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James Franco Initially Had A Bigger Role In Alien: Covenant

Warning: this article contains spoilers for Alien: Covenant.

If you headed out to theaters this past weekend to see Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant, you may have been a bit confused about the lack of one of its biggest name stars. James Franco had a brief appearance at the beginning of the film before his character quickly met his demise, catapulting the rest of the movie into action while also quickly sidelining a very well-known actor. Screenwriter Dante Harper revealed in a recent conversation with The Hollywood Reporter that Franco's very short time in the film wasn't always the case, though, as the character initially had a lot more screen time.

"Originally, the James Franco character was part of what was a larger storyline, involving learning a little more about his background and actually getting to see some of his dreams that he'd had while he was asleep," Harper said, adding that the storyline would have revealed more about the backstories of Katherine Waterston's Daniels and Billy Crudup's Oram. According to Harper, this was played out throughout the film in different ways in other versions of the screenplay, resulting in Franco's character featuring more heavily in different drafts.

However, while Franco did in certain drafts have more of a role, his part of the "absent captain" was always intended to be a side note to the central focus of the film. "Part of Ridley's idea was that this was a ship that not only had an external problem, but it also had this problem that there was this captain who was not the original captain who is now going to lead the mission and maybe make some terrible mistakes," Harper said. 

The limited amount of Franco aside, most critics still seem to agree that Alien: Covenant is worth a trip to the theaters. Scott directed the movie based on a script from Harper and John Logan. Michael Fassbender, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, and Amy Seimetz also star. If you've already been terrified by Covenant, ponder some of the movie's biggest unanswered questions.