As a child, Badejo had been diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia. Several months after his 39th birthday, Bolaji fell ill and was taken to St. Stephen Hospital in Ebute Metta, Lagos, where he died on the December 22, 1992.
Portraying the AlienEdit
While at a bar n early 1977, Bolaji Badejo was approached by Alien casting director Peter Archer, who was scouting for someone suitably tall and thin to play the eponymous Alien. Ivor Powell, the film's associate producer, explained that "The person that put the suit on had to be impossibly tall. We wanted them to be incredibly long-limbed, especially from the waist to the knee." However, the production had reached an impasse casting their Alien. They tried various female models, a family of contortionists and even Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew. Powell, in Dennis Lowe's documentary Alien Makers II, recalled that Archer (referred to in the documentary as a "choreographer friend of [Powell]") telling him that "I was at a bar the other night, and it was a sort of students bar, lots of students there and I saw this guy and I don't know what he was, whether he was Somalian... he was some African and he was impossibly tall and skinny, you want to see him?" Powell agreed to see Badejo, "And so he sent him in and this quite timid kind of guy, never been in front of a camera before, he ended up being our Alien."
Badejo told the magazine Cinefantastique during an interview in 1979 that "As soon as I walked in, Ridley Scott knew he’d found the right person." Scott, who later commented that Badejo "had a figure like a Giacometti sculpture," offered him the part there and then. "I said, ‘Do you want to be in movies?’" Ridley reminisced with Cinefantastique, "and he said, ‘Sure’. And he became the Alien." Badejo said, "It is not every day that one gets approached in a West End bar to become part of a cast of the film," said Yinka Richardson. "He was surprised, but pleased."
Boyega Badejo, Bolaji's brother, remembered that he and his family were informed of his Bolaji's film work only "when he decided to tell us," but, Boyega also noted, this was not unexpected behaviour: "Nothing was a big issue for us," he explained, "as you might imagine – father meeting the Pope, Queen, Sir Hugh Greene, Haile Sallasse." Bolaji, it seemed, didn't think of his movie work as something exemplary and special. "He was quiet like my dad," said Boyega. Alien VFX crewmember Jon Sorensen also warmly referred to Bolaji as "the quiet man."
Once he was hired, a body cast of Bolaji Badejo was created, although the mold was manufactured rather inexpertly. H. R. Giger, who had yet to personally meet Badejo, inspected the cast and noted in his diary that "Unfortunately, the man has knock knees and an impossible build profile." Giger started thinking of alternatives. "I suggested asking Veruschka, who is just as tall, whether she would play the Alien. They liked the idea." Giger was interrupted several days later whilst painting some plaster models of the Alien landscape. "At 2pm," he noted, "I was called to R. Scott’s office to inspect the man, black, approx. 2.10 meters, who is supposed to play [the] Alien." and "His stature did not conform to the impression I had gotten from the bad plaster cast [which] seemed too fat and built somewhat strangely around the hips. This impression arose because it took so long to make the mold and he has to stand the whole time." After seeing him in person, Giger decided that Badejo was perfect for his creature. "I will have a new cast made from the chest down." he wrote. "I think he’s our man."
To prepare for the film, Badejo took tai chi classes, spoke with Scott regarding his performance, and vigorously rehearsed the Alien's gliding movement and mantis-like posture on the Nostromo set. "Bolaji worked hard and immersed himself into the choreography lessons and performing in the film," said Yinka Richardson. "Even though some days were long and gruelling and he had to make an early morning start, Bolaji never complained." Despite rehearsing and filming for long days over the summer and autumn months, he did not allow himself to lapse in his studies. "Bolaji coped well with filming and studying," said Richardson. "He was a hard working and dedicated student, who excelled in all he did."
"The idea," Badejo told Cinefantastique, "was that the creature was supposed to be graceful as well as vicious, requiring slow, deliberate movements. But there was some action I had to do pretty quick. I remember having to kick Yaphet Kotto, throw him against the wall, and rush up to him. Veronica Cartwright was really terrified. After I fling Yaphet Kotto back with my tail, I turn to go after her, there’s blood in my mouth, and she was incredible. It wasn’t acting. She was scared."
