Exclusive: Callie Hernandez Talks 'Alien: Covenant' Xenomorph And 'Blair Witch' Set [TCA 2016]

Callie Hernandez was on a Television Critics Association panel for the upcoming Epix original series Graves this weekend. Since I had just seen her in Blair Witch at Comic-Con, I approached Hernandez after the panel for an interview. She was also coming off of Alien: Covenant. "I just finished shooting in June," Hernandez told me.

Describing Alien: Covenant, Hernandez told me how director Ridley Scott employed practical sets to simulate the intensity of the space mission. "The sets are very real," Hernandez said. "You're in this built ship and then he's like [in British accent], 'Turn on the hydraulics.' Then you're like, what is he talking about? Then it's suddenly shaking and you're like, 'Oh, that's what he means.' So the sets were pretty unreal." 

As for the famous xenomorph, Hernandez assured us that seeing the creature in real life did not destroy the illusion at all. "No, it was just as terrifying as you would ever imagine it to be," she said.

IMDb does not yet list a character name for Hernandez's role in Alien: Covenant and she wasn't sure if she was allowed to tell me. "I don't know," Hernandez said. "I want to just tell you but I don't know if I'll get completely reprimanded for that."

In Blair Witch, Hernandez plays a documentary student helping her boyfriend explore the woods where his sister, Heather Donahue, was lost in the original The Blair Witch Project. One of her most harrowing sequences, featured in the trailer, has her crawling through a tunnel in the dark.

"That tunnel scene, it was funny because right when I signed onto that project, that was the scene when you were reading it, it's like whoa, okay," Hernandez said. "They were very gentle about the whole thing. They built that whole thing. The designer built it from scratch. It was incredible watching it being built throughout filming. From day one, they were asking very sensitively, 'Do you want to do it? Are you claustrophobic?' And I was very gung ho about it. I said, 'Yes, absolutely, I want to do it. I don't want anybody else to do it.'"

Hernandez shared some of the specifics about working in the tunnel. "So they actually measured my shoulders and it's one inch wider on each side of my shoulders. The way we shot it was they used a stunt double for one part but I did do it. It was funny because the camera guy was actually claustrophobic. Adam [Wingard] was really great and we would communicate with walkie talkies while I was in there. It was just me and the camera guy and he was sort of letting me take my own cue."

The cinematographer actually had a harder time in the tunnel than Hernandez. "At one point I was getting ready for the scene and I was getting emotional and crying," she said. "The camera guy touched me and he's like, 'It's okay. Do you want to get out?' I said, 'No, I'm preparing. Are you okay?' I think he really wanted to get out so I felt really bad for the guy because I think he was claustrophobic. I had a good time. After about take seven I was ready to get out of there for a breather, but once I saw playback I was like, 'I can do it better.'"

Blair Witch opens September 16. Alien: Covenant is out August 4, 2017.