Originally published in EMPIRE magazine, May 1995.
In 1985, Carrie Henn was a 9 year old growing up on a US Air Force base near Cambridge. One day, some strange movie people came scouting for a photogenic little girl. Pictures taken, they returned from whence they came, and she thought no more of it. Then, out of the blue, the phone rang and a man, calling himself a casting director, inquired whether Henn would like to come to London to try out for a film called Aliens. And so she did.
“We thought it was as an extra,” giggles Henn, now a frightening 18, down the phone from her Californian home. “Then they said, ‘by the way, did you know it was the co-star?’ I was like, ‘Ohh…’”
She got the part, and, for someone who had never acted before, did quite a stunning job as the gutsy, lone survivor on the Alien infested outpost. Listening to Henn chat about it now, you get the sense that many of Newt’s indomitable qualities came naturally. For instance, the notion of acting alongside slime-dripping , acid-toothed horrors… “Actually, it wasn’t scary,” recounts Henn matter-of-factly. “The crew were always trying to scare me, but they couldn’t. I never got scared until I saw the movie – even though I knew what was coming.”
What about the violence and swearing – the kind of stuff that is meant to affect kids for life? Henn sighs before replying. “I think my parents might have been a bit worried I would let it go to my head, the language and stuff, but I heard worse at school.”
Henn is still sound of mind and swapping letters with Sigourney Weaver. Although lately they’ve got a bit lax on the correspondence front. The last time they spoke was at the premiere of Alien 3, when the big lady gave her former co-star a jacket emblazoned with “Carrie Henn, Aliens.”
Wasn’t she a bit miffed Newt was killed so mercilessly? “Yeah, a bit. I heard a lot of different stories, there were a lot of scripts. I know that James Cameron had planned to have Hicks, Ripley and me in Alien 3, to have a family-type thing … Still, life goes on.”
For Henn that means a life without acting. She’s attending college and plans to become a kindergarten teacher after university. Life, indeed, goes on…