The Prometheus Scene That Seriously Scared The Cast

2022 marks the 10-year anniversary of "Prometheus," director Ridley Scott's return to the iconic "Alien" franchise that he'd helped launch 33 years earlier. As you can imagine, there was a lot of excitement around the project ahead of its arrival. Not only was Scott back at the helm of a sci-fi film for the first time since 1982's "Blade Runner," his "Alien" prequel was going to address two of the biggest questions that had been left unanswered since 1979: Who was the so-called Space Jockey that the crew of the Nostromo had met on the moon LV-426, and where did the acid-blooded, chest-bursting, utterly terrifying Xenomorph come from?

The initial response to "Prometheus" was quite mixed. Many reviews applauded its tactile visuals and bold ideas but criticized its thinly written human characters. "Alien" fans were similarly divided over the way the film shifted its attention away from the origins of the Xenomorph to focus more on the android David and the enigmatic aliens responsible for creating the human race (aka the Engineers). Still, there were some points that everyone seemed to agree on, like how Michael Fassbender did a great job with his performance as the mercurial David.

Another thing people loved? The now-infamous C-section scene, in which archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) uses a MedPod 720i to extract a rapidly growing squid-like creature from her abdomen after being unknowingly used as a guinea pig in David's experiment with the deadly black goo recovered from the Engineers' crashed ship on the moon LV-223. As co-writer Damon Lindelof explained to WIRED while promoting the film in 2012, the idea behind this moment was to one-up the chest-burster sequence in "Alien" by crafting a situation that "is going to play into every woman's fear of something wrong with the baby inside [them]."

Ridley Scott is a "Sick F***"

Separately, Rapace told WIRED that she worked closely with Scott for days to make the sequence "as real as possible — to not do it in CGI or to not cut up the scene into small pieces." Understandably, this took a toll on Rapace, who admitted the scene "messed me up completely" and led to her having some equally horrifying dreams:

"I had two dreams that I remember today. I woke up and I went into the loo, saw myself in the mirror, and I realized I had some kind of black veins that began to spread over my whole body. I started to wash my hands and thought the water was going to stop it somehow."

Her second dream, in which she touched her belly only to discover a creature moving around inside, left her "so terrified that I was crying, and I woke up and I was crying for real," Rapace added. That being said, she assured that she never felt exploited while she was shooting the scene:

"I never felt exposed like, 'I'm this girl, half-naked in front of the crew, screaming and crying and going through this very disturbed situation.' It really felt like the two of us [Scott and I] inside of it."

As a director, Scott has never been one to shy away from including disturbing and violent moments in his movies ("I'm a sick f***," he joked to WIRED). All the same, it's hard to think of too many other scenarios in his greater body of work that come close to matching the visceral body horror of the original chest-burst in "Alien" and the MedPod scene from "Prometheus." Even the sequel to the latter, 2017's "Alien: Covenant," had a tricky time clearing that high bar — although it came pretty close with its own gnarly "birth" scene, where a Neomorph bursts out of its human host's back. Years later, however, it's Elizabeth's emergency surgery that's still providing the true nightmare fuel.