore provide moviegoers with their one chance to see James Franco: sci-fi/action star on the big screen, instead.