"Believe me," Cartwright said in 2013, "when he comes after me in that scene I didn’t have to do anything. I just looked at him and, the thing was, once he uncoiled he just stood there. And I just had to look at him, and you go, ‘oh shit’. And instinctively what he did was just amazing. He had this incredible presence. And you know people say, ‘how did you make yourself scared?’ I didn’t do anything; I just had to look at him." "He was amazing," she continued. "He was Masai. His limbs, his arms, his hands, went below his kneecaps. I mean he was this long, gorgeous person. He had huge feet which they always stuffed white sneakers on him. But Tom [Skerritt] is the one who said, ‘This poor man cannot sit down, because of this tail,’ and they built a sort of swing for him, so he could sit down on his swing. But if Tom hadn’t spoke up the poor guy would’ve been wandering around, god only knows."
Skerritt also spoke of Bolaji at the same convention, telling the crowd that: "Just to thrown in a little bit about the Alien, with whom I spent a lot of time. Great instinct, very bright guy… In any case, I came in after they broke for lunch one afternoon and these huge stage doors would open, and [Bolaji] came out with everything on except for the head. He’s seven feet, and he was talking to a five-foot wardrobe mistress, and they were really having a conversation. Obviously, they were talking about something very profound. He’s got this outfit on and talking to her as they’re moving along, and he’s wearing very bright blue Adidas tennis shoes. And his tail’s being carried by a very flamboyant wardrobe assistant who had a white scarf on. And the wind was blowing so -I wish I had a photo of this- this scarf is flying out behind this guy who’s holding the tail… It was… if I had that photograph you’d all be paying a lot of money for that."
"He did put his foot down though when they wanted to put the maggots in the top of the head," Cartwright chipped in. "You know there’s that shot… it looks like his brain is moving, they were maggots. They were red and yellow and blue maggots, and he said, ‘Nuh uh, I’m not doing that!’"
Ridley Scott also recalled on the 1999 DVD commentary that Yaphet Kotto's energy and riotous demeanour often led to some braggadocious and surreal scenes on the set, one in particular concerning Badejo. "Yaphet was always great as the troublemaker on board the ship," Ridley said, "and the day that Yaphet had to die, he said, ‘I’m not going to die.’ He said, ‘This thing can’t kill me!’ So I had to have this long discussion, persuading him to die that day." Jon Sorensen remembers that when "the day came for Parker to fight the Alien and Yaphet comes out with it: ‘No f****** Alien is going to beat me. No f****** Alien is going to hold me down!’ Well, Bolaji pinned Kotto to the ground, sitting on him. Could Yaphet shift him? No. Not with all his considerable strength could he get the Alien off. He was ABSOLUTELY furious. Bolaji, the quiet man, won the day."
Starburst journalist Phil Edwards recalled another incident involving Badejo and Kotto that had been relayed to him by Dan O'Bannon. "I had gotten into the production office of Alien almost by accident," he shared. “The UK distributor had offered me an interview with Dan O’Bannon for Starburst magazine for the recently released Dark Star. The Alien production was a closed set, but the entrée to Dan got me through the door, and stopped me getting thrown out. He shared an office with Ron Cobb. Dan and I hit it off and I spent several evenings at his hotel in Portobello Road, hearing about the events of the day’s shooting. Of several memorable episodes, one involved Bolaji. With the Alien costume being so difficult to work in, and with restricted viewing through the suit, it was extremely difficult for Bolaji to hit his marks with precision, especially as his movements needed to be quite precise. The Alien set was a tense atmosphere, with its several producers uptight about the money, the schedule and Ridley Scott, who had proved himself no push-over to producer demands." "During a particularly tough scene for Bolaji," Phil continued, "where he consistently missed his marks thanks to the suit and the clock on the money running up, one of the producers started to get unpleasant with him. Yaphet Kotto was looking on and became increasingly incensed at Herr Producer’s expletive-laden tirade. Enough was enough. According to Dan, Kotto ‘physically intervened’ and let the producer have it… ‘Leave the brother alone!’… things went very quiet after that."
