Back in the late 1970s, CGI hadn’t yet become the default process for special effects that it is in action/horror movies today, and as such, monsters such as the xenomorph were often portrayed by actors in costume. In this particular case, director Ridley Scott was looking for an exceptionally tall person to fill out the costume. Since the xenomorph often appeared onscreen with its human counterparts, a tall person was needed for the role in order to provide the audience with a visual reference for its scale, as the book, “The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron” reports.
Bolaji Badejo happened to be in the right place at the right time. The Nigerian-born special effects artist happened to be in a London pub at the same time as one of Scott’s casting staff, and soon enough, a contract was signed and the Lagos visual artist was in the suit.
The four months during which Badejo was on the set could be grueling, he said in an interview with Strange Shapes. At one point, he almost suffocated. “I was held up by a harness around my stomach, and I was suffocating trying to make these movements,” he said.