Michael Seymour’s Nostromo layouts?

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In 1979, Alan Jones interviewed Michael Seymour (Production Designer for Alien) for an article in Cinefantastique (Vol. 9, No. 1. 1979). There is a passage in this piece that has always intrigued me, and might be of interest to those curious about the layout of the fictional Nostromo.

 

 

On page 31, Jones wrote this paragraph and included a quote from Seymour,

Seymour did layouts of the Nostromo where the various decks would be located, where the quarters would begin, end and intersect one another; this master plan included the bridge set, which Seymour feels was the most complicated aspect of the set design.

“You never quite get the feeling in the final film, but we put so much effort into the finish of the ship’s interiors. We worked it out so carefully. There was the deck with living quarters where the bridge was, the next one down was the electronics deck, and the lower deck, where Harry Dean Stanton gets it, we called the under-carriage room. It hosted one of those huge landing feet. We built one life-size foot and hung it from the ceiling in that set. We worked out carefully the placement of each compartment, where it would be below or above in realtion [sic] to the next deck.”

 

In 40 years, I have never seen a hint of these layouts that he says Seymour drew up. What a wonderful thing to see, if ever they surface from the studio vaults.

The only thing I have seen that might even remotely be what Jones refers to is the famous cross-sectional plan of the Nostromo-prototype Leviathan by Ron Cobb:

 

Leviathan cross-section, by Ron Cobb. (Cobb, Ron. Colorvision. Wild & Woolley Pty. Ltd., 1981.)

 

Many tantalizing ship features are hinted at in this drawing. It was a part of the reference material used by Creative Assembly when they drew up Alien: Isolation:

For clarity, Creative Assembly staff typed the callouts Cobb drew on the original plan. Credit: McVittie, Andy, and Jude Bond. The Art of Alien Isolation. Titan Books, 2014. Pg. 67

 

Such interesting call-outs like these:

  • Suspension Vault
  • Landing Deck
  • Shuttle Hangar
  • Engine Cab
  • Cargo Walk
  • Service Waldo
  • Living Quarters for 60 Passengers
  • Library and Memory

 

Of course, if you are familiar with the work of Ron Cobb, you know the man is a design genius, bringing a wealth of detail to his fantasy creations.

 

Ron Cobb's Colorvision
Ron Cobb’s book, Colorvision

 

I wish I had something more conclusive to offer with regard to the “Seymour layouts”, but right now, this is it. Whether or not you have seen these graphics before, I hope you enjoy them. They are a wonderful reminder of the rich and detailed research behind the movie’s visuals.

 

1214 41d7CWlt+JL

 

You can probably grab a copy of The Art of Alien Isolation at your favorite bookseller. The Cinefantastique issue shows up on the online auctions pretty regularly. Cobb’s Colorvision is a bit rare, but I assure you: it is well worth searching the used booksellers and online auctions for a copy. Having these items to pore over is a treat for this fan!

 

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