In his diary, Giger wrote that Badejo once "greeted [Mia and myself] with a fine surprise", though he did not elaborate on Badejo’s gift. At other times he joined Giger "for lunch at the King’s Head" where he unfortunately "complained about the treatment by the [Twentieth] Cent Fox people" who were routinely frustrating the production and, as Phil Edwards related, even denigrating the performers. However, despite his complaints, Badejo spent the next week shooting scenes for the film and making an impression. "Bolaji is still in action," Giger wrote. "The scenes are awfully brutal and have a strong impact." When Scott decided that the Alien would smuggle itself aboard the Narcissus, Giger empathised with Badejo, who had been unable to fit inside the vents for Dallas' death scene but would now be required to be sequestered within the shuttle walls for a day and a half. "Poor Bolaji," he wrote, "[he will] not be happy about this beautiful, but for him very uncomfortable, scene."
Then, on Friday, October 6, 1978, Badejo filmed his last scene for the film — the Alien slithers from its hole and drops to the ground before rising, slowly, in a shroud of smoke. "Bursting out of that compartment wasn’t easy," he told Cinefantastique. "I must’ve ripped the suit two or three times coming out, and each time I’d climb down, the tail would rip off!" Since the Alien being blown through the hatch would require an actor to be dropped and suspended by wires from a considerable height, the creature was portrayed in its final scenes by stuntman Roy Scammell.
During the film's publicity phase, Badejo spoke to publications such as Cinefantastique and Starburst. Leone Edwards, who was at the time the wife of Starburst writer Phil Edwards, remembered that "[Bolaji] came to our London flat, and as I followed him up the stairs I thought I’d never see where he finished, he was so tall." Phil, recalling the episode with Badejo, Kotto and a producer that he had heard about only weeks earlier, deigned not to ask him about it. "When Bolaji came to visit our London flat for an interview for Starburst, I thought about asking him about the incident, but decided against it. It just didn’t seem right."
"The echo of an impression I am now left with regarding Bolaji," said Edwards, "was that he seemed quiet, a little conservative and reserved -polite and well spoken of course- and dare I say, trusting. What other potential star would turn up at a slightly questionable upstairs, furnished West Kensington flat (with a shared bathroom and toilet!) for an interview? He could have been walking to his doom for all he knew. What celebrity would do that now? Maybe they were more relaxed and innocent times. I also feel that perhaps he was a little shellshocked – suddenly changing direction and helping to create what was to become one of the most iconic cinematic images of the 20th century." Edwards also remembered that, "I once said to an acquaintance sometime during the 1980’s – ‘The Alien came to my house once.’ He replied, ‘What were you on?'"
Boyega Badejo said that he "cannot recollect the family watching the film together" since all of the various family members "all had our [own] accommodations because of the locations of our colleges, etc., but some of us went with him to the premier and ended up in the club Monkberry’s in Jerymyn Street, West End, where membership was for stars including Rod Stewart, Bob Marley, so he became a member and we started going there with him and with many other close friends of his." Yinka Richardson said that "Bolaji was proud of his performance and so were his family, friends and I. We did see the film together and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a night to remember." Boyega said they were, "Very cool times."
- The fate of Badejo remained a mystery for for years. It was not until the article "The Life of Bolaji Badejo" was published on the fan site Strange Shapes that his fate was discovered.
- In 2008, Chinua Achebe, author of the classic Things Fall Apart, revealed that during the turmoil of Nigerian Civil War, Victor Badejo, the father of Bolaji, had given him some life-saving advice when Achebe (whose cousin had been an Eastern Nigerian army officer killed in the chaos) became a target of the warring military factions. "I was then director of broadcasting," Achebe told observer.gm, revealing that his staff "Called me and they said, ‘Soldiers are looking for you. They said they want to see which is stronger, your pen or their gun.’ So I picked up the phone and dialled Victor Badejo, who was the Director-General. I said, ‘Victor, what is this story?’ He said, ‘Where are you?’ I said, ‘I’m at home.’ He said, ‘Take Christie and your children and leave.'"
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 "The Life of Bolaji Badejo | Strange Shapes". Retrieved on August 23, 2014.
- ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpKi41a1rJI
- ↑ http://www.reddit.com/r/LV426/comments/18ga8p/would_anyone_like_to_help_solve_the_mystery_of/