Being stalked by giant arthropods on a remote space station would terrify most people. But for plucky 10-year-old Carrie Henn, who plays Newt, the fearless orphan in Aliens, monsters were the least of her worries. What horrified her most was having to wear the same unwashed clothes and slimy, tangled hairdo during the 5-month shoot last fall. At first, Carrie, a newcomer to movies, was embarrassed to be seen in the studio commissary. That changed when her tutor gave her oversized red sunglasses. “She said everybody would think I was a big movie star and wouldn’t say a word about how dirty I was,” says Carrie. The tutor turned out to be right.
Carrie was discovered in a school cafeteria on a U.S. Air Force base outside London where her dad, Master Sgt. Kenneth Henn, was stationed. After Carrie’s photo was snapped by a movie scout who was struck by the third grader’s angelic features and sparkling blue eyes, she was invited to audition at Pinewood Studios. “I thought they had made a complete mistake when they called her,” says Carrie’s British mom, Roseleen, a former nurse. After reading one scene with Sigourney Weaver and proving she could scream convincingly, Carrie was chosen ahead of hundreds of youngsters.
A gymnastics and soccer enthusiast, Carrie was well prepared for the rigorous physical demands of the film. She also became charmingly chummy with Sigourney. At Christmas, Weaver gave Carrie a giant piñata-like cracker filled with goodies; in turn, every time Weaver’s husband, Jim Simpson, departed after a visit to the set, Carrie gave her flowers as consolation.
Carrie’s family has since moved to Atwater, Calif. There she is contemplating her film future. Carrie hasn’t ruled out another bout with creepy monsters but is certain about only one thing: She is not interested in doing any “lovey-dovey” scenes. “I think that’s gross,” she says, scrunching her nose. When Carrie reported her aversion, Sigourney, who has smooched onscreen with several heartthrobs, assured her that things would change: “In about four years, you’ll call me up and say, ‘What was it like to kiss Mel Gibson?’ ”